Thursday, February 25, 2010

Media Reporting and Justice - Just Witch-Hunting?

At many stages of man's existence upon the earth there have been what we term "witch-hunts" against some particular type of crime, race or idea. Not only did the early Saints have to face this, but even in these latter-days such persecution has cost the lives of Latter-Day Saints (such as Joseph and Hyrum Smith).

Today much hysteria and witch-hunt logic exists relative to certain serious crimes. Such things as drug dealing and paedophilia can be used to create strong feelings of anger against proposed perpetrators. Such anger is used by Satan to distort truth and cause many innocent men (mostly men cop this) to suffer as a consequence.

I would like to quote the following media article. I would say that this article is far fairer than any other I have read on the subject. So I feel it the best to use for examination of the more subtle ways that people can be influenced. The report even gives some of the views of both sides. I have added the paragraph numbers for convenience.


Charges Dropped Against Man Accused of Sex Abuse
October 16th, 2007 @ 6:03pm
Sandra Yi and Andrew Adams Reporting

[1] On the day a man was supposed to go on trial for sexually abusing two young girls, prosecutors dropped the charges.

[2] Prosecutors didn't think they could convince a jury to convict.

[3] The girls' family expressed anger about the turn in the case, calling it an injustice. Michelle Galloway, a relative of the young girls, said, "These children have not been protected by the state of Utah, by the prosecutors."

[4] Galloway has a calendar that documents the time and place of each alleged sexual assault against the two little girls by 50-year-old Dan Kaighn. The girls' mother kept track of it. Galloway says, "This is imprinted in their minds and on their souls, so they will never forget entirely, and it has impacted every day of their lives."

[5] Prosecutors said the girls' stories became too vague when questioned by other attorneys; that's one reason they decided to drop the case.

[6] Randy Kennard, with the Utah County Attorney's Office, says, "I would be the last one to say that it is not possible these crimes didn't occur. But we have an ethical responsibility to not pursue charges unless we have a reasonable belief that we can succeed in a jury trial."

[7] The girls first told their mother they were being abused in 2002, but there wasn't enough evidence to pursue charges.

[8] Two years later, a second investigation led to Kaighn's arrest. The case dragged on in court for three years. The girls' relatives say that made it hard for the girls, who are now 7 and 8 years old, to remember all the details.

[9] Kaighn has always denied the allegations and passed two polygraph tests. Michael Esplin, Kaighn's attorney, said, "He's had trouble getting a job with allegations like this. His options are limited in terms of ... teaching is out."

[10] He says Kaighn is trying to get his life back. The girls' family says they have no choice but to try and move on too. Their focus now is to protect them and other children.

[11] Galloway says, "Unfortunately, we cannot trust what's beyond our reach, so we have to know where our children are, who they are with and what's happening to them."

[12] Kaighn, who was once a teacher, is now working as a waiter in another state.

[13] The girls' family has a protective order against him.


You may feel this is a very unbiased report. But it is poorly written if we are to remain unbiased. The first paragraph can present that the accused is guilty. It states that the man was supposed to go on trial for sexually abusing two young girls. This later part presents an inference that the crime happened. Also the word "supposed" presents that he got away with something that should have occurred.

This would be better stated that there had been a desire to make a trial in regard claims that a man had sexually abused two young girls.

The second paragraph should state, "Prosecutors didn't feel there was enough evidence to prove that the crimes occurred."

The third paragraph suggests that the case had actually turned by this change in stance of the Lawyers. This makes the inference that things were going well before.

In the fourth paragraph we are informed that the mother and a relative kept a diary of the proposed abuse. Are we serious? What was the mother doing? Did she go along and watch the abuse and record it in her diary as it was happening? If so, she should be going to jail herself.

In this paragraph this relative is quoted as saying, "this is imprinted in their minds and on their souls..." Yet in the next paragraph it says, "Prosecutors said the girls' stories became too vague when questioned by other attorneys." And paragraph 8 states, "The girls' relatives say that made it hard for the girls, ... to remember all the details." This seems strange for acts that are supposedly "imprinted in their minds." Good sounding journalism, but what about unbiased reporting?

In paragraph 6 we have Randy Kennard quoted as saying that he has to admit that it isn't impossible for the man to be innocent, yet then claiming they don't feel confident that they can show that he is guilty. What rubbish! If there is insufficient evidence to prove the case how can he claim it merely isn't impossible that he is innocent? If there is so little evidence, how is he so convinced that he is guilty? I'm glad he's not my defence lawyer.

The next paragraph (7) presents the idea that the girls claims are true, in the way it is written.

Perhaps paragraph 8 may have been less biased had it pointed out that the jury obviously didn't find the girls testimonies as being consistent; else he would have been convicted. The jury obviously felt the stories may have been contrived.

Paragraph 11 has an interesting quote from Galloway, again. She says, "we have to know where our children are, who they are with and what's happening to them." This is a strange statement considering that the mother says she not only knew where they were but was recording the details.

The article both starts and ends with negatives toward the accused (paragraphs 1 and 13).

I rest my case.

One of the many problems with this type of reporting is that it incites vigilantes to go out and exact "Justice." I remember the situation of a man in jail of about 45. He was murdered by 2 young inmates who had concluded that he must have been a paedophile. There were some of such in that prison. But this man was in for drink driving. This is typical of Satan. He has persuaded them to murder this man who hadn't committed such a crime. We must be careful of what we accept as input. Trial by media is not a trial at all.


Anonymous said...

I am Danny Kaighn and it is not easy to be me having been through this secret combination and evil facade... Though I would much rather be me then them actually... How does someone live with themselves knowing that they have destroyed a family and taken away a loving Father from their kids. I would rather die than do this to anyone! It is good to sleep at night and know that God surely knows exactly what they have done and they have sold there souls and must live out their lives in eternal fear, that is if there is any real faith in this family at all. They may be Mormon but I assure you they can't really know Christ and expect to get away with this in the end. They have been greatly deceived and I fear more for their souls... Repentance for them is a phone call away, telling me that they are sorry and come and see your kids. My kids know my love for them and will all know the exact truth someday. What will they think of this Howes family then? We actually had a great life in Alaska making over $100,000 a year, very active in the church, deeply involved in the missionary program. Kelli knew I wanted to raise kids in Alaska and she and her family would settle for nothing less than us living in Utah. Separation proceeded divorce papers that went back and forth for a couple of years. It was soon after I filed papers that gave me joint legal and physical custody of my children that she filed these fraudulent child abuse charges against me. It was a desperate move on her part to get the upper hand in things. The whole divorce was based on our differences of where each of us wanted to raise kids. I have been very patient with the judicial system during the process of proving my innocence of these vicious allegations. The State Attorney General has dismissed this case because these things never happened and it was very obvious to everyone. I always believed in my heart that this would be the outcome because I knew better than anyone the motives of my ex-wife and the lack of true Christ like character of her family. This earth is to sort out the good from the bad. Until they repent there are several testimonies in heaven including God and Christs against them until they repent! They may have my kids for now, but at what cost! I have the soul to forgive though it hasn't been easy to do. I care about the eternities and whats in store for all of Gods children...

Doug Towers said...


Thanks for expressing your feelings. I can assure you that you aren't the first, nor (unfortunately) the last, to go through these things. You are one of the fortunate who hasn't been sent to jail for it though. So I'm happy for you in that regard, at least.

Your story is far too common. Many similar horror stories fill our prisons.

While all sensible effort should be put into making sure that no real sexual or physical abuse comes upon anyone, society must get out of the hysteria stage and turn back to fair trials.

It is sad about what some people do and what they put in their hearts. However, it is good that you are in the forgiving mode. Otherwise you just can become like them. That is the last thing you want.

You will be the better man for your struggle and forgiveness. And (as you say) your family will know the truth eventually. That is the good part.

I wish you well for the future, and thanks again for your comments.

Anonymous said...

It should always be a priority to protect children when allegations of abuse have been raised, however, one must place great scrutiny when such allegations are made in the face of a pending divorce.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this happen in family law cases, where emotions run high and winning takes the place of good parenting.

Well placed allegations can ruin a wonderful man and father, taking from him not only his livelihood but most importantly, his children.

I know Danny, and he is one of the most wonderful people you could possibly meet. His love for his children is at the forefront of his thoughts each day. Not once have I spoken with him when he didn’t say something about his hopes and dreams for them, their well being and that he so deeply misses being their father. Yet this man holds no ill will to his accusers, just hopes for the future and to one day be a dad again to the children he loves so much.

I hope that one day his children will want to know the man Danny is, they will be truly blessed having him in their lives.

Doug Towers said...

Thanks for the heart-felt thoughts.

They say that the children come first. But I have to question that philosophy. God never teaches that children are more important than adults.

Having seen many innocent men in problems and jail because of this philosophy I have to wonder what someone presenting it would say if it were them who went to jail for 15 years for a crime not done. Would they be so enthusiastic to propose such an idea then? I not only strongly doubt it, but I know they wouldn't. It sounds all very well in theory from the comfort of a lounge room. Let them prove it by getting someone to falsely accuse them and then see what they say when in jail themselves.

Hot air. ALL people should have EQUAL rights.

energy-heals said...

It is great to see this forum where such issues are addressed fair and square and where people can have a voice. Too often church officials sweep difficult problems under the carpet and suppress all comment with threats of excommunication for murmuring instead of having the honesty, guts and integrity to fulfil their real calling, and help with the problem. Nothing is solved by cowardice.

Too many leaders see their calling as a position of power, rather than one of service. Abraham Lincoln covered it well when he said " Almost anyone can overcome adversity. If you want to see the real measure of a man, give him power."

I have seen some great church leaders who do a wonderful job, using compassion and wisdom and humility to lead their flock. I have seen others who are nothing more than power freaks who feel they must sit in judgment on others without even beginning to try to understand the person they are judging.

We need more carpenters.

Gary Powell

Doug Towers said...


In D&C 121 God warns us to expect problems to come from those in leadership positions. Truly, many are called, But FEW are chosen.

The one thing the Holy Ghost has told me is that the worse the leader the more you need to help him, as he needs all the help he can get.

I certainly agree with Abraham Lincoln.

As to the forum, I intend to keep presenting those things that aren't usually discussed to such a degree.

Anonymous said...

This all points to the necessity of needing God's Spirit to determine the truth...The simplest lie detector test of all.

Only the conditions of establishing Zion will provide this and relieve us of having to depend on mearly facts to descern the truth.

In most cases today regarding things reported in the news, it has very little to do with discovering truth as opposed to portraying a given set of circumstances as always being bad.

Bad news is what sells, so bad news must be created no matter what. Some news is truly bad and there is a lot of it, but unfortunately it is being reported that way even for those who are inocent.

Everyone that finds themselves in the news is BAD. And that IS a witch hunt when the inocent are portayed as guilty.

The Lord makes special mention of people who opperate like that whether it be an official news reporter or mearly anyone out to seek the demise of another person even if what was is being said about that person is true.

It boils down to the motives for reporting it.

And God has a particular distaste and place for people like that.

Anonymous said...

This comes 2 years later but just found this site a couple of months ago and am reading all posts.
Charges of abuse happened to a man in my Ward that turned out to be false, and the charges were by family members, due to a nasty divorce. He went to prison, lost his membership, etc. This man is back in church with full Priesthood. Everyone now knows he was falsely accused and charged. Sad. It is amazing what people will do to each other in anger and out of spite.

Doug Towers said...


Yes, I have seen this also.

Unfortunately the authorities were too proud to admit their mistake and he is still unbaptised, in spite of one stake president claiming revelation to re-baptise him.

Another was finally baptised.

Then I know of one guy falsely accused of beating his wife. It took him many years to get back in the church.