Justice: Denied -- The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted

 

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Frederick M. Dever Jr. Story

No one listened to Kristen. She has been fighting to get her father freed from his wrongful conviction. She continues to fight to right a wrong that is long overdue.

Edited by Pamela Eller

Kristen Speaks:

My name is Kristen. In 1988 a horrible thing happened to my dad. He was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. On October 21, 1987 the upstairs neighbor called the police late that night and said she heard my dad raping me. My dad was convicted on hearsay evidence. What the neighbor said she heard! At the competency hearing on April 5, 1988 I tried to tell the judge the truth, that my dad didn't do it, but the judge wouldn't believe me. He said I just couldn't remember because I was only 3 1/2 years old when the crime occurred. This was not a true statement by the judge. I was 4 1/2 years old in October 1987. Also, the judge said I couldn't remember because it had been 2 years since the crime had occured. These statements made by the judge were printed in the newspapers because it was a landmark case, the first man convicted on hearsay evidence. This is all on record and can be proven.

I am 18 years old now and I have read the transcripts of my daddy's case. My birthday is March 9, 1983 so you see the judge is mistaken and no one knows he was wrong. The truth has never been told because they prevented me from testifying for my daddy. Many people think this can't happen or won't happen to them, but it can. It happened to me and my daddy. All it takes is a phone call and you won't stand a chance. My daddy loved me and protected me and he was sent to prison because he wouldn't take a plea bargain and say he abused me. He was offered 2 years probation if he would agree to the charge of GSI. My daddy said, "No, he would stand trial and the truth would be heard," but it wasn't. I was not allowed to testify for my daddy.

The judge said I couldn't remember. The system that is there to protect me is the one that took advantage of me. In January of 1993 Inside Edition aired the story about what happened and how this happened to us. We all told the truth and my daddy is still in prison. I am only 18 years old, but I will not stop until my daddy is free. He has spent 13 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Won't you please listen to me and help me free my daddy?

Kristen

The above story was submitted in a pamphlet Kristen designed to distribute to the public. Kristen included the following for the public response.

Ms. Ghee, you have it in your power to reunite a family that should have never been torn apart and should have been given the benefit of the doubt. Kristen deserves to be heard and if I can be that voice that will help her to be heard, I will. Please find it in your heart to just review the evidence that was never permitted to be heard in court and give Kristen the chance to be heard. My wish is to help reunite this family as it should be. Will you please just listen to Kristen? I have and will pray that you will find it in your hear to set Kristen's daddy, Frederick M. Dever Jr. free.

(Kristen's mother)

Frederick's Story:

In 1984, I married Charlene Williamson Newcome and adopted Kristen Nicole Newcome; she was only 12 months old.

Charlene and I lived in Cincinnati Ohio, for approximately 3 years and moved into a small quiet neighborhood located just outside the city in Mariemont, Ohio. We lived in a 2 family house on the lower level. I hurt my back and was off work so Charlene and I exchanged roles. I stayed at home and took care of Kristen while Charlene worked. In October of 1987 all of this changed forever.

I was at home on October 21, 1987 at approximately 9:00 p.m. Kristen was playing in the living room and I decided to take a bath. I told Kristen to wait in the living room while I took a bath and it would only take ten minutes. Once I was in the tub Kristen came into the bathroom and told me that time was up. I told Kristen that she should count to 600 and I would be done. Kristen, undaunted, wanted to assist me in my bath and pulled the loofah from my hand and asked me, "does this feel good daddy?" while she scrubbed my back. I told her that it did, but that I could finish my bath by myself and to go into the living room and I would be out because I was finished. Kristen left the bathroom and a few minutes later I joined her and read her stories until she fell asleep. This was about 9:30 p.m.

Unbeknownst to me, the upstairs neighbor, Diane Potter, had overheard bits and pieces of the conversation and thought that Kristen was being sexually abused and ran from her apartment to her sister's across the street and phoned police. After informing police of her suspicions she signed a formal complaint with the help of Officer Mike Wilson. Wilson then contacted the prosecutor who lived in the town and followed up with the prosecutor's office the next day. He met with Social Worker Beth Casbeer and discussed the Potter complaint and decided to interview both Charlene and me concerning this allegation. Wilson followed Charlene to work and told her that members of the community saw this abuse take place and that she should cooperate and remove the child so they could interrogate me about the allegations. I denied abusing Kristen, however, Kristen and Charlene were scheduled for an interview with Wilson and Casbeer the following day.

The interview with Kristen was videotaped by interviewers, but was never brought forward at trial by either counsel or the State. This interview was crucial evidence since it proves that Kristen did not claim I abused her, in fact she denied that any form of abuse occurred over 10 times before interviewers had ended the interview. Undaunted by Kristen's denials, Casbeer and Wilson gave false testimony concerning Kristen's denials at a juvenile hearing a month later. I was indicted for one count of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition and faced trial instead of accepting a plea bargain offer of 2 years probation.

On April 5, 1998, the trial court evaluated Kristen for competency. Although Kristen knew the difference between true and false statements, the trial judge claimed that since Kristen denied the abuse she couldn't remember what had taken place over two years prior. The court was mistaken as to the time frame since it had only been 5 months instead of two years. Counsel never corrected the court's misstatements.

Kristen was subpoenaed to trial along with several other witnesses. Although Casbeer had testified earlier at the juvenile hearing she wasn't called as a witness at trial by the state. Dr. Saluke, a pediatrician who examined Kristen after the interview and not finding any signs of sexual abuse was allowed to testify that Kristen told her that abuse had taken place. This examination by Dr. Saluke was not videotaped so verification of Kristen's statements to the doctor was impossible.

Counsel objected to the State's introduction of the hearsay, but the trial court permitted it to stand. My counsel did not bring forth pertinent witnesses to testify including Charlene and me since he was not prepared to defend the case. He failed to bring in the videotape to prove Kristen did not tell Casbeer or Wilson that abuse occurred and to prove that Kristen did not use any of the terminology that they attributed to her during that 36-minute interview.

I was convicted and sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison. After 3 years I won my case at the U.S. Supreme Court and the court agreed that my conviction was incorrect and they needed to retry the case. The state appealed the decision in state court to the Ohio Supreme Court and reinstated my conviction. I went back to prison in 1992 after being out on bond for 16 months. I continued to appeal my case and in 1995 I was scheduled to see the parole board for consideration of parole. I was continued three times until July of 1996. The board asked me to admit my guilt. I denied the crimes occurred and was continued another 3 years.

During the time of my release in 1991 until my re-incarceration in 1992 my family and I contacted everyone we could to tell about this story. On October 12, 1992 Inside Edition agreed to tell my story and interviewed my family and me about the case. In 1993 the story aired on television. In 1995 the Phil Donohue show was interested in Kristen's side of the story because she had advocated for my release from prison by publishing a pamphlet to encourage the public's participation in righting a wrong that was long overdue. So far nothing has occurred to grant me release from prison. I am scheduled to see the parole board again in July of 1999.

The public is encouraged to participate in this case and to show their support for Kristen's efforts to try to free her father. Kristen even has a web page sponsored by the National Center for Men and can be accessed at http://members.aol.com/jlaigle/home.htm. My family and I need your support, letters, and phone calls to your state and federal representatives, the Governor of Ohio and the Parole Board in the effort in freeing me from wrongful imprisonment.

Sincerely,

Frederick M. Dever Jr. #206-152
P.O.BOX 69 LoCi Elm-E
London, OH 43140-0069

Outside Contacts:

Dean Tong, MSSA
6102 Webb Rd.
Tampa, FL 33615-2841
Director of F.R.O.N.T
Can access via internet- Father's Rights Organization

Debbie Nathan- Author/Advocate
109 N. Oregon #412
El Paso, TX 79901

Frank Zepezauer - Author/Advocate
1731 Wright Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94087-5253

Marilyn Gilman- Attorney
2210 Country Club Dr.
Pittsburgh, PA 15241

Helen Rose Dever
1705 Stonelick Woods Dr.
Batavia, Ohio 45103-9116
(513) 735-6792

Frederick and Floretta Dever
4466 Forest Trail
Cincinnati, OH 45244-1524
(513) 528-0825

National Center for Men web page out of Old Bethpage NY that has sponsored Nicole: http://members.aol.com/jlaigle/home.htm

Other than those references, you can validate all I have said via others who have intimate knowledge of the fact of this case by contacting a few individuals who reside in and around the area of Oregon:

Robert Salter-Minister
914 164th St. #393
Mill Creek, WA 98012

Paul Doyle-Creator of web page
2782 NE 7th Ct.
Gresham, OR 97030

Also, if you contact the Barrister's Inn, School of Common Law, P.O.BOX 9411, Boise, ID 83707, Pastor Chuck Powell, you will be able to call up the many articles printed on this case since 1991. In fact, in August 1991, August 1993, October 1994, and so on, many articles have been printed via the ALERT, a newspaper that Barrister's Inn publishes and has carried all the updated material on this case as it occurred. That would be a fairly reasonable manner to keep consistent with the story.

This is the story that was in City Beat newspaper:

Kristen Dever of Mariemont has spent the past eight years trying to vindicate her father.

Frederick Dever Jr. was convicted in 1988 on charges that he raped his daughter Kristen when she was 4 years old. He was sentenced to 10-25 years in prison.

But, Kristen, now 12 says the actions of which her father was accused never happened. "No one would let me talk," she says. "He didn't do anything."

In order to spread that message, Dever, Kristen and her grandmother, Floretta P. Dever, spoke on August 12 on a WHIO-AM radio talk show in Dayton. The show was broadcast before Dever's August 21 appearance before the Ohio Parole Board and delayed a decision on Dever's parole until October. "It's very sad that the child was never given ample opportunity to give testimony," says Jackie Day the WHIO program's call-in host. The incident that triggered law enforcement involvement and began Dever's turmoil occurred Oct. 21, 1987. According to court documents, Kristen and Floretta, the events unfolded like this:

The Dever's upstairs neighbor called the Mariemont Police Department to report she had overheard through the heating ducts Dever raping his daughter in the Devers' bathroom. The next day, Mariemont police Spec. Mike Wilson went to the Dever home and took Dever in for questioning. Dever denied sexually abusing his daughter. Kristen says she remembers Dever was taking a bath and she wanted to wash his back. "He told me to leave and count to 600 while he finished his bath," Kristen says. But, she says she went back in after counting to about 20 and started playing with some bubbles and got some in her mouth. Dever made her leave, she said. "After he was done with his bath, Dever read her a bedtime story and she went to sleep," she says.

On October 23, 1987 Kristen and her mother Charlene were taken to the Hamilton County Department of Human Services and Kristen was interviewed by the arresting officer and Beth Casbeer, a social worker specializing in child abuse investigations.

During the interview Kristen denied that her father had touched her in any sexual way about 10 times before she changed her story and said he touched her.

City Beat attempted to contact Wilson on August 31 concerning the case, but he was no longer working for the Mariemont Police Department.

A noted psychologist from the Institute of Psychological Therapies in Minnesota viewed the videotape of Kristen's interview. According to a September 8 affidavit of child sex abuse she found that, "the 10/23/87 interview of Kristen Dever by Beth Casbeer and Mike Wilson is extremely leading, suggestive and coercive."

The affidavit reported that the behavior of Casbeer and Wilson in interrogating Kristen violated the accepted standards of how such interviews should be conducted. "She's entitled to her opinion, but I disagree," says Casbeer. Today, Casbeer is the county's supervisor of Child Abuse and Neglect Investigations.

After the interview at Human Services Wilson took Kristen and her mother to Children's Hospital. Dr. Ann Saluke examined Kristen. During the trial Saluke's testimony about what Kristen said to her during the examination helped to convict Dever. The doctor testified that Kristen said her father put his penis in her mouth and that there was no physical evidence of sexual abuse. Kristen's mother Charlene says that to this day she does not know what her daughter told the doctor.

Kristen's mother and Dever divorced in 1992. She still believes in her ex-husband's innocence. "He was always good to Kristen," she says.

"Dever adopted Kristen in June 1984 and was the only father Kristen ever knew," Charlene says. "Kristen was very bright for her age, especially at the competency hearing, the hearing that preceeded Dever's trial, the judge declared Kristen incompetent. Kristen was telling the truth, but no one would listen to her."

Former Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert H. Gorman, who presided at Dever's trial, said he could not precisely recall his reasoning in ruling out Kristen's testimony. According to a February 3, 1990 article in The Cincinnati Enquirer he said that Kristen was too young to remember an incident that had happened two years before the trial took place. Kristen disagrees. "The competency hearing the judge held was on April 5, 1998 only 5 months after the alleged crime occurred," she says.

Gorman, now with the Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals says if a child is less than 10 years old the judge is allowed to have an inquiry about the child's competency. He says he cannot recall either the prosecutor of the defense attorney fighting to get Kristen to testify.

The conviction of Dever was a landmark case in 1988. It was the first case in Hamilton County in which the accused was convicted on hearsay evidence from the doctor who examined the alleged victim after the incident.

Gorman says that because the trial was so long ago he could not recall exactly what Kristen said during the competency hearing. The judge, Kristen says, was told that the allegations against her father were not true. "She was terribly vague from the beginning," Gorman says.

"If the child had been able to stand trial and understand the difference between truth and make-believe she would have testified," he says. "A lot of guys in the joint think they are not guilty," says Steven Martin, chief assistant Hamilton County prosecutor. "The case is over. The conviction has been upheld in many courts."

To Kristen it remains a case of what happens when needed testimony from the alleged victim is not allowed.

Justice Denied


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