Thursday, January 24, 2008

Child molestation trial begins - AND ENDS w/update

with a plea bargain.

Child molestation trial begins

from the article" William Joseph Lenard was arrested in September for 19 various felony charges of child molestation....

Lenard’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jonathan McCrone, said that based on the evidence, “I don’t think he’s committed any crime at all.”

McCrone said he is unaware of any criminal record for Lenard. If found guilty, Lenard could face incarceration for 52 years, McCrone said.

(“It’s) more serious than a murder case — in terms of punishment,” he said.

The lowest sentence for first-degree murder is 25 years to life.

...When the allegations arrived, McCrone said his client was treated unfairly by law enforcement. Lenard called the District Attorney’s Office, but was never interviewed, McCrone said.


Sources say it was pled down to two counts - with probation.

Another serious - SERIOUS - complete and abject failure of Gallegos' DA's Office.

Molestation trial ends in plea agreement

The child molestation trial that began Tuesday in the Humboldt County Courthouse was over mid-morning on Thursday as both parties entered into a plea agreement.

Judge Marilyn B. Miles dismissed the 12-member jury and thanked them for their civic duty.

The defendant, William Joseph Lenard, 52, was charged with 19 felony counts of child molestation. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14.

The agreement came as a surprise to Lenard’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jonathan McCrone. “We thought we’d be here for three weeks,” he said.

Deputy District Attorney Kelly Neel spent about an hour coaxing a single answer out of the victim. “What happened to you in July 2006 in Lenard’s trailer?” she asked the victim repeatedly.

The victim couldn’t bring herself to answer. “This little girl very much wanted to testify, but the overwhelming nature of her testimony was too much for her,” Neel said.


Do you understand why the Child Abuse Services Team was formed? Do you understand why serious cases like these are only given to seasoned prosecutors, with TRAINING to handle child abuse cases - training to INTERVIEW a child properly and with compassion? Gallegos fired the office's child abuse specialist, he has dismantled the CAST team, he removed the only other qualified DDA he had assigned to CAST, put Schwartz in charge of child abuse, then - gave this case to an inexperienced DDA. He has done nothing to get training for the new hires to try to bridge the gap in experience, and he threw Ms. Neel to the wolves, and threw the kid to the wolves.

33 comments:

  1. Ok, anybody missing the old deputies right about now? I can tell you who isn't-- the defense bar. This is just about a perfect storm of a prosecution fiasco. The only thing missing is Russ Clanton as the defense lawyer -oh wait, that would have been a dismissal and a letter of apology from the victim.

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  2. We're almost there.
    D.

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  3. You are so right, Rose. They should have tortured the child to force her to testify so they could get a conviction.

    Sometimes a plea bargain is the best you can get. Two charges of lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under 14 with no supporting testimony from the victim is pretty good and at least he is a registered sex offender. Would you have preferred an outcome of not guilty by the jury since there was no evidence against him without the child's testimony?

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  4. Nice try, maam.

    Do you have any idea what the Child Abuse Services Team is - or I should say WAS - there for?

    No. Neel was put into a situation for which she was not prepared or qualified. Put there by a man who has demonstrated for five years that he places no value on the CAST team, and does not care about the child victims. He put Schwartz in charge of child abuse, for God's sake. And now this poor woman.

    He gets away with it because of the child involved, and the secrecy that results. But people are talking nonetheless.

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  5. Auntie Mayme1/25/2008 7:18 AM

    Many years ago I served as a juror on a child molestastion case. After many days of testimony, including having the victim testify, the case was declared a mis-trial, because one of the jurors watched the 6 o'clock news and saw the defendent being arrested for preying on someone else. I felt so sorry for that poor child.

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  6. So you think a more experienced prosecutor could have gotten the child to testify? Your assumptions to support your obsession are ridiculous. Neely got 2 guilty pleas in a case with no witness. That is damned good, IMHO.

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  7. A more experienced prosecutor puts the child (or any intimidated or reluctant witness who has a privilege not to testify that can be invoked at trial) on at prelim, a much less intimidating forum (tho apparently it scared PVG in the
    Moore case) and then, if the witness (in this case a child) refuses to testify at trial, the prelim testimony is admissible.
    It's called planning ahead, and
    experience gets you that. If you can't get the witness to testify at prelim, you shouldn't be in that assignment.

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  8. Again, 2 guilty pleas, a lifetime of registry as a sex offender, 3 strikes kicks in if he commits another felony.... with NO WITNESS. That's a job well done.

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  9. Always with the "throwing them to the wolves".....

    Oh, "small w". That's better. I pray there are some "Capital W" Wolves in the jail and or prison this hairball goes to.

    Down here in the Southland, we have a designated "Safe Harbor" system, where victims of abuse are treated, interviewed, counseled, by a team of Doctors, Psych's, Police Officers and People from the DA's office.

    One team, one victim.....the way it should be.

    Greg Totten. Ventura County's DA. Good Guy. Prosecutes to the fullest.

    Makes me sad about the little girl. Wollf

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  10. And if the child refused to testify at the preliminary the perv goes scott free. Quite a gamble. I prefer this outcome.

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  11. Then ya shoulda pled it out before you sat the jury.

    Nope - this is a recurring theme - Martinez-Hernandez - Gallegos crowed that he got him to plead guilty to one count. The drive-by shooters, same crowing, in case after case after bungled case, he (or his surrogate, Salzman) proclaims he is really a hero because, gasp, he actually got some time for the perpetrator. It's an interesting argument that you should settle for and be happy with mediocrity.

    I don't blame Neel. I blame Gallegos for putting her in this situation.

    Gallegos cannot claim ignorance. He was put on notice during the last election that CAST was in trouble - he did nothing. He got reelected. He did nothing. He has had every opportunity to work to repair the damage. He has done nothing. He has DONE NOTHING.

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  12. The fact of the matter is that Neel only met with the victim for an hour or two altogether prior to the trial. She had no rapport with her. She asked her four questions prior to asking the big one:: what is your name; how old are you; where do you go to school; what is your favorite subject and; what happened in the trailer.

    This clearly demonstrates she has no business trying this type of case now in her career.
    She couldn’t even find her evidence when it was suggested that the child look at a letter that she had written her mom discussing everything that happened to her. The CAST tape could have been used.

    Also, the deputy DA didn’t interview the perps own kid who he molested, nor did he interview another member of the family who was molested by him.

    It was the DA’s job to build that case and put a seasoned prosecutor in there.

    Shameful.

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  13. If the child refuses to play at prelim, you are lousy at your job. [see below]. If the child chokes at prelim (because you are lousy) you proceed without the child at prelim, as you can legally, and get to work resolving her issues so she is ready for trial.

    you do NOT, EVER, wait until the day of trial to meet with ANY witness, much less a sex crime victim, much less a child victim, unless, of course, you are inexperienced, lazy, incompetent, unmotivated, overworked, poorly led, poorly trained, poorly supervised, or some hideous combination of all of the above (lousy at your job).
    How many kids choked when CAST was up and running and the deputies PVG "weaned" us off of were prosecuting sex crimes cases?

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  14. "Mr. Gallegos is obviously devoted to vigorous prosecution of child molestation cases, and is devoting major resources to the task. Because of his dedication and effectiveness in prosecuting child molesters, my husband and I wholeheartedly endorse him for re-election."

    Kay Rackauckas

    "11.“The Child Abuse Services Team has been dismantled” by having only one attorney. Absolutely false. Gallegos assigned his very best prosecutor, Maggie Fleming, to CAST. By comparison, Orange County, with 20 times as many attorneys and considered to have one of the best CAST programs in the state, also has one prosecutor assigned to CAST. CAST functions more efficiently than ever,"

    Alison Sterling Nichols (Gallegos' campaign manager)

    As a second-grade teacher, I am deeply concerned with children's safety in our community. My children and yours are better protected now, with Paul Gallegos as district attorney, than they have ever been before."

    HCDCC's Patrick Riggs

    I'd like to know how you guys sleep at night.

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  15. Per the Bar website, Neel was admitted in June '06. I don't know anything about her prior experience, but it does seem kinda odd that someone who has only been an attorney for a year and a half is handling this kind of case. Sure she got something out of it but I think that the point is she should have gotten more, and with some adequate preparation. And 8:48, hearsay is admissable at a prelim through a qualified peace officer, so if the kid balks at PX you would probably still be able to get a holding order. 8:17 is right - if you think you're going to have witness problems put on a live prelim.

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  16. June 06 and she's doing felony child molests? Surely that's a misprint? 18 months out of law school and she's doing life cases with the most fragile of witnesses? Who thought that's a good idea? Who did PVG consult on that one? Clanton? Denson? Sanders?
    18 months is barely enough to qualify a misdemeanor prosecutor (and take a look at PVG's hires and fires in that category--hint, Ferndale sidewalk stroll, anyone?).
    Well, PVG will probably say it was a bold and invigorating step just to bring the case . . . .. Results, well, nobody seems to ask much of PVG when it comes to results.
    Maybe Neel will get the Douglas Zanotti case now that her schedule has cleared up. Trainscripts, no, sorry, TRANscripts coming. Let's see who gets run over.

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  17. In any other place, a person with a year and a half experience would be doing misdemeanors. But not here. Gallegos treats child abuse and CAST as a pariah. It gets in his way. That is why he offered the current CAST secretary the option of getting fired or working at CAST. That is why he put in a rookie with a years experience to field the most difficult cases in the county. He doesn’t give a shit about the community nor the children in it. He only gives a shit about himself and seeing his name above the fold.

    And it is about time people all thru the county saw him for what he is...a bad lawyer, a bad liar and a bad person. Frankly, he comes across as a Ted Bundy, suave and charming on the surface, but evil under the skin.

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  18. I disagree with your comparison of PVG to Ted Bundy, 11:29. It is well settled that Ted Bundy was quite intelligent.

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  19. Noted Red -

    ok - he is stupid Ted Bundy!

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  20. If he's stupid, what does that make
    the voters? Those who voted, and those who did not.

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  21. Sorry, Wollf.

    I should have said he threw them to the piranhas. OR - “This all comes back to priorities. It’s not just incompetence, but it’s also an utter lack of priorities. These statistics are directly attributable solely and absolutely to Paul Gallegos. They are not attributable to anyone else. … This program used to work. ... These children aren’t slipping through the cracks. These children have been marched up to the Grand Canyon and kicked off. "

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  22. "These children aren’t slipping through the cracks. These children have been marched up to the Grand Canyon and kicked off. "

    Man how true, where did that come from?

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  23. I don't know what the source is, but if it is accurate that this person did not prepare witnesses for trial, that should be cause for discharge. I mean, I am sure that's what all the other deputies got fired for, right? Not being prepared, not doing the work,
    not meeting the high standards of excellence set by PVG?

    When he's not surfing or on vacation, that is.

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  24. Eureka Reporter article - I put the link in the comment, and it is also in the list if you click on CAST in the sidebar - if not, it is on the watchpaularticles site, and on the Eureka reporter site.

    Allison Jackson said it - the one Gallegos fired, the one who put child molesters away for hundreds of years, that is to say, they were put into the "Century Club."

    If you read the Martinez-Hernandez stuff you'll see that Wes Keat noted that the guy had so many things he could be charged with he was a potential new member of the Century Club.

    That would be on the file Gallegos failed to read - and he let the guy plead to one count, then claimed he had done good. The Martinez-Hernandez stuff is also listed in the sidebar.

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  25. This is another example of an office that was purged of experience by Gallegos and now brand new prosecutors are being assigned serious cases that are beyond their level of experience, and the results are serious cases being lost and compromised.

    The other sad example is the not guilty verdict in the Rollins case.

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  26. And why did he do that? How did it benefit the community? To lose all that experience (read money invested by Humboldt) and replace it with . . . what? And why did the supervisors allow it to happen-- they can offer DDA's contractual job security any time they want to?

    Do the supes claim it was a good idea to dump the experienced prosecutors and hire the likes of Stoen and yougo? Is Arnie Klein a good trade for Rob Wade?

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  27. I wouldn't be so hard on DDA Neel. Whatever her expereince level is she was assigned this by PVG. Kind of like being a good soldier and doing what she was ordered to do. With training and experience I'm sure Neel will do a fine job.

    Why would PVG, the boss, the supervisor, the manager put Ms. Neel in this difficult position ? I have also heard that Ms. Neel is several months pregant. PVG should take the welfare of his employees into consideration for assignments.

    But Humboldt County did vote in PVG, twice. And who has benefited the most? Ken Miller? R. Salzman? Russ Clanton? Neil Sanders? Ed Denson?

    The justice system has certainly been perverted in Humboldt County. The best we can hope for is mediocrity.

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  28. Ms. Neel is rumored to be above taking guidancce on cases, ignoring instructions from senior DDA's and in fact, telling them how to do their jobs.
    Because PVG hired her, and as long as she brown noses him, she can do whatever she wants.
    Which apparently does not include preparing her cases. You don't need a boss to tell you that one of the ways you make up for inexperience is lots and lots of hard preparation. It would appear that she is every bit a chip off the PVG block

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  29. If that is true, I am sorry to hear it.

    I believed that she and her husband left Del Norte for Humboldt because the pay was (slightly) better here.

    They believed that all the criticism of Gallegos was unwarranted, just petty political bullshit.

    I would have bet that now that they are there, they see things for what they are, and that for their own sakes, since they seem like nice people, they would manage to get out before they are... well, maybe it is too late.

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  30. Maybe Ms. Neel is having a problem transitioning from the defense side. Here's what Del Norte said about her in January of 2007:

    Kelly Neel has four years experience as a public defender and three years experience as a prosecuting attorney for
    various agencies.

    Three years as a prosecutor for
    "various agencies". Wonder why.
    Anyway, most of her experience seems to be for the defense. Kind of like PVG. And Yougo. Here we go again. Oh, and let's not forget
    the Harris case from last September:
    Harris was originally accused of felony rape and burglary over an incident which occurred in the early morning hours of April 2, in which a 21-year-old Humboldt State University student testified that he had entered her home and sexually assaulted her. Harris wound up being sentenced Aug. 20 to 19 days in jail on a misdemeanor burglary plea.

    Neel's fingerprints, along with yougo's and Mclaughlin's are on that too. Wonder if Mendosa got the answers he told the Eye he was looking for.

    http://www.arcataeye.com/index.php?module=Pagesetter&tid=2&topic=3&func=viewpub&pid=702&format=full

    http://www.dnco.org/agendas/bos/MG35911/AS35920/AI35968/DO36007/DO_36007.PDF

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  31. Grand Pumbah1/27/2008 5:02 PM

    Ignorance is not an excuse.
    Acts as that have brought this case before the court shall no longer be tolerated. All behavior of such is to cease or answer to the Grand Pumbah.

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  32. I guess that means that Ms. Neel can not keep a job for any length of time.

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  33. So more lousy representation for the county, what's new?

    It seems we in Humboldt have hit a all time low on expectations and quality. This place has let the fringe nutters on the left focus on their anti-hurwitz religion at the expense of women, children, the elderly and the disabled. They consider them collateral damage for their warped cause. And their zeal for the warped cause has gotten the absolutely nothing.

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