This is an excellent opinion piece from yesterday’s NYT written by Jane Manning, director of the Women’s Equal Justice Project and a former sex crimes prosecutor:
Perhaps one of the biggest fails of all times, one that indeed involved conduct that “was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter,” to be not only sexually assaulted and raped but murdered and dumped in a ditch, was based in the office of Oakland County prosecutor L. Brooks Patterson in early 1977. In a reversal of the malfeasance described by Ms. Manning, where police investigators or prosecutors’ investigators fail to do even the basic work required to prosecute sex crimes and then the cases are declined by prosecutors for inadequate evidence, the malfeasance in the OCCK case begins with the prosecutor’s office and the infection was spread to Robertson and Krease of the Michigan State Police who headed the OCCK “task force.”
If Merrick Garland is to truly take on the serious histories of mishandling sexual assault cases (including those escalating to murder!) and mistreating survivors, the Department of Justice should start with the most appalling public corruption evidenced by the playbook of the 1977 OCP office and the MSP. The failure to properly investigate or prosecute other pedophiles who were given a free pass in Oakland County during that era (because those at the top could not risk any investigation that would reveal pedophiles in high places operating freely in a wealthy, white suburb) only compounds the depravity.
When a candidate for public office tells you they have a child-centered agenda (and this includes prosecutors, attorney generals, legislators, and sheriffs–all politicians), give them a copy of this opinion piece and ask them just how focused they intend to be on the issue of protecting children.
That some on the inside of the small circle of malfeasance in the OCCK case have met their maker is irrelevant. Those down the line at the OCP and the MSP perpetuated the malfeasance. Their malfeasance and subsequent failures must also be “confronted and changed for the sake of survivors and us all.”
Here is a great article from the Livingston Daily about retired Det. Cory Williams’ work on the OCCK investigation and Marney Keenan’s book, The Snow Killings: Inside the Oakland County Child Killer Investigation (2020).
The Livingston Daily is in Livingston County, just under an hour northwest of Oakland County. Proof that interest in this 45-year-old cold case extends beyond the confines of Planet Oakland County.
Thanks to the reporter, Kayla Daugherty, for taking an interest and following through.
Editorial in The Pennsylvania Tribune-Democrat:
https://www.tribdem.com/news/editorial-senate-again-choosing-abusers-over-sexual-assault-victims/article_aa426bba-1d4b-11ec-b395-6fb9da6cb939.html. (Read the comment from a retired captain of the Philadelphia P.D. as well.)
The lobbyists from the insurance industry and the Catholic church clearly gave their mouthpiece, Pennsylvania state senate majority leader Kim Ward, the constitutional “retroactivity” soundbite. Two big words–constitution and retroactivity. Ward has stalled legislation which would open a two-year window for sexual abuse victims to sue the organizations that failed to act or covered up that abuse, even if cases fall outside the statute of limitations. The bill passed the Pennsylvania house by a 3:1 margin in April.
Ward, a member of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, who was a respiratory therapist before “entering politics,” is not an attorney. https://www.senatorward.com/biography/. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro challenged the argument that such a move would not pass constitutional muster. A lawsuit “window bill” was first introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature in 2005. Since then, 18 other states have passed similar legislation on behalf of abuse victims.
Legislation is honed by legislative counsel and retroactivity has apparently not been raised as a successful defense in cases brought during such “window” periods. To round out her knowledge beyond that provided by lobbyists, Ward could have considered a report prepared by Child USA, the National Think Tank for Child Protection, covering the history of U.S. child abuse statute of limitations reforms from 2002 to 2020.
Ward says she prefers a constitutional amendment–which based on the history of legislation and litigation in other states, as well as her state’s own attorney general–is unnecessary. But what she no doubt likes is the delay that would be involved–the hoops involved in such an amendment would push consideration out until 2023 at the earliest. As The Tribune-Democrat editorial makes clear, the issue is not going away no matter what stall tactics the Pennsylvania senate engages in.
I know it’s probably much more fun to go to lunch with lobbyists from the insurance industry and her Catholic church, but Ward could have just skipped to page 76 of the Child USA report on statutes of limitations reform for a little more insight to round out her consideration:
When the Catholic church could no longer crush victims of clergy sexual abuse behind the scenes, they expanded their “war” to the legislative battle field. They’ve won battles with the help of their acolytes like Ward. But eventually the Catholic church and its toadies are going to lose the war. They stopped asking “what would Jesus do?” a very long time ago. What would their attorneys and lobbyists do? We all know the answer to that question.
A group of about 100 people gathered on the University of Michigan campus to demand accountability and transparency in the case of sexual deviant and predator Dr. Robert Anderson ahead of a meeting of the university’s Board of Regents. The demonstration followed the university’s announcement of a finalized policy for responding to sexual abuse allegations. (Thirty years too late.)
Investigators, including those sanctioned by U of M, found that the university missed multiple opportunities to stop Dr. Anderson, who was director of the university health services and team physician for the athletic department over more than three decades. In a story that is getting as tiring as it is enraging, this man was allowed to retire without incident in 2003 and was given the “what a great person” send-off funeral in 2008.
Anderson is accused of giving prolonged hernia checks, unnecessary prostate exams and engaging in masturbation during exams, among other things. But hey, the university apologized and offered counseling to the accusers who include former football players, other university athletes, patients from his medical practice and pilots who saw Anderson for physicals. Sorry we had a creep on staff and blew off those who tried to speak out about him!
The only thing that changes this kind of sick culture, where a doctor can get away with this, accusers are not believed, and the criminal actions never addressed, is a massively huge monetary settlement. The kind that makes the Board of Regents and the university president have to go begging to their big donors/benefactors to refill their coffers. That’s the only way to make them transparent and accountable. Keep a guy like this on staff and it’s gonna cost you. You can address these issues as they happen, or you can pay a lot more later. With interest.
It doesn’t take a U of M business school grad to do the math here.
Thank you to a reader who found this photo of Frank Shelden–the only one I have ever seen where the guy does not have on a hat. It is dated 1972, and the middle initial is incorrect, but this is the Fox Island Shelden. In his early/mid-forties in this shot:
On Tuesday, Oakland County Judge Jeffrey Matis ruled a man who has spent 15 years in prison for a fire that killed five children was deprived a fair trial and overturned Juwan Deering’s murder and arson convictions.
This is a significant. The prosecutor retained a special prosecutor to investigate the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Deering, to avoid any conflict of interest. The prosecutor herself appeared, rather than an underling, and bluntly explained what was reported by the special prosecutor. This included newly discovered evidence concerning the prosecutor’s use of and the credibility of three jailhouse informants who testified against Deering in 2006, and an interview with one of the children who was in the house when the fire started. The interview, conducted during the investigation, was recorded on video shortly after the fire. Only part of the recorded interview was found in the prosecutor’s file; the second half was missing. The second half was missing.
The report further explained that “The jury was materially misled about all three jailhouse informants’ relationships with the (Oakland County Sheriff’s Office) and (Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office), their motives and their credibility.” A little sunshine, a mea culpa and perhaps hope that Karen McDonald is cleaning house. That will be a big, big job. Let’s hope it can continue.
Judge Matis rejected both the prosecutors and defense attorneys’ arguments that Deering should be freed on bond, as well as the prosecutor’s statement that “[g]iven the current lack of evidence, every additional day Mr. Deering spends in prison furthers that injustice [of being denied his constitutional right to a fair trial].” Deering will remain in prison pending the decision by the prosecutor, expected next week, whether or not to retry him.
The judge’s ruling on bond, in the face of both sides arguing in favor of it, does not diminish the significance of a prosecutor acknowledging and accepting responsibility for the misconduct of her predecessors. That is a good sign.
Fast forward from 1992 and the six month sentence a Mecosta County, MI judge imposed on a pedophile county commissioner to 2021 when a Fairfax, VA judge decried the lame plea agreement the county attorney had reached with a pedophile who victimized a young relative. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/judge-zaldivar-sentence-abuse/2021/09/20/85258424-1a40-11ec-8380-5fbadbc43ef8_story.html.
The judge called the plea deal that the office of Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano had reached with Oscar Zaldivar “woefully inadequate” because it capped the 53-year-old’s sentence at about 17 years. The judge explained that under Virginia law he could find no way to scuttle the plea deal.
The young girl’s parents waged an unusual legal battle to try to challenge the plea agreement. Try as he might, the judge could not find a way around a maximum sentence of 17 years, 2 months. The judge said the following at the sentencing hearing: ““I don’t know how people can listen to your pain and disregard it. I’m offended for you.”
The prosecutor who fucked this one up apparently took solace in the fact that the defendant would be over sixty when he gets out of prison. He doesn’t get it. These men NEVER age out of their sex abuse patterns with children. The defendant in the Mecosta County case was 72 by the time he was finally caught. https://catherinebroad.blog/2021/09/20/i-began-by-trying-to-report-it-to-the-michigan-state-police/. And as a reader pointed out, these evil fucks tend to live a long time. But they don’t change their stripes.
It’s not just investigators who need to be specially trained to investigate sex crimes. The prosecutors and judges need to get it, too. Just one part of this chain goes sideways and the result is a miscarriage of justice.
You should be, you freak.
On March 17, 1992, The Detroit Free Press reported that longtime Mecosta County, MI county commissioner Ray Christiansen, age 71, pleaded guilty to molesting children. He was set to stand trial the following month for molesting four young girls. At the time, the charged crimes could have resulted in a sentence of 15 years. A plea agreement provided Christiansen would not be sentenced to more than a year in prison, and remarkably, that he could not be charged with similar crimes should other victims come forward.
A compassionate reader sent me an opinion piece that appeared in the local Mecosta County newpaper, The Pioneer, a little over a month later on April 30, 1992.
The download is difficult to read (photo of a clipping sent to me), so I am going to retype it in full. Some parts are hard to decipher even with a magnifying glass and I note my interpretation with brackets in places. Of course you can’t find this article online; friends of the former commissioner probably saw to that.
OPINION, Pioneer Thursday, April 30, 1994, PAGE 4
There was no one willing to help me prosecute this child molester.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following two articles were written by the mother and father of a nine-year-old girl who police say was sexually assaulted by Ray Christiansen. The 72-year-old longtime Mecosta County commissioner was sentenced recently to similar charges to one year in jail–six months must be served now and the remaining six months at the court’s discretion. The parents’ names have been suppressed [?] to protect the identity of their daughter. The purpose for publishing the two articles is to show the frailties [?] and frustrations of the two–a male/female perspective.
I was finally here, about to listen to the judge pronounce sentence on our neighbor, the Mecosta County Commissioner Ray Christiansen, for molesting my daughter and several of her friends. I prayed that all of my pushing, pressuring and persuading had been enough.
It began in September 1991, when a mother of one of my daughter’s friends called to say what happened to them, and to have me ask my daughter if Ray had done anything to her. I knew with cold certainty he had before I even asked, before she told me with tears streaming down her face that she thought it was her fault and felt dirty and ashamed because of it.
I began by trying to report it to the state police but they claimed no knowledge of Ray doing anything wrong and wouldn’t listen. Finally I was able to find the right social worker in Big Rapids who could get the state police to believe me.
Then came several phone calls to the Mecosta County prosecuting attorney, and Mecosta County judges to find out what being done, only to discover they had dropped it like a hot potato, because Ray held their purse strings. They knew then something was wrong. After all we don’t send our children to the neighbors to be spanked when they misbehave.
After six weeks of calls to the state attorney general, who misplaced the file, and to Jim Samuels, the Mecosta County prosecuting attorney, who didn’t want to talk about it, they were finally able to come up with a neighbor to spank their naughty child, Larry Burdick, the Isabella County prosecuting attorney. [They handed off the case to a special prosecutor, Burdick, because they wouldn’t go after one of their own.]
However, he had not received the police reports and could not start until he had all the papers. Another series of phone calls produced papers needed, and I was told that my child would have to relive the experience once again for Larry Burdick.
I prayed he was not [erroneous?] as the state troopers had been, reducing my tiny 40 pound daughter to nothing, learned it was much worse. Larry Burdick [ . . . ?] conducted the interview without my being present.
It went against all of my maternal instincts to leave my child alone with a complete stranger who would force her to do something she did not want to do. This all resulted in the original 12 being reduced to six who would be willing to testify and be reduced further still to the four Ray would be charged with.
For months I made phone calls to lawyers who told me to be a “good girl” and sit and wait as politicians who hid behind the law and said they couldn’t intervene on an individual’s behalf and to organizations nationwide that gave me referral numbers, who gave me more referral numbers, which referred me back to the politicians and lawyers.
There was no one willing to help me prosecute this child molester, but several who were willing to help ensure the child molester’s rights were not violated.
The one resource to come through for the children was The Pioneer and its staff, whether because of my pushing or because Ray was a public figure did not matter. But then I had to listen to the judge chastise the newspaper in his opening remarks and trivialize their efforts.
I had sat behind Ray as he spoke to the judge, and watched him cross his fingers behind his back and say he was sorry and had tried to tell us so but we rebuffed him, remembering the only words Ray had ever spoken to me being “It never happened.”
I listened to Ray tell the judge that whoever thought a proper punishment was to disfigure him to make him frightening to all children was barbaric. That person was my nine year old daughter. I listened as he told the judge a more fitting punishment would be to work on the Commission for Aging and give him a small fine.
I listened with silent rage as he said with self-righteous conviction that he had “never been on welfare.” As if to say he was allowed to do as he pleased with any child who was on welfare.
I then listened to the judge give Ray a 6 to 12-month jail sentence, five years on probation and $25,000 in ordered payments. It was not enough! I made a vow that I would not let it end here. I am now doing everything I can to form an organization to fill in a terrible gap. I want to be there to help children and their parents go through the cold, insensitive legal system, so that child molesters and rapists won’t feel, like Ray does, that they don’t hurt anyone.
Crimes of a sexual nature: The laws are for men only
When I discovered that Raymond Christiansen had molested my daughter, I was very angry. The anger turned into a soul destroying fear. A fear that I could not protect my child. I cried a lot that day.
I told my daughter we should call the police about the incident with Ray. I told her it was illegal for any man to fondle young children. She didn’t want to tell about what happened anymore, to anyone. I managed to convince her to report Ray, so we could stop him from fondling other children. She agreed to talk to the State Police with us. When she did, the policemen said there had been 11 reports so far, and they expected more.
I assumed that the police would arrest Ray, that he would go to jail, and that would be the end of it. Boy was I wrong!
Raymond Christiansen knew the law and procedure very well. Well enough to deny all 12 of the different girls claims of his misconduct. Ray would not confess like a man, he would rather drag the victims through court.
I have come to realize the loophole that exists in sexual assault cases, rape cases, and sexual misconduct cases. This loophole is called intimidation. The molesters use this loophole in hopes of the victims dropping their charges against them.
It was when I convinced Ray my daughter would face him in court , we were able to turn the tables and intimidate him. He finally plead guilty. Only in sex crimes is it necessary to sacrifice oneself to do justice. The law should not be this way especially when children are involved. The sacrifice comes in the form of reliving a humiliating, degrading experience of a very personal nature. Not only once, but many times to several different strangers.
As in my daughter’s instance, she had to tell the police, the prosecuting attorney and if Ray had not of plea bargained, she would have had to tell the judge, jury, court reporter, and an entire room full of people.
The laws pertaining to crimes of a sexual nature must have been [legislated] by men for men. For there is a great deal of insensitivity in regards to the feelings of children and women.
Father of a Victim
Maybe if law enforcement in Michigan started playing by the rules–on the streets and in FOIA cases, tax payers wouldn’t have to pay as much for your fuck ups when you do get caught and you could stop complaining about having your unfair protections, exceptions and exemptions examined.
In law enforcement, as in life, those that cheat and lie about the “little things” (hiding FOIA documents for the prosecutor, destroying records, making exceptions for criminals who are public officials) probably cheat on the big things, too. No wonder they want to keep their qualified immunity and keep their police misconduct files secret.