DISTRICT ATTORNEYS GONE WILD
By Betty Freauf
August 11, 2007
Enough already! The most recent publicized district attorney “gone wild” with power was Mike Nifong, the Durham County, N.C. district attorney and his unethical conduct of the so-called Duke University lacrosse team rape case. But it gets better. Yamhill County, Oregon District Attorney Brad Berry is charging two seventh graders, Ryan Cornelison and Cory Mashburn, ages 12 and 13, who attend Patton Middle School in McMinnville, Oregon with five counts of sex abuse in the third degree which are class A misdemeanors for butt whacking.
Cory’s attorney, Mark Lawrence, in a telephone interview with talk show host, Dennis Prager, said this charge requires sex offense registration if convicted. If they would be convicted of more than one of the three accounts, they would never be able to get out of the registration. If they were convicted of one count, three years after they are off probation, they could apply for relief. “Their home would be a dot on the same map with the guy who jumped out from behind a bush and grabbed a little girl,” said Lawrence. He indicated Judge Collins on the case is a former D.A. in Yamhill County but says he has a good reputation and very level headed. He knows the law and makes fair findings of fact. The address: Yamhill County Courthouse: 535 N.E. 5th St., McMinnville, Or 97128. Fax: 503-434-7520 Court Administrator 503-434-7530 Web: www.co.yamhill.or.us/clerk/
We can only hope and pray that common sense will prevail over a stupid law written in haste by some legislator looking to make a name for himself. Edward Burke, an 18th Century statesman, said, “Bad laws are the worst form of tyranny.” If this fatuous case goes to trial, I hope that the “level-headed” judge will remember his Constitutional oath and properly instruct the jury they are to judge both the law and the facts as directed in Article 1, Section 16 of our Oregon Constitution. Unfortunately many judges fail to instruct the jury that THEY have an obligation to judge the law because some laws are just plain codswallop! Ask an attorney some day if the jury is to judge both the “law and the facts” and they’ll probably say “No, just the facts”. And now you know why so many innocent people go to prison.
Why would Berry want to pursue a ridiculous case like this? What happened to common sense? I find it ironic that in July 1994 Debi Mercer, 42, a teaching assistant and wife of then Yamhill County District Attorney, John T. Mercer, was accused of having a relationship with a 14-year-old male student whom she supervised in detention study hall at school. Police arrested the boy in January on suspicion of breaking into Mercer’s home and stealing shotguns. He then accused Debi of having sexual relations with him on five occasions on and off school grounds when he was 14 or 15. The 1997-98 Oregon Blue Book shows the next district attorney to be Brad Berry.
The indictment was secret and officials were prohibited by law from discussing the case until after the suspect’s arrest or arraignment but it was in February of that year after Oregon State Police began investigating allegations that she was having sexual relationship with a student that she was fired from her job at the same school as Cory and Ryan attended. School officials said they fired her for disobeying a directive issued in 1990 that she not see students outside of school or discuss personal matters with them. Those orders came after a parent complained that she had an inappropriate relationship with another 14-year-old boy. A district investigation concluded that school officials should have reported Mercer’s behavior as child abuse instead of issuing the directive. That led to the dismissal of the Patton Middle School principal, Leon Mayer, and the demotion of an assistant principal. Mayer who issued the directive to Mercer said in hindsight he should have done things differently, but he did not intentionally do anything wrong. If he erred, he said, it was in his interpretation of the law.
Compare Debi’s case with the charges against Cory and Ryan for butt slapping. Debi pleaded guilty to first-degree official misconduct and third-degree sexual abuse charges involving a student. She was placed under 30-day house arrest; five years’ probation and she had to undergo a sexual-offender evaluation and treatment, if necessary. She also had to reimburse the victim for counseling up to $2,500 and not be alone with boys under age 18 without written approval of her probation officer. She also had to perform 120 hours of community service, pay citations of $54 per misdemeanor and provide a blood sample for the Oregon State Police DNA database.
The boys are also under house arrest until their trial. They are forbidden from seeing their school friends. Prager recommended these friends rally in front of the homes of the boys with appropriate supportive signs and I would recommend the T.V. cameras be present. This atrocity needs even more media attention.
Attorney Lawrence praised the usually liberal Oregonian editorializing against these charges and its objective reporter, Susan Goldsmith, for breaking the story saying she is the first reporter to get the story right. When Prager asked if maybe Berry was bored because of little crime in Yamhill County, Lawrence said there is a general rule that if you live in a low crime area and if five District Attorneys are hired, the crime rate will go up dramatically. [Read]
And so it was when the Mondale Act passed about 30 years ago establishing child abuse reporting and enforcement mechanisms in all 50 states. More do-gooder social workers had to be hired to investigate the reports by well-meaning and/or perhaps vindictive people making false charges and the lucrative child abuse industry began going beyond the original intent of the Mondale legislation. Failure to report suspected child abuse became a crime and innocent people were imprisoned on false child abuse charges, but, in contrast, those who filed a false report were immune from prosecution. Spankings and “mental abuse” was considered abuse and now these toadies wonder why we have out-of-control juvenile delinquents. Oregon’s law currently has more than 15 professions required to report.
A Nazarene minister, his wife and son, all with college degrees, became victims in the 80s. They had three pre-schools in Roseburg, Oregon when all three were falsely accused of sexual child abuse. The woman spent the least amount of time of 10 months in Oregon’s State Women’s prison for “touching the breast of a four year old”. I would visit her in prison. In my early years after graduation from business school, I worked first for well-connected corporate and estate attorneys in Portland, Oregon. Then I went to work for two criminal attorneys. I questioned the one about the “boarding house” in Salem where we sent a lot of letters and was told it was the state prison. Little did I know about 33 years later I would be visiting a friend in the Women’s Prison next door to the pen for men.
And now, a friend of this family has been traveling to Roseburg, as well as other U.S. towns where people have been falsely accused, attempting to interview the now grown “victims” thinking perhaps he’ll write a book. In Roseburg, he’s met with resistance. It seems then Douglas County District Attorney, William L. Lasswell, who “persecuted” this family, learned about this investigation and it’s déjà vu once again.
In my day, if a young child did something deemed inappropriate, the parents were called and the matter was handled by them. [Read] Older teenagers may end up a night in jail for alcohol consumption and had to face the wrath of their father the next day when he came to bail them out. And for the more severe delinquents, dad would simply march them to the nearest military recruiting office, sign the required papers and junior learned quickly what authority was and he was discharged a man.
But today’s young people in gangs are so violent the military doesn’t want them. The social engineers have conferences to talk about effective prevention and intervention and say if there was just more money. They apply for and get grants to combat gang activity, which they caused in the first place. We can’t build enough prisons to hold them all because gangs are recruiting in prisons. What’s frightening is how young girls are also becoming involved. It’s a national phenomenon. I’m reminded of Isaiah 24 – Judgment for universal sin. Theodore Roosevelt said, “When you educate a man in mind and not in morals, you educate a menace to society.” [Read]
In the case of Ryan and Cory of McMinnville, Oregon, according to their attorneys, the minor infraction of these young boys was treated as a criminal offense. These boys, who have never had a bad mark on the their record, were interrogated at the school by Officer Roach. According to Attorney Lawrence, Roach appeared to be a fairly inexperienced police officer perhaps trying to make a name for himself. Little did the officer realize he’s becoming a national embarrassment and another bad mark for the police as well as the judicial system? Government abuse and corruption was exposed before the Oregon law commission in 2000 but nothing seems to change. The policies of the juvenile facilities in Yamhill County allowed the boys a 15-minute visit from behind glass with their parents two days after they were placed in the facility. They were allowed no phone contact. The parents were beside themselves. The school simply called and said, “By the way, your sons are in the juvenile facility lodged on felony sex abuse counts.”
The other attorney, Rachel Negra, said it was scary. The boys, who had been Mirandized, were visibly shaken and stripped searched multiple times after they met with the attorneys to make sure they weren’t carrying any contraband back. They were handcuffed. They were locked in a cell. They were forced to do exercises and weren’t allowed to see their parents.
I first read about this incident on May 27, 2007 in an eight-column inch AP article in our Statesman Journal indicating the boys were accused of offensive sexual touching and suggestive dancing that they say mimic something they saw on television. They also were accused of refusing to stop the behavior when the girls, and later, school officials, told them to stop and apparently a similar line is still being parroted by staff in the D.A.s office because a caller to the Prager show when she first heard of this miscarriage of justice sent a letter to the D.A. The response from his office indicated the boys had been reprimanded for this before. Attorney Lawrence said that was simply not true and added that when they made these allegations, the investigators for the attorneys met with the girls and were hearing the girls say, “This is crazy. This isn’t sex abuse. We swatted their butts, they swatted our butts.” So Lawrence told the D.A. he wanted to have a meeting and bring all the girls in to see what the real evidence was. They had the meeting and the next day a Deputy D.A. took the girls one by one with their parents in another room and their parents reported to the attorneys the Deputy would ask the girls, “Are you changing your story? That’s a crime to change your story.” The next day two of the girls took the stand and under oath in front of Judge Collins said, “We were pressured by the police and by the vice principal to say things that weren’t true- that we’d been sexually abused” and threatened with, “Do you want to be suspended?” and “Are you part of this criminal investigation?” So if they didn’t say, “Yaw, my butt had been touched and I didn’t like it,” the implication was “You’re going to be arrested too.”
Attorney Rachel Negra said the D.A. office was known to aggressively prosecute child sex abuse cases. It’s amazing not one newspaper about which I’m aware thus far has drawn a parallel between these boys slapping the butts of girls who were also participants in the game while neglecting to mention Debi Mercer. Some in McMinnville felt Debi Mercer got off too lenient and like with Roseburg, the town was split apart and now another scandal with which they must deal only this one has become national.
Dean Tong wrote about this BUTT WHACKING story. He noted according to Oregon Revised Statute 181.594(3) (C), an offender who is within the jurisdiction of a juvenile court for committing an act that, if committed by an adult would constitute a sex crime, may be required to register as a sex offender. “Incredible!” Tong wrote and wondered what brainy legislator sponsored that bill? See Part II for the answer. The trial is scheduled for August 20th. For part 2 click below.
Click here for part -----> 2,
© 2007 Betty Freauf - All
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Betty is a former Oregon Republican party activist having served as state party secretary, county chairman, 5th congressional vice chairman and then elected chairman, and a precinct worker for many years but Betty gave up on the two-party system in 2004 and joined the Constitutional Party.
Attorney Rachel Negra said the D.A. office was known to aggressively prosecute child sex abuse cases. It’s amazing not one newspaper about which I’m aware thus far has drawn a parallel between these boys slapping the butts of girls who were also participants in the game...