Skip to comments.DA, spanking case stir outrage
Posted on 07/24/2007 8:23:27 AM PDT by Minn
Two McMinnville middle-schoolers facing sex abuse charges for spanking girls in the hallway probably will not do jail time or be required to register as sex offenders, the Yamhill County district attorney said Monday as the case against the boys grew into a media sensation.
The comments from Bradley Berry outraged the parents of the two 13-year-olds, Ryan Cornelison and Cory Mashburn, who with their lawyers were deluged with calls from ABC, CNN, Fox, Court TV and radio stations across the country a day after a story about the prosecution appeared in The Sunday Oregonian.
Until now, Berry has declined to discuss specifics of the case or explain why it merits criminal charges. After spending most of Monday fielding complaints, however, he elaborated for the first time.
"From our perspective and the perspective of the victims, this was not just horseplay," Berry told The Oregonian. "People may disagree, and I understand that."
Based on his experience in similar cases, Berry said it's unlikely the boys, if convicted, would be sentenced for the maximum jail time for each of the counts. "That type of sentence has never been imposed in my county or in any county that I know of for these types of offenses," he said.
Berry said he, too, was inundated with calls and e-mails from readers who complained that charging the boys with 10 counts of sex abuse and harassment was an overreaction, as their parents maintain. Lawyers for the boys say each count could bring a year in confinement and mandatory registration as sex offenders.
Berry said a judge could lift the registration requirement after it was imposed. "These youths can petition the court relatively quickly for relief from that," he said.
The boys' families said they were furious at what appeared to be backpedaling on Berry's part.
"It makes us angry that they can overcharge . . . and make us think this could happen," said Tracie Mashburn, Cory's mother. "Why would they do that and threaten us with that if they're not going to do it?"
"He's just doing damage control," added Joe Cornelison, Ryan's father. "I want to ask Brad Berry, what kind of due process is this?"
Mark Lawrence, the attorney for Cory Mashburn, said Berry doesn't understand how devastating the charges have been to the boys and their families.
Lawrence noted that Berry's office initially charged the boys with felony sex abuse before reducing the charges in May. The boys also spent five days in detention in February. Officials at McMinnville Public Schools and Patton Middle School imposed a five-day suspension on the seventh-graders.
Cornelison's lawyer, Rachel Negra, said she received calls from ABC, CNN and other media outlets Monday as the story raced across the Internet and picked up a national audience. "It feels like my phone is going to blow up from messages," Negra said.
Negra and Lawrence said the Mashburn and Cornelison families received so many offers of financial assistance that they moved Monday to set up a fund to cover legal expenses. Readers from as far away as Germany also contacted The Oregonian to comment or ask how they could contribute.
"My parents didn't teach me that that kind of activity or play was a felony, and I was raised by good parents in West Texas," said Dr. Bruce Russell, a Portland dermatologist turned businessman, who called to offer financial help. "I am just thinking this is so completely out of the bounds of common sense that it needs to be addressed."
Tony Wood, a photographer in Pennsylvania, e-mailed the newspaper Monday after he read the story online. Wood said he planned to send a check to the fund.
"I would actually send a check to these parents because I am totally blown away by this. It's like something out of colonial times or the crusades," he said. "There are real issues out there, and this is not one of them."
The families of both boys have struggled to pay their sons' legal bills; the Cornelison family's phone was turned off last week because of mounting bills.
"I am very thankful. I can't believe it," said Joe Cornelison, who is a press operator at the McMinnville newspaper. "It's been really hard. I'm behind on bills and have a hard time sleeping because I'm worried about my son, and his life has really been changed by this."
Mashburn's parents, Tracie, a hairdresser, and Scott, a print shop worker, had been preparing to refinance their home to pay for the legal bills. They said they were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.
"I've just been crying all morning because of the way people are supporting us," said Tracie Mashburn.
The boys are scheduled to go on trial in August. The charges stem from a February incident in which a teacher's aide saw the two students swatting girls' bottoms as they ran down the hall.
During questioning by a vice principal and police officer stationed at the school, they also admitted to poking or grabbing girls' breasts in the past.
Confidential court records and police reports obtained by The Oregonian showed that other Patton students -- boys and girls -- were also slapping bottoms. Two female victims later recanted, saying they were friends of the boys and felt pressured to make false statements against them.
The original felony charges subsequently were reduced to five misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse and five counts of harassment. Each count carries a maximum one-year sentence.
Susan Goldsmith: 503-294-5131; susangoldsmith@ news.oregonian.com
F-—ing brats need to learn to keep their hands to themselves. Why is something that would result in criminal charges in the workplace just pooh-poohed when it takes place in government schools?
While they don’t deserve jail time, they do sound like little sh*theads.
Hopefully his life has been changed enough that he won't grow up to be a tit-grabbing frat-boy date-rapist.
Berry and Nifong would make good cell mates.
Whatever you say, Mr. Nifong.
wow what a ridiculous stereotype! shame on you.
The neatest thing of all was that asphalt hadn't been invented and roads were made out of tar and gravel, and there were always pools of leftover tar lying around to roll the neighbor kids in. About the only cure for that was bathing the kid in gasoline.
Yup. I am wondering why none of the girls in question hauled off and socked them. Most bullies seem to get the message once SOMEONE stands up to them. Of course then the girls would be charged, too...
Farking prosecutor needs to be sh*tcanned, the principal fired and the cops relieved of duty.
This is sheer overreactive madness on the part of the PC leftist crowd that refuses to allow boys to be boys.
Was it wrong? yep
Was it chargeable? Nope
Dad needs to sit them down and have a talk with them or take them behind the woodshed for some personal time. But the reaction by the powers that be is ludicrous.
“Hopefully his life has been changed enough that he won’t grow up to be a tit-grabbing frat-boy date-rapist.”
and maybe one day you’ll stop being a feminazi, but somehow I doubt.
Perhaps the boys speak Vai, and there will not be an interpreter available.
This is how screwed up this is - Wendy Murphy thinks it absolutely ridiculous.
You said it. Whenever a story of this type comes up around here, there is a creepy strain of poster sporting their hang em high self righteousness. The Duke boys deserved it, because they went near a stripper. The kid in Georgia that got BJ from someone near his own age deserves to sit in prison for ten years, and these very young teenagers slapping a little butt running down the hall need their lives ruined.
Were supposed to read this and think to ourselves: Wow, what a morally pure soul this poster has instead of the proper Gees, what an uptight twit reaction normal people have.
The kids need some discipline, but dragging them into the criminal justice system? Your kidding right.
Right, you probably aren’t kidding since Free Republic is now populated with statists.
What woman do you know who would rather file criminal charges than slap the hell out of a guy who did that?
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