Archive for September, 2009

John Stoll Awarded 5.5 Million

Monday, September 28th, 2009

In Bakersfield, California, Kern County’s Board of Supervisors has agreed to settle for $5.5 million a federal lawsuit filed by John Stoll, now 66, whose molestation conviction was overturned in 2004 after he spent 20 years in prison. Michael Snedeker, President of NCRJ, together with attorneys for two California Innocence Projects, filed the case for Mr. Stoll in Fresno, California, in 2005. Stoll was one of 46 people charged in eight alleged “child sex rings” in Kern County between 1982 and 1985. He was the last in custody when his conviction was overturned. The cases fell apart as witnesses recanted their testimony and investigators’ techniques were shown to have created rather than discovered the cases. “At first,” said Snedeker, “We thought the cases were the product of overzealous but well-meaning people. But when we found tapes of interviews that supposedly did not exist, showing the use of techniques they swore were not used, we saw corruption – a deliberate trampling of Mr. Stoll’s rights and wrongful deprivation of his liberty, as well as the infliction of harm on the very children defendants were charged with protecting.”

Stoll’s case along with the other Kern County ‘ring” cases were the subject of the documentary “Witch Hunt”, produced and narrated by actor Sean Penn, released last fall and shown on MSNBC in April.

“It’s a sad situation for everyone involved, particularly for a man who lost 20 years of his life,” Kern County Supervisor Don Maben said of Stoll. “Hopefully we’ve learned enough that it won’t happen again.”

The Shanley Amicus, Submitted by 100 Leading Scientists

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Dear Friend of Justice,

Press accounts of the Shanley case have been mentioning an amicus that was submitted by 100 prominent and extremely well-credentialed scientists. You can read the brief for yourself by going here.

I am pleased that four members of the Advisory Board of my organization, the National Center for Reason and Justice, signed on to this clear and comprehensive brief.

-Bob Chatelle

We Must Stop Martha Coakley!

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Dear Friend of Justice,

When I first heard the unfortunate news about Senator Kennedy’s terminal illness, my blood ran cold at the thought of his being succeeded by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

I fear that Coakley is going to be hard to stop. She will be the only woman in a crowded race, and she is likely to have the enthusiastic support of the Boston Globe, which does its best to influence electoral politics in Massachusetts.

The media is making much of her “stellar” record in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office. Let’s look at that record.

First, there is the case of Ray and Shirley Souza. These were the Lowell grandparents falsely accused and convicted of molesting their own grandchildren. The case was spurred by a daughter who was victimized by a recovered-memory “therapist.” The testimony was manufactured by the same discredited methods used in the other high-profile cases of the day. Ray Souza is now deceased, but Shirley — a very fine woman — is saddled with living her life out as a registered sex offender.

Coakley was also the prosecutor in the case of Louise Woodward — the nanny accused of murdering a child in her care. There was no reliable medical evidence supporting this. Woodward was convicted, but the judge changed the verdict to manslaughter, sentenced her to time served, and released her to return to her native England.

Then there was the Fells Acres case.  The Amirault family was falsely accused and wrongly convicted of abusing children at the daycare school that they ran. This was one of the classic daycare cases, along with the McMartin case, Bernard Baran, the Little Rascals, and many others. While Coakley was not one of the original prosecutors, she fought the appeals tooth and nail. And when Gerald Amirault was pursuing a commutation, she orchestrated a disinformation campaign against the Amiraults.

Coakley and the Middlesex County DA’s office also did their best to derail at least one wrongfully convicted inmate’s efforts to prove his innocence via DNA evidence, at first denying that such evidence existed, then trying to impede access to it.  Once the evidence was obtained. and the inmate’s innocence was established, Coakley still tried (and failed) to strike a face-saving deal in which the exoneree would admit to a nonexistent measure of guilt.

And then there is the case of Paul Shanley The media campaign against Shanley was so successful that few consider his innocence a possibility. But innocent he is. I attended that trial. There was no evidence against him, other than the testimony of a sociopath who had collected a huge settlement from the church and who claimed to have massively repressed for decades all memory of terrible abuse that had occurred weekly for years.  There is no scientific evidence to support the theory of massive repression. I refer you to Dr. Richard McNally’s excellent book on the subject, Remembering Trauma.

I believe that Coakley is driven more by ambition than ideology. But her willingness to sacrifice the lives of innocent people in order to further her political goals is most troubling. If Massachusetts voters wish to honor Ted Kennedy’s legacy, they should send someone else to replace him.

-Bob Chatelle

Bernard Baran Health Update

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Dear Friend of Justice,

About a month ago I reported that Bee Baran had been diagnosed with pancreatitus. While I’ve had many inquiries about his health, I have refrained from posting until we had more information.

In the past month, Bee has had a great many tests and seen doctors, including a very good specialist. Only yesterday, a diagnosis was given.

Bee has a rare condition. He has antibodies in his system that attacked his pancreas as if they were attacking a foreign body. The specialist doesn’t know how he developed this condition, but it may have its roots in  an operation  he had at Shattuck Hospital when he was a prisoner. The level of these antibodies is low and his pancreas has returned to near normal functioning. But the specialist is undecided about treatment.

The antibodies could be knocked out with massive doses of prednisone. But such treatment could have nasty side effects. For one thing, it could leave him vulnerable to cancer. Should his antibody level increase, however, there would be little alternative.

For the next six weeks, his only treatment will be pain medication and something to keep his stomach settled. He has been asked to monitor and log everything he eats, his reactions, etc. He will see the specialist again and they will decide upon their next step.

Bee has been unable to work. He may have to go on unemployment or short-term disability. i will talk to him more about this.

Fortunately, we had started a fund-raising drive shortly before he became sick, and people have been very generous. Bee is most grateful for this help. And at this time we have every intention of holding our fund-raising party for him on September 12th.

I will keep you informed of any developments.

-Bob Chatelle