Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
When is a Victim a “Victim”?
Sounds like a simple question but it is far from it. I asked Matthew Dale, Executive Director of Victim Services at the Department of Justice and his response was;“It depends; it is a variable and not an easy answer.”
WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University defines a victim as: 1. an unfortunate person who suffers from adverse circumstance and Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc. defines a victim as: 2. A person or thing destroyed or sacrificed in the pursuit of an object, or in gratification of a passion; as, a victim to jealousy, lust, or ambition.
So, is a victim a “victim” when a crime occurs? When does a crime occur? Who determines when a crime has occurred? When does the victim of a crime have rights?
Let’s look at this closely. Take for example your daughter, granddaughter, wife or girl friend goes out one evening with friends. A drug is slipped into her drink and she is whisked away into the night. Hours later the realization hits, and the trauma begins for both the woman involved and her family, just as it has happened more than half a dozen times now in the Eureka area in the last year and then again last weekend.
Shocked? You should be! This news should have been plastered all over the county and state instead of being swept under the carpet just as the previous rapes has been.
Now the story of your loved one begins to unfold and the questions start. Is there a victim here? The answer appears to be NO according to the Montana Code Annotated: 46-24-201; Services to victims of crime. If there is no crime, then there are no services available to that person according to this statute. Has a crime occurred in this scenario? No, because no charges have been made and no arrests have taken place. Then how would a crime be established? It would only be established if an investigation has taken place and evidence is collected to prove a crime has occurred. At that time charges can be filed and an arrest can be made; NOW WE HAVE A VICTIM, at least according to Montana Statutes.
The definition of a victim in the dictionary sense speaks of no crime but of a person who suffers from an adverse circumstance. The actual definition does not reference a crime or a perpetrator, but the Montana Statutes do. The only authority capable of establishing the fact that a crime has occurred is the Sheriff, in the State of Montana.
So you ask what was the extent of the investigation of the crime is in this case? Well, that is the question we are all asking in the numerous rapes, (10 that we know of) many involving drugs, battery and robbery, home and business vandalism and robberies, assaults and other crimes that have occurred all over the northeast area of Lincoln County.
What ever happened in the investigation of the 5 reported rapes that included Miranda Peterson? Her story was told before the Commissioners at their October 15th meeting and reported in the Tobacco Valley News and Kootenai Valley Record. Apparently nothing and we are sure many would like these cases to just go away as well, like the brutal torture and killing of the little lab last spring. If there has been any resolution to any of these cases then why hasn’t the public been advised?
If our sheriff does not do a proper investigation and collect evidence as he has been trained to do, then we have no crime and no victims. Additionally, our crime statistics reflect this with their low numbers. No investigations, no arrests, therefore, no crime!
So where does this leave the woman that has been violated? Her life has changed forever and the devastating aftermath to her family, friends and the community has created tremendous pain and hardship. Where are her rights as a victim? Where are her rights to due process of law under both the Montana and United States Constitution?
The plain truth is they have been stripped away because our sheriff has voluntarily failed to do his job. He failed to fully investigate these crimes in a manner in which he has been trained to do so. His failure to fulfill his duties and obligations as an enforcement officer in this county has resulted in the loss of these victim’s rights, their dignity in the community and their right to due process of the law.
His incompetency has allowed these criminals to continue to repeat their behavior over and over again affecting the lives and homes of innocent women and their families and denying them any and all rights as a victim.
How many more “victims” should we as a community tolerate? ONE was too many for me! But 10 rapes? Folks, this is Eureka, Montana and we should all be embarrassed and ashamed that we as voting citizens have allowed this to happen, over and over again.
Isn’t it time for Lincoln County take back its pride, its dignity and do every thing in our power to make our county safe, free from vicious predators and violent behavior?
In the next few weeks we will be out with a petition to recall Sheriff Daryl Anderson. We ask for your help and support.
Diane J. Kaechele, Spokesman
The Committee has done extensive research to try and determine who has oversight or supervisory authority of the Sheriff. It appears that the Sheriff is the highest authority in the land and NO ONE has authority over him. This is very clear in the attached letters from the Governor, Attorney General, Montana Supreme Court and Division of Criminal Investigations.
These letters inform us that because a crime occurs under the jurisdiction of the local law enforcement agency, nothing can be done. So if the local law enforcement people are incompetent, lazy or vindictive, then so be it. The victims of these crimes have NO RIGHTS because Governor and every other agency in the state have no authority to protect them. Every state agency we have contacted has referred us to another one.
Is no one accountable? What’s wrong with this picture? Is
The ONLY recourse is through the actions of the registered voters to RECALL the Sheriff from office.