Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sadie Smile of the Year: Vindicated!

I was in the car driving to Sacramento when I heard the news. I didn't need to go. The verdict was already in... The girls and I turned back and waited to hear the news "officially" although I had a feeling I knew what it was:

Praise God! And thank you all for the prayers these past weeks.

Over the last weeks I've given quite a bit of thought to how much to say here. Part of me would love to lay the entire story out, so it can finally see the light of day. But at this point it's still too fresh. So I'll tell the story as it happened (in an nutshell), leaving out the names, to protect the innocent and the not so innocent.

Eight years ago a teenage girl made an accusation of bullying, directed at a close family member of mine. The family member had spent his entire life helping kids, working in the public school system. In the beginning all the girl said was that he had yelled at her. Her friends made similar statements and her mother screamed and yelled at board meetings.

I knew the girl. I'd known her since she was in preschool. I knew that she'd grown up in a drug filled home and that by the time she was in junior high, when I saw her at the pool I worked at, with her much older, drug dealer boyfriend, she looked like she'd chosen the same path. By her freshman year in high school she had a twenty year old boyfriend who was in jail, and she was given to frequent outbursts, cussing out teachers during the middle of class using language that would make most sailors blush.

Her mother's paranoia became clear in a board meeting I attended when she stood and ran out of the room screaming "She won't stop looking at me!" while pointing at me.

An investigator came to town and found that the accusations were baseless (she said that he "may have raised his voice to unruly students" or something like that). In the meantime, the local newspaper, the Record Searchlight, was gleeful. They didn't research to learn the background of those making the accusations, or their long history of litigation and frivolous law suites.

They pushed on, going through lawyers like disposable plates at a barbecue. One judge said that he wished he could end the whole thing then and there, but he didn't have the power to.

And so the years stretched on with depositions. The stories grew with the years. The accusations suddenly took on different, far more sinister tones.

The case was finally heard in federal court, beginning last month. It quickly became clear that the web that the plaintiffs had spun was too wide, to complex, and that they'd caught themselves in it. They couldn't remember their stories. They couldn't keep their lies straight. And the fact that the lies had grown over the years only became more and more glaringly obvious as the trial stretched on.

It took the jury only an hour and a half to come back with a decision. And the decision was "No." In other words, none of it had happened. They finally formally declared what every person from my home town already knew.

And so I pray that once and for all this is over. They may appeal to the US ninth circuit court, but I have a feeling that would be shot down quickly since this judge allowed all of their evidence and the case is so obviously completely fictitious.

Thank you all for your prayers!

Sometimes justice really does shine through!

5 comments:

  1. Wow, that must be a wonderful feeling to know that something has come to a good, just conclusion.

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  2. *hugs*

    And glad it worked out!

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  3. I'm so glad it went in your favor!

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  4. Wonderful! I would do everything possible to hold that newspaper's feet to the fire with regard to the unfair coverage. Post about it anywhere you can. I wouldn't be above raising the issue of libel, if the facts reached that level. If the local TV station covered the story at all, I'd be darn sure they reported the outcome.

    If this was a criminal case, once the defendant has been acquitted, that's it. Civil cases may be another matter. Sounds as if it's a done deal, however. Prayers answered.

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