Gilmer, Texas or Martensville, Saskatchewan?
Former Gilmer police Sgt. James Brown:
Sgt. James Brown, (right) 2nd ranking officer in Gilmer force, was charged and then ordered by the judge to get out of town. In 2002 he lost his civil claim at the U.S. Supreme Court. He now works as a law enforcer for the state of Texas.
His life was ruined; he suffered a stress-related attack and has been left with a permanent limp.
Many in Gilmer still say he was guilty and got away with murder. (The Sterlings were also ordered to get out of Martensville.)
The recantation by Raymond Smith in Gilmer, Texas is similar to the recantations by the Ross children in Saskatoon. The children were placed with a family who participated in the emotional and physical torture of Raymond until he told them what they wanted to hear.
As an adult, Raymond (left) admits that he had never laid eyes on Kelly Wilson right and described her as a blonde because that is what he had been told. At the time of her disappearance her hair had grown out to its natural darker colour.
Raymond was a vulnerable child bullied by by unscrupulous adults. The team of "experts" knew exactly how to use existing grudges in the community to extract accusations from people.
Raymond and his baby brother Luther were taken from their mother, Tammi Smith, and her boyfriend who were both accused.
(In Saskatoon, the Ross children were emotionally bullied by the Dueck-Bunko team and "special needs" Thompson home was the scene of physical abuse. Torture was left to Michael, the older child who was allowed to rape and sodomize his twin sisters.)
Bittersweet reunion of Raymond and his mother, Tammi who was charged in Gilmer.
Videograbs are from the NBC Dateline show "A Touch of Evil."
Unimpeachable evidence shows that Wendell Kerr (left), a truck driver, charged and held for several months was in New York City at the time of the alleged ritual murder.
He and nine Gilmer residents were charged with murdering 17 year old Kelly Wilson in 1993 in a grisly Satanic cult murder where she was held and tortured for ten days in a shack in the words, barbecued, stabbed and possibly eaten. There was no forensic evidence for any of the charges. The body has not been recovered, although over the years bodies of several girls in the larger Texas area have been found and are suspected to be victims of a serial killer.
The case was the subject of an NBC Dateline called "A Touch of Evil" and aired in March, 2002. Ray Smith, who is now an adult but who was six at the time he named Brown and others appears on the show and recants his testimony and explains how it was extracted from him by Scott Lyfeld, the "Special Prosecutor" who led what was called "The Team" (above) and created the case.
Kelly Wilson's mother and step-father still believe that Kelly was killed by a cult and that Brown was involved. Her father and step-mother, on the other hand, are convinced the entire episode was hysterical and that Kelly's killer is still at large.
Dr. Bruce Perry (left), who was hired by the Texas Attorney General did not hesitate to call actions by local authorities criminal. He said on Dateline that Luther and Raymond were kidnapped by the state and tortured by their new foster parents.
He found the tape recorded "confessions" violated the rights of those who had been held.
Sgt. Brown was "named" as being part of the fanciful Satanic murder by Connie Martin (left), a Gilmer citizen, after many hours of badgering recorded on audiotape.
A comparison with the Foster Parent prosecutions with the Gilmer case could begin with what happened when the initial charges were laid.
As soon as James Brown's attorney David More (left) learned the bizarre nature of the charges, he alerted the Attorney General's office and Shane Phelps (right) immediately investigated.
They were quick to find the flaws in the very beginnings of the case. The fact that a 17 year old girl had gone missing under questionable circumstances served to fan the flames of dormant hysteria. Kelly Wilson's mother became part of a vigilante group who broke into homes of the arrested accused and spread unsubstantiated rumours about other townspeople.
These are master Satanists. The fact that there is no evidence proves that it happened.", said Special Prosecutor Scott Lyford (left).
Phelps set about to have the charges dropped, destroyed the manufactured evidence and issued a public apology to Brown.
Scott Lyford was out to build a career, not unlike Matthew Miazga who corresponded with the head of Social Services reassuringly about the rightness of the cause and tried to get a larger budget to import his own team of "experts."
In both Texas and Saskatchewan, the manufacturers of these wrongful prosecutions relied on the backing of Christian fundamentalists. In Saskatchewan, a group calling itself "Believe the Children" and led by Carol Dalton received wide media play. Reason was pitted against faith. This group greatly influenced a Saskatoon policy group which was commissioned to revamp the protocol for investigating allegations of child sexual abuse.
When several wrongfully accused and their supporters tried to attend their meetings and offer suggestions, their response was to call the police. From 1994 to 1996, all those who had been most vocal in trying to bring these matters to public attention were charged with libel and freed under undertakings which included strict gag orders.
The fundamentalist Christianbasis for belief that Satan was at large in Saskatchewan was down-played while the social workers, Carol Bunko-Ruys (a free-lancer on contract to the government), Liz Newton (a Social Services employee) used their influence in the Saskatoon Adlerian Society as a cloak of credibility. University chaplain Colin Clay was instrumental in promoting the theory of recovered memories.
In Texas, the fundamentalist agenda was directly evident.
The first Saskatchewan prosecutor Corporal Dueck took his charges to was Terry Hinz. Hinz would not prosecute the case but as far as we know did nothing to stop Matt Miazga and Sonja Hansen from prosecuting it. The Klassens, who lived in Red Deer at the time they were charged hired Daryl Labach. Labach took the family through a lengthy preliminary inquiry which ended with indictments on all of them. They were held over for a full year before the charges were dropped on all but Peter Klassen. When Miazga announced the charges were dropped because the children were traumatized, neither LaBach or Hinz set the public record straight, although both these officers of the court knew that a severe injustice had occurred.
When Texas Attorney General Dan Morales was briefed on the case, he publicly exonerated the falsely accused whereas Saskatchewan Justice Minister Robert Mitchell and his successor, Chris Axworthy have set about to hide the incompetence of the department and charge and smear those of us who have tried to make the facts of the case public.
It saddens us to have to compare our own province unfavourably with Texas which is renowned for many injustices.
fifth estate's "Scandal of the Century" and Dateline's "A Touch of Evil" have some other similarities.
Raymond Smith apologizes for what he did to James Brown and James Brown accepts, noting Ray was a child. This is similar to Michael Ross's apology to Richard Klassen and Klassen's acceptance on "Scandal of the Century." However, in the Canadian foster parent case a lawsuit filed in 1994 remains viable and after years of stalling is working its way to trial. Saskatoon police officer John Popowich who was falsely charged in the Martensville case also has a lawsuit which is set for trial in September, 2002.
Below are news clippings about the Gilmer Texas case:
Texas Attorney General Dan Morales on Monday said allegations of sexual molestation of children by a satanic cult in Gilmer were the product of coercion, deceit and threats by public officials and others who were supposed to protect the children.
Consequently, the Office of the Attorney General asked State District Court Judge James B. Zimmermann of Upshur County to dismiss all but three of the child molestation charges against several individuals.
"Some of these children were abused in their homes of origin. However, they were all undoubtedly also abused by an overzealous, out-of-control system, created by a former special prosecutor, that was supposed to be protecting them and seeking justice," Morales said.
A 13-page motion filed with the court Friday, as well as other information presented to the court during a hearing Monday, detailed the improper and abusive tactics used by Child Protective Service Workers, foster families and the former independent prosecutor. Morales wrote in the motion to the court: "There can simply be no way that pursuing these irreparably tainted criminal cases could ever be in the best interests of the children. However, the interests of those children have been protected.
The Office of the Attorney General has been committed, and will continue to be committed to ensuring that those children who were abused will never have to return to that abusive environment. Tragically, because of the actions of those who were supposed to protect and care for these children, this is simply all that can be done for them."
The cases originated between May of 1993 and January of 1994 when the Upshur County Grand Jury returned 48 indictments alleging child sexual abuse against Eugene W. Kerr, Geneva S. Kerr, Wendell E. Kerr, Loretta A.C. Kerr, Wanda H. Kerr, Danny O. Kerr, Connie S. Martin, Roger D. Holeman, and Tammy J. Smith.
The indictments alleged various sexual abuses of 15 children.
The allegations were brought to light and investigated by then Child Protective Service caseworkers Ann Goar (right) and Debbie Minshew (below).
Subsequent to the initial indictments, Upshur County District Attorney Tim Cone recused himself from the cases and appointed Galveston attorney Scott Lyford as a special prosecutor. Goar and Minshew helped Lyford continue the investigation and to prepare for trial.
The Lyford team presented astonishing reports of satanic rituals, sexual and physical torture, cannibalism, and mass murder. Lyford later accused seven of those already indicted, plus a police officer of participating in the abduction, rape, torture and satanic murder of 17-year-old Kelly Wilson of Gilmer.
In March, 1994, the Office of the Attorney General was asked by Upshur County officials to take over the investigation and prosecution of the murder case and the child abuse cases.
Morales discovered the murder indictments were based on no physical evidence and information that was obtained through coercion, threats and unacceptable interview techniques by the Lyford team. The murder indictments were dismissed, and the Attorney General announced that in light of the findings regarding the Lyford team's tactics, the child abuse cases would be reconsidered.
Morales' investigation, assisted by a nationally-recognized child psychiatrist and other physicians, determined the children were forced to tell tales of satanic ritual and abuses.
Independent information, as well as individual testimony by the children, revealed the Bass foster family forced children to run up and down the stairs until they were so tired they cried, and then Barbara Bass would hold a child tightly and rub her knuckles into the child's ribs until it hurt, at the same time telling the child he or she must admit to being abused and participating in satanic rituals.
The Basses called it the "holding technique" and used it on the children prior to visits or interviews with physicians or the Lyford team, according to the children.
The children also were interviewed repeatedly, for hours at a time and in intimidating circumstances, with many adults from the Lyford team surrounding them.
Morales wrote in the motion that the State's ability to seek justice "has been severely undermined as a result of the outrageous conduct of the Lyford team....
While many of these cases were viable at their inception, they have now been inundated with lies, deceit, perversions and coercion all in the name of exposing the massive Satanic cult in which the Lyford team so wanted to believe. Now, having uncovered evidence that destroys the credibility of all involved, the State is left without credible witnesses to prove the instant cases."
One charge against Connie Martin and two charges against Wanda Kerr have not been dismissed.
This was also going on in the U.K. where they trawled for suspects