Posted on 09 May 2013.
More Allegations of Misconduct Face DA Alexander in Federal Court
By Chris Marshall
Courthouse News Service
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – California officials shielded a child molester who contributed to a district attorney’s campaign,
and arrested a mother when she took the children to be examined
in another county, the mother claims in court.
Barry and Jennifer Brown sued Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander, the county itself and five other people, in Federal Court.
Jennifer is the mother of two co-plaintiff children Jane Does 1 and 2; Barry, her father, is a former investigator for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
They claim Alexander refused to investigate claims that defendant Donald Crockett – Jennifer’s Brown’s ex-husband – had molested their children.
And, the Browns claim, Alexander et al. had Barry Brown falsely charged with kidnapping when the Browns took the children to Eureka to be examined.
DA Alexander’s Woes
This lawsuit is not the only challenge facing Alexander.
The San Jose Mercury News reported in May 2012 that Alexander faces possible disbarment for professional misconduct: allegedly taking a loan from a defense attorney working on a case he later dismissed.
The newspaper reported , in an Associated Press article, that Alexander was a recovering methamphetamine addict when he was elected in campaign using the slogan “Death to Meth.”
Alexander also has been sued by Michael Riese, the former Del Norte County district attorney whom Alexander defeated in the 2010 election. Riese claimed Alexander tried to frame him for child endangerment and driving under the influence.
Allegations of the Suit
In the Browns’ lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that when Jennifer told a sheriff’s deputy in June 2009 that her 2-year-old daughter said Crockett “had hurt her vagina with his finger” and that it appeared red and irritated, the sheriff took no action. A local hospital refused to examine the girl and neither she nor her daughter were interviewed by police about these or earlier complaints against Crockett, the Browns say.
Crockett is co-owner of a flower-growing business, which is one of the largest employers in the county, and has other business interests, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs claim Crockett and his family contributed to Alexander’s election campaign and “have exerted their personal and political influence throughout county agencies to effectively protect Crockett from criminal and child protective investigations and also to inflict harm on plaintiffs.”
Crockett and Jennifer Brown divorced in 2009 after 4 years of marriage, after which they shared custody, with Jennifer the primary caregiver of their twin girls, born in 2007.
The Browns claim that sheriff’s deputies in November 2011 destroyed a tape of a police interview with Crockett, after Jennifer Brown reported that her children said he had showed them movies of men and women “naked belly dancing on a bed.”
When Brown asked police why they destroyed the tape, they told her that “showing pornography to children is not a criminal offense,” according to the complaint.
Alexander and his co-defendants again refused to investigate Crockett after Sutter Coast Hospital Urgent Care filed a report against him for neglect and molestation after both children alleged that Crockett had molested them, the complaint states.
The Browns claim the defendants “were made aware of the claims of Jane Doe 1 and 2 and that the defendants decided not to investigate Jane Doe 1 and 2′s claims about Crockett, whose family exerted political and personal influence over the defendants, whose careers rose and fell on the favor or disfavor of the Crockett family.”
Concerned that the officials were ignoring their claims, Barry Brown claims he contacted his former employer to obtain a Sexual Assault Response Team exam. He was told the children could have the exam if they went to Eureka, the seat of Humboldt County.
Barry says he wrote a letter to the defendants and told Alexander over the phone that he was temporarily removing the children from Del Norte County for their safety and under the terms of California Penal Code Section 278.5. But Alexander and other officials had a magistrate judge issue a warrant accusing the Browns of kidnapping the girls, and said they did not know where they were, according to the complaint.
“These defendants knew that the basis for the warrant was false when it was presented to the judge for issuance,” the complaint states.
An all points bulletin was issued for Barry Brown and he was arrested the next day at the Crescent City office of the California Highway Patrol while working on a separate investigation, he says. He works now as a licensed private investigator.
Alexander and defendant Deputy Sheriff Ed Fleshman agreed that no criminal charges would be filed, but booked and photographed Barry Brown on felony child-stealing charges, creating a felony arrest record that made its way into national criminal background databases, according to the complaint.
Barry Brown says he was released within a few hours and no charges were filed against him. He says he suffered financial loss and personal embarrassment when the all points bulletin with an enlarged photograph was sent to police in Humboldt County.
Jennifer Brown claims that in March 2012, county sheriffs used excessive force while arresting her, though she was not resisting. They took her to the Crescent City jail and put her in a holding room with glass walls, which was brightly lit day and night and in full view of male correctional officers and the public, according to the complaint.
Jennifer claims she was held in jail there for two days while the jail staff mocked her and refused her requests for medical attention for lupus.
She claims the jail staff even threw a pizza party in front her cell, “celebrating her arrest and further humiliating her.”
After she was arrested, Child Welfare Services took her children into custody “without benefit of due process hearings,” while Crockett had unfettered access to the children, the Browns claim.
Crockett was grated custody of the children in June 2012 and Jennifer Brown was limited to 10 hours of visitation per week, according to the complaint.
Officials Turn a Blind Eye
One of the girls told defendant Child Welfare Services worker Cindy Salatnay in January this year that Crockett had molested her, according to the complaint. Salatnay examined the other girl’s vaginal area and told court-appointed visitation monitor Arlene Kasper “there’s something there,” the Browns say in the complaint.
When Kasper asked Salatnay what she was going to do, Salatnay “said there was nothing she could do as she had been told by her supervisor, defendant [Julie] Cain, that no matter what Jane Doe 1 or 2 said, she (Salatnay) was to come back with either an inconclusive or unsubstantiated report,” according to the complaint.
Kasper said her “hands were tied,” and repeated it in front of two other witnesses, according to the complaint. Kasper is not a party to the complaint.
Though Child Welfare Services documented the molestation allegations, they placed the children in a foster home instead of returning them to their mother, Jennifer Brown claim.
She claims the defendant claimed that she had “created stress on the children by reporting abuse and molest.”
Salatnay returned the girls to Crockett’s custody without supervision in March this year after they refused to repeat the allegations to a male detective, which was done without court authorization though a child dependency petition hearing had been held and a subsequent jurisdictional hearing was set for the next week, the Browns say in the complaint. Jennifer Brown says she was allowed to be with the girls only 5 hours per week under supervised conditions in a small room.
Salatnay then lied to and misled the court in a jurisdictional report in which she argued the girls should be left in Crockett’s custody, the Browns claim.
They claim that “only sham investigations were conducted so as to protect Crockett from scrutiny by law enforcement.”
They seek millions of dollars in damages for conspiracy, false imprisonment, false arrest, defamation, abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, vicarious responsibility and other civil rights violations.
Del Norte County Sheriff Dean Wilson also is named as a defendant.
The Browns are represented by Thomas N. Petersen, with Black, Chapman, Webber & Stevens, of Medford, Oregon.
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Article by Chris Marshall and the Courthouse News Service