Archives : 2007 : October
Bakersfield: Four individuals accused of being involved in a fight with Bakersfield Police officers were arraigned in Superior Court; three suspects are still yet to be arraigned.
Four Men Charged in Relation to Fight
All four men, Dagoberto Amaya, Vladimir Bonilla, Marco Antonio Vargas, and Arturo Vargas entered not guilty pleas. The oldest out of the four suspects, thirty-four year old Amaya, was charged with Assault With a Deadly weapon, Resisting Arrest, and Affiliation with a Street Gang. Campos, the youngest of the suspects at age eighteen, was charged with Inciting a Riot. Both Vargas and Bonilla were only charged with Resisting Arrest. All four men are to be in court on November 8th for their preliminary hearing. The three men who are yet to be arraigned are Eduardo Luivano, Neysa Sanchez, and Emmanuel Cardona, all of whom were arrested for being in the fight. Two minors, one age sixteen and another age seventeen, were also arrested in connection with the fight; their names are yet to be released.
Police Called to Gang Fight
The incident began as officers were called late at night on a Saturday evening to respond to reports of a gang fight in the 300 block of Kincaid Street. One of the four arraigned suspects shouted orders to the crowd of people, instructing them to throw glass bottles and metal poles at the responding officers. According to Lieutenant Mike Cantrell, Officer Patrick Mara was knocked unconscious for a very short period of time when he was struck in the head with a beer bottle. The officer was not severely injured and did not require hospitalization.
All four of the arraigned men are currently in Kern County Jail, while the two unnamed juveniles are in the Juvenile Hall.
YOLO COUNTY: A man that was arrested last week involving a California Highway Patrol officer that was struck with a motorcycle during a high-speed chase with Police has been arraigned on four felony counts.
Felon Charged with Attempted Murder
Injured from the ordeal and in a wheelchair, the 36 year-old entered a plea of not guilty in a Woodland courtroom. The man is being charged with evasion of a police officer with causation of injury, assault on a peace officer, driving under the influence, and mayhem. While the suspect could have easily faced an attempted murder charge, the District Attorney chose to file the lesser charges because he is confident that he can prove them, and avoided the filing of charges that he does not think he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. However, this does not mean that the ongoing investigation will not produce any further charges to be added to the four that the suspect is currently facing.
CHP Officer Injured in High-Speed Chase
Reports say that 29 year-old California Highway Patrol officer Eduardo Garcia is recovering from his injuries at UC Davis Medical Center; he suffered multiple injuries that included two broken legs. The suspect was also injured. Allegedly, he led police on a high-speed chase with speeds approaching 125 mph through rural roads in both Yolo and Solano counties. According to the CHP, Patrolman Garcia and another officer had used their vehicles to set up a roadblock on County Road 23. The suspect tried to split the officer’s cars, but failed and struck Garcia. After causing the officer’s injuries, the suspect injured himself when he lost control of his Suzuki motorcycle and crashed into a ditch.
Suspect Held on $500,000 Bail
Because his prior criminal record and currently being on probation for possession of methamphetamine and receiving stolen property, the suspect is currently in Yolo County Jail with bail set at a half-million dollars.
ANTELOPE: A woman from Antelope, California might face criminal charges after confessing to Sheriff’s Department detectives that she told lies about being the victim of a sexual assault, and even fabricated a crime scene.
Woman Claimes She Was Sexually Assaulted in Home Burglary
This woman, 29 years old, told officers that she arrived home on September 17th to find two males burglarizing her home on Pepperidge Drive. According to Sergeant Tim Curran, the woman claimed that one of the men fled the scene but the other sexually assaulted her.
Inconsistencies in Victim’s Story and Evidence
Sergeant Curran could see multiple inconsistencies between the victim’s story and the available physical evidence. He claimed about the detectives, “A lot of it was just their instincts the day of the incident,” and “They had some questions in their minds and things just never added up.”
Woman Falsely Reports Crime
In a follow up interview, this woman admitted that she lied about the burglary and sexual assault, as well as her involvement in staging the crime scene. It is possible that this woman will be charged with Falsely Reporting a Crime, a misdemeanor in the State of California.
In the 1980s and 90s, highly publicized trials of day care providers struck fear in parents from coast to coast. In 1983 in California seven workers at the McMartin preschool were charged with 115 counts of having sexual relations with children as young as two years old. In New Jersey in 1985, kindergarten teacher Margaret Kelly Michaels was accused of forcing more than 20 children to play sex games and penetrating them with knives and forks. In 1995 a pastor and his wife in Wenatchee Washington were accused of being at the center of a sex ring in which children were ritualistically abused and raped. Forty-three adults were accused of being involved in the sex ring, and 29,726 charges of sexual abuse were filed against them.
Many Sexual Abuse Cases Involving Children Were Unfounded
These cases represent only a small sample of an apparent epidemic of sexual abuse that plagued the country. The accusations were marked by lurid details of torture, satanic rituals, and elaborate sexual abuse scenarios. They involved hundreds of children, and led to thousands of charges filed. If the stories seemed to horrifying to be believed, it is because, in many cases, they were not true. The McMartin case wore on for seven years and is the longest and most expensive case in U.S. history. It resulted in no convictions. Margaret Kelly Michaels was convicted of 115 counts of sexual abuse and spent five years in prison, before the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned her convictions. The charges in the Wenatachee “sex ring” were deemed entirely untrue, and the case has been described as, “the worst example ever of mental health services being abused by the state …” (“Pastor and wife are acquitted on all charges in sex-abuse case,” New York Times, December 12, 1995.) Certainly some children in some cases had been sexually abused, but research showed that between 23 percent and 33 percent of child sexual abuse cases involved false allegations, between 2 percent and 8 percent of cases involved deliberate lies by children, and the majority of reported cases were unfounded (“False sex abuse accusations lead to revision of theories,” Psychiatric News, June 20, 2003).
Techniques Used to Gather Evidence Are Flawed
Years after these and similar sexual abuse cases the psychiatric and law enforcement communities were left to determine how their systems had led to and perpetuated this modern-day witch hunt. What research in the past decade has indicated is that most interview techniques and assumptions used in the child abuse investigations were seriously flawed. In overturning one conviction, the court of appeals concluded that the alleged victims were subjected to aggressive, highly suggestive questioning. When the children denied being abused, the investigators badgered them until they gave the “right” answer. In addition, “[i]nterviewers were gullible, asked leading questions, conducted multiple interviews that led to delayed disclosures with fantastical details, and failed to consider other explanations for the childrenâ€™s behaviors.” (“False sex abuse accusations lead to revision of theories,” Psychiatric News, June 20, 2003).
What Caused the Day Care Abuse Hysteria?
The psychiatric community must share the blame with law enforcement. The day care abuse hysteria was partially brought on by the rise of “recovered memories” of sexual abuse. These memories were “recovered” when patients suffering from psychological problems were told by therapists that their symptoms suggested sexual abuse, and could be remembered through the use of suggestive techniques such as hypnotic regression. (“The danger of false accusations,” Boston Globe, April 22, 2002). But these therapists had “confused the absence of memory with repression of a traumatic memory, believed that memories were immutable and could be recalled from birth, and assumed a person who felt abused had indeed been abused.” (“False sex abuse accusations lead to revision of theories,” Psychiatric News, June 20, 2003). Moreover, recent studies by psychologists have demonstrated that traumatic memories can be implanted.
If there is anything positive to be gleaned from the sexual abuse hysteria, it is that many law enforcement agencies have developed standard investigatory protocols designed to avoid contaminating child testimony. These protocols include videotaping the questioning of child accusers in order to document the interview process. In addition, members of the psychiatric community have begun to treat recovered memories with more skepticism. While prosecutions based on false accusations are not completely behind us, there is reason to hope that lessons from the past will prevent mistakes in the future.
Victims of False Sexual Abuse Accusations
To the falsely accused, however, past lessons may be of little comfort. Victims of false accusations face a difficult legal battle and a public presumption of guilt that may be difficult to overcome. Defendants need the assistance of an attorney who understands the legal issues involved, and who has experience in defending the falsely accused. An experienced attorney will investigate the charges, aggressively dispute the allegation, and present an effective case in court. If necessary a defendantâ€™s lawyer will defend him in the press and protect him from mistreatment. A criminal sex conviction can result in significant prison time, and the accusation alone can cause significant emotional damage. A skilled attorney will minimize the damage to the accused both inside and outside the courtroom, and will fight to ensure that justice is done.
The Boy Scouts of America prohibit scout leaders from having one-on-one contact with scouts. All trips and outings must be led by at least two adult scout leaders. The Boy Scouts have several other policies designed, not only to protect its youth members from sexual predators and child abusers, but also to protect its adult leaders from false accusations of abuse. On one hand, the Boy Scoutsâ€™ policy reflects an awareness of the increasing vulnerability of adult males in positions in which they have contact with children. On the other hand, the policies reflect the growing and unhappy perception that adult males should not be trusted to be alone with our children. This perception has additional support. Child advocate, John Walsh, recently advised parents to never hire a male babysitter. Airlines have begun placing unaccompanied minors with only female passengers. Many soccer leagues are telling male coaches not to touch players.
Concerns Over Threat of Sexual Abuse Common in the U.S.
An unnatural preoccupation with the threat of sexual abuse in not new in this country. In the 1980s the United States faced an epidemic of sexual abuse accusations in day care centers. In high-profile cases across the country prosecutors charged day care providers with hundreds of counts of sexual abuse. In California, the McMartin Preschool trial dragged on for seven years, included accusations by hundreds of children, and resulted in not a single conviction. In New Jersey, a child care provider at the Wee School Nursery School was convicted of 115 counts of sexual abuse. Her conviction was overturned, but not until she had served five years in prison. A combination of questionable witness interviewing methods and general hysteria is now widely blamed on the false accusations and the lives they ruined. What was learned is that children cannot always be trusted to tell the truth, and that adults cannot always be trusted to know when they are lying.
Past Cases of False Sexual Abuse Charges
Despite lessons learned from the sexual abuse witch hunts of the past, false allegations remain a professional hazard for those who work with children in general, and males in particular. Teachers, counselors, coaches, child care providers, and those who participate in volunteer programs such as Big Brother/Big Sisters remain vulnerable to false accusations of abuse. It is a sad truth that, when it comes to accusations of child sexual abuse, defendants are considered guilty until proven innocent. Worse, proving oneâ€™s innocence can be a grueling and expensive ordeal. By the time a sexual abuse case goes to trial, the reputation of a defendant has usually already been destroyed. It is no wonder then, that many males have tried to protect themselves against the threat of false accusations.
Male Adults Risk Facing Allegations
In his 2007 Wall Street Journal article, Jeff Zaslow discussed emails he received from men who have grown fearful of encounters with children. One former Boy Scout leader indicated that â€œToday, I wouldn’t do that job for anything. All it takes is for one kid to get ticked off at you for something and tell his parents you were acting weird on the campout.” Another man indicated that he would not even allow himself to be alone in an elevator with a child for fear of being accused of behaving improperly. Other men are afraid to even make eye contact with unknown children. While these precautions may appear to border on the paranoid, they accurately reflect the climate of fear that currently surrounds adult male/child relationships. It could be argued that, when society as a whole points its finger at men, its children are likely to follow. From that perspective, an abundance of caution appears less paranoid, and more prudent. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
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