Freedom: We Are Our Own Worst Enemy
By J.T. Hobbs, CAAPS Staff Writer
Last week was a disappointing week; this week it continued. I watched a trial last week that it was a given the verdict would be an acquittal; it wasn't. Then, in conversing with my wife over the issue, she made a comment, “well maybe the Jury figured that he had the propensity to do it.” I was appalled. Shortly after that, I got notified a Jury failed to indict Dallas Police officers that killed a mentally ill man that was merely holding a screw driver in a non-threatening manner; there was video of the entire incident. Now this week, I watch Baltimore as people rebel against the police (probably a good thing long deserved) but then they start tearing apart a store and damaging the personal property of other civilians. It is becoming apparent why the erosion of our freedoms has been occurring so easily. We the people are causing it to happen.
I won’t list names because this story flew under the radar of the news media somehow. It may be that even the police that arrested the man did not feel the case would have survived which begs to question why he was even charged in the first place. A Man was charged with 3 counts of indecent sexual assault of a minor, three counts of inappropriate contact with a minor, two counts of indecent exposure, and two separate grades of corrupting the morals of a minor (one sexual, one non-sexual). The girl was 16 years old, and she was his stepdaughter; he had been in her life since age three. The allegations came about a year and a half to 2 years after the alleged occurrence, and the event supposedly took place after the girl was ‘developing’ 12?, 13? 14? Nobody, including the victim is really sure.
The thing that everybody was sure of was that the girl while living with the man always talked good about him to her friends, and they were close. She had been in therapy since the eighth grade for body/self esteem issues, as well as a related depression (she and her mother claimed on the stand). Her closest friends attended two therapy sessions with her in which she never mentioned any type of sexual abuse, about the stepfather. She even spoke well of him. However, the stepdaughter claimed that the stepfather was ‘creepy’, and he used to cup her breasts when she was in the bathroom (15 to 20 times over a couple years), got in the shower with her and washed her hair once, used to find reason to go in the bathroom with her when she was showing so he could ogle her, claiming that if he was not looking at her he could not hear her. According to her, he bought her beer and cigarettes, and condoms, and smacked her on the butt so hard once that you could see a hand print (apparently through her shorts). Oh, and when she was complaining that she was too fat? He put his hand between the gap in her thighs after telling her to stand up with her feet together. None, of these allegations were corroborated by any third party witness at the trial.
At some point, the stepfather was caught cheating on the wife, and she asked him to leave the house. He did. The mother continued to work with the stepfather and the stepfather’s family at their place of business, continued to live in the family house which was owned by him. And, he continued to provide her with extra money that her salary did not cover to pay the bills. Furthermore, despite this ‘creepy’ guy that did all these horrible things, having left the house, the stepdaughter continued to initiate contact with the stepfather, asking him to take her out to games, shopping, riding around, and general hanging out, to which he obliged. When asked why she continued to hang out with this creepy guy after he was out of her life, the girl responded that she has felt guilty over the breakup of the mothers previous marriage with her natural father and she didn't want to be responsible for the breakup of this one.
The allegations of all the sexual abuse came after the girl was committed to a mental hospital because she slipped into a depression that made her catatonic (according to her and her mother’s testimony). This was not the first time they had considered committing her, and the driving force behind the commitment was the stepfather, when he became concerned over some of the things she said. He couldn't commit her; it had to be done by the mother and natural father. There was a two hour argument with the mother to try and get her to move to commit the daughter, yet the mother could not recall one issue of the argument, not even the specific reason that the stepfather was requesting the commitment. The girl admitted she did not want to be committed; she was angry over it, and it was at this time that she first told anyone that her stepfather was abusing her. Her only complaint about the stepfather was that he was strict, because he came down on her over catching her drinking.
In fact, the girl testified that her and her friends used to drink the alcohol he provided them in their house, but the friends all said that they never drank in his house at any time, and that he never provided them with alcohol. While on the stand, the girl was presented with her original statement that the cupping of the breasts only happened twice, and that while testifying she “must have made a mistake” when she had 2 minutes before claimed it happened 15-20 times. In addition, there were so many other “mistakes” revealing inconsistencies in her testimony from one minute to the next, that you would think anybody with any common sense would have discredited her testimony completely and looked to other evidence.
The fact was that there was no other evidence. Normally, in this type of case, you would see social workers, therapists, and police officers taking the stand. A lot of times you would see the Children and Youth Services investigator take the stand, but none of that occurred. One detective from the DA’s CID Child Abuse unit testified, but only testified to a total of four or five questions. None of them had to do with what she was told. She only said that she interviewed the girl twice after being notified of the claims by the girl’s family, and that one of the interviews was missing from the file. She did not say what the child related to her in the interviews, she did not give any impressions as to whether the interview was truthful; the simple fact was that she did not put ANY evidence on the record at all.
This was a he said/she said case, where a half deaf blind person should have been able to see reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt being something that would make you hesitate, as the attorney put it in closing statements. He also warned the jury that they were making a decision on someone’s freedom and that they should avoid the impulse to render a verdict based on emotion and pay close attention to the facts, or lack of facts in this case. The judge was very stern in his admonishment that the accused was an INNOCENT man and deserved every opportunity of doubt as it relates to the allegations against him because our laws in criminal matters demand a very high threshold of evidence in order to convict a person of a crime. The prosecutor in closing argument suggested that threshold should be someone along the lines of 60% (ridiculous considering our rights to protect our freedoms). The defense attorney pointed out that we as people are the government, and that we needed to be careful in how we rule in cases like this because these rulings are what determines whether out freedoms continue to be protected.
The twelve people went back, had lunch and deliberated for about an hour or two. They returned with a question to review the initial reports from the officer and the hospital intake report, and they wanted to know if there was a lock on the bathroom door. The judge denied them everything, I think because he did not want them to start micromanaging the evidence and conducting their own investigations (typically not a good thing for any jury to do). He told them they would have to come up with their decision based on the memory of the evidence they heard on the stand. The Jury huffed out, as if they were mad, and returned 15 minutes later with a verdict of guilty on all but one count of indecent sexual assault. The silence in the courtroom was stunning. Everyone, appeared stunned; nobody moved on either side of the room, defense or prosecution. The only person appearing unaffected was the judge.
What the Jury was not allowed to hear was that the girl had made similar claims against her natural father a couple of years prior. Her natural father is a detective for the District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division. Because those claims were a he said/she said issue, charges were never filed against the detective and the investigation was closed. It was during therapy that these claims against the natural father were made, and it is assumed by the family that the reason the girl had started therapy in the first place years before the allegations against the stepfather surfaced, was because of the actions of the natural father. It was also assumed that the reason this trial had been listed on the court’s restricted docket instead of the public docket, which is why the media did not get involved, was due to the natural father’s influence in the case.
While some people may not believe the man is innocent, the lack of evidence alone, would demand acquittal. As a father, I believe the man is innocent. Some of the issues mentioned could have been misconstrued and warped of situations where parenting was necessary. For instance, were the condoms bought and the discussion about sex, done after he found out she was sexually active? She admitted that she confided in him about sex while on the stand. Was the demonstration involving the gap between her thighs, an attempt to make a depressed girl with insecurity over her body feel a little better about herself? Let’s remember, the 2 occasions of alleged breast fondling morphed into 15-20 between the time it occurred and the time of testimony, then went back to 2 and “what difference does it make, the fact is that it happened” during that same testimony.
Based on the fact that her word is so strong to these twelve people, should the investigation be re-opened on her natural father and should he be charged and forced to go through trial now? And, what would be the outcome of that trial?
My wife said, “maybe the Jury figured that he had the propensity to do what was alleged.” This was the most shocking blow to me as an investigator for a civil and human rights organization. We all have the propensity to commit a crime at any time, but just because we can doesn’t mean we would. Just because we may have thought of knocking over a bank or killing someone, does not mean we would. How many people in the privacy of their own home, with their loved one, has consensually played out a rape or bondage scenario? Does this mean that they should be incarcerated for having the propensity to commit a crime?
The outcome of this court case was horrible. It’s horrible for the man accused; it’s horrible for what it says about the direction of society. The horror is compounded when we see police officer’s in Dallas kill a man that is merely carrying a screwdriver, https://youtu.be/3FV53jLDlRQ and the grand jury (people that are us, our neighbors, friends, and family) fails to indict. Then we see protests over another man that suffered a broken back at the hands of police officers in Baltimore, and dies as a result of the injuries from their beating him (a noble thing to protest and even rebel against the police because this is happening so often across the country that simple protests are not bringing about accountability). But, then the protesters turn to looting businesses and destroying people’s personal property, likely some of the same people that are outraged over the incident and would firmly support the protesters and rebellion against police, and you wonder why we are our own worst enemy when it comes to our freedoms.