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Sunday, April 10, 2011

On counting coup on a kidnapper

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—I used to own a .357 magnum revolver, but not long after my children disappeared in what I had come to learn was a Mormon abduction, I gave the weapon away to my brother, lest I be tempted to use it, either on myself while in the depths of hopelessness and despair, or on one or more of the people responsible for the crimes they were inflicting on my children and my family.

I have never regretted this decision.

As weeks turned into months turned into years, fighting through four jurisdictions in three states, with my children’s kidnappers enjoying safe harbor in theocratic Utah and my children suffering terrible abuse, I had many opportunities to think about this single fact.

There were many long, strongly magnetic moments when the grief and pain were unendurable, and I might have found a solution in that holster long ago had it still been in my possession.

And there were many sharp hours of contemplation, my anger grown cold, considering what events might take place should I decide to go out and impose a form of frontier justice on the criminals who were most responsible for the abduction and the subsequent abuse of my children, none of whom was my former wife.

These persons were Mormon zealots Kory Wright and Steve Nielson and my former brother in law Tony Micheletti, and I contemplated this Trifecta for years, but took no action other than to continue to fight through an indifferent and ineffective legal system, compromised by Mormon cronyism and the paranoid, self-absorbed and delusional mindset that is the foundation of that religion.

Outside of these moments, these hours of weakness and vengefulness, I held to my core integrity, passed down to me from my late parents and grandparents, and it was in those reflections that I found the strength to act honorably, and to work to make something good and lasting result from these terrible crimes.

In 2003, I had the great good fortune to be offered an opportunity to work for Oregon State Senator Avel Louise Gordly, a transformational and widely respected leader known as “the conscience of the Senate”, and it was in that year that we began work on legislation addressing the issue of children abducted by family members and persons into whose care the children had been entrusted.

I have written elsewhere and in depth regarding the history of that legislation, the Senate Task Force on Parental and Family Abduction, the death of my son Aaron Cruz, and the passage of Senate Bill 1041 in 2005, known as “Aaron’s Law” in his honor, and will not repeat it here, other than to make these points:

Aaron’s Law is designed to address the failures of both the family law and criminal law systems in preventing and resolving child abductions that involve known perpetrators, a crime that continues to take place at the rate of more than 200,000 cases each year.

An abduction is a continuing crime, an offense that has a beginning but no real end, a fact in conflict with the reality that law enforcement and the courts take little interest in these cases, hence the large annual numbers.

I am often contacted by parents whose child or children have been taken into concealment by the other parent, looking for advice, running out of hope. Their painful stories all have points in common with mine: law enforcement is apologetic but does not act; they cannot find a lawyer who is willing to listen; when and if they do get before a judge, the judge is indifferent, even judgmental; every avenue burns up precious time, time scalding hot, in weeks and months, and yet there is a child missing….

This adds up to more than 200,000 cases of child abduction a year, every year….

Several years ago, I became aware that Kory Wright, after having concealed my children in his home in Utah, their first stop in Mormon Country, had moved into the Portland area, and was employed at Columbia Ultimate across the river in Vancouver, where his ugly, criminal face was displayed on the company website.

Without Kory Wright, the abduction of my children would not have taken place. Senate Bill 1041 was deliberately written with his actions in mind, criminal acts that Aaron’s Law is designed to prevent, and here he was, having suffered no consequences for his crimes….

I chose October 6, 2009 as A Good Day to Die….

In the days and weeks leading up to the day, I reflected on all that had taken place, thought about a wide range of options, a very wide range….

President Bush had recently been pelted with an Iraqi journalists’ shoes, and I thought of that option, too, the night before the day…but tossing my shoes at Kory Wright would have been poorly understood in American culture….

I decided to count coup, to count coup with a copy of Aaron’s Law, written for Kory Wright and for people like him, as the honorable course…only one criminal in this confrontation…a non-violent but pointed confrontation….

I began the dialogue, in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel, with this statement: “My name is Sean Cruz. You kidnapped my children, motherfucker.”

An abduction is a continuing crime, and a criminal is responsible for all the damage that ensues from his or her criminal act….

Many a grieved parent would have brought a weapon, would have made the news for a couple of days, maybe…I brought the law instead, Aaron’s Law….

Here is the series of essays that described the incident and the ensuing trial (note that the “slap” was a rhetorical slap, not physical; the rhetoric created some confusion at trial):

Sean Cruz confronts man who kidnapped his children

Kidnapper confrontation earns commendation from judge

Not guilty!

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