Public case, private pain

Ongoing Scott Dean case a private tragedy on the public stage

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It’s the case of a former public official, tried in a public courtroom, involving alleged salacious acts that shock the public’s conscience.

The 2011 child molestation conviction and 20-year sentence of former Columbia County Commissioner and Harlem Mayor Scott Dean, and the post-trial roller-coaster his supporters have been on ever since – his accuser has recanted, but he was denied a new trial on Thursday – makes for repeated news and heated opinions.

But the truth is, at bottom this is a private tragedy played out on a public stage – and very few of us are privy to the script.

And much more remains to be played out.

We don’t envy the courts’ task of sorting this out on appeal. Which to believe? The accusation and subsequent damning trial testimony, or the now-19-year-old adopted daughter’s recantation?

We can understand the courts’ hesitation to have a
retrial every time a witness recants testimony. Why would a recantation – which might be motivated by regret or guilt – be anymore credible than one’s sworn testimony at trial?

In addition, apparently the law requires the recanting witness to be convicted of perjury before a new trial can be had.

On the other hand, Dean’s supporters understandably can’t fathom how someone can be in prison when an alleged victim claims the offense never occurred. Moreover, they wonder how the girl’s recantation, issued in July 2012, got so evidently lost in the labyrinth of the state social work bureaucracy. Have they just seen this drama before?

We’re in the opinion business, but if the courts themselves are having this much of a difficulty sorting things out, how can folks who didn’t sit through the trial and subsequent hearings possibly know the truth?

Perhaps the best we can do is to pray for justice – whatever that may be – and for healing for all those involved.

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deestafford
18412
Points
deestafford 11/04/13 - 12:59 am
5
1

Why would justice not be served (and that is what society

seeks) by having a new trial? From what I read there is reasonable doubt in this case. Also, from what I hear being a child molester in prison puts one at the bottom of the totem pole as far as prison status is concerned. No man should have to endure that if he is not guilty.

mll
471
Points
mll 11/04/13 - 10:22 am
7
0

"Public case, private pain"?

I would think the pain should not be limited to the individuals family & friends in this case. The public should share in it also. The public or parts of it was responsible for the conviction. When the media convicts a man prior to a trial & the public allows it & the jury allows the public to color their decision that is public pain & shame. A local radio media personality so hated Dean that he colored his broadcasts to condemn Dean for being arrogant, that's public pain & shame. I would say the public in this case is responsible for much of the pain. That same public should demand justice for Dean as what was done to him can be done to them.

grouse
1593
Points
grouse 11/04/13 - 10:27 am
0
0

Yeah, prayer, that will do a

Unpublished

Yeah, prayer... that will do a lot of good...

dichotomy
26830
Points
dichotomy 11/04/13 - 12:04 pm
6
0

Whether or not Dean did

Whether or not Dean did anything has become almost irrelevant. The issue now is that the ACCUSER has recanted and, if true, there was NO CRIME in the first place. If the LAW and the JUDGE say that Dean cannot get a retrial until the ACCUSER convicts HERSELF of a charge of PERJURY, when the prosecutor apparently will not even charge her, then the LAW and the JUDGE are both STUPID. And since the prosecutor and child welfare folks apparently tried to cover up the recantation, they may well be CRIMINALS.

I do not know about you folks but our UNjustice system does not give me a warm fuzzy. It all just goes to show what a "technicality" JOKE our prosecutors and judges have become and why the vast majority of Americans do not have any confidence in the judicial system.

I guess this stupid GA law means that if you were ever convicted of murdering someone on circumstantial evidence but the body was never found, if that person later showed up alive and well they would not let you out of jail until they put the "murder" victim, or maybe the prosecutor, in jail for perjury.

Give the man a retrial judge.......he has more credibility than you do right now. He certainly has more credibility than the ACCUSER, the prosecutor, and the child welfare regime.

Little Lamb
40293
Points
Little Lamb 11/04/13 - 03:25 pm
3
0

Not so fast

From the editorial:

We can understand the courts’ hesitation to have a retrial every time a witness recants testimony.

Wait a minute. Silda Dean is more than a mere eyewitness. She is (or was) Scott Dean's accuser. The District Attorney presented her as a victim; a victim helplessly imprisoned by a lecherous child molester in a home where a mousy wife looked the other way if not actively abetted the heinous crime.

In how many other crimes have you seen the District Attorney actually called to the stand to attempt to impeach a defense witness?

Dean's trial was a vendetta in a kangaroo court. It is time to get to the bottom of the recantation and let justice be served, either by releasing him with time served, or by having a new trial outside the Augusta judicial circuit.

effete elitist liberal
2790
Points
effete elitist liberal 11/04/13 - 03:37 pm
3
0

pray for justice??

Is this the best ACES can come up with? Seriously?

The source of injustice in this case now lies in the DA's office:
"District Attorney Ashley Wright said she has no intention of pursuing perjury charges against Silda Dean." There you have it. The law holds that Dean cannot have a retrial unless Silda Dean is convicted of perjury, and the DA refuses to prosecute. In this respect, our "justice system" is flawed. The DA is caught in the middle of a conflict of interests, pursuing justice for Scott Dean and protecting the District Attorney's office. DA's exist to win prosecutorial cases, and once they have their verdicts, they rarely will risk reversing them. Any decision about retrial in this case and others like it should should be made by an impartial third-person arbitrator, someone with no connection to either the prosecution or the defense. Ashley Wright is prejudiced and will never pursue justice for Scott Dean.

billcass
549
Points
billcass 11/04/13 - 06:19 pm
0
2

Analogy

I have no idea of whether Scott Dean is guilty. But before we start saying that every time a victim recants the guy should get a new trial, think about domestic violence cases. Any idea how often a battered wife "recants" and says her husband didn't do it? It happens all the time. But we do not go around voiding all of their convictions because we know that sometimes there are ulterior motives that cause her to recant. So, again, let's not be so quick to say her recantation proves his innocence.

416
Points
Lakeside95 11/04/13 - 06:53 pm
2
0

Not asking for declaration of innocence...

At no time during this farce dud Scott Dean want anything other than a fair trial. He didn't get one.

At no time since Silda Dean recanted her story and admitted perjury did Scott Dean want an unconditional release.

Scott Dean has spent the last 23 months in state prison. The only request he has made is that he receive a FAIR trial.

What, if anything, would the community, court system or the public lose if Dean were awarded a new trial?

Nothing.

If he was again found guilty, he will be justly punished. Yet if he is found not guilty, an innocent man can attempt to regain some semblance of his life back.

By allowing a new trial, the questions of ethics, media involvement, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct will be answered. Now those questions will hang over the DA and Judge as they head into an election year.

mll
471
Points
mll 11/04/13 - 07:52 pm
2
0

I did sit through this trial & all the subsequent hearings....

I do have an opinion & it's not a good one for this judicial circuit. Dean's attorney was hardly allowed to speak until the summation, the DA actually read his. I've never heard such a amateur summary from any DA much less a winning one. But it was apparent from the beginning this was a trial where one side was allowed to present evidence, the other was not. This was a trial where the DA had all the balls in his court & the defending attorney had none. Dean's attorney was outgunned before he started. The judge manipulated the entire proceeding, giving leeway to the DA, & hand tying the defense.
Also, where are the attorneys & judges in this two county city that privately condemned the proceedings but have refused to publicly state for the record that the trial was biased. I guess ethics are only displayed at election time or for personal gain. Even some in the media have contacted members of the family & expressed their anger & frustration over the trial & verdict, none have done so in public. I guess their ethics only go so far too. I am thoroughly disgusted by all of those that have the power to make a difference in this debacle yet have chosen to cover their own hides & not speak out. The shame of this entire charade covers a lot of folks in this area, too many to give anyone confidence in our legal system.

416
Points
Lakeside95 11/04/13 - 10:42 pm
0
0

Open Records

As a news agency, the Chronicle would have the ability to use Open Records Requests to look into the Scott Dean case. If your editorial board is so worried that there is information that is hidden...feel free to ask for the court records.

Please don't try to use the 'there could be something the public doesn't know' excuse for not taking a stand on behalf of an innocent man.

mll
471
Points
mll 11/04/13 - 11:33 pm
0
0

Lakeside95

"What, if anything, would the community, court system or the public lose if Dean were awarded a new trial?" I'll tell you what the court system, the community, & the public would lose. Several people in the court system would lose their credibility & could risk losing an election. There were several improprieties in the first trial that could cause possible 'problems'. The community & the public would lose faith in the judicial system & would learn to question those in power & everyone in the local media. People that spouted opinions about Dean who had no idea what they were talking about would lose credibility with their friends. Folks that proclaimed his guilt like some in the media would turn up with egg on their faces. Yes, Lakeside95 it is far better for the judicial system, two county DEFACS offices, the community & the public for Dean to remain behind bars. It would make them all look like fools with an agenda if Dean won a new trial & was free again. Only his family & closest loyal friends want him out.

mll
471
Points
mll 11/04/13 - 11:50 pm
0
0

Lakeside95, another list of people

that most likely want Dean to remain in prison are his political opponents. There were several in Columbia County politics that might want Dean to be permanently sullied. Dean's rapid rise from city council, then mayor in Harlem to county commissioner was not well thought of by many. Whether it was sour grapes or professional jealousy is a question. I believe that in some cases the rapid rise & popularity of Dean to the constituents was alarming to some as his young age could only mean that there was a definite possibility that he might in the future run for state office or even higher, say 10th district congress & win. I also believe that Dean was too honest in his voting record & could not be bought with favors. His family would only serve to make him look better in the public eye so it was an added benefit to have family members turn on him. This opportunity could not be passed over & somehow it had to be permanent. Removing Dean had so many benefits & as we all know most of his 'high end' friends left him high & dry. There were just too many benefits for so many -that pretty much guaranteed his conviction.

mll
471
Points
mll 11/05/13 - 12:03 am
0
0

Lakeside95

I've heard that you're pretty involved in politics, if you don't believe me, make a list of all the big names in Columbia County politics. Make another list of the people that support them especially in terms of contributions. Then count off the people that are better off with Dean out of the way & a second list of who would not benefit by his departure. My guess the first list will be longer than the second.

mll
471
Points
mll 11/05/13 - 12:26 am
0
0

Lakeside95

Then after you have those two lists & the list of major contributors check out their personal friends & those with judicial or county employee connections. Another guess is that you'll end up with one major list with everyone connected in several ways. Kind of like the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Only this one isn't funny, it's tragic & scary.

416
Points
Lakeside95 11/05/13 - 06:39 am
0
0

Curious

If everything that the above posts state is true, then who gained from his withdrawl from politics?
Bill Morris became the District 4 Commissioner, yet he could have gained more clout had he run against Dean in the '10 primary. After some thought and research, it seems that the concern wasn't him continuing to be Commissioner, it was that he could have run for higher office and won. An uncontrollable guy who's votes aren't for sale...that was the issue.

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