“I don’t know what to do,” Kay Ace said. “I just heard our basketball coach is under investigation for sex crimes.” Ms. Ace is a county coordinator for the Vermont Teen Indoor Sports Association. “I think we have to replace him.”
We the People have gone from a presumption of innocence to the presumption of guilt.
Let’s look at three recent cases:
(1) Dean Kingston, 23, met Lorraine Seymour, also 23, at a play and later talked over the Internet and phone. The budding relationship quickly soured. Ms. Seymour complained to police that Mr. Kingston had harassed her. Police confronted Mr. Kingston, who agreed to stop contacting her. The police found evidence that Mr. Kingston continued to email and contact Ms. Seymour. At least one email threatened “im coming to get you and theres nothing you can do.”
What do you think? Is Mr. Kingston a stalker or did Ms. Seymour make up her tale?
(2) Vermont Yankee is a nuclear reactor power plant constructed in Vernon, Vermont, in 1972. The plant has applied for relicensure to continue operations past its planned 40-year shut-down date in 2012.
One cell of its three story cooling tower collapsed and led to a reactor scram in 2007. A recent report of an truck allowed inside the fence without any inspection has the state questioning security. Tritium is currently leaking into the ground from an unknown source at the plant. Vermont Yankee owner Entergy has been called irresponsible. Executives lied in recent testimony about the Tritium leaks. It is not the first time Entergy has been caught in devious doings. The Safe and Green Campaign wants Vermont Yankee shut down.
What do you think? Is Vermont Yankee the next Three Mile Island or should its license be renewed?
(3) Vermont corrections officer Ralph Witter, 40, has been accused of having inappropriate sexual activities with three female inmates. The investigation began a year ago when the first unnamed inmate alleged Mr. Witter had inappropriate contact with her. There was insufficient evidence to prosecute at that time. Two more female unnamed inmates have now reported similar incidents had occurred in the past month.
What do you think? Is Mr. Witter a predator or did the inmates make up their tales?
On the face of it, these all look like slam dunks, don’t they?
(1) Although worried about the evidence, prosecutors charged Mr. Kingston with stalking and disturbing the peace over the phone. Ms. Seymour testified that she had received the emails from Kingston and he was bound over for trial. He spent 92 days in jail awaiting trial.
(2) Although John White, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials who briefed legislators last week, said the Vernon reactor problems haven’t approached any regulatory threshold that would require the plant to be shut down, famed nuclear engineer (and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont) joined Vermont legislators in a call for the plant to shut down.
(3) Although inmates have charged more than half of all corrections officers with a laundry list of offenses, the Corrections Department suspended Mr. Witter a year ago while the state reviewed the case for criminal prosecution; he was eventually reinstated last month when the State had insufficient evidence to prosecute at that time. When the additional two unnamed inmates came forward within a month, Mr. Witter was immediately suspended again. He has also lost his volunteer position with the Vermont Teen Indoor Sports Association.
Despite the results, there are only three facts we do know about these three cases:
You have no idea whether Dean Kingston stalked anyone.
You have no idea whether Vermont Yankee is dangerous.
You have no idea whether Ralph Witter diddled anyone.
And neither do I.
Short of a confession by Mr. Kingston or a retraction by Ms. Seymour, the evidence presented here is insufficient to judge. The technical data about Vermont Yankee is not yet available so unless you, dear reader, are a nuclear engineer, neither you nor any serving legislator has the expertise to interpret it. And, short of a confession by Mr. Witter or a retraction by the unnamed inmates, the evidence presented here is insufficient to judge him.
Despite what we do not know, We the People have presumed guilt.
(1) Lorraine Seymour, convicted of fabricating evidence that put an innocent man in jail for three months, has served a prison sentence of her own. When police forensics determined that Mr. Kingston did not send the frightening emails, Ms. Seymour admitted to writing them herself. She was convicted, taken to the Northwest State Correctional Facility, and has paid Mr. Kingston $10,000 to settle his civil lawsuit.
(2) Vermont Yankee is a boiling water nuclear reactor that generates 620 megawatts of electricity, about three-quarters of the total generating capacity of the state. Senate president Peter Shumlin will hold a vote this week against any license renewal for Vermont Yankee. “I am very skeptical that you’ll ever see new nuclear power plants built in America let alone Vermont,” Mr. Shumlin told Vermont Public Radio. It is unknown if the legislature will order the power plant closed immediately. The final report on safety at Vermont Yankee is not due until next month, weeks after the scheduled vote.
[Editorial note: Vermont Greens are a little behind the times. No nukes unless Obama wants nukes! The Administration has proposed government loan guarantees for two new nuclear reactors to be built in Georgia by the Southern Company.]
(3) Vermont corrections officer Ralph Witter is now under arrest. He is now lodged at the Chittenden Correction Facility in lieu of $100,000 bail.
The words and people quoted in this piece are real. Only the names of everyone but the public figures have been changed to protect the dumbfounded.