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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."

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.