We are back! New Hamshire Update-Snap conference-New convention release and talks-Canada court heats up in Door to door case
We are back in the black and ready to roll!Many things have been worked on and we would like to give a few updates to get back up to speed.
New Hampshire- I was asked to not make a comment until Holly and Heather were notified and so honored that request.The reason was bad news.The recent hearing that I testified in was dismissed.Was it fair? It seems some have the opinion the judge was out to lunch and the appeal will eventually bear this out.One person made the following comments to the local newspaper:
"When I read this article, I had to keep in mind that this Judge made numerous rulings in support of Holly and Heather and set a massive legal precedent in the United States when His Honour ruled that Elders have a "common law duty" to report child abuse to authorities during this case so far. Without His Honour's previous rulings, this case would be "dead in the water" (since no other "duty" existed between the children and Church Elders).
I know that His Honour's ruling has upset a lot of folk through out North America.It appears to me that His Honour oddly took an evidence rule (Rule 505) that should only be applied when determining if a witness can testify and wrongly, in my mind, applied that evidence rule to reporting a crime of Child abuse - the requirements of which are actually found in a completely different statute (RSA 169C-29).
For some unknown reason, His Honour forgot about evidence Rule 1101 - which clearly tells the Court that evidence rules, such as Rule 505, apply only to the proceedings in Court and not to any other situations such as reporting child abuse.
Whether His Honour gave a correct decision or not, there is an appeal system in the United States and other free countries. It's put in place so these lower court decisions can be reviewed and if necessary overturned.
I am aware that a motion to re-consider has been placed before His Honour explaining Holly and Heather's concerns. Usually the Court rejects motions to re-consider but maybe His Honour will have noted the mistake.
I am not a Jehovah's Witness or a member of the Berry counsel's team.But I do try to help these innocent victims of child abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses organization.I really feel for Holly and Heather over this and hopefully they were prepped for how hard these court battles are and the ups and downs that are associated with these court battles.
Yet, I know legal history is being made in this case and I am proud of the job all legal counsels, expert witnesses and the Judge are doing so far.
Thanks for doing this story Mr. Wolfe and I would like to thank your newspaper for publishing the story.
You are more than welcome to publish my above comments in your newspaper."
It appears he may have a few good points and hopefully "honest hearted" people will see this and cause justice to prevail.
This is the recent news report regarding the case:
Judge Says Church Elders Can Withhold Knowledge Of Abuse
CLAREMONT, N.H. -- A recent court ruling upheld a Jehovah's Witness church's right to withhold sex abuse allegations from police.
Sarah Poisson's two daughters brought a lawsuit against church elders at a Wilton congregation of the Jehovah's Witnesses. They said the elders failed to go to police when their mother reported numerous times that their father, a church member, was sexually abusing them.
"Church doctrine requires that all problems in the home are taken up with the body of elders," Poisson said.
Poisson said instead of going to authorities, the elders told her to pray more and be a better wife.
"I believed at that the time this organization stemmed directly from God," Poisson said. "I thought (God) would rectify matters."
Poisson eventually went to authorities herself, and her ex-husband was convicted of sexual assault charges. Years later, she said the church should bear some responsibility.
Some experts believe the church elders violated New Hampshire reporting laws.
"New Hampshire law is clear that anyone who has reason to suspect child abuse need to report that," said Cheryl Avery Molloy, of New Hampshire Prevent Child Abuse.
There is a legal gray area in religious environments. Some conversations with clergy are considered privileged.
When Poisson's daughters sued, a judge denied their claim of negligence, saying the elders did not have to report accusations because they were revealed in a privileged setting.
An appeal has been filed. Experts said if it's successful, the case would join a growing movement that's eroding churches' legal protections.
Here is another comment about Judge Groff's ruling:
"This is insane.
I think this case should be taken all the way to the United States Supreme Court, if possible.
Where does the Government draw the line?
Could NAMBLA become a religion in New Hampshire, and then legally molest and rape all the children they want?
Wait a minute, is the Ku Klux Klan a religion? Does that mean they can legally murder black people in New Hampshire?
Why doesn't Osama Bin Laden come and set up a religion in New Hampshire, and then he could legally blow up buildings?
So, according to this Judge, and according to New Hampshire's Laws, it is perfectly okay for Priests, Pastors, Elders, Rabbis, etc, etc to cover up and protect MURDERERS? RAPISTS? KIDNAPPERS? AL QAIDA TERRORISTS? MOLESTERS?
Where is the line drawn?
Can a religion in New Hampshire claim that according to its "Holy Book" its members must molest children, and this would be legal?
As George W. Bush has said: "Harboring terrorists is the same as being a terrorist".
Well, I say: "Harboring molesters is the same as being a molester".
Correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I know, there is NOTONESTATE in the country that BARS ANYONE FROM REPORTING ABUSE TO THE AUTHORITIES.
"Religious Privilege" simply means that "Ordained Ministers" are not REQUIRED to report, it does not BAR them from reporting, does it?
What does New Hampshire Law state that an "Ordained Minister" is? What are the requirements of being classified as an "Ordained Minister"?
Because, according to many, many Watchtower Publications, EVERY BAPTIZED JEHOVAH'S WITNESS IS AN "ORDAINED MINISTER"!
End of my Comments about Judge Groff's ruling. _____________________________________________
NASHUA (AP) -- French kissing doesn't amount to sexual contact under New Hampshire law, according to Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge William Groff.
Last week Judge Groff dismissed a felony sexual assault charge against a city teen-ager, finding that sexual assault laws don't cover kissing with the tongue.
The young man faced a charge of felonious sexual assault, involving a 6-year-old girl.
State law defines sexual contact as intentional touching of sexual or intimate parts.
The tongue, Judge Groff ruled, is neither sexual nor intimate.
Judge Groff's ruling doesn't set a binding precedent, but it can be cited by lawyers to support arguments in other cases.
Roland Simard, 18, originally was charged with eight felony sexual assault charges, alleging he sexually assaulted two girls, who were 5 and 6, between September 1998 and December 1998. He was 16 at the time, but was certified to stand trial as an adult.
Mr. Simard was tried on three charges, all involving the older girl, and was convicted on only one the French kissing charge.
Prosecutors dropped the other charges before the trial in February, largely because the younger girl was reluctant to testify, court records show.
Mr. Simard's lawyers argued he was entitled to a new trial on the French kissing charge, but also argued it should be dismissed for failing to allege a crime. Mr. Groff agreed on both points.
Mr. Groff's ruling recalled another of his decisions in a sexual assault case more than 10 years ago, involving the legal definition of sexual penetration.
In 1989, Mr. Groff overturned convictions of a Lowell, Mass., man who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a young boy in Nashua because the boy used the word "bum" rather than "anus" in his testimony. Because of the potential ambiguity of the word "bum," Mr. Groff found that the boy's testimony wasn't enough to prove sexual penetration.
Superior Court Judge William Groff's decision that French kissing doesn't meet the state law's definition of sexual contact strains credibility.
That decision, plus an earlier one by Judge Groff involving a young boy's use of the word "bum" instead of "anus" in his testimony, shows how difficult it is to prosecute sexual assault cases involving children.
The French kissing case involved a 16-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl. He was charged with kissing the girl on the lips and inserting his tongue into her mouth. Foisting one's tongue into another's mouth is a most intimate act, we'd say, and it's usually done for sexual gratification.
State law for the purpose of convicting someone of sexual assault defines sexual contact as "intentional touching of ... sexual or intimate parts, including breasts and buttocks ... which can reasonably be construed as being for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification."
It also defines "sexual contact" as "the intentional touching whether directly, through clothing or otherwise, of the victim's sexual or intimate parts, including breasts and buttocks."
Groff must be a strict constructionist. He reasoned that the tongue is neither sexual nor intimate. He wrote, "A tongue is not related to sexual relations, nor is it private. A tongue is displayed daily by the average person in speech and other conduct."
"To accept the state's definition of tongue as an 'intimate part,'" Groff wrote, "would result in a person potentially committing a felonious sexual assault by touching a person's tongue with a finger."
The judge further reasoned that French kissing can't be considered sexual contact under state law "even if done without consent and even if done for the purpose of sexual gratification."
The rationale may seem convoluted but it stands unless the Supreme Court were to rule otherwise. No decision has been made on whether to contest the ruling.
In his 1989 decision, Groff set aside a jury verdict convicting a 35-year-old man of aggravated sexual assault because the 12-year-old boy in his testimony wasn't precise in defining into what part of his buttocks the defendant had inserted his fingers. The state Supreme Court later upheld Groff's action, which had come under heavy criticism.
It's difficult to second-guess a judge, but Groff seems to be a stickler for definitions of sexual assault as stated in state law, without allowance for interpretation.
Perhaps he reasons that sexual assault convictions are so severe in nature that only strict adherence to the law as written and narrowly defined serves the ends of justice and guarantees due process for defendants.
But it does appear this approach makes for peculiar decisions, such as the one that says that a teen-age boy French kissing a 6-year-old isn't sexual assault.
Groff may have felt that the law was vague on this point, but his decision further adds to the confusion.
- The Nashua Telegraph ________________________________________________
Reuters reported that in MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE, Superior Court Judge William Groff set a national precedent by ruling that recovered memories of sexual assault cannot be used as evidence at a trial. One case involved accusations of rape against a 51-year-old teacher, John Monahan. The "victim" claimed she was 13 years old at the time of the rape, though she did not remember the incident until she underwent therapy. The other case involved accusations by a woman against her father, 58-year-old Joel Hungerford. She claimed he raped her on the eve of her wedding in 1991, but she did not recall it until after a year in therapy. The judge said in his opinion: "The phenomenon of memory repression and the process of therapy used in these cases to recover the memories have not gained general acceptance in the field of psychology and are not scientifically reliable." __________________________________________
NASHUA - A judge says an eighth-grade teacher's confession that he secretly videotaped pupils undressing and later threw the tapes away cannot be used during his trial.
Superior Court Judge William Groff ruled Tuesday that the police failed properly to inform Paul Gagnon, 44, of his rights before getting a taped confession.
In that confession, Gagnon, a former teacher at Nashua Catholic Regional Junior High School, said he had about 50 videotapes, according to testimony during a hearing earlier this month in Hillsborough County Superior Court. Gagnon also told detectives he had thrown out the tapes and cameras with the trash, court records show.
According to court records, the police found 119 videotapes, three video cameras, various child pornography, female undergarments and other items in a Dumpster outside the school.
Gagnon's lawyer, Eric Wilson, called it a major victory on one charge of destruction of evidence, which grew out of the items found in the trash after Gagnon learned police had been notified.
However, Groff said police searches of Gagnon's home and car were legal. Gagnon still faces 31 charges of possession of child pornography that did not involve pupils at the school.
Assistant County Attorney John Harding declined to comment on the rulings, but said the case would continue. The trial is scheduled for September.
Gagnon was arrested after pupils found a camera hidden in a room in which they changed for class skits.
Gagnon's lawyer argued that the police never read Gagnon his Miranda rights, informing him he had the right to a lawyer and that anything he said could and would be used against him in court.
Gagnon read a copy of the Miranda rights and said he understood them, but that waiver was limited to a written statement he made denying knowledge of the video camera at the school, according to court testimony.
When detectives questioned him further, he admitted using the camera to videotape children surreptitiously, court records show. When detectives later told Gagnon he would be charged with a felony and then taped his confession, they needed to read Gagnon his Miranda rights again but didn't, Groff ruled.