How To Become a 'Stalker' in Oregon: Criticize
William Norman Grigg
Recently by William Norman Grigg: The
Predators of Marengo County
it take to be officially designated a "stalker" in the
State of Oregon?
recent decision the State Court of Appeals ruled that a
bully can subject a terrified elderly woman to a years-long campaign
of harassment, intimidation, and physical violence without being
saddled with a stalking protection order (SPO). Two years ago,
the same court ruled that an individual can commit repeated acts
of property damage, coupled with physical assaults and even an explicit
death threat, and not qualify for stalker status.
the only guaranteed way to earn the unwanted title of "stalker"
in the Beaver State is to criticize the local police and the corrupt
municipal cabal it serves. That’s a reasonable inference to draw
bizarre experience of Sunriver, Oregon resident Robert Foster,
whose stalking case involving the Sunriver PD and the Sunriver Owners
Association (SROA) is scheduled for trial on Tuesday, April 24.
years ago, Foster – a well-established and widely respected local
businessman who operates a hot tub service company – was designated
a stalker in an ex parte proceeding. Since that time he has been
arrested twice for the supposed crime of coming within eyeshot of
one of the timid, shivering creatures who supposedly live in bladder-loosening
fear of Foster – Sergeant Joseph Patnode and Officer Kasey Hughes.
never said or done anything to harm either of those proud, intrepid
members of the Brotherhood of Coercion. Prior to the arrests made
pursuant to the spurious stalking protection order, Foster had no
criminal record of any kind. Over the past two years, Foster has
been treated as a prisoner in his own hometown. At one point last
fall he was driven into out-of-state exile for three months to avoid
arrest as he prepared for a January 26 court date.
convening the trial on the appointed time at the designated location,
the presiding Judge conducted a series of sidebar conferences with
the parties in her chambers while dozens of people waited for several
hours in a crowded, poorly ventilated courtroom. In the far corner
of the small room could be seen a poorly-disguised Detective from
the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, who furtively took photographs
of everyone who had gathered to support Foster.
In the middle
of the courtroom had assembled practically the entire Sunriver Police
Department. All of them but Hughes and Patnode were in uniform and
wearing body armor. They were also wreathed in the unmistakable
aroma of pure, unfiltered fear. This shouldn't surprise us: These
are people who profess to be terrified by the mere sight of a skinny,
mild-mannered, unarmed, 51-year-old businessman whose only weapon
is a finely whetted wit.
and his daughter, Rebecca Kossler, were as eager for their day in
court as the Sunriver PD was to avoid it – a fact that says everything
we need to know about the relative merits of their respective cases.
If Foster's accusers were telling any portion of the truth, they
wouldn't be exhausting every dilatory tactic known to man in an
effort to avoid testifying under oath in an adversarial setting.
of State Law, the original SPO was granted without a mandatory hearing
at which Foster could contest it. His court appearance on January
26 was the first time he was able to speak for himself in a judicial
proceeding. Rather than permitting Foster the opportunity to tear
apart the specious case against him, the presiding judge attempted
to fashion a modified order under which Foster would be granted
the supposed privilege of a judicial hearing before the "victims"
– Officers Patnode and Hughes – could arrange for his arrest.
PD faction refused to drop the charges against Foster because, as
they explicitly told the judge, they were concerned that he would
sue the department for the taxpayer-subsidized harassment he has
his persecutors could be held personally liable, rather than socializing
the costs of their criminal foolishness, Foster would be entitled
to sue them into penury: During the past two years he has spent
more than $200,000 contesting the patently false and unambiguously
malicious accusation that he had been stalking the local police.
In sworn pre-trial
depositions, neither of the "victims" of Foster’s purported
stalking was able to describe an instance in which he did or said
anything suggestive of violent intent. The same is true of former
Sunriver Police Chief Michael Kennedy, who – as we will see
since lost his position and offered several key disclosures
regarding what can only be called a criminal conspiracy against
victims are armed individuals claiming a license to use lethal force
at their discretion – and who supposedly dissolve into puddles of
petulant panic at the sight of him. Pedro Erazo’s victim, by way
of contrast, was a senior citizen named Kathryn Reitz, whom he repeatedly
harassed, threatened, and physically assaulted at the Goodwill convenience
store in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Over the course
of two years, Erazo and his cohorts would descend on the thrift
store in pursuit of severely discounted books to re-sell online.
Three times a day, employees would wheel out large bins full of
merchandise, including books. Heedless of rudimentary courtesy,
Erazo’s group would shove aside other shoppers – and, on occasion,
store employees – in order to scoop up armloads of books whose barcodes
would be read by a handheld digital scanner. Any potentially valuable
volumes would be piled in a cart.
Erazo’s malign attention by voicing disgust over his behavior. He
retaliated by following her around the store, barraging her with
insults and threats.
be afraid of me," Erazo sneered at the terrified 64-year-old
woman. "They’re not going to stop me. I can do whatever I want."
As it happens,
the thrift store chain’s management did stop him: Erazo is
now banned from 40 stores in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington.
At Reitz’s request, Washington County Circuit Court Judge Donald
Letourneau imposed a stalking order against Erazo, who was one of
several people to complain about the tactics he employed.
shopper who testified on behalf of Reitz recalled that Erazo had
instructed his goons to "shadow me, follow me. If I would go
here, then [he told them] `go with her,’ and then a person would
come and … just follow me wherever I would go … stand right next
to me, elbow me, make it incredibly uncomfortable."
fact that Erazo and his gang had clearly engaged in aggressive and
violent behavior, the
Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the stalking order. Oregon
state law requires at least two "contacts" in which the
victim would have a "reasonable apprehension" regarding
his or her physical safety. While Erazo had physically assaulted
Reitz on one confrontation, and assailed her with insults and threats
during numerous others, a second violent "contact" would
be necessary in order for his behavior to qualify as "stalking"
under state law.
In a similar
case from 2010 (Swarringim
v. Olson), the Court of Appeals dealt with a neighborhood
dispute that escalated to property damage (vandalism to the petitioner’s
home and automobile) as well as violence and death threats. In one
confrontation, Swarringim’s 14-year-old son was knocked flat on
his back by an Olson’s 18-year-old son, Matthew, who also warned
that he knew people "who will slit [the boy’s] throat."
to the facts as related by the Swarringim family, the Court of Appeals
threw out the stalking order, maintaining that the evidence was
insufficient to establish that the actions of Olson and his son
had caused "reasonable apprehension for personal safety"
on the part of the victims.
it is difficult to make a stalking order stick in the State of Oregon,
even when the subject of the order has committed acts of criminal
violence and made explicit death threats. The designation of "stalker"
is reserved for truly dangerous people like Bob Foster, whose sole
offense was to make the police uncomfortable.
a prominent opponent of both the SROA and the proposed Special Services
District (SSD), which was created in 2008 and inflicts an annual
cost of several million dollars on Sunriver home owners.
although a lovely place – isn’t really a town; it is a shopping
mall with a thyroid condition. The Census Bureau considers it to
be part of nearby Bend. Until 2008, its streets were not considered
"public conveyances," but rather private roads accessible
to the public. This meant that the Sunriver PD couldn’t write traffic
citations, much to the frustration of those who coveted the revenue.
In 2007, the
SROA successfully lobbied Oregon State Rep. Gene Wisnat to sponsor
3445, a bill custom-tailored for Sunriver that extended police
"authority" to include roads and streets on "premises open to the
public that are owned by a homeowners association…." The following
year, the SROA enacted a special multi-million-dollar tax assessment
for a special
service district (SSD) it had created in 2002. The SSD now included
a fully functional police department, which immediately became a
huge nuisance to local business owners and the visitors upon whom
the local economy depends.
police constantly harassed people in my parking lot," recalled
Connie Hutcherson, former owner of RJB’s restaurant,
in an interview with a private investigator. "They would
do drive-throughs looking for DUIs…. I lost a lot of business because
of them. Customers would tell me, `We’d love to come in more, but
On more than
a few occasions, an aggravated Hutcherson confronted the officers
in her parking lot. "They didn’t care for me much," she
In her interview
with the investigator, Danyl
Dahl described a March 2009 episode in which the deli delivery
van she was driving was stopped by two Sunriver officers who – in
response to a trivial traffic infraction – approached her with guns
drawn and faces drawn taut with irrational rage.
want to get arrested today?" one of them snarled at the perplexed
and terrified woman. "Do you want to go to jail today?"
people were hired by the Sunriver Owners Association," Dahl
pointed out. "They think they can do anything they want."
police were just as inhospitable to visitors – something Shawn Vickers,
who was stopped for speeding, witnessed first-hand. During the traffic
stop, a tourist riding a bicycle stopped and began taking photos
of the police vehicle.
lost control," Vickers
related to the investigator. "He was like, `Halt! You do
not have my permission to take my picture! Freeze! Do not move!’
And then he … was very agitated, he did not know what to do….
At some point, I thought he was going to draw his gun."
kidding me?" exclaimed an astonished Vickers, who was still
seated behind the wheel of his vehicle. This provoked another outburst:
"He was like, `Freeze! Put your hands where I can see them!
Do not move!’ He moved about 6-7 feet from me. He never turned his
back to me." As it happened, the bicyclist was a visiting sheriff’s
deputy from Los Angeles County who collected photographs of police
vehicles. Upon learning of the tourist’s identity, the officer regained
at least a portion of his composure. For several anxious moments,
however, "I thought this guy was going to lose it and draw
down on one of us," Vickers reports.
resident who identified herself only as "Vicki" told
the investigator about asimilar incident she witnessed in October
2010 involving three Sunriver police officers who swarmed a car
containing an elderly couple "with guns drawn and pointing
at them." The elderly couple weren’t armed fugitives; at worst
they had committed a minor traffic infraction. Yet they were threatened
with lethal violence by a police department perversely determined
to manufacture work for itself.
who operated the Villagio
Espresso shop, recalled
anApril 2011 incident in which three Sunriver Police officers
pulled over a group of teenagers who were found with alcohol and
marijuana. She overheard the police "threatening them – telling
them how much trouble they were in, and how they needed to report
to them" regarding drug and alcohol use by other kids.
One of the
officers wasn’t satisfied merely to cultivate a group of informants:
He prevailed on one of the underage girls to supply him with her
phone number in a conversation involving the suggestion of "sexual
favors," Gossling testified. During this lengthy encounter,
Gossling overheard an emergency call on the police radio that was
blithely ignored by the officers.
harassment by the Sunriver PD led at least one resident to flee
a victim of such continuous harassment by the Sunriver PD that I
eventually simply moved," former Sunriver resident Jared Lewis
told Pro Libertate. "I was so fearful of them every
time I left my house…. I was routinely followed, harassed and stopped
by Sunriver PD for absolutely no reason for a period of three years."
In some cases,
Lewis reports, Officer Kasey Hughes – one of the two gallant defenders
of the public weal who filed a stalking order against Foster – followed
him "for miles at a time before stopping me." In one particularly
crowded day, Lewis was stopped four times by four different Sunriver
disturbing aspect of this was that after dozens of stops per month,
I finally reached a point of approaching the (now former) chief
to complain and was not only rebuffed, but it was revealed to me
by the chief that none of my stops was recorded. He essentially
told me that his officers had never stopped me and that I was a
Obviously, many Sunriver residents recognized that the police department
– and the quasi-private municipal cabal running it – constituted
a large, festering problem. However, only Bob Foster was willing
to confront those responsible for it.
meetings, Foster denounced the Service District as an unnecessary
expense that consolidated the grip of the village’s insular ruling
elite. He proposed abolishing the District and contracting with
nearby La Pine for emergency services – an arrangement that would
have saved Sunriver home owners a great deal of money and reined
in the power of the SROA.
the SROA concocted a plot to silence the civic-minded businessman.
This is not a matter of speculation: The key player in that conspiracy,
former Sunriver Police Chief Michael Kennedy, has
provided an admirably candid summary of that conspiracy in a March
8 letter to the Deschutes County Commission.
that letter to file a grievance with the Commission after being
fired on February 16 in what he described as an act of retaliation
by a corrupt and unaccountable municipal government whose official
dealings are as opaque as the proceedings of the North Korean Politburo.
Owners Association has pressured the Sunriver Police Department
as well as me to perform unlawful and unethical acts … which we
have refused," wrote Kennedy. "It is my firm belief that
my firing was a direct result of my refusal to act on their unethical
to railroad Bob Foster on "stalking" charges was prominent
among those "unethical" acts to which Kennedy refers.
weary of what was described as Foster’s "unwanted attention,"
Kennedy approached the SROA and requested "that Bob Foster
be trespassed from the SROA/Police building," the former Chief
recalled. This would mean that Foster wouldn’t be able to attend
public SROA meetings, or file a police complaint, without being
subject to arrest.
if act on, would have been an act of petty, officious retaliation,
but it wasn’t a criminal conspiracy. What the SROA suggested does
meet that description.
meeting with the board, the SROA board president, Bob Nelson, and
Bob Wrightson, who are both also on the Service District board,
came to my office and told Sergeant Patnode and I [sic] that they
would not be trespassing Bob Foster…. [H]owever, their legal counsel
had a better solution….. A short time later, our legal counsel advised
that we would be filing a stalking order against Bob Foster…. At
the request of legal counsel, I contacted Sergeant Patnode and Officer
Kasey Hughes to see if they would be willing to have the stalking
orders filed on their behalf. They subsequently agreed and the stalking
orders were filed."
for the SROA, Bob Foster "didn’t immediately roll over,"
Kennedy recalls. Instead, he gave notice that he intended to file
lawsuits against the SROA and the Service District – which, as Kennedy
points out, are essentially the same entity.
management structure of the Sunriver Service District puts entirely
too much control in the hands of a small segment of the community,"
Kennedy explained to the County Commission. "The end result
is that a private home owners association has effective control
over the operations and funds of a public taxing district."
(Emphasis added.) That same entrenched cabal uses the Sunriver PD
as its enforcement arm and revenue-extraction mechanism.
limit the potential damage from the lawsuit, the SROA "appeared
to be attempting to withdraw Service District protection from the
two officers" it has used to file stalking orders against Foster.
In an executive
session, SROA Board President Nelson "said something to the
effect of `Why is the Service District financing these stalking
orders, when this is clearly a civil matter between these two officers
and Bob Foster," Kennedy recalled. "I reminded him that
we had asked those officers if they would be willing to file the
stalking orders at the request of legal counsel…. I advised him
that if asked, that is how I would have to testify in court. After
that, SROA appeared to further distance themselves from the case,
even though they were the ones who initially started us down
the path of filing the stalking orders." (Emphasis added.)
In those paragraphs,
Kennedy made at least three critical admissions:
- The private
SROA, in defiance of conflict-of-interest laws, controls a public
taxing district and the police department – just as Bob Foster
had predicted it would.
- The stalking
case against Foster was instigated by the SROA, with the connivance
of the police department; it had nothing to do with any criminal
conduct on Foster’s part.
- The SROA
and Service District were using funds extracted from Sunriver
tax victims to finance its vendetta against Foster.
performance evaluation by the SROA commended him for taking the
lead "in seeking to support and protect [his] officers when
harassment by a stalker reached the point where legal action had
to be taken." The SROA’s assessment of Kennedy changed abruptly
after the predictable scene in which the Chief told them, in effect,
"If I go down, I’m taking you with me."
Kennedy was cashiered, he was reportedly given a severance package
of $100,000 – a rather extravagant amount for a minor bureaucrat
who managed a tiny police force in a tranquil resort community with
a permanent population of fewer than 1,000 people. If the SROA’s
intention was to buy off Kennedy, they badly underestimated the
price of his silence – and misunderstood the magnitude of his admissions
on being reinstated as Sunriver Police Chief. He also demands the
resignation of five directors of the SROA, and the disbanding of
the special service district. That last demand is another vindication
of Bob Foster, who made the same proposal five years ago – thereby
provoking the lengthy and expensive campaign of criminal harassment
in which Kennedy eagerly participated until it became personally
risky to him.
the service district is necessary but insufficient. The only adequate
remedy would be to add Sunriver, Oregon to the
lengthening roster of small towns that have been relieved
of the burden of a municipal police department. Chances are,
Kind Reader, that you reside in a city that would benefit from the
same kind of "neglect."
with permission from Pro
Norman Grigg [send him mail]
publishes the Pro
Libertate blog and hosts the Pro
Libertate radio program.
© 2012 William Norman Grigg
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