[It should be noted that the following Arlington Journal article titled "Bad Dad Gets Five-year Term" and related letters are copyrighted. The contents may not be reproduced without permission of the publisher, The Arlington Journal, 2720 Prosperity Avenue, Fairfax, Virginia 22034-1000. The Civic Association received permission to publish this information in the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association Newsletter.]
A 34-year-old Arlington man charged with raping his daughter when she was 10 years old was sentenced to five years in prison last week on a lesser charge of fondling the child.
The man avoided a stronger sentence because the jury could not decide whether he also raped his daughter.
The man, whose identity is withheld to protect his daughter's identity, was arrested last January on charges he raped and molested his daughter, who is now 14, several times over a four-year period. The girl testified against him. A 12-member jury found the man guilty Friday of indecent liberties but could not reach a consensus on the charge of rape.
"In general I don't think they want to believe that a father would do this to his daughter," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Molly Newton.
According to court testimony, after he was arrested the father told detectives: "I know I did wrong. I need help."
The father admitted to fondling his daughter.
The girl's mother who was married to the girl's father at the time, testified her daughter seemed depressed and despondent at the time of the abuse. The parents are in the process of divorce.
While on the stand, the girl said the abuse occurred when no one else was in the home.
"Her story has always been the same, from the preliminary trial up until the trial," Newton said.
But the victim's paternal grandmother, who was living with the family at the time of the abuse, has led a charge against the accusations, describing them as a "witchhunt."
The grandmother testified she did not observe inappropriate behavior between her son and granddaughter.
The grandmother declined to comment about the case last week. Amy Jones-Baskaran, the grandmother's friend and president of the VIA Coalition--a group that monitors public officials--said she observed several "procedural irregularities" during the trial.
According to Jones-Baskaran, the father was denied bond at three separate bond hearings and did not get to meet with his attorney when requested.
He was unable to attend one of his bond hearings, Jones- Baskaran said, because jail officials couldn't find him in the jail. They had relocated him to a jail section reserved for inmates on suicide watch.
And the girl never underwent a gynecological exam, Jones- Baskaran said.
"I feel this case is indicative of what's happening in Arlington. I don't think it's a fair trial," she said.
Newton said the father's defense counsel did not initially contest the bond.
Jones-Baskaran said the Juvenile Court judge may not have set a bond if she determined the father was danger to society.
And, Newton said, the father may not have been released since he would have returned to the same home where the daughter was living. Later, when the grandmother had procured a separate home, the court decided she would not be a reliable caretaker for her son, Newton said.
The defense attorneys also twice continued the preliminary hearing.
Defense attorneys Peter Baskin and John DeJoseph were unavailable for comment last week.
The father, at the discretion of Arlington County Court and law enforcement officials, may be retried on the rape charge at the conclusion of his five-year prison sentence.
THE ARLINGTON JOURNAL, DECEMBER 19, 1996, COMMENTARY: Truth Didn't Matter in Arlington
By: Paul Craig Roberts
Columnist John Leo recently pointed out that truth now plays second fiddle to other goals deemed to be more important such as success and self-esteem.
Among his examples are two schools in Milwaukee that boost the self-esteem of blacks by teaching that black Egyptians once had wings and flew among the pyramids until the Europeans came and killed all the winged Africans.
Before you laugh, take note that the same disregard for truth now permeates our courtrooms.
One year ago a mother and father in Arlington were concerned that a sexual relationship had developed between their 13-year- old daughter and a 28-year-old woman who lived in their apartment complex. When the father tried to terminate the assumed affair, the pair apparently retaliated by accusing him of raping his daughter.
The Arlington police made no effort to investigate both sides of the story. The police presumed the father's guilt and undertook to bring an indictment.
A tape of the father's interrogation by Arlington detective Stewart Chase shows the detective lying to the father by falsely claiming that the police had medical evidence proving that he had raped his daughter. The tape also shows repeated attempts by detective Chase to put words in the shell-shocked father's mouth and to deceive him into a confession.
During the trial, which was attended by my associate, Lawrence Stratton, a lawyer and former federal judicial clerk, detective Chase admitted on the stand the he had lied to the defendant when he claimed to have medical evidence of rape.
The tape also shows repeated denials by the father--79 to be precise--of the charge that he had raped his daughter. Nonetheless, detective Chase informed Child Protective Services of the allegations and they subsequently took custody of the daughter.
Then a grand jury brought in the indictment, based in part on the detective's testimony, which included suggestions the father had confessed to raping his daughter in the taped interrogation.
After hearing the tape of the interrogation and evidence from the defense's expert witness, who provided enlarged photographs of the daughter's vagina and described her as in possession of an intact "pristine hymen," the trial jury refused to convict on the rape charge.
After the trial was over, a juror told Stratton that several jurors were disturbed that the police had failed to investigate the parents' suspicion of sexual abuse of their daughter by her adult friend, especially after hearing the daughter's comments that she hoped the trial's outcome would be the opportunity to live with her friend.
Prosecutor Molly Newton, meanwhile, has announced she intends to retry the father. If justice is the purpose of prosecutions, it is past time for Newton and detective Chase to find out whether the father's suspicion is true: that he was thrown to the wolves by two females to protect their relationship.
The truth could easily have been established had the police conducted an investigation then. But, after a year's delay the truth will be harder to find. Instead of investigating the possibility of a self-serving allegation, Arlington County chose to investigate only one allegation that has possibly destroyed a family.
And the daughter has suffered as well. She has been continuously recycled between psychiatric hospitals and foster homes, and is currently in a resident psychiatric facility.
This could join a long list of mishandled child sex abuse cases. Recently, there have been TV documentaries on falsely convicted parents, including the recent flare-up in Wenatchee, Washington, where two dozen parents are in prison fighting to overturn convictions that all resulted from increasingly suspicious allegations from a single police officer. And last week in Illinois three assistant county prosecutors and four sheriffs' deputies were indicted on charges they framed innocents in the rape case of a 10-year-old girl.
(Paul Craig Roberts is the John M. Olin fellow at the Institute for Political Economy. He writes a column for the Scripps Howard News Service.)
THE ARLINGTON JOURNAL DECEMBER 27, 1996, LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Taking up for a convicted felon
BY: RICHARD E. TRODDEN, Commonwealth's attorney
The truth does matter in Arlington. The fact that Paul Craig Roberts (column, Dec. 19) has taken up the cause of a previously convicted felon, wife abuser, and now convicted child molester does not alter this.
While Mr. Roberts is entitled to his opinion on this case, he is not entitled to have his own set of facts. His "search for the truth" missed many important points.
Mr. Roberts' column was an insult to the integrity of Arlington jurors who found the defendant guilty. In view of the glaring omissions, one wonders if the truth matters to him.
THE ARLINGTON JOURNAL, JANUARY 28, 1997, LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Lame defense by Arlington prosecutor
BY: PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS Alexandria
In a Dec. 19 column printed in The Journal, I accurately described the plight of an Arlington father who was charged with raping his 13-year-old daughter over 60 times. The alleged rapes had occurred in the distant past, but the rape charge was brought immediately upon the father taking action to break up what he believed to be a sexual relationship between his daughter and an older woman.
Many facts in the case, including statements made by the daughter, suggest that the rape charge was a retaliatory step taken by the two females to protect their relationship from the father.
The police made no effort to investigate both sides of the story, but presumed the father's guilt and undertook to bring an indictment with the help of abusive tactics.
The detective in charge of the case lied to the father in an attempt to coerce a confession and incorrectly informed both Child Protective Services and a grand jury that the father had admitted the offense. The tape of the father's interrogation contains 79 firm denials and no admissions of the charge.
In his defense of what has the appearance of a frame-up, Commonwealth's Attorney Richard E. Trodden attempts to deflect my legitimate criticism with deception (Letters, Dec. 27).
He takes a quote from the tape of the father's interrogation out of context to create the appearance that the father confessed: "I full well expect to go directly to hell for what I've done." Actually, this is a self-serving misquote.
On the tape the father says: "I full well expect now to go completely to hell over this." From the context, moreover, it is clear that the father is expressing his assessment that he is going to be railroaded on the basis of a false charge in retaliation for trying to shield his under-aged daughter from a lesbian relationship.
Mr. Trodden's only other bit of "evidence" is a quote ascribed to the father by the police: "I know I've done wrong, I need help." This alleged confession is not on the tape, has no witnesses, and is denied by the father.
The inability of the commonwealth's attorney to answer my factual criticisms or to defend the trial with any evidence other than two dubious one-sentence quotes convinces me that the prosecution's case had no basis in objective evidence.
The jury failed to convict the father on the rape charge on which he was tried, but succumbed to class prejudices and threw the prosecution a bone by convicting on the tacked-on charge of "parental indecent liberties for fondling," a superfluous charge in the event of rape.
This charge was apparently based on the father's admission that his daughter, a large girl, would occasionally jump on him and roughhouse.
Prosecutors and police have found that juries are predisposed to convict on child sex abuse charges, and ambition is crowding out justice. If easy convictions in Arlington produce a witch hunt comparable to what has occurred in Wenatchee, Washington, the county will be afflicted not only with injustice but also with civil damage suits for wrongful prosecutions.
Paul Craig Roberts