Front Street Weekly; 128
Most witnesses whether they're children adolescents or adults will tell you it's not fun to be a witness. If you are a witness who's been traumatized by an offense that is even more difficult. That's because Murphy's Law if anything can go wrong it will end at the worst possible time. Oregon is in some very very serious financial difficulties as we all know tourism can help. It's certainly not going to be a panacea for everything but it can help. Good evening. Increasingly children are being called upon to testify in court in custody cases and abuse or neglect trials. Tonight we'll examine one such case where a 4 year old girl testified as a rape victim. Anything that can go wrong will. That's Murphy's Law. Tonight we'll take a look
at Murphy's Law and its many corollaries in the northwest. And finally tonight we'll have a report on four towns in Oregon that are aggressively getting tourists to offset an otherwise dismal economy. If you were on a jury you might have trouble believing the testimony of a very young child. Adults often have a hard time determining the credibility of children witnesses small children are known for their vivid imaginations suggestibility and willingness to stretch the truth. However the view that children's testimony is not to be trusted may be an adult prejudice. In fact studies show that they can recall events accurately enough to testify. If they are not confused by adults. Tommy Thompson has a story about the use of a young child as a witness in a felony case in Washington state. This is Judge Dean Morgan Superior Court in Vancouver Washington. A man is being tried for statutory rape won a felony with a maximum sentence of life and a minimum of three years. This four year old girl is the prosecution's
chief witness. She is also the victim. Her testimony about the sexual abuse incident directly contradicts the defendant's claims of not guilty. The jury must decide who to believe. A full grown man or a 4 year old child. People raise the question of Can children tell the truth. Do children lie or they credible. And don't they believe Psychologist Kevin McGovern says these questions must be answered each time a child is offered as a witness. Children are not automatically allowed to testify. First it must be proven they are competent at a special hearing before the trial. Front Street was allowed to videotape the competency hearing. We discovered the judge was very gentle with the youngest witness ever offered in his court. Do I scare you a little bit.
You know the from out of the judge in a judicial proceeding is shattered by Camus presence after a careful warmup. The judge asks the crucial question. You know what it is to you know what I mean. Do you tell me what. Can you do. What happens if you want. What do you think you understand today whether you're supposed to lie or tell the truth. Which you think you're supposed to. Prove an expose today. About what happens if you will today. We get even more if you like here where we are in this big room. You know really bad things happen.
Even worse than stand when the judge has completed his questions the defense and prosecution begin there. As the hearing wears on cammies attention to a. Child sits on the stand often becomes distracted especially if it's a very young child in some situation has to go potty doesn't understand some of the questions are being asked is being viewed at by 12 individuals or 10 individuals sitting in the jury box. It feels quite overwhelmed. And then the credibility of the child is undermined the child become more anxious. We want to get off the stand we look for friendly face in the court room. One a sense of relief. I'm not a coward. So yes well let's stop for a minute. Carrie why don't you go and get you there. You can step down if you want to do this you know because you
have more questions all right. I think one of the problems which is just attention span while two hours on the stand is obviously no fun for a four year old. The judge found Cammy a competent witness. The role she could remember and retell the sexual abuse incident and most important she knew the difference between truth and Bly. I'm satisfied that she knows what it is. Tell the truth and what it is to watch. That seems to me to be the easiest of the elements to satisfy in this case she said without hesitation. She understood that she had spanked if she lied you know that she's supposed to tell the truth. Cammy will be allowed to testify before the jury but not without a risk. The judge said he would declare a mistrial if Cammy refused to answer questions or failed to cooperate with the defense. Prosecutor Darvin Zimmerman led off by asking Cammy to recall the sexual abuse incident.
He joins us on the dollar what happened to you. And. I know you're going to have to tell us again that was OK. Thought is we just need to know one more time. I tell you why D'Anna Scuse me Carrie Carrie I didn't I didn't get to hear you tell that's OK you're going to share chairs no you really don't. But again it's your finger there where you put your finger there for. His wife. Right. OK. Or is that what the man did to you. Are you shaking your head yes or shaking your head no. OK. When the man did that to you did it hurt. But it felt good. You heard why did it hurt.
You k did you make any noise when he did that to you. What did you do. Did you wake up. And could you talk to them. When you look at what this man did to you. OK most witnesses whether they're children adolescents or adults will tell you it's not fun to be a Witness If you are a witness who's been traumatized by an offense that is even more difficult. And when you're asked to relive a harmful or traumatic situation over and over and over and over perhaps five times in a court room five times with an investigator 15 times with the parent another five times with the minister after a while the child just doesn't want to have to deal with what happened.
We asked cammies mother Rhonda how many times her 4 year old daughter had been asked to relive the sexual abuse incident at least 50 or 60 and up on the stand. She would talk to Darden. You know she thought government really really know it at the time. She's scared of it and I don't know why but she's scared of him. Donovan is the good guy. He is the protector. He is the man who was going to prosecute the person who allegedly harmed her. On the other hand the other man is the bad guy. He's the one who's defending this and mean terrible man who had legibly has done something to hurt her. It's very hard for a child to understand how in the world can this be. How come you don't want to. Can. You talk to Darren. Yeah he liked our movement. Why do you say that.
Both during my free to get in here but really don't want you to answer questions for both. OK. I'd really appreciate it. Well if a child cannot answer the big guys questions then it would seem to me there might be a mistrial or the trial is not or the child is not seen as a competent witness. If the child is unable to answer questions logically then obviously in the closing argument if the trial continues the defense attorney can look to the jury and say ladies and gentlemen this child could only answer specific questions asked by the prosecuting attorney the child cannot consistently answer these questions when asked by me. Perhaps the child is not credible. Perhaps there's been some form of coaching. Among. Her coming. Back. I want to tell me what you said Indiana.
I think that if you talk to. Your grand. Teton who ran. Right there that night no one. Need you Vince wants Canada look bad on the stand the prosecution wants Cammy to look good but he fans want pami to make mistakes and get crossed up. The prosecution wants hammy to be consistent and answer clearly he were Cammy is caught in the middle. You know which victim of a crime and the court room. You know I didn't even want her up on the stand really at all because of what it might do to her because she doesn't like to talk about unless it's to me or to DNA you know or someone that she does know.
And when it came right down to it and I did I had to. Cammy is not alone. More and more young children are being used as witnesses. Dr. McGovern says the increase is due to greater awareness of child and sexual abuse. So there's more pressure to prosecute these cases to get the offender off the street. Well in order to protect the community and for this reason you're going to see more and more children testifying. In this case. The jury did believe the child witness the defendant was found guilty of statutory rape and will probably be sentenced to the sex offenders unit at the Washington State Penitentiary. Dr. McGovern says many cases do not have such a clear resolution. And he suggests parents carefully weigh the need to punish offenders against the potential impact on their child he says. Each case is different and should be evaluated separately. There are certain laws that are constants in the universe the law of gravity the law of
thermodynamics and Newton's Law. But we thought we'd look at one of the more perplexing of these laws. Murphy's Law. There's your average person getting to work. They think they're in the mainstream of society but the stream doesn't flow as smoothly as it used to. Pollution. Taxes the economy. Everything seems to be controlled by Murphy's Law. If something can go wrong it will. That's Murphy's Law. Murphy's Law takes everyone except magicians. That's why they asked me to explain it to you tonight. Magicians want the unusual to happen for example. Other people aren't so lucky.
That's New York a new fangled rocket designed to help one. And as you've seen these laws been with us for a long time. Many people aren't interested. I'm not really interested in Murphy's Law. I'm interested in getting things done right. I think good things.
Do you think that's. The right. Answer. And who can blame Murphy's Law seems to affect athletes more than other people. As a matter of fact there's a soccer team here they found as most athletes eventually do that Murphy's Law is a great equalizer. We have 17 on the roster through a triple bypass operation operation. Other one is in the hospital. The. Call this morning has painkillers to keep
the worst of the worst record in the league. Athletes never learn. You can't do the impossible. As you can see. Magicians aren't affected by Murphy's Law. Great catch. Did you not tell me. Thanks a lot I really appreciate it yeah yeah yeah and I only buy you dinner OK. Oh ok I'll be done in just a minute or so. OK. I'm almost done. And in doing the story we ran into more than our share of problems which may prove that Murphy was indeed an optimist. There has always been a love hate relationship between Oregonians and tourists. During good times we don't want many of them around. When times are bad. The welcome mat is reluctantly put out. Now when times are really bad. Some
communities consider the tourist industry a life preserver to help them hang on economically. It's said to be the third largest industry but during these economic times it may very well be the largest industry in the state. Last year tourist industry brought a billion dollars into Oregon's economy. They provided jobs for 65000 people directly. Others whose jobs are in related businesses. It's been a very stabilizing factor and you can see the employment figures in Lincoln County for example that. Traditionally have been less than the state average and in this month's Lincoln County right now has the unemployment rate on the coast and it's lower than most dependent counties. So with Lincoln county's example and other coast communities are reaching for their share of tourists. Southern Oregon coast towns are looking at possibilities and counties launching an active campaign bringing together in their
planning. Committees are working very closely with the chambers the city the county the port. Everyone is getting together on the idea and this is right the community has needed for a long long time. Up until now we had committees going in different directions. All of a sudden everyone is working toward the same goal. We can start now it isn't. Saying that we have to wait for railroads or for big business to make decisions or anything is something we can do right you know right today because we've got it it's just a matter of advertising. There are two very important things that would attract visitors the story as far as I'm concerned when I first came into the town I was pretty impressed with Ron is it's just beautiful. It's kind of like a little San Francisco when you go up and down our heels The second is this beautiful river that we're looking at here which is part of the harbor coming up and down this
river. When the Chamber of Commerce went to the city council with the plan to put new emphasis on tourism they were given money from the city room tax for promotion. Soon everyone will be hearing about the Special Events Estonians are planning for their visitors. Somewhat different Oregonians have been vacationing there as long as any of us can remember. But mostly in the summer. The big meet in Seaside is for year round visitors. Our business was going down and I was out of the economic growth. We had to do something that would augment the tourist business and the biggest thing that we did was to get together and to augment that income and we are no longer an address to some of the business we have around us from the tourist. The civic center funded entirely by a sizeable increase in the city business
tax with no cost to taxpayers. Only takes one weekend. Good business for me to pay the increase in that license time so I figure that it's really an expensive way to a better facility that does what our civic center is for. Right I think of one of the goals of the stoep should be to make the travel industries a statewide industry. Those areas of the state that are not benefiting from it should benefit I think. Cascade locks up river from Bonneville Dam is one of small towns that hopes to benefit from an increased share of visitors in the 1870s. The federal government built these locks so that steamboats could pass safely around the shallow Cascades. At this point in the river. Today the locks are used only by small boats but they still remind us of the once great days of steam. This national historic site is owned and managed by the port district of Cascade locks. It works very hard to get back to national historic designation. With its three Iraq
tender homes historic rock tender homes one of which is a museum. We own and operated to about 100 passengers. Twenty years you're never going to move to the dark. If I finally decide my guard. My time with the bag might be by the great it's. Been a long time I've been on the train with you know that you're just me too. We're planning to build a three hundred fifty passenger stone will look much like a replica of the ones that we that were here in the late eighteen hundreds. We own and develop to 60 more Age public marina down by the water. Just generally. We do everything that was possible to to develop the facilities the public facilities for for tourism and recreation and the town. To attract tourists. The people of Cascade locks knew that along with the marine park they must salvage their dying business district perhaps with an urban renewal project
renewal agency could not find a developer. So cascade logs. From to the medical association brought the land and did the project. This new shopping center is the result of the development Association's efforts. A restaurant motel was a grocery store and other enterprises replaced old abandoned buildings. They provide a tax and business benefit for the town and for Hood River County. Service is the.
Track with the train stop and the tour boat on the river year round now hopes to attract visitors during most of the year. In fact an extended season is the name of every tourist oriented community take room in the winter to make one month of summer. Bad enough in the winter to pay our bills and get by and wait for the traffic from three major highways has funneled through SR's between Central Oregon and the Willamette Valley. One restaurant a gas station served the needs of tourists on their way through town. But things began to change when a black youth ranch was purchased by Brooks Resources Corporation which turned the ranch into a recreational homes development. Let's go back a little bit to 1970 when we opened the ranch
and at that time we had 17 home sites. And as the years have gone by. People have come to the ranch and more people are. Visiting and needing to use the services of sisters. And at this time we have about a hundred and twenty or so houses built. And so we find that more and more people use the facilities of sister sisters has also developed a lively tourist trade with all kinds of enticements to get travelers to linger awhile to shop and eat or visit the art gallery. They're rock I'm going to a Western town with old fashioned friendliness. I just got back from skiing and I always sisters when I was 10 so I like to come here. It's a fairly tale it still has that little town friendliness and you do not find that in malls and chain stores. This is what people tell us they like about SR. All right but how do the Land time residents of the EU the new tourist town to me so you
know I think my shock remembers the early days when sisters was a locking room town do you like to see travelers coming to enjoy his hometown. His wife agrees. I like to see it become a town with different things in it that you can go into and and take pride in and. Have it recognized as a nice little town. You have to remember when I would walk right by my house. How you capture or go. On the. Hour to hear people say I will down to the wire brush. You go up the ropes here where you think your interaction your run of the house. Personally. I think it's for the betterment of the town because when I was say back in. The 50s why we lay there kind of dormant. You couldn't even go to the bank and borrow money to develop property out here that. Right now you can go in a bank and get a personal loan or you can mortgage your place or you can build out here.
So it's it's definitely helped the town. But as an individual. Just like so much. This past year will soon become mountain home. A motel and meeting place at the junction of the Mackenzie and Sandy and highways anticipated and planned an approved motel restaurant out here is going to be a big plus because the sisters up until this time has not been a destination resort it's been kind of passed through and people really didn't have adequate place to stay. We feel that if we can get some small conventions and groups that will stay here overnight and spend some time in the town they'll realise some of the good thing to sisters has to offer. We want to encourage that those aspects of tourism that bring in money that moves people that are destination oriented conventions. That means people who are are going to go to the destination resort
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- The first segment looks at childrens testimony in court cases, the second piece examines Murphys Law, and a report on fort towns in Oregon that capitalize on historic preservation to offset an otherwise dismal economy.
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- APA: Front Street Weekly; 128. Boston, MA: Oregon Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_153-93ttf7zb