Archive for October, 2012


checking in

Thanks to everyone who has written to wish me a speedy recovery. I have been with Paul Gingerich’s family and they have been absolutely wonderful to me.

I’ve taken a few minutes to pull off the road into a Starbuck’s to take care of business–i.e., changing plane and car rental reservations–because my surgeon wants me to return to his office in southwestern Michigan on Friday (a day after I was to have returned to Texas). Looking for a place to land tonight; it will most likely be a motel room.

The oral arguments for Paul Gingerich went very well for us. We drew an excellent panel of three judges. Monica Foster was extremely effective and in command of all facts. The state’s prosecutor was not effective and more often than not was caught up short in answering the judges’ questions.

Wolfgang sent us this link where you should be able to view the proceedings online after tomorrow.

Sorry this piece is so short, but as I’ve said, this is just a pit stop for me.




I keep telling Dana that life is one workaround after another, and this weekend proves the point. I hurt myself on Friday, had an emergency surgery on Saturday night, and now I’m “good to go”—and better off than I was before in a certain sense.

But I still feel utterly miserable and under the circumstances cannot write you a post. I am collecting stories and will regale you with them when I am feeling up to the task


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Shania Twain performing “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing”


broadening experience

Last night I listened to international music for two hours on a Chicago radio station. It was really interesting and a great ear-opener to hear new and unfamiliar music from every part of the globe. I live such a sheltered life.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Janka Nabay performing “Feba”


they surely do




Groove of the Day 

Listen to Lynn Kellogg performing “Easy to be Hard”

(From the Broadway musical Hair)


just plain mean

I’ve seen some nasty stuff in my day, but this takes the cake. Mitchell County IA prosecutor Mark Walk wants Noah Crooks transferred from a juvenile detention center where he is doing well and receiving the humane services he needs, and into the Mitchell County adult jail where he would be placed in solitary confinement“for his protection,” of course. This is a cruel, heartless, and devious tactic designed to break down a 14-year-old kid by the time of his trial and diminish his capacity to assist in his own defense.

The following document, filed yesterday on behalf of Noah Crooks, is self-explanatory except for one thing. The psychiatrist whose report prosecutor Mark Walk used to justify his outrageous application is not an impartial expert, but the state’s “owned man.” He’s one of those despicable “professionals” who will testify to anything the state desires, as long as the money’s green.

We’ve seen these kinds of predators plenty of times beforeformer prosecutor John Bongivengo, Dr. John O’Brien, “Kids for Cash” judges Mark Ciaverella and Michael Conahan, and coach Jerry Sandusky in Pennsylvania, for examplesociety is chock full of selfish adults who apparently feel no discomfort at taking advantage of kids for their own personal, political, or financial gratification.

I am sick to death of officials like Mark Walk who pose as being on the side of  “what’s right,” but who in reality are undermining the values we hold we hold most dear as a society. Thank God for people like Bill Kutmus and Trever Hook, who are standing up not only for Noah Crooks, but for all of us who believe in justice and simple human decency.









COMES NOW the Defendant, by and through his attorneys, states the following in resistance to the State’s Application:

  1. On March 24, 2012, the Defendant, Noah Crooks (presently 14 years old, hereinafter known as “Noah”), was confined at the North Central Juvenile Detention Facility in Waterloo, Iowa subsequent to allegations he had shot his mother.  Noah has been detained at the aforesaid facility to the present date.
  2. The facility is a locked, secured facility, whose primary purpose is to provide, “a physically secure, emotionally stable and safe environment in which juveniles accused of delinquent acts can await court action.”  (See Mission Statement via North Central Juvenile Detention Facility website).
  3. On the 16th day of October, 2012, Mitchell County Attorney, Mark Walk, filed an Application to the District Court of Mitchell County requesting the Court to remove Noah from the aforesaid juvenile facility to the Mitchell County Jail.  The reason, Mr. Walk claims, is that Noah is a serious risk to commit serious bodily harm to other persons.  (Section 232.45 or 232.45A of the Iowa Code).
  4. The basis for the Application for Noah’s removal from the detention facility to a jail site is based solely upon reports made by Dr. Ana Salter (PhD in Psychology) and Dr. Michael Taylor (Psychiatrist) in preparation for a Waiver Hearing on September 6, 2012.
  5. Notably, neither Drs. Salter nor Taylor visited Noah at the North Central Juvenile Detention Facility to assess Noah’s mental condition or visit the institution and its personnel to evaluate the security issues raised by Mr. Walk.
  6. It should be pointed out there are no complaints of any sort concerning Noah from the North Central Juvenile Detention Facility to the Mitchell County Attorney, Mark Walk. 
  7. Had the North Central Juvenile Detention Facility been contacted it would have been revealed Noah has earned the most desirable security level at the facility (Level III) rewarding juvenile detainees with additional earned privileges.  Moreover, the North Central Juvenile Detention Facility would have further revealed Noah is allowed to continue his education by performing classwork as a Freshman in high school scoring A’s and B’s.   A phone call to his teacher, Deb Whitecell, would have informed the State of Noah’s excellent academic status.
  8. Despite all of the above facts, the State wishes to remove Noah from the aforesaid secure, locked facility to where?  The Mitchell County Jail.
  9. The State’s Application describes the Mitchell County Jail as (it), “can adequately separate juvenile prisoners from adult prisoners…by placing only juveniles in cells…separated by solid doors and walls…of sufficient distance to prohibit…incidental conversations and visual contact with adult prisoners or juveniles.  Delbert Longley, jail inspector’s, statement of facts attached to the State’s Application reads as follows, “Mitchell County has the ability to house juveniles and maintain the required sight and sound separation.  However, by policy, Mitchell County does not house any juveniles”.  In other words, five foot, three inch, ninety-five pound Noah would be left alone in a cell rudderless, with only the weight of his own existence. Ironically, an adult in a similar situation would be better off than a juvenile.
  10. It is unsettling to hear of the State’s demand to root Noah to a solitary cell for months separating him from relevant human contact.  His removal amounts to banishment and would render Noah’s life meaningless.  Any positive relationship with his father, peers, and others, including his lawyers, would surely deteriorate.
  11. It is not the case under Iowa law to punish a defendant prior to conviction.  Noah is presumed to be innocent of the charges against him.  The State’s thinly veiled Application is an effort to treat him as though he were the fictional Hannibal Lecter.
  12. The State ignores the fact that Noah is detained in an excellent facility for juveniles awaiting trial.  The State’s filing of the Application for Noah’s removal with no evidence of any infractions by him at the facility demeans and marginalizes the positive work the North Central Juvenile Detention Facility provides.
  13. The State’s Application should be denied.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED:                                                       KUTMUS, PENNINGTON & HOOK, PC

William Kutmus AT0004450

Trever Hook AT0003580

5000 Westown Parkway, Suite 310

West Des Moines, IA 50266




Groove of the Day 

Listen to M.S.G. the Acoustic Blues Trio performing “Mean Church People”


if dogs run free

Yesterday Lone Heron and I were having one of our long and ever more frequent conversations, and I told her I had agreed to take on two of Dana’s young pit bulls. They are nice dogs, I said, but undisciplined and hard to live with. Right now they rule the roost and are unruly as hell. “Things will change for them when they come here to live,” I said. “They’ll learn to mellow out.”

“Is it such a good idea to be taking on two at once?” she asked.

“If I can’t deal with the situation, then I have no business thinking about taking on kids up here,” I answered.

I have no doubt it will work out. I am not a heavy-handed disciplinarian, but discipline there does need to be. Maggie, Tony, and I have a copasetic and orderly life going here, and the new dogs will eventually conform. Yet I have no intention of “breaking” them and their high spirits. My “big stick” is the knowledge that dogs (and kids) desire more than anything to please, to be loved and accepted for who and what they are. My expectation of their compliance is stronger than their will to be disruptive.

They are just puppies, after all. And I am the alpha dog, the leader of the pack.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Bob Dylan performing “If Dogs Run Free”


alpha and omega

By my lights, the present fortnight is one of the two pleasantest times of the year. Significantly, this time is ruled by the rune Wynn, the rune of joy. Its design is said to have been based on a pennant flying in a breeze.

The first day of the fortnight was the day Dana and Jon arrived here. Yesterday was the tenth day of the 15-day period, and on it I received two pieces of news which, each in its own way, is a source of joy.

The first piece of news was contained in a letter from one of our kids in which he informed me that he has decided to adopt the same spiritual path as I have. He reached this decision on his own, independent of any influence from me. Out of respect for his deeply-held religious beliefs, I had in fact gone to great lengths to avoid anything which he might have interpreted as proselytizing. I do not think I would be guilty of exaggeration if I were to say he had become a Biblical scholar. It now fills me with immense joy that he will pour that same intense energy into learning about spiritual concepts which will bring us closer together instead of being a barrier between us. No longer will it be necessary for me to walk on eggshells whenever matters of the greatest importance to me come up in conversation. Just as important, I will now have at least two kids to whom I can entrust stewardship of the most important treasures, both material and intellectual, which I have been assembling over the last three decades.

When my life sentence is fully served, I will be able to move on with the assurance that the legacy of my life’s most joyous and satisfying work will be left in strong hands.

The second piece of news came via e-mail from Genevieve, one of Holly’s two best friends: “Mom flew… On her B’day. Mom had a heart attack about 10 days ago. She was released from the hospital to hospice care at home a week ago and died on Friday, October 19, her 98th Birthday.” ‘Mom’ was Mame Eilertson, one of the nicest ladies I have ever known. She always had a smile, a kind word, and a sweet disposition. She made Holly’s wedding dress and was a loved and valued member of our extended family. It may seem strange to say that her death is a source of joy, but for about fifteen years she has been suffering the effects of age-related dementia, and Genevieve has been Mame’s primary caregiver over all that time. Genevieve was loyal, patient, loving, and attentive to her mother the whole time. And now Genevieve is liberated and free to pursue her own life, unencumbered, with absolutely no regrets. How many people in Genevieve’s situation find themselves in such an enviable position?

When you think about it, peace of mind is an exceedingly rare thing in our anxious world. Whether happy or sad, beginnings and endings are the markers of our flights of peace and joy.

Genevieve and I are both blessed.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing Camille Saint-Saens’ “Aviary”


come on down

Please join us and show your support.

Oral Argument Hearing on the Appeal of Paul Henry Gingerich

TuesdayOctober 30, 2012—11:00 am

Indiana Supreme Court (Court Room)
Indiana Statehouse—3rd Floor
200 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Hearing is open to the public.


See “Gingerich Trial Stirs Juvenile Advocates” in The Indiana Lawyer



Groove of the Day 

Listen to Alison Krauss performing “Down to the River to Pray”


weekend update

Noah Crooks Arraignment  Last week, on Tuesday the 16th, Noah Crooks was arraigned at the Cerro Gordo County IA courthouse. It was a 5-10 minute procedure that was not even a big enough deal for Noah’s attorney Bill Kutmus to tell me about it until after-the-fact when we spoke about upcoming matters. Because this is the first murder in Noah’s community in about 100 years, there were at least three television film crews there to cover the story, plus reporters from the print media. So if you’re one of those readers who likes to savor every morsel of detail, here are some links to see for yourself:

Crooks Pleads Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity

North Iowa Teen Arraigned on Murder Charge

Osage teen faces charge of murdering mother, enters not guilty plea

What was not known or reported on Tuesday is that a trial date of April 30, 2013 has been set.


First Feedback from Jefferson Sanders since James Prindle’s Trial (albeit on another website from which he was banned for bad behavior):

“You people are fucking nuts. All of you. Dan Dailey is the biggest liar in the universe and so is Frank Manning. All of you are sick people. You are wastes of human skin and you don’t deserve to breathe the same air as normal people.”

Two things.

First, don’t you think it is curious that Jeff doesn’t mention Stephen Sydebotham? If I am indeed “the biggest liar in the universe,” it is only because I was reporting what Sydebotham was telling me, believing it to have been true. Hmmm… why should he call out two honest people as liars and exclude the most blatantly dishonest “waste of human skin” in his comment? Could Sanders and Sydebotham be in cahoots? I don’t have any evidence this is so, but the omission does arouse suspicion. His language, too, may be very telling. Thanks, Jeff, for the tip.

Second, I hope Sanders isn’t holding himself up as the paragon of normalcy, because if he is normal, our society is totally screwed. Here is a record of a domestic violence incident for which Sanders was arrested and in connection to which Monica Sanders took out a protection order against him.

Jefferson succeeded in getting Monica to drop the charges, but it did not erase the record of the incident. This record does not include those crimes, including child abuse and drug dealing (confirmed in writing by Monica), for which Jefferson has not yet been held to account:

General Sessions and Criminal Court Case Information
General Sessions Disposition Inquiry

Booking # 10620367     Charge Group 02     RNI # 960098011

Sentence: Alcohol Safety School, License Revoked, License Surrendered

      Comments     PET (S) RESP (S) DROPPED
07/20/2010         DISMISSED


Santa’s Countdown  We have been making the rounds among Sydebotham’s friends and encouraging them to get straight with us and tell the truth about everything.

Last night there was this rather humorous exchange:

“I’m not going to tell you where I work.”

Dana: “If you think we don’t already know that, you’re absolutely out of your mind.”

This photo proves Dana’s claim:

This same person told us for a second time that Sydebotham has a safe in his trailer home filled with lots of money. Another source told us that Sydebotham has been stockpiling his ill-gotten cash so he can relocate and live closer to James Prindle.

“Oh really?” says Dana. “You’ve gotta be kidding me!”

No, no, no, Stephen. That will never happen. You must pay back all the money you’ve stolen before you can move anywhere. People didn’t donate that money so you can set yourself up in your own little pedo fantasyland. It’s time to get real. Your day of reckoning is approaching and you’d best reform your ways voluntarily before you’re forced to change.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Bill Coday performing “Get Your Lie Straight”


feather in the wind

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. At times like this, I tell my friends I feel like a feather in the wind.

After I published yesterday’s post, a regular reader—a former Navy man—sent me a link to another sea shanty he particularly likes. Like yesterday’s Groove of the Day, this shanty was sung by a men’s chorus, and the lyrics are particularly haunting:

I knew a lad who went to sea and left the shore behind him.
I knew him well the lad was me and now I cannot find him.
Away, away, away he went, in deep and salty water.
His girl she waited years for him. She was his neighbor’s daughter.
Away, away, away he went and left the shore behind him.
I knew him well the lad was me and now I cannot find him.
Away, away, away he went
Away he went and now I cannot find him.
The rolling sea he would embrace, the rolling sea hath took him.
And passed him on a lonely beach, the roaring sea forsook him.

I know the sender had not intended it, but embedded in the lyrics was a message which reinforced an idea—maybe a Big Idea—that I’d been turning over in my head for several days since I posted those then-and-now photos last Sunday of the 10-year-old truant:

I knew a lad who went to sea and left the shore behind him.
I knew him well the lad was me and now I cannot find him.

Last week I had been particularly bothered by a conversation I had with an adult who had been sexually abused as a child, and I had been asking myself, “What is to be done?” As I thought about my reaction to the truant’s photos, I realized it was the photograph of the 10-year-old, a person who no longer exists, which had grabbed me by the throat. Yet it was so striking for me to see the similarities in the faces of the 10-year-old and the young man of 27, and I asked myself: “What if the 10-year-old has not gone away at all, but is embedded and accessible in the man?”

Now Dana has told me that she has learned a survivor of a famous sex abuse case has read this blog and was brought to tears of joy and hope that we are not content to just complain about injustice, but are committed to creating redeeming justice if the System will not or cannot. We are expecting to hear from this person in the near future—but what will we do when we hear from him?

My thought is this: we will welcome and comfort the abused child. We will refuse to believe that it is ever too late to help the inner child to not only cope with the damage which has been inflicted, but to help him benefit from it and grow beyond it, stronger, more resilient, smarter, more creative. In the cases of parricides, we will accept and celebrate the arrival of these survivors who refused to be victims ever again.

In a  year’s time Lone Heron, who is a juvenile parricide survivor and author of Inherited Rage, will be joining us at Estrella Vista to help survivors access old memories and emotions and re-frame them with the benefit of the experience and maturity acquired since they were children when the damage was done. In a year’s time we will have likely discovered additional sources of wisdom to help survivors address the cause of their pain, and not just the symptoms. We will emphasize actual healing, and not just the “management” of symptoms with drugs, which would only impose a new set of problems masking the underlying sources of their distress.

I am no shrink, but I have no doubt that the winds of fate will guide us to better and safer solutions than modern pharmacology offers. I have no doubt that divine guidance will carry us, and numerous wounded children, like feathers in the wind to where we all need to be.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Susie Suh performing “Feather in the Wind”