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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Runaway Bride cries "wolf"

We are a country of laws, not of men.

John Adams

This post appeared on NewMexiKen's ( blog which, in my opinion, is one of the best blogs in Albuquerque. Ken posted an article from the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper regarding Georgia's 'Runaway Bride' who got cold feet and decided to leave the state on a five day cross-country bus trip. Unfortunately, instead of coming clean with the authorities when she showed up in the Duke City, she fabricated a yarn about being kidnapped and raped at gunpoint. She identified her assailants as a Hispanic male and a Caucasian female. Some people, in this case, a poster named 'dad,' believed that the Runaway Bride should not face prosecution - Here's how I responded:

Dear Dad,
Don't you remember the story about the boy who cried 'wolf?' What happened to personal responsibility? This woman is not a teenager. She is 32 years old so; she is clearly at an age where she is responsible for her actions.

Here are the facts; she bought her bus ticket 5 days in advance. She cut her hair to disguise herself. She called a taxi to drive her to Atlanta (about 50 miles from Duluth). Her fiancé was targeted as her murder suspect by the GBI. She falsely identified someone (a Hispanic male and a Caucasian female) of abducting and raping her at gunpoint. She tied up the 911 time, reserved for addressing real emergencies, as she fabricated her tale. She cost the city of Albuquerque and the federal Government overtime costs for detectives and Public Information Officer Trish Ahrensfeld whom I am certain were not scheduled for regular duty at 2:00 am the day she called 911. Who is going to pay for that? And finally, according to the Duluth Sheriff and GBI Agent, she expressed no remorse over the trouble she had caused when they interviewed her earlier today.

While I share your compassion for people that make mistakes, I do not agree that APD did the 'right' thing. By ignoring the fact she misled them and lied about her abduction and forced rape, APD has opened up a can of worms because every attorney representing any person charged in the future of abusing 911 or lying to the police has a precedent setting case to refer to for appeal for the Court to dismiss the charges.

You seem to be willing to forgive this woman's transgression and totally ignore the fact that our city's finest were compelled to use money from an already strained budget to conduct a criminal investigation that ended up being a wild goose chase. I think buying this woman a teddy bear and rolling out the red carpet for her was the wrong message to send.

Before you start to think that I am being callous, just consider this; our police force is tasked with a heavy undertaking that scrutinized for integrity and trust. APD is currently embroiled in the worst police corruption scandal in Albuquerque's history. The department has decided not to pursue pressing criminal charges against people who have embezzled money and quite possibly even stolen or destroyed evidence from their Evidence Unit. This recent Public Relations ploy doesn't detract from the reality that APD has serious problems. I cannot see how coddling a 32 year old woman from a prominent family in Georgia really helps APD's public image of being on the straight and narrow.

I have spent my life serving the citizens of this city and state. I just recently finished my career in law enforcement and it troubles me that the law is meted out by fiat.

When John Adams wrote, we 'are a country of laws, not men," he meant that no person is above the law. APD had no right to bend the law the way it did. It is not up to their discretion to prosecute or not. That decision falls squarely on the District Attorney. I am appalled that people are willing to look the other way when this woman most definitely committed at least one crime. It is okay to love the sinner and still hate the sin. She should have been charged by APD and the decision regarding guilt or innocence along with whatever punishment deemed appropriate should have been left up to a judge. That’s the way our rule of law is supposed to work.


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