“Bleed ‘Em, Plead ‘Em,” and Lie: The State of California versus Robert Adams

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

The State of California, which gave us such outrages as the McMartin Case and the Kerns County prosecutions, claims to have learned its lesson, and the Sacramento Bee has solemnly assured its readers that the Bee no longer runs over the cliff when someone is accused of child molestation. That self-congratulatory statement came as the Bee once again stood on the edge of the cliff and jumped.

As of this writing, Robert Adams, the former headmaster of the now-shuttered Creative Frontiers School in Citrus Heights, is charged with child molestation, although the State of California still has not turned over its “evidence” to the defense, despite the fact that it has had this case for more than a year. (This is part of the “bleed ‘em” strategy that prosecutors employ. When they don’t have a case, they lie and hide evidence so that the proceedings will drag out and the defendant will plead to something just to get this thing behind him. It is a smarmy strategy, but most American prosecutors fall into the “smarmy” category, so it all fits together perfectly.)

So it was that the Bee triumphantly claimed that since McMartin, everyone in the system now is careful not to make false accusations. Really. The Bee proclaimed:

The legacy of the notorious McMartin Preschool case of the 1980s is playing out this week in Sacramento.

As the principal of a private elementary school in Citrus Heights stands accused of molesting his students, authorities are warning the school’s parents against aggressively questioning their children about the man they affectionately know as “Mr. Bob.”

It is the exact opposite of what police asked parents to do during the McMartin case, in which members of a Southern California family who ran a highly regarded preschool in Manhattan Beach were charged with numerous acts of sexual abuse.

The Bee continued:

The state Department of Social Services, in a complaint filed in support of revoking the preschool’s license, accuses Adams of “inappropriate physical and sexual contact with female children” on “numerous occasions” beginning in 1997. The complaint cites two specific allegations, including the one by Mertens, and other more general accusations. Those include Adams touching children’s bodies under their shirts and down their pants, and lying with female children on a mat in a secluded area.

However, the article went on to describe how much better investigators do than they did 30 years ago when the McMartin allegations broke out. I must admit, having been involved with a number of faux child molestation cases against innocent people, that the following statement from the newspaper is a howler:

In response to the McMartin debacle, authorities across the country established “child advocacy centers” with special rooms where youngsters can be questioned by trained psychologists or law enforcement specialists.

Sorry, folks, it does not work that way. Most Child Advocacy Center interviewers are poorly-trained, and often are people with an agenda. The two CACs that were involved in the Tonya Craft case had interviewers asking leading and manipulative questions and admitted proudly on the stand that they could not be bothered to have more training or to read any relevant academic and research literature that dealt with their interviews and interviewing techniques. I include the transcript of an interview of Tonya Craft’s six-year-old (at the time) daughter so that readers can see a CAC “expert” at work. It is pretty disgusting.

(Chris Arnt, the lead prosecutor in the Craft case, managed to get six indictments against Craft from this interview.)

Here is what the executive editor of the Bee, Joyce Terhaar, wrote right after the investigation began and the school was closed:

The shadow of the McMartin Preschool fiasco hung over Sacramento law enforcement and media last week.

You likely followed the news of the abrupt closure Monday of a private elementary school in Citrus Heights because of allegations the principal molested students beginning in 1997.

Just as law enforcement learned from the McMartin molestation allegations in the 1980s, and changed its investigative approach in such cases, the media learned to be more skeptical.

Yes, the Bee was so skeptical of the charges that soon after Terhaar’s column that it ran a story claiming that Adams had faked his credentials, thus helping to cement in the minds of its readers that the guy was a fraud, which meant he must be guilty of child molestation. However, when Adams produced the documentation that showed he had the educational credentials that he had claimed, the Bee was too busy to run a correction. (I would add that the Sacramento television news stations have been no better than the Bee, but since the Bee claims to always have a reasoned and correct perspective about nearly everything, I figure that this paper should be held to higher standards than the makeup-slathered folks we see on the evening news.)

Lest anyone think the Bee has simply tried to objectively cover this case, this lead in an article from Sam Stanton should put things into perspective:

On a chilly December day when Bob Adams normally might be thinking about a holiday pageant at his family’s school, he found himself walking into court again to deal with charges that he is a child molester.

He goes on:

Adams faces six felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 and one misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a child under 18.

Court documents indicate Adams was first investigated in connection with molestation allegations in 2000, but it was not until September that charges were filed accusing him of molesting girls as young as 6 or 7 in alleged incidents dating back to 1996.

Yes, everything Stanton wrote is true, but the way he puts it leaves little doubt he believes Adams is guilty.

At this point the reader might ask me, “Why do you think this guy is innocent?” I use the word “innocence” carefully, but I have no doubt. And neither does the writer, Christian Peet, who has published a number of excellent blog posts that go into this case — and the accusers — into detail. It is Peet, not the faux journalists at the Sacramento Bee, who has done the digging and done the due diligence that the ancients once called research. (They are too busy to do research at the Bee, instead being satisfied with repeating the press releases from the police and Sacramento County prosecutors.)

Peet has an excellent post from last May, and I include a few excerpts:

Prosecutors’ decision to build a case against Adams even in the wake of the public implosion of their original star witness (and, by her own account, their “only witness“), Irma Mertens, has only solidified public doubt about the veracity of the State’s case.

Mertens, a volunteer at Creative Frontiers, who was passed over for paid employment prior to making her felony allegations against Adams in July 2011, went on to embarrass social services and police by giving a string of newspaper and television interviews in which she embellished and contradicted previous statements released to the media, providing sudden new “details” such as watching Adams stick his thumb in a child’s rectum,3 all within 48 hours of authorities having released her original allegations in a press packet that was unblinkingly trumpeted by local papers and recycled by major media across the US and into the UK, destroying the names of the prestigious 35-year-old school and branding its founder, for the rest of his life, an accused child molester.

I would urge readers to go through Peet’s account of the lurid tales that Mertens told the media — and how those tales later fell apart, although one never would guess that from reading the Bee or watching the news in Sacramento. Peet also debunks the notion that the police were careful in their investigation:

Just three days after Creative Frontiers was closed, an article at the Sacramento Bee, as if written by the prosecution itself, sought to reassure the public that city and county authorities, despite appearances, weren’t repeating the same mistakes. Declared the headline: “McMartin Preschool abuse-case fiasco led to new child interview techniques.”

“In [the Mcmartin Preschool] case,” write reporters Hubert and Stanton, “following an initial accusation from one mother, police sent form letters to more than 200 parents at the preschool, urging them to question their children about possible sexual abuse.” The difference, however, between these troubling aspects of McMartin and those of Creative Frontiers, is scarcely any difference at all. Instead of Judy Johnson making false allegations in 1983, we have Irma Mertens making false allegations in 2011. Instead of a telephone-tree panic between parents, we have online comments at the Sacramento Bee and other digital newspapers.

Likewise only updated technology separates the ill-advised tactics of the police departments in each case. In 1983 police in Manhattan Beach mailed parents 200 form letters. In 2011, Citrus Heights police set up an online form, making the reporting of allegations as easy as clicking of a mouse.

At this writing, the defense STILL does not have the prosecution files on the case, which places the State of California in violation of the Brady ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Not that prosecutors ever have worried about obeying the law, but it should be noted that the Bee has not reported on this legal transgression.

Peet’s blogging on this case has been extremely valuable, as he has put it into perspective and, like me, he points out the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the Bee’s coverage. He takes apart the allegations and the statements by police and accusers better than I could do. So if you want to better understand why I believe that the State of California is perpetuating a fraud and is being aided and abetted by the Sacramento Bee, read Peet’s work.

William Anderson

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35 Responses to ““Bleed ‘Em, Plead ‘Em,” and Lie: The State of California versus Robert Adams”

  1. #1 |  Big Boy | 

    It is amazing that any male wants to be a grade school teacher. It’s too dangerous. Innocence is no defense.

    I decided years ago that I won’t have anything to do with kids. I won’t stop to help ‘em or even tell one what the time is. Nope. Walk on by and ignore ‘em. You can’t even call 911 because then your telephone number can lead to an investigation. It simply isn’t worth the risk.

    You are on your own kid. Society has chosen to drive off everyone but Mommy, the police, and (Oh my God) the fools from CPS.

    Every baseless or phonyed-up prosecution convinces more men to have nothing to do with other’s children under any circumstances.

    Kids are afraid of men and men are MORE afraid of children. What a Society?

  2. #2 |  Charles | 

    “The State of California, which gave us such outrages as the McMartin Case and the Kerns County prosecutions, claims to have learned its lesson…”

    I’m assuming you mean “Kern County” and when you say “learned its lesson” I think you’re incorrect. The current Kern County Sheriff is Donny Youngblood who has explicitly said he doesn’t think the department erred in railroading all those innocent people. And while DA Ed Jagles has retired his lieutenant who was in charge of arguing to the courts that factual innocence is no reason to let people out of jail, Lisa Green, is the current District Attorney.

    No punishments have been doled out to the people who actually abused those children (the authorities) and the worst offenders are still in power.

  3. #3 |  Free Courtney Bisbee | 

    “WITCH HUNT” – Award-winning documentary about John Stoll an innocent man who spent 20 years in prison for Kern County DA Ed Jagels witch-hunt (election year).in a working class neighborhood. Executive produced and Narrated by Sean Penn

    http://www.witchhuntmovie.com/

  4. #4 |  Still Waiting for America to Be Free Again, and Waiting and Waiting… » Scott Lazarowitz's Blog | 

    [...] William Anderson: “Bleed ‘Em, Plead ‘Em,” and Lie: The State of California and Robert Adams [...]

  5. #5 |  William Anderson | 

    This also means that the voters of Kern County approve of the railroading. The whole thing is an outrage, and one hopes that Bakersfield comes to enjoy the same fate of bankruptcy that is sweeping California cities right now.

  6. #6 |  B Mac | 

    After reading your earlier piece on this case I saw that there was another blog taking the opposite position from Peet. That blog claimed that continuances (i.e. delays) were at the request of the defense. Perhaps you can refute that or explain how it came about (if its even true).

    Also, its very strange to have two blogs debating a criminal case with different facts. Perhaps you can comment on what’s driving this?

  7. #7 |  AlgerHiss | 

    #1, the intelligent male will follow your lead: Adult males ought to stay away from kids. The risk is far too high.

  8. #8 |  zendingo | 

    @4 B Mac:

    link please?

  9. #9 |  B Mac | 

    if I must, the link is below. I think there’s something fishy about it though, perhaps related to the civil suit. I was hoping Mr Anderson knew and could share more about it.

    http://doubtingcfs.blogspot.com/

  10. #10 |  William Anderson | 

    There also were (and still are) blogs that defend Mike Nifong and INSIST that Crystal Mangum was telling the truth. I’m not sure of the blog of which you wrote, but facts are stubborn things.

    Furthermore, one of the reasons that the defense would like a delay is because the prosecution refuses to turn over evidence, and the defense would have to go to a trial and even a preliminary hearing basically without knowing what the prosecution claims to have. There is an upcoming hearing (I don’t know the date) to deal with the prosecution’s refusal to obey Brady.

    The prosecution simply is trying to wear out the defense with its illegal guerrilla warfare tactics and by hiding its non-evidence and making it financially impossible for the defense to continue. This is wrong, morally and legally wrong, but notice that NO ONE except for this blog and Christian Peet are holding the wrongdoers accountable. The Bee simply apes the prosecution and police line, and the TV stations are just as bad.

  11. #11 |  William Anderson | 

    Having gone to the blog, I definitely am suspicious. If any of these people are actually involved in the lawsuit or are in contact with the plaintiffs, then what they are doing is in the gray areas of what is legal and certainly not kosher. Furthermore, if they have ties to the prosecution, then the prosecution is violating the Rules of Conduct by the California State Bar.

    Notice that no one identifies himself or herself. Everything is anonymous. That alone should give one pause. Furthermore, it centers on his waiting to enter a plea, but that was done because the defense did not have the material from the prosecution. There is NO way that a defense attorney wants to go to trial without the material the prosecution MUST turn over.

    No, this is a smarmy blog, but I would expect nothing less.

  12. #12 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    “The Mob is a headless monster with a million legs and no brain. It speaks only through its anus. Its cry is for Barabbas.”
    Papaphrase of Eric Frank Russel, from his RABBAL ROUSERS.

    Highly recommended, if you can find it. Published once in the early 1960’s, by an obscure paperback imprint (edited, interestingly enough, by Harlan Ellison). Interlibrary Loan is your friend here.

  13. #13 |  Mike | 

    Interrogator: If you tell me you were abused, I’ll give you a cookie.

    Child: OK, I was abused. (munch munch) what does abused mean?

    Prosecutor: The child willingly admitted abuse, so the defendant is guilty.

  14. #14 |  Bill Wells | 

    #9: “There is NO way that a defense attorney wants to go to trial without the material the prosecution MUST turn over.”

    And, in fact, it would be unethical and illegal for him to do so. The defense attorney was required to ask for a continuance, just as the court was required to give it to him.

  15. #15 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Is there no way that the defense lawyer can say to a judge “The prosecutor’s office has had several opportunities to turn over the evidence, as required by law. They haven’t done so. How about dismissing this as a fishing expedition?”

    I mean, it makes sense, so there’s that against it, but I’d like to know.

  16. #16 |  William Anderson | 

    CSP,

    Judges usually are in bed with prosecutors, and especially judges that are dealing with preliminaries as we see now. For all of the “innocent until proven guilty,” all of the stages from the arrest to the preliminary hearings to indictments are something akin to the old Roman Code in which the burden of proof was on the accused, not the accuser.

    By merely claiming that Robert Adams is a child molester, the state has created a huge barrier that is impossible for him to overcome in these stages. When the state says it has a case, even if it does not have a case, it still has a case, according to the law. It is not right, but that is the system we have.

  17. #17 |  Bill Wells | 

    #15: “Is there no way that the defense lawyer can say to a judge ‘The prosecutor’s office has had several opportunities to turn over the evidence, as required by law. They haven’t done so. How about dismissing this as a fishing expedition?'”

    No.

    The best that the defense lawyer can do is to argue that the delay has resulted in a violation of the right to a speedy trial. This is a complex issue and I don’t have the time to write an essay so here’s the executive summary: He’ll have to wait until a year has passed from the arrest or indictment before he has a chance to win that argument.

    Ya know, in civil cases there is this thing called “summary judgment”. The idea is that one files a motion that says, in essence, “put up or shut up”, and the other side has to point to evidence that, if accepted by the jury, would win for him. If the other side can’t point to such evidence, the case is thrown out. Maybe it’s time for this in criminal cases….

  18. #18 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    #16 & 17

    Thank you for your response. I suspected that that was so, but wanted confirmation.

    The nonsense of immunity really must cease. If this case is as it has been presented here (and it looks to me like it is), then everybody connected with the prosecution, and the judge who failed to throw this travesty out of court the instant the prosecution failed to produce the evidence, should be facing decades in jail and complete loss of their pensions. This. Must. Stop.

  19. #19 |  TimH | 

    #18

    “…and complete loss of their pensions”. Do you lose your 401-k, IRA etc if convicted of a felony? Of course not. So why should a civil servant? The threat to a cop of losing his pension hardly stops police transgressions, but it surely helps solidify the solidarity, because a cop losing his pension is financially screwed.

  20. #20 |  En Passant | 

    #17 | Bill Wells wrote August 21st, 2012 at 11:55 am:

    The best that the defense lawyer can do is to argue that the delay has resulted in a violation of the right to a speedy trial. This is a complex issue and I don’t have the time to write an essay so here’s the executive summary: He’ll have to wait until a year has passed from the arrest or indictment before he has a chance to win that argument.

    Can’t speak to this case because I know very little about it. But, as a generality, defense can expressly waive the right to a speedy trial. I’m not saying that it happened here, but it isn’t uncommon.

  21. #21 |  Bill Wells | 

    #20:

    Defendants can ask for delays but that’s not the same as waiving a speedy trial right. Whether asking for a delay amounts to waiving the speedy trial right depends on a host of things, not least of which is whether we’re talking about the federal constitutional right, the state constitutional right (if there is one), or the state statutory right (if there is one).

  22. #22 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    TimH

    A civil Servant that abuses his position to railroad a man into prison has a right to his pension? That is an interesting position. Care to defend it?

    There is already solidarity among the cops. What is needed is some sense that by violating the most basic tenants of common decency, government functionaries risk serious punishment.

  23. #23 |  Bill | 

    #19 Tim:
    “Do you lose your 401-k, IRA etc if convicted of a felony? Of course not.”

    True. A conviction is not necessary. The prosecution need merely insinuate that I obtained the money in those accounts illegally, and they can swoop down and steal it without proving that I did anything illegal at all.

    But maybe that’s not what you were looking for.

  24. #24 |  Court continues for Creative Frontiers School principal Robert Adams | Cautio Criminalis | 

    [...] Please read Anderson’s article at Radley Balko’s magazine, The Agitator, ““Bleed ‘Em, Plead ‘Em,” and Lie: The State of California versus Robert Adams.” [...]

  25. #25 |  The Late Andy Rooney | 

    According to the Bee’s Joyce Terhaar, law enforcement “changed its investigative approach in such cases” after the McMartin fiasco.

    The main change consisted of ending the practice of videotaping the interrogations (er, interviews) of the children as they were coerced into concocting lurid stories. Seeing the videotaped interrogations helped jurors come to the conclusion that the children’s testimony was coerced, so investigators stopped making the mistake of documenting the process.

    As we see in Mr. Anderson’s link, the folks in the Lookout Mountain judicial district apparently weren’t smart enough to learn the lessons of the 1980’s. No doubt, that’s part of the reason Tonya Craft was acquitted.

  26. #26 |  Dave | 

    Every time I read about a public servant with absolute or qualified immunity using their power to victimize a citizen, I wonder if I’ll read a follow up about the victim or victim’s loved ones, having been denied remedy through the courts pursuing extra-legal remedies instead.

  27. #27 |  Marty | 

    this was a fantastic, very depressing post. good job and thanks (I think).

  28. #28 |  PaulTheCabDriver | 

    Remind me again why hard working men in this country continue to try to establish businesses here? I am sure Robert Adam’s creativity and talents would be much more respected in another country. And if I were he, I would have left already.

  29. #29 |  Elli | 

    I completely agree that the doubting cfs site is suspect.

    However, I would love to know where the supposition that the prosecution doesn’t have any evidence put together for the case yet came from. The Bee just says it was postponed; I can’t find anything that says why it was postponed. I don’t doubt that it’s true, I’d just like to be able to back that up with fact…

  30. #30 |  Is the Continued Prosecution of Robert Adams Part of a Land Grab? | The Agitator | 

    [...] my previous post about how the Sacramento County District Attorney continues to push the prosecution of Robert Adams for child molestation even though there is no [...]

  31. #31 |  Militant Libertarian » “Bleed ‘Em, Plead ‘Em,” and Lie: The State of California versus Robert Adams | 

    [...] by William Anderson, Agitator [...]

  32. #32 |  Witch hunts and child sexual abuse « Phil Ebersole's Blog | 

    [...] on Why the Mainstream Media Never Learns Any Lessons of History and “Bleed ‘Em, Plead ‘Em and Lie for reports on the ongoing case of Robert Adams, headmaster of a private school in [...]

  33. #33 |  Law enforcement and prosecution roundup - Overlawyered | 

    [...] of Victoria Sprouse on mortgage-fraud charges in North Carolina, abuse accusations relating to the Creative Frontiers school near Sacramento, and the conviction of Courtney Bisbee at the hands of Maricopa County D.A. (and Overlawyered [...]

  34. #34 |  Court continues for Creative Frontiers School principal Robert Adams | Exceptional Crimes | 

    [...] read Anderson’s article at Radley Balko’s magazine, The Agitator, ““Bleed ‘Em, Plead ‘Em,” and Lie: The State of California versus Robert Adams.” This entry was posted in ready for prime time by EC Staff. Bookmark the [...]

  35. #35 |  Kay | 

    I wonder if the contiuances might be because his attorney, Linda Parisi, has been in court defending Richard Hirschfield all summer. Here’s a link to show you that she has been too busy to go to trial for Robert Adams. Maybe the defense has the evidence, but doesn’t have the time to go to trial, and is asking for the delays?

    Just saying???

    http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/general/public-cases/people-vs-hirschfield.aspx

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