Category: Corruption

CO U.S. Senate Candidate Darryl Glenn: Pregnancy Resulting from Rape is a “Gift from God”

Colorado’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Darryl Glenn, addressed a group of people in Jefferson County in 2015, telling them that pregnancy resulting from a rape is a “gift from God.”

Glenn is running against Democrat incumbent Michael Bennet.

Grand Junction Chamber Drops its Longstanding Support for Scott Tipton

House Rep. Scott Tipton (R), formerly a favorite of the tea-party leaning Grand Junction Area Chamber, has failed to win the chamber's endorsement for re-election this year

House Rep. Scott Tipton (R), formerly a favorite of the tea-party leaning Grand Junction Area Chamber, has failed to win the chamber’s endorsement for re-election this year

In a subtle but stunning rebuke, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce has quietly declined to endorse Scott Tipton (R) in his bid this year to win re-election as Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District’s House Representative. In its 2016 Voter Guide (PDF), the chamber endorses candidates in other races, but for the first time it does not endorse Tipton.

The chamber has endorsed Tipton ever since he first ran for Congress in 2010, and maintained its support of the tea party favorite throughout the years, until now.

This year, no endorsement. Zero. Zip.

Why Average People Shouldn’t Listen to the Grand Junction Area Chamber

chamberIt’s election time again, and soon the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce will issue it’s “2016 Voter Guide” in an attempt to try and influence how people in Mesa County vote on ballot measures and local elected offices.

If you’re an average, hard-working working citizen in Mesa County, there is only one thing you need to know about the chamber’s voter guide: ignore it.

Why?

Because the chamber doesn’t represent Mesa County’s working population. It exists solely to promote the financial interests of the few Mesa County businesses who pay its dues, and nothing more. What’s more, most businesses oppose measures aimed at helping workers and their families, so the chamber reflexively opposes any ballot measures that would benefit the thousands of workers and residents who spend money locally and really keep this area humming.

What’s REALLY Up With the Grand Valley Drainage District’s New Fee?

Recent flooding at First and Grand in Grand Junction, after 1/2 inch of rain fell in an hour

Flooding at the intersection of First and Grand in Grand Junction, after just 1/2 inch of rain fell in one hour in a summer 2016 rain storm

Grand Valley residents were hit this year with an additional $36 annual fee to help fund improvements within the Grand Valley Drainage District. But why, and why so out of the blue?

The fee came as a surprise to homeowners because the Drainage District sent notices of the fee only to business owners in an effort to try to save their already-scarce funds. The District regrets this now and they believe they should have done more outreach to residents about the fee, no matter the cost.

That said, many of the problems leading up to this extra fee being necessary are traceable to the actions of the Mesa County Commissioners.

WCAF to Award $4,325 to Student Who Exposed Christian Proselytizing in Delta Public Schools

Cidney Fisk of Delta, Colorado

Cidney Fisk of Delta, Colorado

On Monday, August 15, 2016 Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) will award a $4,325 college scholarship to Cidney Fisk, the newly-graduated Delta High School student who exposed the pervasive Christian proselytizing in Delta County’s public schools. WCAF will hand over the check to Cidney at noon in front of Delta High School in Delta, Colorado.

Cidney is an award-winning, A+ student who excelled in speech and debate, but was punished for her opinions about the school.

The scholarship is WCAF’s largest to date. The group gave a $1,000 gift to the Mesa County Public Library Foundation in July of 2013 to help with construction of the new downtown Central Library, and in spring, 2016 donated $100 to Delta Middle School to help with minor repairs in the girls’ and boys’ restrooms in the school’s cafeteria.

Cidney graduated from Delta High School last May and was outspoken about the school bringing in Christian-based speaker Shelly Donahue, who gave an abstinence-only-before-marriage talk to students. This talk was nominally secular, but contained crucifixes in all the slides and Donahue told the students that having premarital sex “puts

A slide from Shelly Donahue's "WAIT" program shown at Delta High School in October, 2015, containing Christian crosses (crucifixes)

A slide from Shelly Donahue’s “WAIT” program shown at Delta High School in October, 2015, containing Christian crosses (crucifixes)

them further from God.” This talk the only “sex ed” most DHS students ever received from the school district, but it contained none of the state-required information about contraceptives, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS or other information the state says public schools must give students if districts choose to teach sex education.

Cidney Fisk’s Interview on KVNF Radio

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 12.44.55 PMThis 30 minute interview on KVNF Radio with Cidney Fisk and her parents about their experience with the Delta County School District was broadcast July 19, 2016. Host Ali Lightfoot interviews Cidney, her parents and Delta County School District officials about the religious speakers the school routinely brings in, other incidents of proselytizing occurring within the district, and the retribution Cidney faced from her teachers and counselors after voicing her opinions about that and what Cidney perceived as the district’s misguided financial priorities: Click this link to listen to the interview.

What it’s Like to be a Student with a Brain in the Delta County School District

Cidney Fisk, first row on the right, in red tennies, with a group of Delta High students last April, who were recognized by the Delta County Independent for displaying "exceptional leadership, service, academic excellence, and are outstanding citizens in their school and community."

Cidney Fisk, front row on the left in red sleeved shirt and red tennies, shown with other Delta High students last April who  the Delta County Independent recognized for displaying “exceptional leadership, service, academic excellence, and [for being] outstanding citizens in their school and community.”

No one disputes that Cidney Fisk, 18, of Delta, Colorado, is among the most accomplished graduates ever turned out by the Delta County School District. But some of Cidney’s personal characteristics, including her atheism, apparently rubbed Delta High School (DHS) officials the wrong way, and she has paid dearly for it.

Will Grand Junction City Council Finally Respect Religious Diversity in 2016?

“We are mindful that this 21st century brings a new diversity of citizens. We must strive to make our government sensitive to the values of Americans with minority views, whether religious, political or otherwise.”

— The City of Grand Junction’s website

“We say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” — City council members bow their heads during Christian prayers at a public meeting at City Hall, September 2, 2015

“We say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” — City council members bow their heads during Christian prayers at a public meeting at City Hall, September 2, 2015

“During the invocation, you can sit, stand or leave the room.”

That’s what Grand Junction’s mayor tells citizens who would rather not have to worship Jesus Christ at the City’s public meetings. The statement assumes someone is going to be offended by the Christian prayers that come next.

But Council is okay with offending some citizens because Christianity has long been the preferred religion of City  Council, and they use their taxpayer-funded public meetings to flaunt it.

The truth is there is a stark contrast between what City Council says publicly about its attitude toward religious diversity and the lip service it pay towards actually respecting religious diversity.

Delta County School District Superintendent Brushes off Legal, Policy Violations in Bible Handout

Delta County School District Superintendent Caryn Gibson (Photo Credit: Western Colorado Community Foundation)

Delta County School District Superintendent Caryn Gibson (Photo Credit: Western Colorado Community Foundation)

After being informed that a Gideon Bible hand-out in Delta Middle School library during class time on December 18, 2015 violated U.S. laws guaranteeing separation of church and state,  violated the School District’s policy governing the distribution of non-curricular literature in multiple ways and caused students who did not take bibles to be bullied and harassed, Delta County School District Superintendent Caryn Gibson responded by saying:

“Hello

Thank you for your concern and email.  Delta County School District honors the separation of Church and State.  The Gideon Bibles were left on a table and optional for 6th grade students to take.  No staff members distributed the non-curricular materials at anytime.  Attached is the Delta County School District policy on non-curricular material.  

Caryn Gibson

Superintendent

Delta County Public Schools 50J

(p) 970-874-4438

cgibson@deltaschools.com

DMSDistribution-Posting-of-Noncurricular-Materials

That was it.

No acknowledgement that the school district’s own policy was violated, no acknowledgement that constitutional law was violated.

Zip.

Clear Violations of School Policy, No Acknowledgement by District

It is unconstitutional for public school districts to allow bibles to be distributed in classrooms during the school day. American courts have uniformly held that distributing bibles to students at public schools during instructional time is prohibited, and school officials like teachers and administrators cannot facilitate the bible handouts. At Delta Middle School, social studies teacher Michael Long took his class to the library during their regular class period, told the students there were bibles on a table by the library door, and they could take one if they wanted. The event gave the appearance that the school endorses Christianity above other religions.

Under the law, Gideons can only distribute religious literature off campus, on municipally-owned public sidewalks well off school grounds.

In addition, the DMS bible giveaway violated the District’s own literature distribution policy in not one, but in four different ways

1. District policy states (pdf) that any “printed non-curricular material” cannot be distributed in “any classroom of any building when being occupied by a regularly-scheduled class.” The reporting student’s class was held in the school library on 12/18 so the class could do research. The library was the students’ classroom that day, during regularly-scheduled class time. Moreover, this wasn’t the only class held in the library that day, or the only class in which bibles were foisted upon the students.

2. District policy states “Distribution [of non-curricular materials, like bibles] may be made 1/2 hour before school and/or during regularly scheduled lunch periods…..Any other times during the school day are considered to be disruptive of normal school activities.” [Italicized emphasis added.] This student’s social studies class was held in the library at 9:40 a.m., as was previously pointed out to the superintendent, during normal school hours. More than one teacher brought their class to the library during school hours that same day.

3. Delta School District policy also states “Students may not be used as the agents for distribution of such materials without the written consent of the student’s parents.” Mr. Long’s social studies students became agents for the Gideons’ distribution when they started pressuring other students to take a bible. No written consent was solicited from the parents of these students regarding solicitation of bibles.

4. District Policy states “No student may in any way be compelled or coerced to accept any materials being distributed by any person distributing such materials or any school official.” Both Mr. Long and some of his social studies students pressured the reporting student to take a bible. Another element of the policy states teachers can not endorse the literature.  Mr. Long endorsed the bible distribution when he told students “There’s bibles and they are free if you want one.” 

How can the Delta School District ignore these violations of their own policy, and even more importantly, why are they failing to acknowledge and remedy them?

Update – 3/23/16 – The Delta County School District only finally acknowledged that the Gideon Bible giveaway in the Delta Middle School library violated of their own policy (pdf) after the school district’s attorney was contacted by a staff attorney from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) based in Madison, Wisconsin. When FFRF asked that the Gideons be banned from further literature distribution in accordance with school policy (which permits revoking literature distribution privileges for policy violators), the school district attorney, Aaron Clay, refused, blaming the violations of policy on school personnel rather than on the Gideons.

Delta Middle School Pushes Bibles on Students During Class

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 8.17.32 PM

Delta Middle School Principal Jennifer Lohrberg

The parent of a Delta County, Colorado middle school student is reporting some of the most overt violations of separation of church and state yet discovered to be occurring in western slope public schools.

The parent’s child attends Delta Middle School (DMS) and reported to her mom on Friday, December 18, that her social studies class went to the school library with their teacher, Mr. Michael Long (michael.long@deltaschools.com). Once in the library, Mr. Long “announced to the class that there were free bibles available” and students “could pick one up off of a table located in the doorway of the library and take it home.” A student who noted this was a violation of separation of church and state in a public school, took a photo of the bibles on the table and sent it via text to her mother, pointing out that the table was located where students had to walk around it to enter and exit the library.

The student who did not take a bible was confronted by her classmates about why she didn’t take one, and they started shaming her for not conforming to Christian beliefs.

After finding out bibles were being distributed during school time with the endorsement of a social studies teacher, an outraged parent contacted DMS Principal Jennifer Lohrberg (jennifer.lohrberg@deltaschools.com) to protest the overt endorsement of Christianity on school property and during school hours. Principal Lohrberg insisted the bible giveaway was all in accordance with school policy, and sent the upset parent a copy of Delta County School District’s policy governing posting and distribution of non-curricular literature. (pdf)

DMS Violates Its Own Literature Distribution Policy, Multiple Times — And Denies It

Gideon Bibles piled on a table at the entrance/exit to the Delta Middle School library December 18, 2015

Gideon Bibles piled on a table at the entrance/exit to the Delta Middle School library December 18, 2015. (Photo credit: DMS student)

One must only read the Delta County School District’s policy, though, to see DMS bible giveaway violated the District’s own literature distribution policy four different ways

In Honor of Former Grand Junction Mayor Reford “Ten Commandments” Theobold

A reader sent in this photo in homage to Grand Junction's former "Ten Commandments" mayor, Reford Theobold, who was recently busted for shoplifting Big Hunk candy bars from Cabela's in Mesa Mall

A reader sent in this photo of The City of Grand Junction’s Ten Commandment tablet on City Hall grounds, honoring Grand Junction’s formerly esteemed “Ten Commandments” mayor, Reford Theobold, who was recently busted for shoplifting Big Hunk candy bars from Cabela’s at Mesa Mall

Grand Junction’s Former “Ten Commandments” Mayor Busted for Shoplifting at Cabela’s

Reford Theobold, the Grand Junction City Council member who led the $64,000 end-run around the U.S. Constitution.

THOU SHALT NOT STEAL? – Reford Theobold, the Grand Junction City Council member and former mayor who led the $64,000 end-run around the U.S. Constitution.

The Daily Sentinel reported today that revered former two-time Grand Junction mayor and Ten Commandments moralist Reford Theobold was arrested for shoplifting maps and Big Hunk candy bars from Cabela’s at Mesa Mall. 

Theobold runs a Grand Junction telemarketing and advertising company called TNT Productions, and was the Grand Junction Lion’s Club 2014 Lion of the Year. He was previously held in such high esteem locally that the skybox at Stocker Stadium is named after him.

Father of the $64K “Graveyard” in Front of City Hall

Until now, the thing Reford Theobold was probably best known for was for leading the City’s desperate effort to circumvent the U.S. Constitution by spending $64,000 of taxpayer money on the “Cornerstones of Law and Liberty Plaza,” known to tourists as the “Graveyard in Front of City Hall” and by locals as the “Trample on the Bill of Rights Plaza.” Theobold came up with the idea to built the pricey plaza to evade a 2001 lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the City for having a Ten Commandments tablet, a Christian religious monument, displayed on City property in front of City Hall.

The $64,000 Gravyard in Front of City Hall, Reford Theobold's costly legacy

The $64,000 Graveyard in Front of City Hall, Reford Theobold’s costly legacy

The lawsuit could have been settled quickly, easily and at no cost to taxpayers after a downtown church  offered to take the 10-Commandments tablet and display it on its own land very close to City Hall, but well off public property. Accepting this generous offer would have spared City taxpayers a fortune.

But Reford Theobold, by all accounts a devoutly religious man, would have none of it. Instead, he chose to lead the City through one of the most ridiculous and costly episodes it’s ever been through. The idea was that by planting the Ten Commandments tablet among a bunch of other secular monuments like the Mayflower Compact and Magna Carta, it would look more historical than religious.

When is Food Not Food?

Grocery stores charge customers over $13 a pound for water by putting it inside chickens instead of inside bottles. Trick or treat!

Grocery stores charge customers over $13 a pound for water by putting it inside chickens instead of inside bottles. Trick or treat!

Answer: When the package tells you exactly what portion of the contents isn’t food.

Chicken is a prime example.

Virtually all packaged grocery store chicken says the poultry “retains up to” three, five, seven or even fifteen percent water. It’s almost impossible to find grocery store chicken that does not announce this somewhere right on the label.

So how does the water get in there? Do you think some chickens are bred to be 97% chicken and 3% water, while others bred to be 85% chicken and 15% water?

Nope.

Chicken is always 100% chicken until it’s adulterated. The amount of water forced into chicken meat is a function of just two things: 1) the manner in which it’s processed and 2) how greedy the producers and grocery stores are.

Chicken producers intentionally add water during processing to make the chicken look juicier, weigh more and fool consumers into putting a whole lot more moola in their pockets.

The strategy appears to be working great, and our friendly neighborhood grocery stores gladly go along with the scheme and sell you adulterated chicken, every day.

When stores charge $1.49 a pound for chicken that contains “retained water” from processing, you are paying them $1.49/pound not just for chicken, but for the water they pump into it, too. If the store charged you the same price for bottled water, you’d be paying $13.41 per gallon.

If fact, you ARE paying them that amount for water. The only difference is, it’s water in a chicken and not in a bottle.

What's inside YOUR chicken?

What’s inside YOUR chicken?

So City Market, Albertsons, Safeway and, yes, even Sprouts Farmers Market are all playing a particularly nasty trick or treat on their loyal customers (although Sprouts does offer a brand of unadulterated chicken for a much higher price while the other markets don’t offer any options). Oh, sure, the markets distract you by putting lots of other feel-good things on the label, like “100% Natural” (of course water is “natural), “Hatched, Raised and Harvested in the U.S.,” “No added hormones,” and other comforting phraseology that serves to distract people from the fact that they pump chicken full of water.

It is a great marketing tactic, and it seems to be working extremely well, because customers never seem to ask the butchers or market managers why they are getting so much water in their chicken instead of getting just real, unadulterated 100% chicken when they buy chicken. Customers keep forking over huge prices to grocery stores for watered down chicken while putting less and less real food on their table.

And as long as the store tells you right up front there on the label what you’re really buying, they’re home free and can’t be accused of fraud.

U.S. Military Members Under Pervasive Pressure from Christian Evangelists

Few people are aware of the extent of the fundamentalist Christian programs now going on in the U.S. Military aimed at turning our country’s Military into a global Christian mission for Jesus Christ.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), based in Albuquerque, New Mexico has working for years to draw attention to this situation. Mikey Weinstein, the head of MRFF, says these religious efforts constitute a “systematic program of indoctrination sanctioned, coordinated, and carried out by fundamentalist Christians within the U. S. military.” He writes that Christian programs in the military “[represent] a bona fide national security crisis” that is ongoing “throughout the entirety of the United States Air Force in particular, and the U.S. Armed Forces as a whole, whereby unchecked evangelizing activity is carried out on Uncle Sam’s time and the taxpayer’s dime.”

A shocking YouTube compilation of clips contains clips of videos created by the many parachurch groups that operate freely within the U.S. military shows military chaplains and fundamentalist preachers stating openly that they consider the military a hunting ground to recruit followers for Jesus Christ. They refer to military recruits as a “ripe harvest field,” and say the military offers them a “unique opportunity for a gateway ministry.”

Major General (Ret.) Bob Dees, Executive Dire actor of the Campus Crusade for Christ International’s Military Ministry, states, “The first strategic objective is to evangelize and disciple the enlisted members of the enlisted Air Force.”

Footage taken by AlJazeera shows Lt. Colonel Gary Hensley, the Army Command Chaplain in Afghanistan (the chief of all of the Army chaplains in Afghanistan) telling members of the military that they need to go on a recruiting drive for Christ. “Hunt ’em down and get ’em in the Kingdom, that’s what we do, that’s our business,” Hensley says.

A representative of the military branch of Campus Crusade for Christ states,

“Our purpose for Campus Crusade for Christ at the Air Force Academy is to make Jesus Christ the issue at the Air Force Academy and around the world, and I think that we’re seeing God do that. We’re seeing kids come to Christ, being built up in their faith and being sent out to reach the world. They’re government-paid missionaries when they leave here.”

All activities shown in the video are currently ongoing in the U.S. Military and are open violations of U.S. law. The rules regulating Air Force culture, Air Force Instruction 1-1 (pdf), state that “Every Airman is free to practice the religion of their choice or subscribe to no religious belief at all.” The regulations mandate that

…Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.

The activities shown in the video are shocking and need to be seen to be believed. You can support the efforts of MRFF here, or write to your own elected officials and express your opinion about this blatant violation of service members’ rights, Air Force rules and the U.S. Constitution.

Zillow Leads the Way in Correctly Naming Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area

This map, taken from the real estate marketing site Zillow, correctly names the spectacular area southwest of Grand Junction as "Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area," the original name of what some now call "McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area."

This map, taken from the real estate marketing site Zillow, correctly names the scenic public lands southwest of Grand Junction as “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area,” the original name of what some now refer to as “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.” In 2004, a handful of House representatives from states other than Colorado quietly renamed the area for their buddy, former House representative and failed 2010 Colorado gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, who later was accused of plagiarism and now opposes the conservation of land in perpetuity.

Petitions Ask Legislators to Revert “McInnis Canyons” Back to “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area”

Revert McInnis Canyons back to Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area

 Mesa County Commissioner and former House Rep. Scott McInnis got a national conservation area named after himself in violation of a federal House Rule that specifically prohibits Congressmen from naming public works and lands after themselves. The name-change legislation was introduced and passed without input from Coloradans.

Citizens for a Better Grand Junction on July 2 submitted petitions containing hundreds of names to House Representative Scott Tipton and Senator Michael Bennet asking them to introduce legislation to revert “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area” back to its original name, “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area.”

The petitions cite many reasons for reverting the name: The 2004 change to “McInnis Canyons” was not sought by anyone in Colorado. Rather, legislation to change the name was introduced by Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, and the only other sponsor was Rep. Richard Pombo of California. The bill was introduced and passed without input or discussion from Coloradans, and, even more egregiously, without any input from members of the committee who worked long and hard to make the area into a National Conservation Area. The name change also violated House Rule XXI, Clause 6 (pdf, at page 35), which specifically prohibits members of Congress from naming public works or lands after themselves. This rule was put in place to eliminate corruption and back-room deals involving stoking Congress members’ egos by naming public works after themselves.

Former House Rep. Scott McInnis

Former Congressman Scott McInnis won a race for Mesa County Commissioner in November, 2014, even though his campaign broke several rules, including illegally posting campaign signs on power poles without permission and standing on city medians in violation of City Ordinance 9.04.250, “Prohibition against standing on or occupying medians.”

The petition also cites how former Rep. McInnis’ reputation was tarnished in 2010 by charges that he plagiarized essays he was hired to write about water law for a nonprofit foundation. The scandal forced him to quit the race for Colorado governor, apologize to the public and refund the $300,000 the Hasan Foundation had paid him to write the essays. McInnis was further charged with plagiarizing a 1994 column he wrote for the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News. McInnis admitted in both cases that he had relied upon others for materials rather than creating them himself. A congressman thus tainted is undeserving of having anything named after him, the signers say.

Moreover, renaming a national conservation area after a human being breaks with longstanding U.S. tradition. National conservations areas have never been named after people, but only after the geographic features they contain that make them significant.

“For all of these reasons,” the petition states, “we urge our current federal officials to revert McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area back to its original name, ‘Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area.’ Doing so will right a wrong done to our state’s citizens without our knowledge, restore our state’s integrity and assure the conservation area’s name confers honors not just on one individual, but on the entire beautiful state of Colorado.”

Mesa County District Attorney Set to Further Abuse Beleaguered Blagg Juror

The Mesa County D.A. has whipped up hysteria about the former Blagg juror, and is now responding to the desires of a pitchfork-wielding mob to punish her

The Mesa County D.A. has whipped up local anger about the former Blagg juror, and is responding to the desires of an angry mob to punish her further

The abused Blagg juror in Grand Junction and her further prosecution by the Mesa County District Attorney are raising questions among local women about exactly what constitutes domestic abuse, and whether and when someone experiences it or not.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”

Under this definition,  whether an act constitutes domestic violence or not depends entirely on the point of view of the targeted partner. In the case of the Blagg juror, her former husbands’ actions drove her to divorce them, but someone can certainly file for a divorce without feeling intimidated, threatened or abused by the other partner’s actions. If her husband’s actions just angered her and pushed her to divorce them, does that really make her a “victim” of domestic violence?

Maybe it just makes her a strong woman.

Whereas society used to entirely accept a man beating up his wife, now domestic violence is defined by things as subtle as using dirty looks, playing mind games, using children to relay messages or taking away someone’s cell phone.

Subjective Gray Area

Moreover, whether or not a partner’s actions rise to the level domestic violence depends on a number of differentiating variables, like frequency and intensity of violent acts, and the presence or lack of other forms of maltreatment, like chronic attempts at financial control or isolation. Other factors like substance abuse, the aggressive partner’s history of abusive actions, or a history of mental illness or possessiveness, can also figure into a definition of what constitutes domestic abuse. It’s also important whether a pattern of abuse exists or not. If a one-off threat or act by one partner drives the other partner end the relationship permanently, does this rise to the level domestic violence?

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, caving to an angry public, is poised to publicly heap more abuse on a beleaguered former juror in the Blagg case who has been targeted repeatedly by the Defense.

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, caving to an angry public, is poised to heap further abuse on a beleaguered former juror in the Blagg case who has been targeted repeatedly by the Defense for more than a decade

Again, it depends on the point of view of the person targeted by the act. Despite this huge gray area in what constitutes domestic abuse, a Mesa County Court judge has told the former Blagg juror exactly what her marital experiences amounted to, and how she must define them.

This is a tremendously presumptive position by the Court. It’s also a tremendously unfair position in which to put the juror. Further, in return for having the temerity to disagree with the Court about her own experiences, the D.A. is now is poised to punish her further with jail time and thousands of dollars in fees and fines, in addition to the thousands she and her current husband have already been forced to shell out to an attorney to help defend her.

By now one thing in this case is truly clear: the former Blagg juror has suffered far more abuse from the Court system and the D.A. than she ever did from her former husbands.

The D.A.’s actions to further punish this already aggrieved former juror will no doubt put a healthy dose of fear and trepidation into everyone who gets a jury summons in the future. The Mesa County District Attorney is now also poised to severely deplete the already small pool of people who are willing to serve on a jury, and probably not just locally, but will create the same difficulty for courts across the country.

Same Crime, but Vastly Different Treatment of Two Jurors in the Mesa County Courts

Chief Deputy D.A. Dan Rubenstein, lead county DA pursuing Blagg juror (Photo Credit: CO Bar Assoc.)

Chief Deputy D.A. Dan Rubenstein, lead county DA pursuing Blagg juror (Photo Credit: CO Bar Assoc.)

If you need verification of the extent to which former juror Marilyn Charlesworth is being hung out to dry as a result of her service eleven years ago on the Blagg jury, look no further than how the District Attorney’s office handled another recent case of juror misconduct that also led to a new trial for the defendant.

To recap, Charlesworth currently has the distinction of being the most abused juror in modern U.S. history. Over the past eleven years, convicted murderer Michael Blagg’s defense team has forced her to defend herself against a number of allegations, including that while serving as a juror she withheld information from the Court about the extent of a vision problem, about a specific medication she was allegedly prescribed and, most recently, about whether she experienced an incident of domestic violence over two decades ago. The Mesa County DA has now filed contempt charges against her, is currently threatening her with 30 days in jail and fees in excess of $45,000, nominally to pay for Blagg’s first trial. That figure includes witness travel fees, hotel expenses, expert witness fees, subpoena service, the cost of transcripts for further hearings and additional costs not yet specified. Over the eleven years since Blagg’s first trial, the Court has made public Charlesworth’s medical, employment, DMV and IRS tax records and information from them has been published in the local paper, all without her consent. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel now routinely features her name in articles about the Blagg case. Charlesworth and her husband now face thousands of dollars in legal bills for her defense from the two-pronged legal onslaught by Blagg’s defense team the Mesa County District Attorney’s office.

Contrast this with how the same D.A.’s office handled a second case of a juror accused of the exact same charge — misconduct — in another recent case, and whose actions resulted in a convicted defendant, a child molester, getting a new trial.

Different Cases, Same Charge

In 2010, Rodney Eddy, a former resident of Mesa and deacon at Mesa View Bible Church, was convicted of multiple felony counts of sexual assault on a teenage girl. A jury found him guilty on four counts each of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.

Rodney Eddy, who is going for a third trial -- the juror accused of misconduct in Eddy's case suffered no consequences

Rodney Eddy, who is going for a third trial — the juror accused of misconduct in Eddy’s case suffered no consequences for intentionally lying on a juror questionnaire

Eddy, now 73 years old, had two trials. The first ended in February, 2010, after jurors deadlocked on the charges against him. His next trial came six months later, in August of 2010. In that trial, jurors convicted Eddy of four counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and four more counts for a pattern of abuse. He was acquitted of eight additional charges and sentenced to 16 years to life in prison.

Fast-forward to February, 2015, when the Court awarded Eddy a third trial, this time due to juror misconduct.

In a screening questionnaire given to jurors before Eddy’s second trial, one unidentified juror answered “no” to the question of whether he or any of his family members had ever been a victim of sexual abuse. He later confessed that he had, in fact, been sexually abused by a priest in Grand Junction in 1965, at age 12. He told investigators that he had lied on his questionnaire to get on the jury after he learned sexual abuse allegations were central to Eddy’s case. He told investigators he was seeking “payback” for the wrongs allegedly committed against him by the priest when he was a child.