A reader recently asked about Oakland County Sheriff Johannes F. Spreen, who served as sheriff beginning in 1972 for three consecutive terms. There was clear conflict between Spreen and other law enforcement during the OCCK investigation and his points, especially in hindsight, are very well taken. More on that in another post. A search revealed this January 1980 arrest by Spreen’s deputies of an Oakland County man who committed sex crimes against three boys, for years, beginning when they were 10 or 11:
This man, Ralph W. Bryie, age 35 in 1980, was a salvage inspector WITH GENERAL MOTORS TRUCK & COACH DIVISION IN PONTIAC. Sounds like a pedophile and a trafficker to me. I could not find a photo of him. Does anyone remember this man?
Jon Vaughn, who played football for U of M until 1991 and was a victim of sports doc/sexual predator and assaulter Dr. Robert Anderson is picketing 24 hours a day in front of the home of U of M President Mark Schlissel. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2021/10/09/um-anderson-victim-picketing-schlissel-home/6076206001/. Vaughn won’t leave until Schlissel and the U of M Board of Regents talk with him and other victims of Anderson. He expressed hope that the victims and school officials could have a real conversation that moves toward reconciliation.
This is an amazing story. Really, is it asking too much for the president and the regents to meet with survivors of the monster that was enshrined in the U of M sports medicine department for decades? Bring your legal counsel along if you can’t handle it on your own, even after rising to the levels you have in academia. Although Schlissel has just announced plans to step down, Vaughn said he should be part of the conversation because he “has been less than transparent” during the school’s handling of the allegations against Anderson. Does anyone know the address of Mark Schlissel’s home in Ann Arbor?
People want the big job, the prestige of being a trustee, the Ivory Tower teflon, but none of the tough stuff like dealing with entrenched institutional protection of sexual predators. Really poor examples to the students who pay huge dollars to attend a school like U of M.
No one has called Jon Vaughn tortured or bitter. He is asking for legitimate consideration and his method is very powerful. After we spoke publicly in the OCCK case in 2009, “tortured and bitter” became a mantra of law enforcement and those who support them–forget it, those people are just tortured and bitter. Got dealt a bad hand, get over it, move on.
In 2006 my family learned of and came forward with information that led to the discovery of the long-buried names and files of Christopher Brian Busch and Gregory Woodard Greene. In 2009 we rang the bell after the Michigan State Police and the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office heaped on the obstructionist behavior and condescension. We came forward at great cost and pain, naively believing that someone in Oakland County or the state police would do the right thing. Instead, they shut down Wayne County and Livonia Det./Sgt. Cory Williams and then headed straight for us.
Yeah, we’ll meet with you losers (2009). But we won’t answer a single question and y’all can cool your heels in a conference room for 40 minutes–one bugged with a recording device. Now you can go fuck yourselves because this is still an “open investigation” and while you’re at it, quit talking to the press. You’ll get what you’ve come to expect in your son’s murder case: Nothing.
Yes, it was at great cost; we were ridiculed, gaslighted and fucked with, it didn’t move the needle, it stirred up a bunch of awful shit and so far has accomplished nothing.
We never questioned the job police and prosecutors did for 30 years. On the scale of things, knowing what we know now, just pretending the OCP and the MSP did everything they could and not having to put a face, let alone numerous faces, to these horrific crimes worked for us. “At the end of the day, they didn’t get their criminally insane, lone “babysitter” killer, but it was too hard!! and at least somehow the killings stopped!”
Of course eventually the package the OCP and a few at the MSP thought they had tied up with a bow exploded because eventually stuff like this always does. Rich pedophile son of a rich pedophile. “Suicide.” Death scene diorama that screamed “I’m the OCCK!” “The killer is probably dead or incarcerated or was institutionalized by a family protecting their good name.” No worries, the streets are once again safe for kids and teen hitch hikers!
All the bullshit that is now exposed and leaving us far more tormented than we were before. That’s what the last 15 years got us. Or is that our fault, too?
As one of my brothers recently said, the most heartbreaking part was learning that that the Busch stuff went down before Tim was abducted and murdered. That’s when shit got really real for us. And of course no one would talk to us about it. Excuses all the way around. Redactions and lies.
That’s why I like Jon Vaughn’s style. “‘This is just the beginning,’ he said Saturday, ‘I’m going to stay as long as it takes.'” There is another house in Ann Arbor I should go picket relentlessly owned by a man who has been “less than transparent” in the OCCK investigation and who, statistically speaking, doesn’t have that many years left to come clean.
Pennsylvania state Republican Senator Bob Mensch won’t vote for a law to help victims of child sexual abuse.
He is teaming up with state Senator Kim Ward, protector of priests and supporter of the insurance industry, to block this legislation. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/56938161/posts/3575128152. While the authors of the Penn Live opinion piece don’t know if Mensch is Catholic, he is certainly no mensch.
A private cold case team claimed today that it has identified the notorious Zodiac Killer, who terrorized Northern California in the late 1960s and taunted authorities with cryptic notes. Investigators with the Case Breakers — led by former FBI agents and retired law enforcement officials — identified the infamous killer as Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018. https://nypost.com/2021/10/06/zodiac-killer-identified-linked-to-sixth-murder-cold-case-squad/.
The FBI and the Riverside, CA, PD aren’t having any of it. https://fox2now.com/news/national/zodiac-killer-police-refute-investigators-claims-they-found-the-serial-murderer/. You know, “open investigation” and “DNA evidence, what DNA evidence?!” and all.
But take a look at The Case Breakers: https://thecasebreakers.org/, https://thecasebreakers.org/2021/10/meet-the-case-breakers-team/.
I prepared and mailed materials for Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald and Attorney General Dana Nessel this past January, https://catherinebroad.blog/2021/06/10/, which was largely ignored. Let’s face it, really totally ignored. Since that time a lot of additional work has been done to drill down on the source of corruption in this case and the child sex/porn ring that operated in parallel with the OCCK crimes in Oakland and Wayne counties. People without police powers collectively have many thousands of hours of heavy lifting in this case and part of this work involves getting the searchable document repository up and running. Assuming they all agree, contacting this group seems like a logical next step.
I realize The Case Breakers like “quiet deployment,” but it certainly seems we are way past that point in this case. There is a lot to be considered, but what we have is certainly more cogent and more organized that what the Michigan State Police Task Force has scattered in their paper files. It could cut the work required to get up to speed in this case by more than half. In fact, it could bring things into stark focus.
The Justice Department now reviewing the decision not to prosecute two FBI agents for their fails in the Nasser investigationPosted: October 5, 2021
New information has apparently come to light in the Department of Justice investigation into the FBI’s bungling of the Larry Nasser investigation and it is reevaluating its decision not to prosecute two FBI agents, Michael Langeman and Jay Abbott.
Langeman, the agent who had interviewed gymnast McKayla Maroney, was fired. Bigger fish agent Jay Abbott, who actually tried to game a security position with USA Gymnastics as he prepared to collect his government pension and conveniently ignored the Nasser investigation, was allowed to retire with full benefits. Too bad about that head of security position, Jay. That’s just what young women need–a guy like you on security detail.
Last month several renowned gymnasts who were abused by Nassar spoke before a senate panel about the lack of accountability and inaction and expressed outraged over the Justice Department’s decision to not charge Langeman and Abbott, who were referred by the department’s inspector general for potential prosecution.
Imagine if the OCCK case only involved lack of accountability and inaction.
There will be no retrial for Juwan Deering, 50, who was exonerated last week for an arson fire that killed five children. He spent 15 years in prison after being convicted in an Oakland County case which Prosecutor Karen McDonald said was without probable cause and “fraught with misstatements and misconduct.”
Deering expressed gratitude to McDonald, who “stood up when she saw something was wrong and did the right thing.” That takes courage in a milieu like Oakland County with its law enforcement and a bench that tends to heavily support the prosecution. The Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan’s law school asked McDonald for a new trial early this year, and she ordered a review of the case. Her predecessors would have looked the other way, of that I have no doubt.
Obviously I am writing about this case because it says something hopeful and encouraging about the OCP office now that Karen McDonald is prosecutor. I am also commenting on it because of what took place in Oakland County law enforcement and prosecution that resulted in an unfair trial in 2006. While a few people write me to defend the bench and bar of Oakland County (you haven’t swayed me), what happened to Juwan Deering exposes a version of what I and others have come to expect from prosecutors, investigators and judges in Oakland County. May this be the beginning of the end of that long and sad era. Today the scales of justice tend more toward balance.
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.