Reminiscent of 1692: A Modern Missouri Witch-hunt

by  —  February 28, 2012

The following article was submitted to Process.org by “J. Bean” – a false memory expert who has been closely following the Mohler cases and attending the hearings….

Western Missouri Condemns Without Trial

By J. Bean (A Skeptic in Kansas City)

March 2010

“[For law enforcement officers] the level of proof necessary for taking action on allegations of criminal acts must be more than simply the victim alleged it and it is possible…. We need to be concerned about the distribution and publication of unsubstantiated allegations of bizarre sexual abuse.” - Kenneth Lanning, FBI

Dressed in orange jumpsuits and shackled at their wrists, ankles, and waists, six members of the Mohler family shuffle past local television news cameras and into a courtroom. Tethered together, they resemble fish on a stringer with the proud authorities displaying their catch.  On-the-spot reporters read the charges against them,“Forcible rape of a child; Deviate sexual assault; Use of a child in a sexual performance…”  Newspaper accounts are perhaps even more harsh: The men’s booking photos are posted beneath headlines such as “Incest Allegations Shatter Public image of Church-Going Clan”, [1] or “Child-Raping Missouri Family May Have Bodies in Yard”. [2 ] Posted on the internet  beneath these stories  are reader  comments reminiscent of 1692; judgments of guilt  and cries for harsh punishment along with suspicions cast upon any who question the charges dominate the boards.

The men are 76 year old Burrell Mohler Sr., his four sons, Burrell “Ed” Jr., David, Jared, and Roland, and Burrell Sr.’s 72 year old brother, Darryl Mohler. The arrests were made in November 2009, by Lafayette County, Missouri authorities based on accusations of ritualistic crimes against Ed Mohler’s (now adult) children from 1988 to 1995. The charges against the men involve numerous alleged child rapes, sodomies, and bestiality. They are also publicly accused of kidnapping, various murders, producing child pornography, breeding then slaughtering babies, performing forced abortions on minors, and holding an unwilling sex-slave for years in the family basement, although there have been no charges filed for those allegations.

“A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgment based upon it.” – Bertrand Russell

The case against the Mohler men first came to Lafayette County authorities in August 2009, when Ed Mohler’s 26 year old daughter (T.A.) contacted a western Missouri detective.   According to the probable cause statements: (T.A.) had “suppressed many of the memories” until recently. She “identified 8 specific memories of abuse and a 9th that was perpetrated on her brother”.  “She has many memories of abuse” but some occurred in other jurisdictions.  “She became pregnant and was made to have an abortion at age 11 ½.  She doesn’t remember any sexual abuse after that date.”[3]

Even if the word “suppressed” had not been used, the pointed use of the word “memories” in the report is indicative of repressed memory accusations. Generally when people report past events they do not do so under the context of “identifying memories”.

After those initial accusations in August, authorities made contact with, and began to question the other five siblings. On October 7th, three of the siblings (T.A.), (A.J.), and (E.M.) provided authorities with a 36 page collaborative report detailing several murders they witnessed spanning two Missouri counties. They were able to lead authorities to the approximate spot they say they helped to bury one of the murder victims. On October 29th, (T.A.) again spoke with the detective; this time alleging that she recalled her grandfather keeping a female child in his basement crawlspace. The siblings also told authorities that as they were being abused, the men told them to write down what was happening to them. These notes were placed in mason jars then buried.  The siblings say their abusers told them that if they buried these notes, their memories would also become buried. [4][5]

A fourth sibling (E.W.) told police that he had once unearthed some of those jars as a child, but reburied them at the request of his sisters.[4] Based on these statements, a search warrant was issued for the farm previously owned by Burrell Mohler Sr. to search for bodies, other evidence of murder, items from the crawlspace, and the mason jars. [6]

On November 10, 2009, as authorities swarmed the Bate City farmhouse with backhoes and shovels, detectives from Lafayette and various other counties were dispatched to arrest Burrell Sr. and his sons.

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” - Winston Churchill

As the arrests were made public, lead investigator, Sheriff Kerrick Alumbaugh, held a press conference. The stated purpose for the conference was to urge other possible victims to come forward. Specifically, investigators wished to locate the girl said to have been held captive in the basement crawlspace.

There were, however, other remarks of interest made during that press conference. One comment in particular gives further reason to suspect that all of the accusers are engaged in the recovering of repressed memories: Q: “How does the time factor complicate the case?” A: “Time factor always complicates a case. But when memories of this come out with the victims, as you talk about it, as you investigate it, more comes out.” [7]

Alumbaugh also defended the large amounts of county resources used to investigate the case, insisting the expenditures are important for protecting children: “You can read the probable cause statements as we leave and understand that this is money well spent of the tax payer’s dollars to bring these people to justice” …“They’ve had a threat to cut investigators…So, I mean, these are things that are really impacting our budgets and are very worthwhile to do because of the children.”[7]

Possibly most important, were the personal motivations Sheriff Alumbaugh expressed: “You personally attach it to yourself. You have children at home. You think about your children, you think about children that you know. Our biggest concern right now are those victims and those children that are out there that are potential victims. So, each one of us takes this very personally.”[7]

“All wrong-doing is done in the sincere belief that it is the best thing to do” – Arnold Bennet

Perhaps Sheriff Alumbaugh was thinking of a 5 year old girl he met in 2006, and hoping that, through aggressively pursuing the Mohler men, he could begin to repair his part in that child’s tragedy:

In 2006, the nude, battered body of 41 year old Marsha Spicer was found in a shallow grave in Lafayette County. Lorie Dunfield, a friend of Spicer’s, reported to authorities that she believed Spicer may have been involved with a man named Richard Davis. Dunfield reported that Richard Davis had recently asked her to assist him in videotaping the torture and murder of other women during three-way sex. “He wanted me to help him kill women and get rid of the bodies.” Dunfield said.[8]  Lorie Dunfield managed to get away from Davis, but believed that her friend, Marsh Spicer, may have later hooked up with him. Sheriff Alumbaugh and his deputies were called to interview Richard Davis and his girlfriend, Dena Riley, in regard to the Spicer homicide.

Richard Davis was already being sought by his parole officer after serving 16 years for raping and sodomizing a woman at knife point. His parole officer had been unable to contact him for a drug screening. Upon arriving at Davis’ apartment, investigators noted a video camera trained on the bed, an open journal with notations about choking and sex, and marijuana on a table. During that initial interview, Davis’ girlfriend Dena Riley admitted that Davis was into violent sex.

Rather than detain Davis, Sheriff Alumbaugh told Richard Davis and Dena Riley to leave the premises while he applied for a search warrant. Alumbaugh and his deputies returned hours later. The investigators viewed the tape currently in the VCR next to Davis’ bed. It was a “snuff video” of the rape, beating, and strangulation of Marsha Spicer. It appeared that the couple may have been watching the video just prior to the Sheriff and deputies’ arrival. Regrettably, since Alumbaugh had not detained Davis and Riley, they had fled the city. It was eight days before a nationwide manhunt managed to locate the couple for arrest. During this time, Richard Davis kidnapped and raped a 5 year old girl. The child’s injuries were so severe; she had to be airlifted to a hospital.

Police Chief Fred Mills defended Alumbaugh’s decision, “You can spin the facts any way you want. But we had no probable cause to arrest them. What you need for an arrest warrant is a lot more than you need for a search warrant.” Alumbaugh said, “We just didn’t have enough (evidence). We weren’t ready to do hard questioning on them.”

None-the-less, Alumbaugh arrested the six Mohler men with only accusations from the alleged victims. These men had no parole violations, no drugs on their nightstands, and no past convictions for violent rapes. In fact they had no criminal histories at all. There were no bodies recently discovered in shallow graves, neither were the men holed up in shabby apartments with meth-addicted girlfriends. The Mohler men were arrested while at home with their wives or working for their longtime employers, to be charged with crimes allegedly occurring decades ago.

Newly appointed prosecutor, Kellie Ritchie filed the charges. It was while working as assistant DA in Buchanan County that Ritchie began concentrating on sexual assault cases. Four years out of law school, Ritchie was ready for greater responsibility at the same time that her boss wished to have one prosecutor handle all sexual abuse cases.[9] Ritchie readily accepted that challenge and helped to open a children’s advocacy center. Since her February, 2009 appointment to the Lafayette County office, Ritchie has continued her dedication to assisting victims of rape, raising awareness through a county Denim Day, [10] and promising the vigorous prosecution of any in possession of child pornography. [11] While these are all commendable pursuits; could this focus have clouded the prosecutor’s judgment in filing charges based on dubious repressed memory accusations?

“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation” – Mahatma Gandhi

The Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI has assisted in investigations of hundreds of cases in which adults begin to report that they were victims of extreme abuses as children. Allegations involve multiple victims and multiple offenders and often include insertion of foreign objects, witnessing mutilations, as well as sexual acts and murders being filmed or photographed. In several of these cases, women claim to have had babies that were turned over for human sacrifice. Such accusations are most common in rural or suburban communities with high concentrations of religiously conservative people. According to Behavioral Science Unit Supervisory Agent Kenneth Lanning, “In none of the multidimensional child sex ring cases of which I am aware have bodies of the murder victims been found – in spite of major excavations where the abuse victims claim the bodies were located. …Not only are no bodies found, but also, more importantly, there is no physical evidence that a murder took place. Many of those not in law enforcement do not understand that, while it is possible to get rid of a body, it is even more difficult to get rid of the physical evidence that a murder took place.” – Kenneth Lanning, FBI [12]

In 1994, the US Government funded a study by The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. Researchers found more than 12,000 accusations of group cult sexual abuse, but none were able to be substantiated. The principle investigator in that study, Dr. Gail Goodman, commented, “While you would not expect to find corroborating evidence in many sexual abuse cases, you would expect it when people claim the rituals involved murders, and the reported cases come from district attorneys or police…If there is anyone out there with solid evidence… we would like to know about it.”[13][14] Large scale government funded investigations were also conducted in the states of Michigan, Utah, and Virginia with the same empty-handed results.

If Lafayette County officials were familiar with any of these reports, they should not have been surprised to find only one broken jar (no note), a bone fragment (unknown type), some broken eyeglasses, half a credit card, and a shoe sole in their excavation of the Bates City farm.[15]

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. – Mark Twain

The Sheriff’s press conference proved more fruitful than the farm excavation. The following day, a woman came forward claiming to have been held in the basement’s crawlspace for several years as a child. “She recalls becoming pregnant twice while in captivity.   Burrell Sr. and Burrell Ed Jr. put the first infant in a box and buried it in the dirt floor under the window. Days later, the floor was covered in concrete.”[16] Ground penetrating radar was used to locate a “box-like” area under the concrete and a new search warrant issued. Detectives returned to the farmhouse, broke open the concrete floor, but found only dirt.  Samples of the dirt were removed for analysis.[17] Announcements of basement sex-slave and her murdered infant made for more sensational headlines, although no charges were ever filed in regard to her. Three weeks later, Sheriff Alumbaugh said that the woman “is longer part of this investigation.”[18] This proclamation has not been widely reported.

In addition to the basement captive, a local man whose ex-wife had once been married to Ed Mohler came forward following the press conference. Mark Young and Pamela Young divorced in 1993 with Pamela gaining custody of their son. Pamela then married Ed Mohler in 1999. Mr. Young has interviewed on several television news programs, as well as with print media, claiming that Ed’s ex-wife (mother of the accusers), Jeanette Mohler (Cyr) had come to him in January 2000 alleging that Ed was abusing Mark and Pamela’s son. Mr. Young says that he then filed complaints and won custody of the boy in an emergency hearing. Public records show, however, that Mark Young did not file for custody of his son until 2002.[19]  His ex-wife had already divorced Ed Mohler nearly a year prior, in the spring of 2001.[20]

The siblings’ mother, Jeanette Mohler, told investigators that she knew about, or suspected the abuse at the time it was happening. “At the time, complaints by the mother were taken to the head of the church rather than law enforcement”. [21] Bishop Tonga, now retired, recalls Jeanette’s complaints to him. Tonga says he interviewed both Ed and the siblings and they all denied the mother’s accusations. No further action was taken by the mother or by Mr. Tonga. Only Ed, Jeanette, and their children were members of Mr. Tonga’s congregation. No complaints were taken to any member of the other men’s churches.

The statements made by Jeanette Mohler are puzzling. Just as the original accusations have expanded to include bestiality, kidnappings, and murders, they have also expanded in time, now encompassing twelve years, from 1983 to 1995. Jeanette remained married to Ed throughout this time, not filing for divorce until 1997. During their divorce, both Ed and Jeanette continued to attend the Independence Missouri Mormon Church. It’s more probable that it was during this period that the mother began leveling these complaints against her husband to her church, and to her six children.

“There are people so prone to exaggeration that they can’t tell the truth without lying”. – Josh Billings

Defendant Burrell Mohler Sr. has been the most maligned in the media due to the finding of “incest pornography” at his home. On the day of his arrest, his wife, Sandra Mohler, voluntarily allowed investigators into all common areas of the house.  (Some areas were excluded as they are private quarters for an unrelated boarder). According to the investigator’s affidavit, Mrs. Mohler explained to Jackson County Detective Cathy Covey that she and her husband had arranged for separate bedrooms “after she had discovered he was viewing magazines and videos depicting persons involved in sexual activity”.[21]  (This statement has been consistently misquoted in the press). Mrs. Mohler reported that although they had begun to sleep separately, both had full access to all areas of the residence. She indicated that her husband commonly used the computer in her room because he had never set-up internet access for the computer in his basement bedroom.

Mrs. Mohler also “had full permission to enter his sleeping area downstairs”.[22] She stated that on two occasions she had looked in hidden areas of her husband’s bedroom to find his pornography. She told Detective Covey that she had taken away the magazines she found most objectionable and locked them in her file cabinet. Mrs. Mohler voluntarily supplied the investigators with the key to that filing cabinet. The magazines she had locked away included 5 digest style magazines which showed photos of adult models, engaged in sexual activity, with narratives depicting incestuous relationships.[22] “Incest is, in fact, sexual relations between individuals of any age too closely related to marry. It need not necessarily involve an adult and a child”.[12] Those 5 magazines are the most widely reported finding to imply the guilt of all six men, although none of them involve children or even models who appear to be children. The primary stash of pornography, later found in Burrell Sr.’s sleeping quarters, consisted of at least 65 more magazines, movies, and books – none of which were incest related.[23] In fact, many of these were specifically about and for senior citizens. One dvd has the words “Grandma and Grandpa” in the title and has been falsely reported as “incest porn” when in fact it is only about sexuality between aging partners.[24]

Many observers have noted that the search inventories included many unmarked or hand labeled videos. It’s been speculated that those tapes may contain child pornography but the information has not been released to the public. In fact, some articles on the case have falsely reported that illegal pornography was seized. Possession of child porn in the state of Missouri is a felony carrying up to a 10 year sentence. None of the men have been charged with this or any other offense resulting from the searches. Despite the wide assortment of accusations, the men are charged only with the crimes in which no physical evidence would necessarily be expected.

“They were distinguished for ignorance for they had just one idea and that was wrong.” – Benjamin Disraeli

When asked where the accusing Mohler siblings reside, Sheriff Alumbaugh states that they are “from all over right now”.[7] While this is true, the primary accuser resides in the college town of Provo, Utah and two other siblings show previous addresses in Provo. Provo, Utah is home to the Brigham Young University, run by the LDS Church. For a city of only 42 square miles, it has seen more than its share of repressed memory scandals. “Following a single article in the Provo weekly paper [about the FMS Foundation], in three days, over 150 families in this single geographical area called to report their experience.” Institute for Psychological Therapies, 1992

The student Counseling Center at BYU offers therapy to students for abuse issues. The Center’s website asserts, “Some individuals have little or no memory of being sexually abused and its impact upon them until adulthood.” [25] The Center also recommends books by repressed-memory therapists, Lynn Finney, Beverly Engel, and Noemi Mattis, as suggested reading. “The authors of these books all rely on the one another’s work as supporting evidence for their work; they all endorse and recommend one another’s books to their readers. If one of them comes up with a concocted statistic — such as ‘more than half of all women are victims of childhood sexual trauma’ — the numbers are traded like baseball cards, reprinted in every book and eventually enshrined as fact. Thus the cycle of misinformation, faulty statistics and invalidated assertions maintains itself….” -Carol Tavris

Lynn Finney is known for her promotion of self-hypnosis to recover memories of abuse, and for her belief that fully one-third of all women have been victims. In fact, Finney’s one-third statistic leads BYU Counseling Center’s website page for students seeking therapy.[25] One of Finney’s former patients, Martha Beck, authored the 2005 book Leaving the Saints. Beck is a Provo native, a therapist, and past professor of Sociology at BYU. It was while teaching at BYU, that Beck recovered memories of ritual abuse. In her book, Beck brags of her cruel confrontation with her 90 year old ailing father, “I grin, but my father is not amused. He looks longingly toward the hotel room door, apparently realizing I’m not about to let him leave.” [26] All seven of Beck’s siblings have expressed outrage and condemned these allegations.

Beverly Engel espouses, “If you still have a hard time believing a survivor…look at your own history for signs that you yourself may have been abused and are in denial” Engel gives a list of symptoms to assist the reader in determining if they have been abused and are in denial. Those symptoms include:  feeling ugly; a tendency to apologize; feeling helpless; or problems in relationships.[27]

Also recommended by the BYU Counseling Center is the 1993 publication Confronting Abuse.[25][28] Compiled by three Brigham Young University professors, Confronting Abuse is a collection of essays on ritual and sexual abuse. In it, repressed-memory practitioner, Neomi Mattis, describes the abuse she’s helped her patients to uncover: “In addition to all combinations of sexual intercourse genital, anal, and oral between child and adult or child and child (forced), victims are penetrated genitally or rectally with all kinds of objects, and are forced to submit to sexual activity with animals”. “They are forced to participate in all of the crimes, including sacrifice of animals; the torture and sometimes murder of babies, including in some cases the infants of young girls required to bear children specifically for sacrifice; the torture and sometimes murder of adults; and the systematic disposal of bodies.” Mattis explains why evidence of these crimes is never found, despite in-depth investigations: “Cultists include professionals, such as morticians and butchers, who are skilled at disposing of evidence.” She goes on to explain why many of the reports are verifiably false, “The victims are programmed to dissociate, so that they do not recognize or remember parts of their own experience or personality. They are trained to deny accusations, tell conflicting stories and retract their own reports”.  As for the seemingly normal, often charitable, outward lives of the accused in these child-rapes, breedings, murders, and torture, Mattis offers this, “[The Perpetrators are also]dissociative and thus unaware of their other cult-involved selves.” [29] (*See footnote) By this logic, any one of us could be not only victims, but also perpetrators of these crimes and never know it.

Just eight miles outside of Provo, the infamous “Greenbaum” [30] lecturer, Corydon Hammond operates a therapy office. In 2004, Hammond, along with Bennett Braun and Roberta Sachs of Chicago, settled a malpractice lawsuit against them by retracting repressed-memory patient Elizabeth Gale.  Hammond paid $175,000 of that $7.5M settlement.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” – Albert Einstein

It seems to be the perfect storm: A divorce with bitter custodial parent; the repressed-memory pied pipers of Provo; a lead investigator with an agenda; a newly appointed prosecutor who has specialized in sexual abuse cases; and regular sensationalist misinformation distributed in the media. Having made the allegations so public and over-extending county monies on the investigation, the likelihood that the charges will be dropped due to the lack of hard evidence is greatly lessened.

An entire generation has come up since the hysteria of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. We saw then how easily the hysteria spreads from one sibling to the next, to investigators, prosecutors, child services, the media, and to the public. Each points to the other as evidence that their beliefs are reasonable. At that time, it was daytime talk shows like Sally Jesse Raphael or Phil Donahue that disseminated these shocking tales to gullible audiences. Today, the internet has taken the place of those talk shows and it seems that audiences are just as gullible.

*Footnote:
A 1995 study found that in cases of alleged abuse with no claims of repression or amnesia by the accusers, only 22% of accused passed polygraphs.  In cases where accusers claimed a period of amnesia, 91% of accused passed polygraphs. [29]

References:

  1. Bradley, D. (2009, November 23) Incest Allegations Shatter Public image of Church-Going Clan.  Kansas City Star.
  2. Marttinez, E. (2009, November  12)  Child-Raping Missouri Family May Have Bodies in Yard. CBS NEWS
  3. Schroer, Det. C. (2009 November 3).  Mohler Probable Cause, Lafayette Co., MO
  4. Schroer, Det. C. (2009 November 9).  Mohler Probable Cause, Lafayette Co., MO
  5. Reported by Sgt. Collin Stosberg , Missouri Highway Patrol
  6. Bates City farm Search Warrant Authorization 11/9/09; Judge Frerking
  7. Alumbaugh, K. Sheriff (2009, November 11). Press Conference. http://www.kmbc.com/video/21586514/index.html
  8. Krajicek, D. (2005) Serial Killers: Partners in Crime: Ricky and Dena.  http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/partners/richard_dean_davis/1_index.html
  9. Cooper, R. (2009, November 29) Former Local Attorney Involved in Huge Case. St. Joseph News Press.
  10. Parmon, J. (2009, April 29) Rally Shows Support for Victims of Rape.  The Lexington News
  11. Ritchie, K.W. (2010, January 25) First Year Report.
  12. Lanning, K. (1992) Investigators Guide to Allegations of Ritual Child Abuse.  Behavioral Science Unit & National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime.
  13. Goleman, D.  (1994, October 31) Proof Lacking for Ritual Abuse. New York Times
  14. Goodman, G., et al (1994) Characteristics & Sources of Allegations of Ritual Child Abuse.  Clearing House on Child Abuse & Neglect Information
  15. Burns, Det. Ray (2009, November 10) Return and Inventory.   Lafayette Co., MO
  16. Schroer, C. (2009, November 12) Affidavit.  Lafayette Co., MO
  17. Burns, Det. Ray (2009, November 13) Return and Inventory.  Lafayette Co., MO
  18. Kelleher, M.  (2009, December 12) Jared Mohler Returns to Court.  Fox 4 News
  19. Pamela Young-Robinson-Mohler v Mark Young MO Case #7CV193002524 (1993-2006)
  20. Burrell Edward Mohler v Pamela Robinson-Mohler  MO Case #01FC204320 (2001)
  21. Lederle, Officer M.  (2009, November 10)  Affidavit.  Boone Co., MO
  22. Wilson, Sgt. A.  (2009, November 10) Affidavit/ Inventory.  Jackson Co., MO
  23. Cole, Det. P. & Kelley, Det. A. (2009, November 20)Return and Inventory.  Jackson Co., MO
  24. http://www.over40videos.com/video/Detailed/132.shtml (WARNING – Explicit material)
  25. BYU  Career and Counseling Center:  http://ccc.byu.edu/childhood-abuse
  26. Beck, M. (2005) Leaving the Saints. Crown Publishing.
  27. Engel, B.  (1989). The Right to Innocence. Ivy Books.
  28. Horton, A.L., Harrison, B.K., & Johnson, B.L. (1993) Confronting Abuse. Desert Book Co.
  29. Abrams, S. & Abrams, J.  (1995) False Memory Syndrome vs. Total Repression.  Journal of Psychiatry and Law
  30. Hammond, C. (1992, June 25). “Greenbaum Speech “originally known as “Hypnosis and MPD: Ritual Abuse” Presented at the Fourth Annual Eastern Regional Conference on Abuse and Multiple Personality.  Washington DC.

Cartoon courtesy of Martha Churchill

Not Exonerated Quite Yet: An update on Missouri Mohler case
by J. Bean (A skeptic in KC)

The arrests in the fall of 2009 of Burrell Mohler Sr., his brother, and his four sons stunned Western Missouri residents.   On Friday, February 17, 2012, the community was again taken off-guard as Burrell Sr.’s impossibly high bond was reduced, then waved, releasing him from jail to  await a trial, still many months away.

On November 11, 2009 Lafayette County Sheriff Kerrick Alumbaugh, along with prosecutor Kellie Ritchie-Campbell, held a press conference, announcing the arrests of the Mohler men on charges that they had repeatedly sexually assaulted several young relatives during the 1980’s.   In the weeks following that press conference, information and speculations from authorities continued to be shared with the media.

Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the media frenzy came to a halt.  Questions as to why no charges were filed on any of the allegations which should have produced physical evidence went unanswered, as were questions as to why it’s taken over 20 years for the victims to come forward.   Now, the community is left with another mystery:  What has happened in the cases which would cause a judge to release the accused without posting bond?

Since his arrest, the legal wranglings in the case of Burrell Mohler Sr. have all centered around discovery – specifically the production of diaries and medical/therapy records.  The state’s primary justification for not producing these in the past two years has been that the alleged victims were stunned and terrified due to “unexpected” media attention.  The defense has pointed out that the only media attention the case received was immediately following the state’s calling of a press conference.   As soon as defense counsel was retained, the media blitz stopped.

In December 2011, a special appointed discovery judge issued a 30 day final deadline for the lists of physician names to be provided for subpoena.   Still nothing happened.   Burrell’s attorney filed a motion for sanctions, to be heard on Feb 17th.

In the weeks following the filing of that motion, there was a sudden flurry of activity, the accusers finally providing names of physicians and other materials.  On Wednesday, Feb 15th, the alleged victims made a statement to the Associated Press, which read in part:  ”After four years of cooperating with the prosecution, we believe that a just and speedy trial can be reached without further compromising our privacy and safety”.   Due to this announcement, several media outlets noted the motion to be heard on Friday.

Friday at 10am there was a packed courtroom, as usual, on the side of the defense.  For the first time in over two years, there were also a few seats occupied on the side of the state – not supporters of the state, but members of the press.

Oral arguments began with Attorney Kim Benjamin reviewing the two years of attempts in obtaining necessary discovery.   She told of the original complaint having been brought to and investigated by neighboring Jackson County, with no charges filed.  The complaint was then taken to Lafayette County and the men immediately arrested and charged based on the victim statements alone. Only then did that county begin its investigation.

Attorney Benjamin showed color glossy photos of the original press conference, with the DA herself standing next to a chart which clearly identified the alleged victims as the children of Ed Mohler. Ms. Benjamin told of the allegations, made but not charged, of satanic rituals, severed heads floating down rivers, child prostitution as preschoolers, and live births at the ages of ten or eleven.  She said the state had denied this was a case of repressed memory, then read a quote from one of the first communications ever given to authorities, in which one of the accusers asserts she was the first of the siblings “to have adult memories of our childhood abuse”, only a few years ago. She explained how easily the defense was able to connect the accusers with a group of pet psychics and massage therapists who claim to be able to bring hidden memories out of your body cells.

The prosecutor admitted that it is a case of repressed and recently recovered memories, saying she’d never told attorneys differently.  She said she did not have control over the press conference, and spoke of the re-victimization of rape victims by having to hand over personal records.   She stressed that many records have been provided in the past couple of weeks.   The discovery judge, Hon. Michael Maloney, confirmed that he had recently received several thousand pages of materials.   In proceedings later in the day, he took the bench, and expressed some dismay that it is the defense, rather than the prosecution, seeking these and other records, as the state should have sought them in order to prove its case noting, “The results of the alleged abuse would certainly have required critical care”.

Burrell Sr.’s attorney reiterated that the appropriate time for the state’s investigation should have been prior to the arrests, rather than arrest first, and now attempting to gather the required evidence two and a half years later.  She argued that it’s not a matter of “what have you done for me lately”, but a matter of her client rotting in jail, while counsel has still not received a single page of this discovery.

Judge Harmon denied the motion for sanctions or dismissal.  Then, without it having even been asked, ordered Burrell Sr. released on his own recognizance.  The state asked there be a condition that he cannot be around children under the age of 17, which the court rejected.

Burrell’s hearing aid wasn’t working, so he had no reaction.  As the family broke into tears of joy and relief, Ms. Benjamin penned him a note saying, “You’re going home.”

Father of the accusers, Ed Mohler, awaits in jail in another county.  No similar motions have yet been filed by his public defender.

Burrell’s brother, defendant Darrel Mohler passed away in October, and thus will never hear of his accusers’ announcement that they are now ready to provide him a just and speedy trial.

 

Marked as: Abnormal SociologyBuncoLawScienceSocietal Policies  —  9 comments   (RSS)

9 Comments so far
  1. alsoaskepticinbatescity March 1, 2012 7:37 pm

    would like to communicate with the author. requesting permission to republish in the local papers.

  2. doug March 3, 2012 1:37 pm

    Obviously when Neomi Mattis explains away the conspicuous absence of evidence for her bizarre & perverse conspiracy theory by stating “Cultists include professionals, such as morticians and butchers, who are skilled at disposing of evidence,” the question for her becomes, what would it possibly take to dis-prove any cult abuse allegation? Of course, to the true believers, the very question must be very perplexing. Why would you want to dis-prove an allegation like that? Those allegations allow us to publicly discuss our twisted fantasies with the sanctimonious air of moral righteousness. It firmly embeds us in a comfortable world where one answer applies to every problem, while simultaneously insisting that those who reject this simplistic delusion are in “denial” of the reality of abuse.

    The claim by Neomi Mattis that “[The Perpetrators are also] dissociative and thus unaware of their other cult-involved selves” also begs the question of who or what is really in control — according to this suspenseful plot-line — when both the perpetrators AND the victims are acting as brain-washed automatons. This question, of course, brings us down the road to paranoid anti-Illuminism and Satanic cults managed by Satan himself. Unfortunately, alleged perpetrators have themselves been convinced that they were repressing their crimes under the influence of “experts” like Mattis. A well-known case of this was explored in the book ‘Remembering Satan’ by Lawrence Wright regarding the Paul Ingram case. Ingram’s daughter fell under the influence of Recovered Memory folly and accused her father Paul, who couldn’t understand that his daughter could possibly be both not lying AND telling an utterly fictitious story. I sure it didn’t help that Ingram belonged to Charismatic Church where notions of demonic possession are still taken seriously.

    Another case in which it seems apparent that the accused swallowed the recovered memory Kool-Aid against their own best interests is told in a book called ‘Hell Minus One’ by Anne A Johnson Davis. Davis is enough of fantasist that it is difficult to discern what is even supposed to be taken seriously in her book. Like Michelle Remembers, Davis describes supernatural visitations from a benevolent presence during her terror, though she doesn’t cite Christ by name. Remember, in Michelle Remembers, ‘Michelle’ was personally abused by Satan only to have her scars removed by Jesus H. himself. Davis doesn’t go that far, but I did see her speak at a SMART conference, the final refuge of debunked conspiracy delusions, where the organizer, Neil Brick, recently reaffirmed his belief in the validity of Michelle Remembers (on the grounds that the emotional quality could not have been faked, and the publisher expressed that they did their due diligence before publishing it as a non-fiction book).

    As I wrote of Davis’s lecture following the conference:

    Davis did, in fact, recover her memories of satanic abuse during therapy. At first her parents denied everything. Deeply religious members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Davis’s parents went to their minister claiming that Anne was “hallucinating and possessed.”

    The Church, it seems, was moved by Anne’s story, sending three members of the clergy three separate times to Anne’s parent’s house in an attempt to extract confessions. The duration of these visits is unknown, as is the nature of the discussions that took place. “These [clergy]men were determined to get to the truth”, according to Davis, “They were greatly alarmed by the accusations.” On the third attempt, Davis relates in astonishment, “they confessed everything!” Recognizing that a confession from her parents made little sense on their part, innocent or guilty, Davis can only imagine that they did so because they were “stupid”.

    But confess they did, and these confessions were put into writing when Anne’s mother and stepfather decided to write her letters of apology, taking responsibility for what they had allegedly done. With these letters, Davis approached detectives acting on behalf of a then-operating Ritual Abuse Task Force in Utah. Retired Lieutenant Detective Matt Jacobson of the Utah Attorney General’s Office writes in the foreword to Davis’s book, Hell Minus One, “When Mike King, my AG detective partner, and I traveled to a state in the Pacific Northwest to question Anne’s mother and stepfather about allegations of satanic ritual abuse, we found the contents of their confession letters to her to be true. They confessed to us – in person. The allegations were confirmed.”

    Despite these confessions, Davis decided not to press charges. And this is where Davis’s story becomes confusing. Deciding that between Media slander and the FMSF (False Memory Syndrome Foundation), she’d “never get a fair judge and jury”, Davis opted “just to get on with my life”.

    This is all well and good, but when doing talk tours promoting her book about the experience of satanic abuse, the idea that she decided not to press charges so as to just move on seems hardly credible. And, again, when the question, why would they confess if they didn’t do it? holds equal weight to the question, why would they confess even if they did do it? where are we left? And how would the FMSF prevent her from receiving a fair trial? Upon considering this, I realize that this comment only makes sense if Davis’s mother and stepfather also recovered the memories of their own satanic cult involvement with which they “corroborated” Davis’s claims.

    We find evidence of this in Davis’s book. Davis publishes excerpts of her parents letters to her in which they confess to engaging in crimes of Satanic abuse. In these letters, we see lines like: “Dear Anne: I now recognize the many terrible things that I did to you…”
    Dear Anne, I am going to write about what we have come up with about the incident in the trailer…” (at which they describe sordid events that they apparently had newly “come up with”).
    “I must have suspected something bad had been done. I FEEL THAT I rationalized somehow [...]” (emphasis mine).
    Lucky for Anne, it seems her parents, though devoted Satanists, were still good Church-goers enough to accept the prodding of clergy to confess their repressed crimes.
    In keeping with the non-vindictiveness that restrained her from pressing charges, Davis writes of her stepfather’s death from colorectal cancer:
    “The way I saw it, God had come through. The justice system could have never handled it as quickly and efficiently. How appropriate a cancer — a consequence, for my stepfather — after sodomizing me anally for years.”
    The Lord does work in mysterious ways…

  3. J. Bean March 3, 2012 7:07 pm

    AlsoaSkepticinBatesCity – I responded to your request via email. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    I don’t think any of the press has picked up on the significance of the events on February 17th. This is probably due to the fact that only one newspaper reporter was in attendance. Since no cameras were allowed in the courtroom, the television news concentrated only on events outside the courthouse – such as people walking to their cars.

    Other than the oral arguments from that hearing, rest of the case specific information (from my 2010 article) was all taken from the same affidavits used by other media at that time. I simply chose to quote portions which the other media had ignored, and to fact check some of the claims.

    I found it interesting that when the cases first broke, many in the media reported Sheriff Alumbaugh stating, “Anybody that knows anything about child sex cases knows that exploitation of children is done quite a bit through the internet.” Yet, none of these reporters noted the line from the search affidavit which explained that Burrell Mohler Sr. had never even set-up internet access on his computer. In my mind, the two bits of information together would have made for more balanced reporting.

    I sincerely hope that you will be successful in getting some skepticism into the local press.

    Is it ironic or apropo that it’s taken a blog in Massachusetts to expose a midwest witch-hunt?

  4. jeanettebartha July 15, 2012 7:46 am

    While I do not write about clergy (cannot cover every topic on earth) I remain interested in accusations not based on reality or evidence.

    The general public has largely forgotten those incarcerated only on recollections of what is contended happened in their childhood.

    Some men, given the length of sentencing, are serving life in prison for a crime that never occurred. Texas, USA, is incredibly guilty of choosing not to reverse court decisions even after evidence that no crime was committed is submitted.

  5. madalynkathryn December 22, 2013 8:06 pm

    Do we have ‘chat?’ :)

  6. madalynkathryn March 23, 2014 3:28 am

    As I recall from Psychology instruction, “Michelle” did garner a lot of attention. But again, as I remember it just didn’t quite jive with me. We had to outline the human instinct and reaction aspect of the points supposed, but there was no rhyme or reason. It struck me as not credible. A feed of nonsense that seemed to be more to “grab” the reader than a statement of fact. I questioned it then, as I do now. I agree that it is totally off base and not to be believed…

  7. madalynkathryn March 23, 2014 3:39 am

    Damn! Sorry. Thought I posted to “Mental Health Cover-Up.” Please apply my comments there. Oops…

  8. madalynkathryn March 23, 2014 3:47 am

    As it is. It applies here too! :)

  9. madalynkathryn April 7, 2014 1:56 am

    I feel so alone… hehehe! ;)

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