Friday, February 12, 2010

The Case of the Black Bag; A Freshwater Boys Mystery

The Freshwater fiasco has gotten even weirder with the Freshwater team's acquisition of new evidence via a scenario that sounds like it's straight from a bad detective novel; a really, really bad detective novel. The Mount Vernon News had and article, as did Dick Hoppe in Panda's Thumb (here and here) detailing a story of an anonymous voice mail that tipped Freshwater to a black bag full of evidence clandestinely removed from the school to help Freshwater's case. Uh huh.

Nothing in the whole story makes any sense to me. The items in the bag don't sound like anything that would blow this case wide open, as they say, and if the stack of papers and whistles in the bag were that important, why would the anonymous benefactor wait until the eleventh hour before passing the stuff on. Then there's that whole bit about Freshwater's Pastor Matolyak taking an armed escort while retrieving the bag, in case it was some kind of a trap.

Perhaps it makes some sense viewed through the eyes Freshwater's supporters. As I have mentioned before, some of them seem to view anyone who disagrees with them as the enemy. It's not that great a leap for them to assume that Freshwater's opponents reciprocally view the supporters as enemies. There's no evidence to support this, but one shouldn't let that stand in the way of a strong opinion. If friends of Freshwater thought that they were evading malicious enemies, they might act in the manner described.

As for the stack of papers, whistles and stopwatch contained in the black bag, if they were found at the school, it was probably a case of misplaced boxes rather than anything sinister. Some friend of Freshwater may have stumbled on the items and returned them to Freshwater anonymously because the friend didn't get permission to remove items from the school. The Board has nothing to gain by withholding evidence; that could only lead to more delays and lawsuits.

Another possibility is that the contents of the bag had been in the possession of Freshwater all along, as has been asserted by the board's attorney. If Freshwater removed these items from school, he may have eventually realized their discovery could lead to him being charged with withholding evidence. The anonymous friend would be an invention to explain how the items ended up in Freshwater's hands at this late date.

We may never know the whole truth about the source of the mysterious evidence, but, since a large part of the defense strategy has been to suggest that items in evidence have been doctored or forged, the onus is on them to demonstrate the veracity of their story and to demonstrate that the contents of the bag wasn't tempered with during the time they admit holding and examining it prior to turning it over to the police.

Ultimately, I can't imagine anything the Freshwater team could have acquired that could exonerate John Freshwater. No matter what anyone has to say about a bible, an injured student or evolution vs. intelligent design, what this hearing is actually about is whether or not the school board has just cause to fire John Freshwater. The evidence and testimony, including some very damaging testimony from the defense's own witnesses, seem to indicate that there were valid reasons for the firing.

The new evidence, whether real or concocted, is likely to merely prolong and increase the cost of the hearing and cause greater fiscal damage to the school district. I hope those involved feel it was worth it.

No comments: