Reporter Stephanie Rice at The Columbian tells the story of a former police officer who spent nearly 20 years in prison for allegedly raping his own children, and the now the adult children have told a court it never happened and that they made the accusations as children after intense pressure by a former detective. Please click through and read the whole story if you wish.
But the Clark County prosecutor’s office is “not waving the white flag,” as reporter Rice writes, even though the former police officer received a commutation from Gary Locke in 2004. Amazingly, it sounds like prosecutors are actually considering appealing to the Supreme Court if the charges are wiped out.
This story is why we need good reporters, and more of them. The Columbian deserves credit on this story.
There is, of course, a public watchdog function that newspapers perform, as something seems to be seriously amiss at the office of Clark County Prosecutor Art Curtis. Readers may recall that Oregonian columnist Steve Duin had a column on July 2 about a Clark County man wrongly charge with luring of a child, despite having ironclad proof that he was elsewhere. The public has a right to know why Art Curtis’s office is conducting itself in this fashion.
We all want the bad guys to be caught, and have put them away. But our Founding Fathers came up with some pretty amazingly sound rules to follow, like the right to face one’s accuser. While that’s admittedly problematic when it involves children, it places an extra burden on police and prosecutors to make sure they have the right guy. That’s not always easy, and the good cops and the good prosecutors deserve our eternal thanks, but when serious screw-ups occur there needs to be some accountability.