Columnist Steve Duin at The Oregonian recounts the troubling tale of a Clark County man falsely charged with luring a child. The kid later recanted his accusation. It’s a little involved so if you wish please click through and read Duin’s column.
The story raises many questions about the conduct of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department and the Clark County Prosecutor’s office. I mean, if a “person of interest” (or whatever he was termed) has telephone records and presumably co-workers that can prove he was at work at the time of the alleged incident, it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out. If this individual was indeed formally charged, as Duin’s column seems to state, then that’s pretty bad, even if he was eventually exonerated.
Unfortunately for taxpayers, it sounds like Clark County may wind up getting to explain itself in federal court. So while we all want to protect kids, there are some basic things that have to be done in the process. Otherwise you wind up with a Wenatchee Witch Hunt sort of situation.
One thing Duin’s column doesn’t touch on is that this incident occurred in the wake of the horrifying murder of an area seventh grader. That wouldn’t excuse sloppy investigative work, but I do recall that the number of “stranger danger” alerts coming home from the school district spiked after that. People were understandably on edge, but it’s the job of professionals to seek facts.
The other notable thing about Duin’s column is where it appears, ie, in The Oregonian. While The Columbian has some good reporters, there are far too few of them to adequately cover a county of around 430,000 people, and it’s really starting to show. In a normal place such a story would have been dug up by a beat reporter who was asking basic questions like “Who is this guy you charged with luring?”
Oregon media is kind of hit and miss on this side of the river, to tell the truth. They’ll pick up big stories, but the day to day stuff doesn’t usually interest them that much. I’ve been informed by a reliable source about some armed robberies in Clark County that are not even being reported upon. God help us if we ever have a major disaster here, we don’t really have a functioning media infrastructure.