Archive for June, 2012
By Attorney David Engler
“I would be totally shocked by an acquittal”, said Joseph Amendola, the lawyer for the alleged serial pedophile Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky.
Those are not the words you want to see come out of your defense attorney’s mouth as a jury deliberates whether you should go to jail for the rest of your sorry life for being this nation’s most infamous pedophile. Right after the defense lawyer was done speaking, the Judge summoned the lawyers back into chambers probably to remind them all there was a gag order. A gag order can be adopted by a court particularly when it is a case heard by a jury. By the way, the victim’s testimony on the stand would have caused any person to gag. And as the jury was starting to select the foreperson, Jerry Sandusky’s 33 year old ADOPTED son said he was molested as well. Oh yeah, another young man who didn’t testify and was not seeking civil damages said he was molested over 100 times by the man who lured boys into his sick clutches by bestowing gifts and running a charity for troubled children, most without a father figure.
Perhaps the lawyer was stating the obvious or maybe he was setting his client up for an ineffective assistance of counsel claim since he also sat by Sandusky on national television as he stumbled over the question of do young boys sexually attract him.
But what is most striking about the case is that it is hard to spot a pervert. This was a football coach working for Joe Paterno. He was the dean of Linebacker U. He ran a charity to help kids, he fostered children and even adopted them.
In a recent case, I represent a mother trying to annul an adoption by a stepparent because she learned the husband/father was not who she thought him to be. And her concerns about sexual abuse where met with the same type of responses so many women get who raise the issue. They are perceived as playing the “abuse card”. The timing of their complaints is called into question. The shocking truth is that most of the complaints are true but difficult to prove. Guardian ad litem appointed to see to the welfare of the children, become themselves manipulated by the abuser. The GALs are poorly trained to understand the complexities of abuse allegations and unfamiliar with the body of scholarly research that suggests most of these complaints should be taken seriously.
In Trumbull County, Ohio the case worker displayed the amazing lack of understanding that an assessment done before a stepparent adoption should not be taken any less lightly than any other non-relative adoption. The case worker actually said the mother should have known these things about the man she married. The caseworker was unfamiliar with the notion that a pedophile will groom the mother and the victim. And this is the case worker who does the assessments before an adoption takes place in Trumbull County. If the public knew how little the assessor understood the importance of her job, they would be outraged and frightened for the children.
If the Jerry Sandusky case has brought any good it might be an increased awareness that pedophiles adopt, pedophiles want to be foster parents and pedophiles work on keeping themselves cloaked and their victims silenced. Please understand that there is nothing these victims could receive that could replace what was stolen from them. Jerry Sandusky in jail forever would simply be a small part of justice.
By Attorney David Engler
The family of first generation Mexican immigrants lived in a small town named Shiner, Texas about 130 miles west of Houston. The land is not easy to farm because the sun is so relentless and the soil rocky.
But the extended family worked their farm and raised horses and crops enough to keep everyone fed. There was never enough money to buy the newest John Deere harvester or spend much money on building new barns.
When Jesus, 47, who hung around the local hardware shop and the two beer joints at night offered to come shoe the horses for a few bucks, the young 23 year old father of two agreed.
It was a Saturday in June and the work was going to be capped off with barbecued chicken on the grill. He had plenty of Mesquite wood lying around to give it a taste like his Dad used to make it. Sunday was going to father’s day. He would relax only then.
Around 3:30 pm Miguel heard a scream and at the same time a young neighbor boy turned the corner and yelled, a man had taken Angel from the house crying. Miguel could recall the sprint to the barn from where he heard his daughter scream. Back along a pile of fencing, Jesus was on top of his daughter with his pants at his ankles. By 4:30 pm the local coroner would pronounce Jesus dead. Miguel had landed the eight blows quickly to the head and neck of his daughter’s attacker. His five year old daughter was sobbing.
After beating Jesus Flores, the father called 911.
“I need an ambulance,” the father told the dispatcher, according to 911 tapes released by police. “This guy was raping my daughter and I beat him up and I don’t know what to do. This guy is fixing to die on me, man, and I don’t know what to do.”
“Come on! This guy is going to die on me!” he continued during the frantic, five-minute call. “I don’t know what to do!”
Emergency workers, as well as the daughter’s grandfather and aunt, tried to revive Flores but could not. Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon said he found the distraught father crying, saying that he had not intended to kill Flores.
“He’s a peaceable soul, ” V’Anne Huser, the father’s attorney, said. “He had no intention to kill anybody that day.”
The local sheriff ruled it a homicide, because that is what it was. In the low hills of Texas people talked straight. Within a day the local prosecutor presented the case to a grand jury that just as plainly said, Miguel was justified.
Being justified. It is the doing of an act that no reasonable person would say should not have been done. No one really needs a law book to read the defense laid out in Texas law that deadly force to stop a sexual attack is justifiable. Of course it is. If Miguel’s wife had turned the same corner and seen this drifter raping her girl and her husband landing blow after blow; she would not have stopped it. There is not a place in my mind where I can say he should not have delivered such a sure and swift justice. The beauty of this story is the remorse shown by Miguel. No one would have ever blamed him yet he said he did not mean to kill.
The father’s protection of his children knows no bounds. For Miguel there will be nightmares. But he shall forever be justified.
Also published on Attorney David Engler’s Legal Blog http://davidengler.wordpress.com//
By Attorney David Engler
The decent looking guy is telling the YPD officer not to come closer or he will jump. It is not known exactly if the officer knew that John Sylvester had 16 years earlier held his girlfriend in a headlock and shot her point blank in the face. He did 10 to 28 years for attempted murder but on this Sunday he was sitting on the edge of the Market Street Bridge spanning the Mahoning River. Of course no one in the Valley wants to go swimming in the Mahoning since its waters have long ago been polluted by the mills that once lined the river from Lowellville through Struthers, Youngstown, Girard and Warren. And John wasn’t interested in swimming. He told the police that he had forgotten what happened earlier that day. (The insanity defense didn’t work 16 years ago but maybe this time he could pull it off)
Earlier that day John had erupted into a rage against his new wife. His control over her was slipping. She dared to tell him she would not tolerate his rages and odd sense of jealousy. The fight had been simmering for months. They were living apart. He returned that Sunday to her parents’ house in a middle income neighborhood filled with the sound of children playing at the first days of summer break. He thought there was a chance he could work things out with his beautiful, smart and well-liked wife. But his head was instantly filled with fury when he found out that she was moving on and had just recently been out talking with another man. The butcher knife was on the counter. Thinking wasn’t necessary. She would learn quickly that it could only be him.
When they first met he was sweet and accommodating. At first there was a large blank spot in his history that she had no idea about. Then her friends reported to her the rumors of what happened to his first girlfriend. If only she had used Court View she could have seen the sentence and crime was more serious than he said. Why was she so naive to believe his story that he was wrestling the gun from his girlfriend when it went off. He said he was very young and it was a terrible case of teenage hormones, booze and an angry girlfriend. The justice system sucked he told her. By the time doubts started to creep in…the baby was on the way.
But this was not the time for self-doubt. She could feel the slicing of the knife into her skin and her only thought was to flee and at all costs protect her son. It was the stuff where Post Traumatic Stress Disorders come from. Fight or flee. She did both.
This bright day John was sitting on the bridge wondering whether to jump and not face what would certainly be a sentence that puts him behind bars for at least twenty years if not a life sentence if the prosecutor rings him up on attempted murder and kidnapping. But either way he did not want to go back to prison. He might have been decent looking and a fast talker but he was never a match for the real street gangsters that run the joint.
What did this mild mannered time hardened cop tell him. Sargent Lomax works family crimes and has seen a daily dose of beat up women, abused children, drug addled kids and their parents enough to last five careers if it wasn’t for his luck to be a cop in one of the toughest city’s in America. He did his job. He makes no value judgments other than his job is to save lives. He would not make a judgment even over the life of someone so vile and despicable that would shoot a girlfriend in the face, then slash his baby’s mother and infant son’s foot sixteen years later.
The negotiator had learned some basic skills in classes but almost all of it came from years of dealing with the abused and their abusers. More than anything Lomax had learned long ago that judgments were better left for a judge, jury or ultimately God. He had a job to do. In between his words of encouraging John off the ledge words flashed through his mind. They were never spoken. Words like “John it is not that much of a drop or there is nothing left for you here or save everybody the effort and take the first step…it’s easy”. No he said the boy should have a father and he needed help to calm the demons and people still cared about him. The Sargent spoke in calm words that this was no way to end this story.
He came off the edge of the bridge.
Author’s note: The stories are true but license is taken to tell these tales of love, loss and the heartbreaks that happen in families. I do not divulge confidences of my client’s unless they ask me to. I practice family law, criminal law and fight for people whose backs are against the walls. Every day I come across ordinary people like Sargent Lomax who do extraordinary work. It is my privilege to share these thoughts with you. The picture is from the Tribune Chronicle.