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Monday, November 26, 2012

The Wisdom and the Moral Authority


By Sean Aaron Cruz

Portland, Oregon

“Please tell Sean that I also wish him the best. I have also followed his career and believe his personal experience has given him the wisdom and the moral authority necessary  to make a real difference in making Oregon safer for our children.” –Judge Jim Fun, Washington County Circuit Court, January 24, 2007

I received this message from Judge Fun’s judicial assistant. He was writing in regard to the work I had done on the issue of child abduction since my four children disappeared into Utah in a Mormon kidnapping in 1996. Each year, more than 200,000 U.S. children are abducted by their own parents, family members or persons known to the family, as in church-sponsored abductions.

Judge Fun knew the issue and my family’s case very well. In 1997, he had been the Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted the 1st degree Custodial Interference case against my former wife, which came to trial nearly a year and a half after my kids had disappeared, and who were still being held incommunicado in Utah at the time of trial. He had noticed during jury selection that the defense referred to a Washington County LDS church roster, and that there were a number of Mormons on the jury. You know how that turned out.





But Judge Fun was writing about what I had done since then, after the failures of both the criminal and family law systems in the wake of the abduction of my children, with that experience and with that moral authority:

The first and most important thing I accomplished was to stay alive, to survive.

I’m a writer, an essayist and a blogger, so I wrote and I blogged, posting a couple of hundred essays over the years. I had alerted and informed Senator Avel Gordly about the issue long before she hired me to serve as her legislative staff in 2003. That year, I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Joint Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee, and Senate President Peter Courtney appointed the Senate President’s Interim Task Force on Parental and Family Abduction to examine the issue and report its findings to the 2005 legislature.

I testified before the Task Force in 2004, describing how both the family law and criminal law systems and an order for joint custody had failed to protect my children and my family. The fact is these systems fail in non-stranger abduction cases far more often than they succeed, which explains the high numbers.

The Task Force found that the experience of abduction by any person is harmful to the child, and as abusive as any other form of child abuse. The consequences of this abuse are life long.

In 2005, Senator Gordly assigned me to lead the workgroup on her landmark Senate Bill 1041. In that legislative session, I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Rules Committee and before the House State and Federal Affairs Committee as we moved SB 1041 through the building.

The bill went through ten major rewrites on its way to passage on a dramatic, unanimous House vote on the last day of the 2005 legislative session. It immediately became known as Aaron’s Law, in memory of my late son Aaron Cruz, who had died in Payson, Utah, earlier that year, a direct consequence of his abduction and forced immersion into Mormonism.

With Aaron’s Law (ORS 30.868), Oregon became the first state in the nation where child abduction creates a civil cause of action, providing kidnapping victims with new tools to see justice served, and real deterrents to abducting a child in the first place.

Now, in 2012, Aaron’s Law is seeing its first usage in the Kyron Horman case, first such case in the nation, a civil lawsuit for the crime of custodial interference in the 1st degree.

I’ve written extensively about the particulars of Aaron’s Law at www.blogoliticalsean.blogspot.com and www.AaronsLaw.blogspot.com

Earlier this year, I took my son Aaron’s name as my own middle name.

So, all this to say that many of my readers who know me through my work on issues other than child abduction and who are unfamiliar with the story of the abduction of my children may think that I might be unfair or exaggerating where I refer to Mormons and Mormonism, but I want you all to know that I am speaking from experience and with moral authority.





Monday, October 29, 2012

Aaron's Law in statute: ORS 30.868


Are your children and grandchildren protected from parental, family, church-sponsored or other non-stranger abductions? Only if the child(ren) is(are) abducted from Oregon.

Talk to your legislators and Congressional delegation. Here is the model legislation:

30.868 Civil damages for custodial interference; attorney fees. (1) Any of the following persons may bring a civil action to secure damages against any and all persons whose actions are unlawful under ORS 163.257 (1)(a):

http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/030.html






Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Aaron's Law at work: Taking the 5th 142 times



By Sean Aaron Cruz

October 24, 2012

Portland, Oregon

The disappearance of 8-year old Kyron Horman more than two years ago triggered the largest search effort in Oregon history. No criminal charges have been filed in the case, and police have released an age-progressed image of what they think Kyron might look like today.

Last seen in the company of his step mom, Terri Horman, the multiple searches turned up no trace of the child. Law enforcement has named no suspects or persons of interest, officially, although those terms most certainly describe Kyron’s step mom and her close friend DeDe Spicher, unofficially.

Both women have stubbornly refused to account for their whereabouts during the crucial two hours on the morning of June 4, 2010, when Kyron vanished from the face of the earth, as did these two women, albeit temporarily in their cases.

Earlier this year, with both the criminal and family law courts at a stand still, unable to move forward, Kyron’s mother Desiree Young filed a civil suit against Terri Horman, alleging that the step mom knows where Kyron is and whether he is dead or alive.

As reported in The Oregonian yesterday, DeDe Spicher invoked the 5th Amendment 142 times during a recent deposition.


Spicher declined to answer any questions posed by Young's lawyers on Oct. 5 that involved Terri Horman, Kyron's stepmom, or Kyron -- each time asserting her Fifth Amendment constitutional right not to incriminate herself. 

Spicher also declined to answer questions about where she was on June 4, 2010. 

"Are you aware that Kyron Horman has disappeared?" asked Young's lawyer, Elden Rosenthal. 

"I'm asserting my Fifth Amendment right," Spicher replied, according to a transcript filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court. 

Spicher even declined to identify a photo of Terri Horman, or whether she knew Terri Horman's husband, Kaine Horman, Young, or had ever met Kyron. 



This civil suit is authorized by Senate Bill 1041 (2005), known as “Aaron’s Law” for my late son Aaron Cruz, who died earlier that year as a consequence of his abduction from Oregon in 1996.

With the passage of Aaron’s Law, Oregon became the first state in the nation where child abduction creates a civil cause of action, providing family members with new tools when law enforcement and the courts fail to act, and yet there is a child missing.

The civil suit filed by Kyron’s family is the first under Aaron’s Law, and thus first in the nation. “There is no other case like this,” the judge hearing the suit said, and as this process moves forward, there will be many places where precedent will be established and challenged.

Already there is the question of whether a person (Spicher) can take the 5th in civil court to shield another person (Terri Horman) when neither has been charged with a crime or has been named by law enforcement as a suspect or person of interest.

Aaron’s Law is triggered when a person violates Oregon’s Custodial Interference I statute by knowingly and wilfully “tak(ing), entic(ing) or keep(ing) a (child) from the (child’s) lawful custodian or in violation of a valid joint custody order.”

A violation of Custodial Interference I is a Class B felony, good for up to five years in prison, but the statute is rarely enforced.

Historically, there is a high degree of certitude that a parent or family member who abducts their own child will suffer few consequences, and those only after court processes that stretch out for years and drain every economic resource and emotional reservoir available to the family.

Aaron’s Law is designed to change these circumstances.

My own four children disappeared into Utah in an abduction organized by Mormon officials in three states, and despite an order for joint custody that had kept their lives orderly and secure for five years prior to their abduction.

Aaron’s Law is designed to reach anyone, any person or organization, who provides logistical, planning, financial or any other support to the abduction of an Oregon child, through a civil process.

The civil suit empowers Kyron’s mother to depose witnesses, and DeDe Spicher, who is not a family member, unrelated to Kyron Horman in any way, connected only through Terri Horman, is about to become a very public example of the power of Aaron’s Law.

This is how Aaron’s Law will eventually have a deterrent effect.

I hope that the principles of Aaron’s Law will be enacted in every state, protecting every child in the nation. Abducted children are very nearly always taken out of their home state, and international abductions have been trending upwards for years.

If you participate in the abduction of an Oregon child, be prepared to squirm and reach for that Fifth Amendment. Think about whether it is worth it before you act.

Aaron's Law is waiting for you now.

~~~~~

Sean Aaron Cruz, serving as Oregon State Senator Avel Louise Gordly’s chief of staff, led her 2005 workgroup on parental and family abductions, which culminated in the passage of Senate Bill 1041 on a dramatic unanimous vote in the Oregon House of Representatives.




Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signs SB 1041 “Aaron’s Law”


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Mother of missing child Kyron Horman claims Constitutional rights



Governor Ted Kulongoski signed Aaron's Law in 2005
 Desiree Young, whose 7 year-old-son Kyron Horman was kidnapped more than two years ago, filed motions in Multnomah County Circuit Court today, arguing that the civil case should be heard, and that further delay would violate her constitutional rights.

Terri Horman, stepmother of Kyron Horman and the defendant in the civil case, has filed a motion to abate the civil proceedings for at least two years, asserting that her constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment are threatened.


And thus, the opening salvos in the Kyron Horman civil suit will address issues of rights guaranteed by the US and Oregon constitutions.


This civil suit is the first filed under Oregon’s landmark 2005 child abduction statute, Senate Bill 1041, known as “Aaron’s Law”, which provides child abduction victims with new tools when the criminal and family law systems are unable to move forward, and yet there is a missing child.



Under Aaron’s Law, Oregon became the first and (so far) only state in the nation where abducting a child (violating Oregon’s Custodial Interference in the First Degree statue) creates a civil cause of action.


Thus, everything that happens going forward in the Kyron Horman case will be first in the nation.


Local Portland news channels are beginning to devote more resources to understanding the issues that will be at trial, and there will be many.


KGW-8, for example, consulted with Tung Yin, a legal scholar at Lewis and Clark Law School in this story filed by Nigel Duara of the Associated Press:

http://www.kgw.com/news/Kyron-Hormans-mother-fights-lawsuit-delay-164788256.html


The story includes a link to the legal arguments filed today.


Aaron’s Law was written with Constitutional rights in mind, including the right to parent your child without criminal interference from third parties, and the child’s right NOT to be abducted by ANYONE, including friends, neighbors, hangers-on, church groups, and other criminal associates.


The nation’s criminal and family law systems treat the issue of time, the value of time in a child’s life and in the child’s relationships to parents and family, as if time has no importance.

Both systems also provide few tools or options for victims, who are usually put in the position of helpless spectators to processes that are failing to produce a missing child.


Aaron’s Law provides new tools to resolve and deter child abduction cases.


Aaron Cruz died in Payson, Utah from long term medical neglect, abandonment and heartbreak in the course of his Mormon abduction and the shunning imposed on his father by officials in the Mormon Church.


Aaron’s Law also recognizes that many child abductions involve multiple perpetrators, and is triggered by the Oregon Custodial Interference I statute that reaches to any person who takes, entices or keeps a child wrongfully, who provides planning, logistical or financial support to the abduction.


Aaron’s Law followed on the work of the Senate President's 2004 Interim Task Force on Parental and Family Abductions, and was informed by Sean Aaron Cruz’s personal experiences as the father of four children who disappeared from Oregon in a Mormon abduction that began in 1996.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Understanding Aaron's Law, pt 1: The Trigger

 
By Sean Aaron Cruz
July 29, 2012
Portland, Oregon—

The recent civil court motions in Multnomah County in the Kyron Horman kidnapping case are the first filings under Aaron’s Law since the statute was enacted in 2005, when Oregon became the first and only state in the nation to create a civil cause of action for the crime of Custodial Interference in the First Degree.

The number one reason that it has taken so long for a case to be brought forward under Aaron’s Law is because so few people know it exists.  That is about to change, is already changing now.

There are a lot of people close to the Kyron Horman case looking at a completely new application of law right now, intruding at a time when both the criminal and family law systems are failing and time is marching on, and yet a child is still missing, and note the use of the word “intruding.”

Fewer still understand how Aaron’s Law works. The Kyron Horman case is the first of its kind in the nation, and there will be a great many legal precedents set here as the process outlined under Aaron's Law unfolds.

Attention is about to go nationwide. Believe it! There is a presidential election at stake, with a Mormon candidate. This is gonna be good! God does move in mysterious ways, and in this presidential election, He is gonna punish the wicked!

You bet Aaron’s Law is an intrusion!

Aaron’s Law was written for times like these!

Aaron’s Law gives a parent the power to intrude, the power to assert some control into a system that is failing to produce a missing child and that forces a parent to sit on the sidelines and wait, to wait perhaps forever.

Nothing works in a kidnapper’s favor more than delaying proceedings, two years so far in the Kyron Horman case.

This is a good time to explain the law:

Oregon’s landmark anti-kidnapping statute, Senate Bill 1041 “Aaron’s Law”, is triggered when “a person” commits the crime of Custodial Interference in the First Degree.

1. Who: Note that the statute applies to “a person,” making no exceptions.

“A person”…”any person”…”each person”…”every person”…all the same. This reaches to all of those religious zealots and hypocrites out there...a church shunning can very well be a kidnapping.

2. What: DO NOT take, entice, keep (or conceal) a child in violation of these criminal statutes.

“A person commits the crime of custodial interference…if, knowing or having reason to know that the person has no legal right to do so, the person takes, entices or keeps another person from the other person’s lawful custodian or in violation of a valid joint custody order with intent to hold the other person permanently or for a protracted period.”

3. Where: DO NOT remove the child(ren) from the state of Oregon.

4. Why not: DO NOT expose the child(ren) “to a substantial risk of illness or physical injury.”

Abduction by any person—including a parent—is known to be as abusive to the child as any other form of abuse, and is often the gateway to other forms of child abuse.

If Aaron’s Law had been on the books in 1995, then my son would still be alive today, and my family unbroken.

Here are the key elements of Oregon’s Custodial Interference laws:


ORS 163.257 Custodial interference in the first degree.

(1) A person commits the crime of custodial interference in the first degree if the person violates ORS 163.245 (Custodial Interference in the second degree) and:

(a) Causes the person taken, enticed or kept from the lawful custodian or inviolation of a valid joint custody order to be removed from the state; or

(b) Exposes that person to a substantial risk of illness or physical injury.

(3) Custodial interference in the first degree is a Class B felony.


ORS 163.245 Custodial interference in the second degree.

(1) A person commits the crime of custodial interference in the second degree if, knowing or having reason to know that the person has no legal right to do so, the person takes, entices or keeps another person from the other person’s lawful custodian or in violation of a valid joint custody order with intent to hold the other person permanently or for a protracted period.

(3) Custodial interference in the second degree is a Class C felony.

~~~~~

Sean Cruz is the father of four children who disappeared from their Oregon homes into Utah in a Mormon abduction in 1996.

He led the legislative work group on Senate Bill 1041 in 2005, which provides the statutory basis for the civil action filed by Kyron Horman's family.

The bill followed on the work of the Senate President's 2004 Interim Task Force on Parental and Family Abductions, and was informed by his personal experiences as the father of four children who disappeared from Oregon in a Mormon abduction that began in 1996.

SB 1041 became known as "Aaron's Law" in memory of his late son Aaron Cruz (who died in the course of his abduction) at the same time that it passed the House on a unanimous vote, and Governor Kulongoski signed the bill into law with Aaron's photograph on his desk.

Having fought through four jurisdictions in three states against a phalanx of Mormon lawyers who used every trick in the book to delay proceedings in the case of the Cruz kidnappings, Aaron's Law anticipated where the Kyron Horman case would be today.

They are going to remember you now, son....



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On becoming a racial slur, leading grown men to greatness and the shame of a nation

By Sean Aaron Cruz
July 24, 2012

Portland, Oregon—

A story about a young man’s aspirations to become a racial slur appeared in the Washington Post recently.

It is difficult to understand how a talented, intelligent young person with such strong family, church and community supports could go so far wrong, and without resorting to crime, substance abuse or gang activity.

But what is so shocking about the story is that those very supports were what set him on his course in the first place, what guided him to aspire to wear such a shameful label, and despite the fact that they were all strongly committed to notions of civil rights and the dignity of all people.

His church, family, school and community together shaped his attitudes and understanding of racism, just as they are shaping the next generation of children to also shamelessly aspire to be a racial slur when they grow up, to be a professional racial slur.

Being employed as a racial slur in the United States can pay really, really well and bring great status far and wide, particularly since the company is located in the nation’s Capitol.

The Post described the young man’s journey to greatness as a racial slur: “But through it all, the son of two retired Army sergeants has pursued one mission above all others: Becoming a Redskin. And not just a Redskin, but someone who can lead grown men to greatness, reward the faith the organization has shown in him and live up to the expectations of a fan base that has come to see him as nothing less than the franchise’s savior."

The Post quoted the young man: "...Griffin laughed, he later recalled, but he was dead serious about his message: I want to be a Redskin."

The American continent's original racial slur is enshrined in the nation's capitol as "one of the most valuable franchises in US pro sports."

And it is to the shame of us all.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/becoming-a-redskin-robert-griffin-iiis-journey-from-texas-to-washington/2012/07/20/gJQAg5LCyW_story_1.html"

Monday, July 23, 2012

There is a sound in the City of Portland, a name in the wind


There’s a sound in the City of Portland
There’s a name in the wind….

By Sean Aaron Cruz

July 23, 2012

Portland, Oregon—

There’s a sound in the City of Portland, a name and a calling….

The Community is beginning to call that name, emailing that name, FB-circulating that name, already committing to write that name down on their ballots under the category, “Mayor of the City of Portland,” and to put those ballots into the mail.

When you think about the qualifications you would like to see in the person moving into the Mayor’s office next January, the person who will become our City’s Ambassador-in-Chief, our next Police Commissioner, and you had the opportunity to write the best-qualified person’s name down on your ballot, well, the name in the wind is none other than Roy Jay.

The Community is calling your name, Roy.

Roy Jay. Roy Jay is the man for the time. I’ve known Roy Jay as a friend and colleague for more than fifteen years.

And he has my vote for Mayor of the City of Portland.

Roy Jay has helped thousands of people turn their lives around through Operation Clean Slate. These are real numbers. See for yourself here:



I know that Roy Jay is currently residing in a home that is 16 blocks outside of the Portland city limits, but the thing is the house is up on that hill and he can see Portland from his porch!

Those of us who know Roy Jay know that Roy Jay has traveled the world on behalf of the City of Portland and worked tirelessly on behalf of the whole city for his entire life, and we know that Roy Jay has never left the City of Portland.

So, I am going to forgive Roy Jay for this minor indiscretion and write Roy Jay for Mayor on my ballot and let the courts sort this thing out in November.

 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Love Notes and Sweet Spots



By Sean Aaron Cruz

July 14, 2012

Portland, Oregon—

I grew up in the sweet spot of middle class America.

In terms of geography, in a small town county seat on the edge of the Central Valley amid fruit orchards and vast fields of cucumbers and tomatoes, less than an hour away equidistant from the cosmopolitan wonders of San Francisco by either the Bay or Golden Gate Bridges.

While the fishery within San Francisco Bay was already dying, there was still enough fish in the nearby Pacific Ocean to sustain a real working fleet and Fisherman’s Wharf was worthy of its name, boasting a truly world class open-air fish market. You had to see it, to smell it, to touch it, to know how special this was, how sweet.

In terms of weather, one could hardly do better, anywhere, than Fairfield California (except for the prevailing winds that were reliable enough for the USAF to want to build Travis AFB there east of the town). Those winds would never turn into hurricanes or tornadoes, but could surely drive a person to the brink of low-intensity insanity.

In terms of education, in a time when California set the standard, a truly world-class system from k-12 through an array of community college and university options, before the rise of Reaganism and the passage of Proposition 13 which together eviscerated the system. It was a time when the nation invested in educating its young and valued its professional teaching infrastructure.

I played trumpet in school bands from the fourth grade on, and every school in the state had a band. A student never doubted that there would be band next year, nor art nor drama nor debate club, and so on….

In terms of American history, the UC Berkeley campus and the San Francisco Bay Area were Sweet-Spot centers of the Free Speech and Civil Rights movements, and the generation ahead of me did much to change the framework of American politics for generations to follow.

I came of age in the Summer of Love, the Sweet Spot of American sexuality, a time when the Pill was in common use and HIV and AIDS infections yet unknown, and before the epidemic of hard drugs, cocaine in particular, ended the glory days of Woodstock and the Haight-Ashbury.

You had to be there, I think, to know how sweet this time was. We will never see those days again.

In terms of music and culture, there was the Fillmore and the legendary Bill Graham, and there was the Avalon Ballroom and all of those incredible game-changing bands, all in the context of the aforementioned sweet spot of American sexuality and the political and social struggles of the time.

The long deadly wars in Viet Nam and across Southeast Asia, the involuntary draft, Nixon and Reagan in the White House,and the ongoing struggle to gain basic civil rights across the nation were the obverse of the Sweet Spot, the bloody, hate-mongering incarnations of selfishness and evil, but there was plenty to be happy about.

To drive your girl into San Francisco with the top down, the windows open, pioneering album-oriented FM radio providing the sound track (sometimes with an LSD boost), an infinite array of adventures lay ahead, and it was truly a Very Sweet Spot to be in….

I was blessed to grow up in a Sweet Spot of family values also, having parents who cared for my brother Dana and I more than anything else in the world, who always ended a note or letter to us with the same word, “Love”, and who very nearly always ended conversations the same way, with the words “I love you.”

Our Dad, John Paul Cruz, died suddenly of a heart attack in July 1975 at the age of 52. He had suffered a brutal chest injury a few years prior in a high-speed collision while on duty as a patrol officer with the Solano County Sheriff’s Office that cost him his career, and afterwards a series of heart attacks. Surgery techniques that could have saved his life did not become available for another couple of decades.

My father’s abrupt death ended the Sweet Spot for me, wiped the smile off of my face for a long, long time.

I lost interest in being a musician that summer, sold my guitars and amps, kept only the beat-up trumpet my folks bought for me in the fourth grade and the trumpet I used to gig with, and would not play in a band again or in public for more than twenty years.

I lost my anchor when my father passed.

Within a few months of his death, I had transitioned from pot-smoking, wine-drinking happy-go-lucky psychedelic University student Chicano hippie musician who had only occasionally encountered cocaine, to self-medicating self-destructive Chicano-looking-for-adventure-in-the-course-of-maintaining-a-habit-of-coke-and-hard-liquor.

I lost my taste for wine. Wine would not get me where I wanted to be fast enough, and scoring cocaine in high-risk situations replaced the adrenaline rush I used to get from performing in public.

I came to hate the person I had become, and dealt with that tension by overwhelming it with cognac, tequila and Miami Vice-level cocaine usage and related risky behaviors. This did not make matters better in any way. There were many times that I thought I might be dying from an overdose.

This period came to an end when my wife and I became parents with our first born child in 1978, both of us still severely addicted to cocaine and the fast lifestyle that came with it, but determined to be real parents.

It took a couple of years for us to clean up permanently, a process of leaving behind probably 90% of our friends and all of our acquaintances, but that we did do, and our children never experienced any part of the dependency years.

My parents were fabulous parenting role models, and my children and I always ended our conversations with the words “I love you.”

My mom wrote about this years later, after my four children had disappeared into Utah in a Mormon abduction, about how often she had heard my children and I speak those words, and how often she would see them in the notes and letters and cards we wrote to each other.

Mom had herself grown up in a household where those words were rarely used, she wrote. Her own mother had died of pneumonia when she was just twelve, and her father was abusive, a man whose death she did not mourn. I have long ago forgotten his name.

I was able to recover my son Aaron from the Mormon abduction in 2003. He was the only one of my four children that I was able to make any contact with after their disappearance into theocratic Utah, and that only a few times.

The Mormons were very effective in preventing contact and communication between my children and I, and claimed in all sorts of court documents, as I fought for contact through four jurisdictions in three states, that my children and I had never had any real relationships.

Most of the letters I mailed to my children in the wake of their abduction were intercepted by Mormons both in Utah and by Evelyn Taylor, the Mormon Relief Society President in Hillsboro Oregon. Although my children were abducted to Utah from their home in Hillsboro, mail addressed to them was forwarded not to Utah, but to Evelyn Taylor’s home.

Checks my mother and I sent to my children went uncashed and unreturned.

And the Mormons did not allow a single letter, note or card from my children to leave Utah.

This is how a Mormon shunning works. All contact is forbidden.

But Aaron and I always ended our conversations with the same words, “I love you”, and “I love you too.”

Our notes and letters to each other also ended with the word “love”.

That is the story of this note below, this exchange of love notes between Aaron and I in 2003, on a day when I left early for my job as Senator Avel Gordly’s chief of staff during the 2003 legislative session.

It began with his admonition to his friends Abby and Justin (who were both also badly in need of rescue), “Don’t throw away this juice.”

I added a $20 bill with the words “Love, Dad.”

Aaron wrote his reply, “Thank you, Love, Aaron.”

Later, I attached our mutual love note to the front of the refrigerator with two “Kids Need Both Parents” stickers, where it remains today.






Tuesday, June 05, 2012

For Kyron Horman


By Sean Cruz


Portland, Oregon—


An age-progressed image is heartbreaking in so many ways

You see so much of your child's life is gone, and for what

You feel your child's pain in ways that most will never know

Along with your own



It is painful to remember the good times

Years ago, you could take a deep breath

But now your chest is too tight all the time

A certain leaden numbness

Encases your heart full of tears

And today feels just like yesterday



An artist’s idea consummately skillful

Took your breath away the first time you saw it

And now you dread the need for another

May your baby boy come home





Sunday, June 03, 2012

Breakthrough! Landmark Oregon child abduction suit filed under Aaron's Law!

by Sean Cruz
Portland, Oregon--Desiree Young, the mother of Kyron Horman, filed a civil suit against her son's stepmother under Senate Bill 1041 (2005), Oregon's landmark child abduction statute, known as "Aaron's Law" after my son Aaron Cruz, who died as a consequence of his abduction by members of the Mormon church enforcing a shunning.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/06/desiree_young_seeks_10_million.html

Aaron's Law provides new tools for kidnapping victims to resolve and deter abductions, and to hold kidnappers accountable, particularly when law enforcement and the courts are unwilling or unable to act.

The US Department of Justice reports that more than 200,000 US children suffer the trauma of kidnapping by a parent, family member or religious organization every year, with growing numbers of children taken to foreign countries.

The filing of the Horman suit, regardless of the length of time it takes or its outcome is likely to serve a greater good in deterring others from committing similar crimes.

Under Aaron's Law, persons who provide assistance to an abduction, whether logistical, planning or financial, are liable for damages, including punitive damages for their participation in the crime.

The Hormon case and the Marenco case both illustrate how difficult non-stranger child abduction cases are to resolve, and in all cases the experience of abduction and loss is so traumatic to the child that focus needs to be on deterrence.

Consider these facts:

In the past five years, the only child to be recognized as missing by the Oregon State Police Missing Children Clearinghouse is Kyron Hormon.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children currently identifies 17 Oregon missing children, none of whom are listed on the Oregon State Police Missing Children site. Are those children missing or not? Ask the parents who are looking for them.

An international child abduction case that originated in Oregon was resolved just last week with the assistance of more than a dozen police agencies, with the Oregon State Police conspicuously absent from the credits.

The Marenco child was listed by the National Center, but not by the Oregon State Police over the year and a half that the child was known to be abducted.

What does an abducted child have to do to get some OSP attention?

More on this later.





In 2005, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed Senate Bill 1041 with my son Aaron's picture on his desk

Thursday, May 31, 2012

RomneyGate looms: The Governor's secret hard drives

by Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon--

When Mitt Romney left the governor’s office, he took the unprecedented step of taking all of his staff hard drives and the mail server with him, despite the fact that the drives and all of the information on them were the property of the People of the State of Massachusetts.

What was so damaging that he had to take the physical drives, even the mail server of his entire staff? The commingling of State of Massachusetts and Mormon business? Orders from Salt Lake City? Once a Bishop, always a Bishop, as is said….

Those hard drives had serial numbers, are easily identified. Did they all share the same fate? All completely erased or destroyed? Or selected files, which they would all have in common, although in different physical locations on the drives.

There are surely some great stories here….

And then there is the question of backups. Those files have to exist somewhere. If not, it would take an extraordinarily determined and methodical effort to destroy them all.


Someone should start tracking down those former Romney staff members with a video camera, see what they have to say. Will they scramble for cover like arsonists, burglars or Mormon pedophiles and polygamists when confronted by an intrepid investigative reporter?
If elected, does Romney plan to take the White House hard drives with him also? The Holy Grail of the Romney campaign could be to acquire the power of Presidential Privilege....

Only Bishop Romney knows for sure....
RomneyGate looms....


Friday, May 25, 2012

Marking May 25, National Missing Children's Day, in Oregon

By Sean Cruz


Portland, Oregon— National Missing Children’s Day is May 25. It is not a holiday, but the one day in the entire year that the families of thousands of missing children hope to have your attention. With very few exceptions, each grief-stricken family is entirely on its own in its search, and with few exceptions, the children were abducted by a parent or family member.


Each year, according to the US Department of Justice, more than 200,000 US children suffer the trauma of abduction by a parent or family member, some repeatedly. It is difficult to track the number of Oregon cases, because no Oregon policing agency keeps a record, not even the Oregon State Police.


An international child abduction case that originated in Oregon made the local news briefly recently and then vanished (just as the child had a year and a half before) a victim of the news cycle, before the Marenco case could illuminate the several public policy issues related to parental, family and church-sponsored kidnappings that are the real story here.


The National Center for Missing and Children currently identifies 17 Oregon children who are not listed as missing on the Oregon State Police Missing Children’s Clearinghouse website. Although more than a dozen international police agencies were involved in recovering the Marenco child, he never appeared on the OSP list.


The recovery of the Marenco child required the cooperation of courts in Washington County and in New Zealand, and “The following agencies/organizations have assisted the Beaverton Police Department with the Marenco case: Interpol, US Department of State, US Customs and Border Protection, US Marshals Service, US Federal Air Marshals Service, US DHS-ICE Homeland Security Investigations , National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Washington County District Attorney's Office, Washington County Sheriff's Office, Forest Grove Police Department, Government Agencies in New Zealand, Australia and Canada , San Francisco Police Department , San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.”


International abductions are on the rise due to corresponding increases in international marriages and child-producing relationships, and subsequent divorces and breakups. The convenience of international travel also plays a role, as do religious and cultural differences between the couples.


The media is rarely interested in reporting parental and family abductions, largely because law enforcement rarely acts, and there is so much else going on to fill the newscast or the page. After a day or two, a parental abduction story is old news if it was ever news at all. The family is on its own.


In fact, the only child to make the OSP list in the past five years is Kyron Horman. The Horman case also illustrates how difficult and painful child kidnappings are to resolve. The focus needs to be on prevention and deterrence.


The discrepancies in the lists of missing kids indicates that the Oregon State Police is not involved in looking for any of them, and also illustrates how easily a parentally-abducted child can slip through the cracks.


The fact that so many agencies were involved in recovering the child from New Zealand demonstrates how difficult it is to recover a child abducted to a foreign nation, even if both nations speak English and have similar court systems.


These facts, and the finding by the 2004 Oregon Senate President’s Task Force on Parental and Family Abductions that child abduction by any person is child abuse, point to the need to enact policies that discourage people from abducting their own children, or a family member’s children, or through a church-sponsored shunning/abduction, in the first place.


For the purposes of marking National Missing Children’s Day in Oregon, why don’t we take a look at those 17 Oregon kids who are missing enough to be listed on the National Center’s website, but not missing enough to be listed by our own Oregon State Police.


What does a missing kid have to do to get some attention from the Oregon State Police?


Thursday, May 17, 2012

A case of Oregon child abduction, Kyron Horman and the news cycle

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

An international child abduction case that originated in Oregon made the local news briefly yesterday and then vanished (just as the child had a year and a half ago) a victim of the news cycle, before the story could illuminate the several public policy issues related to parental, family and church-sponsored kidnappings that are the real story here.

Non-stranger abductions rarely make the news at all, although the US Department of Justice reports more than 200,000 cases taking place each year, with international abductions on the rise due to the corresponding increases in international marriages and child-producing relationships, and subsequent divorces and breakups. The convenience of international travel also plays a role.


I first heard of the Marenco case when a reporter from KOIN 6 contacted me around noon and asked for an interview. In her research, she had become aware of the abduction of my four children and Aaron’s Law, and wanted my comments on videotape for the piece they were going to run that evening. She sent me the Beaverton Police Department’s media release, the news team came over a couple of hours later, and we talked.

I told KOIN 6 that they were only the third news agency to contact me in the 16 years since my children were abducted: The Oregonian in 1996; OPB in 2005 after the passage of Aaron’s Law, and out of the blue, KOIN 6 today.

The media is rarely interested in reporting parental and family abductions, largely because law enforcement rarely acts, and there is so much else going on to fill the time or the page. After a day or two, a parental abduction story is old news if it was ever news at all.

As it turned out, competing local news stories swamped the day, the story was reported but too short to examine the issues, and time marches on…. Here’s the link to the broadcast:

http://www.koinlocal6.com/mostpopular/story/Custody-battle-ends-with-arrest-reunion/ZcMlOzw_UUKle5uv5qubxw.cspx

Had there been time, I would have wanted to discuss the first two issues I was curious about in the Beaverton PD press release.


The absence of the Oregon State Police caught my attention immediately, and the fact that the abducted child never made the Oregon State Police Missing Children Clearinghouse list despite the easily demonstrable fact that all of these other policing agencies had identified the child as abducted. That issue also bears examination.


In fact, the only child to make the OSP list in the past five years is Kyron Horman. This case also illustrates how difficult and painful child kidnappings are to resolve. The focus needs to be on deterrence.

I’ve written about the deficiencies of the OSP Clearinghouse in the past, in a piece titled “Oregon’s Museum of Missing Children and the child sex trade”, posted on The Oregonian’s blog in 2010:


http://blog.oregonlive.com/myoregon/2010/11/oregons_museum_of_missing_chil.html

The recovery of the abducted Marenco child required the cooperation of courts in Washington County and in New Zealand. The media release credits:

The following agencies/organizations have assisted the Beaverton Police Department with the Marenco case:

Interpol
US Department of State
US Customs and Border Protection
US Marshals Service
US Federal Air Marshals Service
US DHS-ICE Homeland Security Investigations
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Washington County District Attorney's Office
Washington County Sheriff's Office
Forest Grove Police Department
Government Agencies in New Zealand, Australia and Canada
San Francisco Police Department
San Mateo County Sheriff's Office

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was involved in the Marenco recovery, and a quick search there turns up a list of children abducted from Oregon that includes 17 children who are not listed on the OSP site. That's right, 17 children.


http://www.missingkids.com/

The discrepancies in the lists of missing kids indicate that the Oregon State Police is not involved in looking for any of them, and also illustrates how easily a parentally-abducted child can slip through the cracks.


The fact that so many agencies were involved in recovering the child from New Zealand demonstrates how difficult it is to recover a child abducted to a foreign nation (or to theocratic Mormon Utah), even if both nations speak English and have similar court systems.


These facts, and the finding by the 2004 Senate President’s Task Force on Parental and Family Abductions that child abduction by any person is child abuse, point to the need to enact policies that discourage people from abducting their own children, or a family member’s children, or through a church-sponsored shunning/abduction, in the first place.


That is precisely why Aaron’s Law is so important. Fear of prosecution and jail time is clearly not an effective deterrent, which explains the high numbers. The fact is that parental and family abduction cases are rarely prosecuted, and yet the child(ren) remain(s) missing.


Aaron’s Law takes a different approach to deterring and resolving child abductions, and with the passage of Senate Bill 1041, Oregon became the first and only state in the nation where child abduction creates a civil cause of action.


A deterrent can only be effective if the public knows it exists and, sadly, the KOIN 6 story fell short of that.


It is highly unlikely that Mr. Marenco was aware of Aaron’s Law before he took the child, but now he faces civil as well as criminal consequences under SB 1041, at Mrs. Marenco’s option, including counseling directed at educating Mr. Marenco to the harm his conduct is causing his own child.


Mr. Marenco will also have to answer to his son once he reaches adulthood, as would any other person or organization that aided or abetted the abduction.


Under Aaron’s Law, child victims have future recourse against any party who violated Oregon’s Custodial Interference I statute by participating materially in “taking, enticing or keeping” (the child) “from the child’s lawful custodian or in violation of a valid joint custody order.” Once the child victim becomes an adult, he or she will have three years to file the civil action.


These facts should encourage Mr. Marenco to stay on everyone’s good side for a long time, but all of this trouble, expense and pain might have been avoidable, if he had known the extent of his risk, and a reminder that child abduction by any person is abusive to the child.


This will take many news cycles to accomplish.

According to a Washington County judge, I have the Wisdom and the Moral Authority to speak on these issues:

http://www.blogoliticalsean.blogspot.com/2012/04/wisdom-and-moral-authority.html


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Wisdom and the Moral Authority

By Sean Cruz


Portland, Oregon—

“Please tell Sean that I also wish him the best. I have also followed his career and believe his personal experience has given him the wisdom and the moral authority necessary to make a real difference in making Oregon safer for our children.” –Judge Jim Fun, Washington County Circuit Court, January 24, 2007

I received this message from Judge Fun’s judicial assistant. He was writing in regard to the work I had done on the issue of child abduction since my four children disappeared into Utah in a Mormon kidnapping in 1996. Each year, more than 200,000 U.S. children are abducted by their own parents, family members or persons known to the family, as in church-sponsored abductions.

Judge Fun knew the issue and my family’s case very well. In 1997, he had been the Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted the 1st degree Custodial Interference case against my former wife, which came to trial nearly a year and a half after my kids had disappeared, and who were still being held incommunicado in Utah. He had noticed during jury selection that the defense referred to a Washington County LDS church roster, and that there were a number of Mormons on the jury. You know how that turned out. The Mormons stick together like the Borg. That includes both inside and outside the courtroom, if you know what I mean.

But Judge Fun was writing about what I had done since then, with that experience and with that moral authority:

The first and most important thing I accomplished was to stay alive, to survive.

I’m a writer and a blogger, so I wrote and I blogged, posting a couple of hundred pieces over the years. I had alerted and informed Senator Avel Gordly about the issue long before she hired me to serve as her legislative staff in 2003. That year, I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Joint Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee, and Senate President Peter Courtney appointed the Senate President’s Interim Task Force on Parental and Family Abduction to examine the issue and report its findings to the 2005 legislature.

I testified before the Task Force in 2004, describing how both the family law and criminal law systems and an order for joint custody had failed to protect my children and my family. The fact is these systems fail in non-stranger abduction cases far more often than they succeed, which explains the high numbers.

The Task Force found that the experience of abduction by any person is harmful to the child, and as abusive as any other form of child abuse.

In 2005, Senator Gordly assigned me to lead the workgroup on her landmark Senate Bill 1041. In that legislative session, I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Rules Committee and before the House State and Federal Affairs Committee as we moved SB 1041 through the building.

The bill went through ten major rewrites on its way to passage on a dramatic, unanimous House vote on the last day of the 2005 legislative session. It immediately became known as Aaron’s Law, in memory of my late son Aaron Cruz, who had died in Payson, Utah, earlier that year, a direct consequence of his abduction.

With Aaron’s Law, Oregon became the first state in the nation where child abduction creates a civil cause of action, providing kidnapping victims with new tools to see justice served, and real deterrents to abducting a child in the first place.

I’ve written extensively about the particulars of Aaron’s Law at www.blogoliticalsean.blogspot.com and www.AaronsLaw.blogspot.com

So, all this to say that many of my readers who know me through my work on issues other than child abduction and who are unfamiliar with the story of the abduction of my children may think that I might be unfair or exaggerating where I refer to Mormons and Mormonism, but I want you all to know that I am speaking from experience and with moral authority.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On swearing in Mitt Romney

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—Now that the GOP Presidential buffoon-o-rama is coming down to just one left standing, and while it’s all good that Mitt Romney is full of ideas about what he thinks he’s going to do on Day One of a Romney presidency, there is one small issue that will certainly stir up a humongous discussion well before that crisp day in January comes around:

Which Bible would a Mormon prefer to be sworn in with? The New, Improved Mormon bible, or the Bible that the Mormons have built their entire mock-Christian religion around denying is truthful in all its translations, King James et al? They are deep into insulting every non-Mormon form of the Bible.

That’s a good question, worth talking about. Romney could resort to the stack-of-bibles approach, including all of the current versions used by various Christian churches, but those would be the same churches that the Book of Mormon refers to throughout as “whores” or “the Great Whore of a church.” Wowie! That issue should spark a discussion too!

Another good question is where would a Romney Western White House be located? Salt Lake City? Close to the Utah Throne? Near the only guy in the world that God speaks to, according to the Mormons?

And here’s another one, related to the preceding question: How similar to theocratic Utah would a Mormon Presidency be? That’s worth exploring in great depth. Utah is the one state in the nation where state and local government is controlled by a religious sect, the system that Romney says is the center of his life.

There will be more good questions like these down the road….

==============


Sean Cruz writes about child abduction and the loss of his four children in a Mormon kidnapping/shunning at www.blogoliticalsean.blogspot.com


He is the father of four children who disappeared into Utah in a Mormon abduction in 1996, organized by a group of Mormon extremists that his former wife had fallen in with, in retaliation for his criticism of LDS church policy.

In 2005, he led the Oregon Senate workgroup that crafted Oregon’s landmark child abduction statute, Senate Bill 1041, known as “Aaron’s Law”, after his late son Aaron, who died in Payson, Utah as a result of this church-sponsored abduction.

With Aaron’s Law, Oregon became the only state in the nation where child abduction creates a civil cause of action. Without a civil cause of action, a parent of a kidnapped child has no basis in law to hold a kidnapper accountable for the damages the criminal causes.

Under Aaron’s Law, victims can reach those who provided planning, logistical or financial support to their abduction. This is especially significant in cases with multiple perpetrators, as a church-sponsored shunning.

Without a civil cause of action, the parent of a kidnapped child has only two courses of action: the family law system or the criminal system, both of which routinely fail the child and the family in abduction cases.

The U.S. Department of Justice documents more than 200,000 cases each year of parental and family abductions, year after year, and many of those children are never recovered.

Aaron’s Law passed the Oregon House on a unanimous vote, the last stop on its way to the Governor for signature into law, but is still in need of amending and refining in order to be truly effective in both preventing and resolving abductions.

Aaron’s Law should be modeled in other states, eventually becoming the law of the land.

With Aaron’s Law, my son’s death is not for nothing, and his life not without honor.


Sunday, April 08, 2012

I couldn't be happier...been a long time comin'...You know who you are

By Sean Cruz


Portland, Oregon—I couldn’t be happier than to see Mitt Romney, Mormon bishop Mitt Romney, become the GOP nominee for President!


See why in my comments posted on The Oregonian Editorial Board’s “Oregon GOP should pick Mitt” endorsement, April 7, 2012, right here:


http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/04/oregon_gop_should_pick_mitt.html


And to the Mormons who kidnapped my children, hid them in Utah, ruined my son Aaron’s life and let him die, I want you to know that payback is gonna be a bitch! It’s been a long time coming. You know who you are….


=======


Sean Cruz writes and posts about the issue of child abduction and the story of the Mormon kidnapping of his children at www.blogoliticalsean.blogspot.com

He is the father of four children who disappeared into Utah on February 12, 1996 in a Mormon abduction/shunning. He had spoken out in opposition to certain practices and doctrines of the LDS church, including its racist attitudes toward people of color, its coercion of women into roles subservient to men, and for forcing young people to choose between the church and their own families when marrying into the Mormon religion.


In retribution for his remarks, Mormon officials in three states connived to cause his children to vanish from their Oregon homes during the Great Storm that struck the Pacific Northwest in February, 1996, just ten days after his baby girl’s eighth birthday. His mother would die four years later without contact with her grandchildren, as the Mormons enforced their “no contact” rules against those they regarded as apostates.


He pursued the recovery of his children through four jurisdictions in three states while both the criminal and family law systems failed to either protect his family or uphold the joint custody order that had kept his children’s lives safe and secure for five years preceding the abduction.


The Cruz children were initially concealed in the mountains east of Ogden at the home of Mormon official Kory Wright and his wife, who were the principle organizers of the kidnapping. In 2009, he confronted his children’s abductor in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver, Washington:


Counting coup on an Oregon kidnapper


http://blogoliticalsean.blogspot.com/2011/04/on-counting-coup-on-kidnapper.html


His son Aaron Cruz died in the course of the abduction, alone and without medical care, in Payson, Utah.


As Senator Avel Gordly’s chief of staff, Sean led the workgroup on parental and family abduction that resulted in Senate Bill 1041, known as “Aaron’s Law” in memory of his late son, which passed the Oregon House on a unanimous vote in 2005.


With Aaron’s Law, Oregon became the only state in the nation where the abduction of a child creates a civil cause of action, which provides kidnapping victims new avenues of recourse to hold their abductors accountable.


Sean Cruz hopes to see the principles of Aaron’s Law enacted nationwide.







Governor Kulongoski signed Senate Bill 1041 into law with my son Aaron’s photo on his desk.


For all of those parental and family abductions that will not take place in the future for his sacrifice, my son did not die in vain or without honor….