MENDOCINO COUNTY DA David Eyster recently dispatched his ace prosecutor, Paul Sequiera, to Mule Creek State Prison for a parole hearing, Mark Sprinkle's parole hearing. Eyster seems to think that Sprinkle is too dangerous to be let out of prison after 16 years on a “child molest” conviction, the facts of which have been exhaustively discussed in this newspaper. Sequiera's presentation included a brand new accusation; that years ago, when Sprinkle was still in the Mendocino County Jail, he had tried to find someone to murder his prosecutor, Beth Norman. Ms. Norman, who is still with the DA's office, had offered Sprinkle 3-5 if he would plead guilty. He refused to plead and, as it always does, the local justice system maxed Sprinkle out big time. Sequiera, incidentally, pulling out all the stops, told the parole board that Norman herself would have attended the hearing but she was afraid for her life! Pure bullpucky that one. After all these years as a prosecutor she's suddenly afraid? I think it's more likely that she still hates the guy on such a visceral, unreasoning level she's managed to retroactively traumatize herself. Ms. Norman doesn't strike me as a person afraid of much of anything, and she's certainly prosecuted persons far more dangerous than Sprinkle, a non-violent offender. Sprinkle still insists he is innocent, and boy o boy has he paid for his insistence because he has again been denied parole, this time for five years before he can even apply for another hearing. Sprinkle's crime? Three girls suddenly took their clothes off in his car. Sprinkle soon commenced a busy 90 seconds of gyno-explorations. That was the essential allegation Ms. Norman took to a jury, and that was the allegation the girls themselves testified to in court. Two of the girls were, to put it mildly, sexually precocious. The third girl was a ten-year-old the other two were supposedly babysitting. The leader of the sudden disrobe was, in effect, Sprinkle's step-daughter. Sprinkle had been engaged to her mother, a heavy drug user with a long history of unsustained child molest accusations against the serial men in her turbulent life. There is every indication that Mom, bitter because Sprinkle had wisely refused to marry her, put her daughter up to entrapping Sprinkle. That daughter, Natasha, at the time of the alleged molest, had just turned 14. With the body of a 20-year-old pole dancer, and regularly seen late at night at the truck stop north of Ukiah, Natasha was not sexually inexperienced. The afternoon of the alleged molest, Natasha had shouted, “Let's race!” and soon all three girls were nude in Sprinkle's car west of Ukiah on the old Masonite Road. The girls subsequently testified that they had indeed voluntarily disrobed, and that Sprinkle had not asked them to take their clothes off or in any way coerced them into doing it. What ensued, of course, is the core of the dispute that got Sprinkle a total of 45-years-to-life. The girls said Sprinkle “touched their privates.” One of them referred to her reproductive organs as “my pubes.” That was it. No “full body penetration,” in the charming phrase of law enforcement, no violence, no threats of violence. Sprinkle has always insisted he didn't even do the 90 seconds which has won him life in prison, and this guy is a child molester in the grand tradition of the crime? The guy stalking the schoolyard? The internet porn perv? Humbert-Humbert? Two of Sprinkle's jurors signed affidavits that if they'd known Sprinkle was going to get 45 years for this extremely dubious crime, they would not have found him guilty. Sprinkle had been in more than his share of trouble before the alleged molest. He was one of these guys who'd drive by the cops and flip them off, and he was a fixture in the Ukiah area's tweeker, lowlife community. Local cops were jubilant at his disproportionate sentence for the alleged molest. Whatever his after-hours life, Sprinkle had always been employed and, except for his drug adventures and low-intensity crimes — he set a dumpster on fire and was convicted of arson — he'd always been a contributing citizen as a long-haul truck driver. In February of 2012, Mark Sprinkle is no longer a young man. His drug days are, presumably, behind him. He has not gotten in trouble in prison where his record has been almost perfect. He's now 52 years old and in poor health, often hospitalized for severe asthma attacks. There is no opposition to Sprinkle's release from his alleged victims who, incidentally, cannot be found, at least by me and I've looked, and looked hard. Why our DA would go out of his way to keep this man in prison is absolutely mystifying. Sprinkle's continued incarceration is certainly not in the public interest to pay to keep in prison at a time when truly dangerous people are being released every day, many of them right here in Mendocino County. In fact, under the new state sentencing guidelines, persons locally convicted of bad stuff up to and including felony assaults, will do their time in the leisurely confines of the Mendocino County Jail.
JoANN WIPIJEWSKI, writing for the essential CounterPunch website, provides a helpful clarification which applies directly to the Sprinkle case: “Sexual abuse is a term that ought to be summarily dispatched to the tumbrils, as it has lost any shred of meaning, which is the whole point in this extended night of moral panic. There is no need whatsoever for this term, except to obfuscate. There are plain terms, readily understood, with common meanings (or more common): rape, forced fellatio — strange, you never hear of forced cunnilingus — [Oh yes you do, see Jeffrey St Clair’s recent CounterPunch essay on Willie Dixon — Alexander Cockburn], exhibitionism, leering, groping, finger-fucking, pawing, dirty talk, kidnapping, exploitation in x, y and z ways (yes, that would require more words — how burdensome is precision), unwanted touching, unwanted hugging… The list is long because people may experience, or claim to experience, different things as abuse. But abuse is potent in law, and is therefore a handmaid of prosecution. In the various sex panic stories over the past 20 years ‘sexual abuse’ has meant everything from fantasized Satanic black masses to actual rape to nudity in the YMCA showers. (That last is not a flourish; the Catholic Church caved, paying out tens of thousands of dollars to people who said they saw Father Geoghan walk around naked in the YMCA shower room, nothing else. He, as you recall, was murdered in prison to the cheers of the liberal faithful after he was convicted for touching a kid’s ass while pulling him out of a pool.) Let’s call things by their names. And let’s restore ‘fondling,’ a word that has been yanked into the sexual abuse bag, to its proper place in the realm of sexual play. ‘Molestation’ is a fine word no one would confuse with ‘fondling.’ Without the catch-all ‘abuse,’ people might be able to claw their way back to sanity by distinguishing what is harmless or unruly or actually criminal. And while we’re at it, let’s throw sex offender into the tumbril. As it is, a sex offender might be: a rapist; a child who draws a stick figure with breasts and penis, a child who plays doctor with another or kisses another or slaps the ass of another or asks the teacher for a hug; a teacher who gives a hug; a voyeur; a collector of porn; a kidnapper and torturer; an exhibitionist; a person caught urinating in public; a high school senior who has sex with a high school freshman; anyone who transmits sexual pictures to another person; anyone who transmits pictures that some policeman decides are sexual to another person; anyone caught having sex in the bushes, etc. Like terrorist, ‘sex offender’ is most useful in defining a group of people out of the realm of rights, making them a new category of human being, against whom any atrocity of the state is considered acceptable. Exception: ‘self-abuse.’ In its blur of rigor and humor it’s far more evocative of the act it describes than masturbation, onanism, self-pleasuring, jacking off, etc.”
YET ANOTHER jury trial date was scheduled for this coming Monday for accused Anderson Valley gun thief, Xavier Francis, formerly of Boonville presently of Ukiah. But today, (Thursday, February 23, 2012) Francis pled guilty today before Ukiah Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman to a misdemeanor violation of Penal Code section 602.5(b), aggravated trespass of a residence. He will be sentenced on March 22, 2012 at 9 o'clock in the morning in Department A. His exposure is up to three years on probation with up to one year in the county jail as a condition of probation. The prosecution will request that Mr. Francis also be ordered to pay restitution to the Sanchez family of Boonville (from whom several guns were sold) and their insurance company in an amount exceeding $9,000 for damage to the home during the break-in and the loss by theft of multiple firearms.
IN THE FIRST useful legislation Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro has introduced in years, if not ever, the state, if Chesbro's bill is successful, would reimburse Mendocino County some $250,000 for the expenses incurred during the 36-day manhunt for Aaron Bassler. The actual cost is estimated by Sheriff Allman at upwards of $266,000 but any amount of recompense would be welcomed by broke Mendocino County. The seige of the forests just north of Fort Bragg in the hunt for Bassler began when Bassler, mentally ill for years, shot and killed Jere Melo and was soon linked to the murder of land trust manager Matthew Coleman a couple of weeks earlier. In excellent physical condition, Bassler eluded law enforcement until he was finally shot and killed by a swat team from Sacramento.
FORMER NORTHCOAST CONGRESSMAN, Frank Riggs, his instinct for political evil undiminished, surfaced this week in Phoenix where he was introduced by neo-fascist Republican, Rick Santorum, as Santorum's Arizona campaign manager.
FROM THE GRAVEYARD comes Congressman Riggs.
He’s showing up at Santorum gigs
He tried to pass off
his time at the trough
as public service instead of feeding the pigs