Freshwater April 29 & 30: Exploiting kids

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The administrative hearing on the termination of John Freshwater as an 8th grade science teacher in the Mt. Vernon Middle School resumed April 29 and 30 after a 15 week hiatus. These two sessions saw testimony from four adults–Freshwater, Ruth Frady, Sherri Perry, and Lori Hubbell–and a parade of former students in Freshwater’s science class in 2007-2008. I’ll treat the two days as though they were one here.

I’ll get to the students’ testimony after I describe the testimony of Freshwater and the other adults. I’ll say just this above the fold. What we saw in R. Kelly Hamilton’s questioning of the students was the shameless exploitation of students, some of them special needs students, by Hamilton. I’ll explain why that’s the case when I describe the students’ testimony below.

Columbus Dispatch stories on these two days are here and here, while the Mt. Vernon News stories are here and here.

More below the fold

We left off in December 2009 with Freshwater on the stand undergoing redirect examination by R. Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s attorney. His redirect occurred in two fragments on the 29th, and was not completed due to interruptions caused by scheduling of other witnesses.

We learned that the abrupt adjournment of the hearing on January 15, 2010, was due to the arrival of anonymous letters sent to Freshwater and Superintendent Steve Short identifying additional materials from Freshwater’s classroom that had allegedly not been forthcoming in response to subpoenas from Freshwater. The long hiatus was to allow time for examination of those materials by Freshwater and his attorney and for preparation of more witnesses. In April Hamilton requested that subpoenas be issued for (at least) 16 additional witnesses.

Freshwater redirect

Continued from December 2009.

Hamilton spent the first part of re-direct attempting to establish the premise that the district had not been fully forthcoming in its responses to subpoenas for materials from Freshwater’s classroom. Freshwater testified that he first learned the district held additional materials on January 15, 2010, the day after an anonymous letter with 5 pictures enclosed arrived. The pictures enclosed with the letter showed material like a file labeled “Freshwater Room Inventory” which Freshwater testified he had not made. There was a copy of a letter from Elle Button (another 8th grade science teacher) to Freshwater; a lesson plan of Freshwater’s containing a note from Debbie McDaniel, a previous middle school principal; a xerox of a a photo of four teacher’s editions of science textbooks, four with Freshwater’s name on them; and a photo of one of the “motivational posters” Freshwater had in his room (“You can build a throne with bayonets, but you can’t sit on it long.”). Freshwater testified that those had been left in his room when he left the school after being suspended.

Freshwater testified that knowing of those and other materials would have been of aid in preparing his case to retain his job. He testified that he did not know who the anonymous source is nor did he have any clues as to the identity.

[There was a break in Freshwater’s redirect here to accommodate other witnesses, but I’ll finish him before moving to the other witnesses.]

Resuming redirect, Freshwater testified that when he and his attorney heard about the existence of additional materials from his room, he, together with the referee and several attorneys (Freshwater’s and the board’s and insurance company’s), conducted an inspection of those materials on January 15, 2010, pursuant to a public records request. He testified that there were worksheets, tests, quizzes, seating charts, videos, lab/demo specimens (a preserved snake, deer antlers, etc.), and some “personal stuff.” The five textbooks shown in one of the photos from the anonymous letter were not there. In all Freshwater said there were approximately 17 boxes of such material in the district offices.

Freshwater testified that in March he and his attorney received copies of all the material held by the district, and he then instructed Hamilton to begin interviewing students.

Hamilton showed a short powerpoint presentation. The first slide was two halves of an 8.5x11 paper, with text (typed or machine-printed) on both halves. The top half was the anonymous note received by Superintendent Short on Jan 14, while the bottom half was the anonymous note received by Freshwater. Judging from the match of the somewhat irregular cut between the halves it looked like they came from the same piece of paper.

Other slides showed boxes of materials and some individual materials, and one showed a small unlighted room off a women’s bathroom in which the material was apparently stored and from which they were retrieved for the Jan 15 inspection.

At this point Freshwater’s redirect examination was suspended again to accommodate other witnesses, and it did not resume in this two days of the hearing.

Sherri Perry Direct Examination

The next witness was Sherri Perry, daughter-in-law of a former Superintendent (George Perry) and sister-in-law of Superintendent Short. As far as I know she herself is not officially connected to the school district. Her son was a student in Freshwater’s science class some years ago.

Hamilton introduced an email she had sent to members of the Board of Education, Director of Teaching and Learning Weston, and Superintendent Maley in 2003 in support of Freshwater’s “objective origins” science curriculum proposal. She argued that Freshwater was only trying to present all sides regarding theories of origins, and that he should be able to “objectively present all facts and theories.” She said “Darwin’s theory is indeed a theory and should be taught as such.” Other theories should be taught as well. Asked for examples, she named Big Bang theory.

She said she assumed all scientific theories were taught. She said education is a process by which theories and facts are analyzed. She said that anything that anything short of that trains children to be too narrow, and it should not stop when it comes to evaluating the theory of evolution.

She testified that Freshwater “may have been singled out because he held traditional beliefs about the origin of the world.” Her son Joe, who had Freshwater in science class, wrote a letter in support of Freshwater’s proposal 2003 that was read to the Board of Education.

She testified that based on her understanding, Freshwater was only attempting to objectively analyze scientific theories with students. (She used “objectively” a lot. Recall that Freshwater’s 2003 proposal was lifted verbatim from Intelligent Design Network.)

She testified that from hearsay in 2003 she thought initially that Freshwater was proposing to teach creationism or intelligent design, but when she learned that he “just wanted to objectively evaluate the theory of evolution” she was surprised that he couldn’t teach the “holes” (her word) in the theory of evolution. Asked what “holes,” she said the theory “… takes findings from various areas and combines them. Some things are taken on assumption.”

Sherri Perry Cross Examination

In cross examination David Millstone asked Perry what assumptions she was referring to. She couldn’t remember. She said, “It’s a theory based on some scientific evidence, and there are periods of time when there is a lack of evidence” … “It is a theory. All theories of the origin of the world are theories” (emphasis in her intonation). Asked, she said “A theory is a hypothesis that is based on gathered data.”

Regarding her email to the BOE in 2003, Millstone quoted her as writing “Because Christianity is a major religion of the world it should be permitted.” Asked if it should be permitted in science class, she replied “Yes.”

That ended her cross; there was no redirect or recross.

Lori Hubbell Direct Examination

Ms. Hubbell is a caretaker for a male student in Freshwater’s class who was allegedly shocked on his back with the Tesla coil the same day Zachary Dennis was marked. He is a special needs student, and she testified that it was doubtful that he could accurately or reliably report the incident. She reported that professionals at the coordinator of the boy’s health care, Moundbuilder’s Guidance Center, were of the opinion that it would not be in the boy’s best interests to testify in the hearing. She provided a letter from them to that effect.

She testified that the boy thought highly of both Freshwater and Superintendent Short. She said that Freshwater spent a good deal of one-on-one time with the boy, tutoring him in the subject matter.

She testified that during his interview with the boy (in the caretaker’s presence), he played the “Watchmaker” video for him and he denied having seen it before. She testified that the boy had identified a red mark on his side or back (it was described as both at one time or another in testimony) as having been produced by the Tesla coil.

She testified that she had been Freshwater’s student in science class in 8th grade, identifying the year as 2001. She testified that Freshwater never mentioned religion or God in class.

Lori Hubbell Cross Examination

Cross was brief. The only noteworthy testimony was that Hubbell said that the boy described the incident in which he was marked as “an accident.”

Ruth Frady Direct Examination

Ruth Frady was a paraprofessional in the middle school in 2007-2008, an aide in several areas. She said she wanted to testify to clarify and address some aspects of the report of her comments in the HR OnCall investigative report.

She testified that she has known Freshwater since 2007, but knew of him earlier because her children went through Mt. Vernon middle school. She started attending Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings in 2007 on Freshwater’s invitation. He invited her because “he knew I was a Christian.” She attended both the Monday leadership meetings and Tuesday regular membership meetings.

Asked about the HR OnCall report, she said that she was concerned about how it described her “input,” and that material she provided was left out of the report. She said that she had “… proof that he did not say what he was accused of saying.” She said that the investigators’ report seemed “omissive” and therefore slanted against Freshwater.

She testified that had the prayer circle had the character of an exorcism or had Freshwater been an active participant/leader of it, she would have objected and reported it to the principal.

She testified that the Monday FCA leadership meetings were casual and “laid back,” and that Freshwater was typically at his desk doing school work and generally did not participate. She testified that Freshwater never made speaker suggestions and that to her knowledge the students always made the calls to speakers. Attendance at the leadership meetings was 6 to 10 students, and around 30 students at the Tuesday meetings. After parental permission slips were required for the Tuesday meetings attendance fell off to around 15.

She testified that it was she who mentioned “Satan” in the prayer circle that FCA members, Frady, and Freshwater formed around Pastor Zirkle that has been described as a “healing ceremony” and “exorcism” in various contexts. In such a prayer circle, the participants form a circle around the person being prayed for, all of them touching that person. Members of the circle individually pray aloud as they wish. She testified that in her prayer she said something to the effect of ‘Don’t let Satan bring this man down.’ (That’s not a direct quote, but it’s close.) That’s consistent with the pastor’s testimony.

She testified that Freshwater was also in the prayer circle about 4 feet from her. She had her eyes closed so she didn’t see what he did. The bell for the end of that period rang during the prayer circle, and after a 5-10 second pause Freshwater said something innocuous about ending and said “Amen.”

Hamilton referred to Zachary Dennis’s testimony in which he said that Freshwater raised his arms and prayed to the effect of ‘Satan, devil, you can’t have this man.’ She said that didn’t happen and that she would have reported it had he done so.

Ruth Frady Cross Examination

Millstone pointed to several passages in the investigators’ report that seemed to contradict Frady’s perception of it being “omissive.” He read a passage that said there was no evidence that Freshwater had mentioned Satan. She responded that it was omissive because she told the investigators that she had mentioned Satan and the report didn’t contain that fact. She didn’t recall who initiated the prayer circle and agreed that it could have been Freshwater.

Frady agreed that in the report she used the words “concluding prayer” to describe Freshwater’s verbalization closing the prayer session.

Ruth Frady Re-Direct Examination

Hamilton asked if HR OnCall elicited a written statement from her. They had not.

Frady commented that “I work a lot with students and I don’t share my faith with them.”

There was no re-cross.

Student Testimony

Hamilton called 10 students who were in Freshwater’s 8th grade science class 8th period in 2007-2008, the class at issue with respect to the Tesla coil procedure. I will not here name them, but will refer to them by clever pseudonyms (Girl A, Girl B, etc.). I’ve decided not to name them for a couple of reasons. First, they were in varying degrees anxious about testifying. Second, they were led by Hamilton’s questioning to make some serious allegations, and to identify those allegations with specific students would raise the possibility of recriminations among classmates in the school. The school has seen enough hassle without that exacerbating it. Finally, some of the students are special needs (“IEP”) students and that fact was mentioned in their testimony. I don’t care to embarrass them or their parents by naming them.

First, bear in mind that these students are all currently minors, 15 or 16 years old and sophomores in high school. Hamilton apparently began actively interviewing students from that class in early April. He generally contacted them by phone before meeting with them, and usually got permission from their parents/guardian to interview them. That was not always the case. In several instances Hamilton interviewed a student and obtained an affidavit from that student without a parent or guardian being present. In at least one case Hamilton interviewed a minor student and obtained an affidavit from that minor student without the parents even knowing the student was being interviewed, say nothing of swearing to a document in front of a lawyer. I don’t know how the bar association feels about that, but I see it as unethical at best.

This is why I used the title “Exploiting kids” for this post. First, in his re-enactment Hamilton misrepresented Zachary’s (and implicitly Taylor Strack’s) testimony concerning the use of the Tesla coil. Second, he used a hypothetical question based on that re-enactment to induce several of the students to say Zachary (and by implication Strack) was lying. Third, he interviewed some minor students out of the presence of their parents/guardians, and in at least one case without the knowledge of the student’s parents/guardians. Fourth, he used special needs kids. Fifth, Hamilton produced an unwarranted and disruptive (and in my opinion staged) outburst during the testimony of one student that so distressed that student that we had to take a break for her to recompose herself to resume her testimony. FInally, Hamilton had a sophomore student shilling his cards around the high school without permission from the district.

Hamilton’s questioning of the students followed a common script, with variations depending on the specific student. The script had basically this outline:

1. Elicit identifying information and information concerning how Hamilton obtained an affidavit from the student. The affidavits were written by the students themselves, apparently using Hamilton’s notes from the interview. They were signed and sworn before Hamilton.

2. Hamilton would ask them about the video (the “Watchmaker” vid (see Mahan testimony here) he showed them on a laptop, asking whether they had seen it before.

3. Hamilton had the students draw a diagram showing where they sat in the class.

4. Hamilton would question them about the Tesla coil incident. As part of that, he put on a heavily over-dramatized re-enactment of Zachary’s description ). Hamilton’s re-enactment misrepresented Zachary’s testimony in important respects. For example, Zachary testified that he put his hand on the surface of the overhead projector and that Freshwater held his hand down and drew the cross shape on his arm with the Tesla coil. In his re-enactment, however, Hamilton, playing the role of Zachary, stooped and held his whole forearm, fist clenched, on the overhead projector’s plate. Playing Freshwater, Hamilton laid his forearm, against with fist clenched, on top of the arm already on the overhead. His motions were large, abrupt, and dramatic. Contrast that with Taylor Strack’s description of how it occurred:

She testified that Freshwater asked if anyone in the class wanted to try it (being zapped). A student would approach him at the front of the room and put an arm on the overhead projector and Freshwater would apply the arc to the arm. She testified that if the student asked Freshwater to stop, he would stop. That is consistent with Zachary Dennis’ description of what happened. Overall, it’s not clear in her testimony whether Freshwater put his hand on a student’s hand on the overhead or not. She implied both that he did and didn’t during her testimony.

And see Zachary’s testimony:

[Freshwater] then solicited volunteers to be zapped individually. Zach described how he placed his hand on the plate of an overhead projector. According to Zach’s testimony, Freshwater held his hand down and made two vertical passes with the Tesla coil and two horizontal passes. Zach testified that Freshwater told him that “It was like a temporary tattoo and those crosses would last a while.”

5. Hamilton asked whether Freshwater taught religious ideas in class.

6. For those students who participated in FCA Hamilton asked some questions about Freshwater’s behavior there.

7. For a couple of students there were questions concerning the contents of the “black bag” which were introduced into evidence. A 400+ page folder containing all the papers and photos in the black bag was introduced into evidence.

I’ll briefly summarize each student’s testimony, elaborating where appropriate. It was noteworthy that several of the girls went to Freshwater after their testimony and hugged him. Note also that each case where a student identified a mark as resulting from the procedure contradicts Freshwater’s claims that it didn’t leave marks on students.

Girl A

Direct Examination

Girl A was clearly anxious about testifying. Hamilton had interviewed her at her home and obtained an affidavit from her.

She testified that “she knew he didn’t do it,” based on radio accounts of the charges against Freshwater. She had not talked with the investigators or anyone else from the school about it.

Showed the Watchmaker video, she said she had not seen it before.

She testified that students volunteered for the Tesla coil exercise and that no one complained about it. She said the incident where one student was touched on the back was an accident. She testified that Freshwater did not hold students’ arms during the Tesla coil procedure. She said that he didn’t mention ‘temporary mark’ or ‘tattoo’ with reference to the Tesla coil exercise.

She testified that Freshwater didn’t talk abour religion or his personal beliefs, and didn’t touch his Bible in class. She said students didn’t ask religious questions in class. She wasn’t aware of the Bible on his desk until the allegations became public.

She testified she attended FCA a few times, but stopped when the permission slip policy was introduced.

Cross examination

In cross examination she testified that she couldn’t remember what a Tesla coil is used for, didn’t remember Freshwater stimulating tubes of various gases to show the different colors, didn’t remember whether the tip of the Tesla coil or just the arc touched the arms of student volunteers, and didn’t remember the ‘daisy chain’ exercise with the Tesla coil.

Millstone moved to the use of the Tesla coil on the students. As he did so Girl A began to be somewhat distressed. Millstone was attempting to resolve a difference between Girl A’s verbal testimony that Freshwater made just one pass on the arm and her non-verbal demonstration where she showed two passes, one vertical and one horizontal. (Recall that the record on which the referee will base his recommendation is the written record of verbal testimony, and the written transcript will reflect only the verbal testimony of the witness with no gestures indicated.) Girl A was beginning to show some confusion and distress during the questioning, so Millstone started to back off. At that point Hamilton jumped to his feet and advanced into the space between the referee and the witness. He shouted that he had promised that witnesses would be treated with respect and that this is why he had asked that the hearing be closed. He grew so vehement that the witness became very distressed and the referee told Hamilton he wasn’t helping and ordered him to sit down. There was a break in the hearing so the witness could recompose herself.

Hamilton’s outburst was pure theatrics. Nothing in the demeanor of the witness or in Millstone’s questioning warranted it. Millstone is soft-spoken and consistently questions witnesses from a seated position, reducing the intimidation factor. Hamilton was playing to the gallery, pure and simple, exacerbating the witness’s stress as he did so. He had no regard for the witness. He was pretending to be a protector of children by stressing a child.

Girl A then testified that Freshwater’s motion appeared to be an X, and that she saw the mark on kids’ arms later.

She did not recall Freshwater teaching about hydrosphere theory. She said Freshwater talked about evolution and that people could believe what they want. She didn’t recall the use of “here” in class.

Girl B

Direct examination

After the same preliminaries of identification, interview, affidavit, and seating diagram, Girl B testified that she had not previously seen the Watchmaker video.

She remembered the Tesla coil class, and after Hamilton’s exaggerated re-enactment said she didn’t see Zachary’s arm being held down. She didn’t recall any mention of temporary tattoo or crosses by Freshwater. Hamilton didn’t do his re-enactment for Girl B, perhaps because she’d told him in their interview what she later said in cross examination (see below).

She testified that she didn’t see Freshwater’s personal Bible on his desk, and that he didn’t visit Answers in Genesis during class.

Hamilton then turned to the ‘black bag’ materials. One item in the black bag was a letter Girl B had written for an assignment in an English class late in the 2007-2008 school year. The assignment was to write a letter to someone who had an influence on her and deliver it to that person. Girl B wrote to Freshwater and her letter was included in the black bag. She agreed that she wrote the letter.

Cross examination

In cross Girl B said that Freshwater first used the Tesla coil to show what it did to different gases. He then used it on himself. He then asked for volunteers and used it on them. She said Freshwater was standing beside the overhead projector and “He would hold their arm and he would use it.” Asked, she said she could see it left a mark on all of them. She wasn’t sure of the shape of the mark(s).

She recalled the ‘daisy chain’ exercise.

She didn’t recall Freshwater teaching hydrosphere theory or about vapor canopies.

She knew there were posters in the room but couldn’t recall what was on them.

Girl B redirect

Hamilton asked if Taylor Strack and two others whose names I didn’t get were in the same English class in which she wrote the letter assignment. She couldn’t recall.

Girl C

Girl C direct

Once again we went through the preliminaries of interview and affidavit. Girl C was concerned about testifing because Taylor Strack told her it was “scary.”

When shown the Watchmaker video by Hamilton in their interview she said she had not seen it before. Even though he had shown it to her a few weeks ago she couldn’t remember what it was about.

Regarding the Tesla coil incident, she testified that no one got hurt, and all were volunteers. After Hamilton’s over-dramatized re-enactment she said she “didn’t see anything like that.”

She drew a seating diagram showing where she sat. She saw the boy get touched by the Tesla coil. Hamilton asked, “If Zachary Dennis said Freshwater looked like he intentionally zapped the boy, what would you say?” “He’s lying,” she replied.

Hamilton asked, “If Zachary Dennis said Freshwater held his arm down what would you say”? “He’s lying.”

She testified that Freshwater said something about a mark but that it would go away.

Asked about religious items in the room, she identified the Ten Commandments on the wall.

She said she attended FCA 10 or 11 times, but quit when the permission slip policy was instituted.

She said she was a good friend of Zachary Dennis and had a text message exchange with him in 9th grade. She said that she’d heard he had made the complaint and texted him asking if it was so. She said he responded that his “parents blew it out of proportion.”

Girl C cross

She testified that she saw Freshwater touch the boy in the back with the Tesla coil.

She described the volunteering process, saying that Freshwater called on people to ask if they wanted to do it. She described Freshwater making a two-pass “X” with the Tesla coil on their arms and that he told them it would leave a mark.

She testified that the Ten Commandments were high on the wall opposite her, and “they went around the room.”

Millstone asked her about the questionnaire Freshwater gave to students the first day of his class in August 2007. She didn’t recall it. Shown the questionnaire she had filled out she remembered. Millstone asked about the exercise in which students were shown an object and were to write a paragraph or two describing it. She said that Freshwater told them it was 400 billion years old, and that “they found someone who had stepped on a trilobite.” She said Freshwater showed a picture of a footprint in cement on a trilobite. She said “The’re too old to be still alive.”

She didn’t recall being asked about religion on a questionnaire.

Girl C redirect

Hamilton asked if the incident where the boy got zapped on the back was an accident. She replied that it was.

Hamilton asked of the trilobite exercise was a “creative writing assignment.” She replied that it was. Asked if it was to compare a fossil and something in concrete, she responded “Yes.” She was asked if it was intended to teach the scientific method and she answered “Yes.” He asked if it cast doubt on evolution, and she responded “No.” Was it her first introduction to the scientific method? Yes.

Hamilton asked if the question on a questionnaire that asked “Is religion is important to me” was offensive. She said “No.” Was Freshwater tring to promote religion? No. Did he spend much time on it? No.

Hamilton showed her a picture of a bulletin board with a Cross Club poster (predecessor of FCA) on it. She identified it as being in the front of the classroom.

Girl C recross

Millstone asked her if she’d talked to anyone during the break (we took a break during her testimony). She replied she’d talked with Hamilton about it. Hamilton then asked if he had attempted to influence her testimony and she replied “No.”

Girl D

Girl D direct

Again we went through the interview/affidavit prologue. Girl D said she feared “lawyers twisting my words.”

Shown the Watchmaker video by Hamilton during their interview she said she had not seen it before. “It was very odd.”

She said she thinks she was in class the day of the Tesla coil incident. She said she didn’t see Freshwater hold an arm down during the deomnstration. When Hamilton did his dramatic re-enactment she said she didn’t see that. She said Freshwater didn’t say anything about a temporary tattoo or a mark. She said Freshwater made an “X” on the arms, and was sure it wasn’t a cross.

Asked about the boy who was allegedly touched on the back with the Tesla coil, she said “That never happened. I don’t remember that.” She said no one complained about being touched with the Tesla coil.

She said Freshwater never held up a Bible in class, and that she didn’t notice it on his desk. She said if Zachary Dennis said Freshwater had held up a Bible in class, “He never done that.” She said Freshwater never talked about the Bible or about God.

Girl D cross

Millstone asked what theTesla coil lesson was. She replied “Energy. Demonstrating electricity.”

Girl D described the Tesla coil as “a pointy thing”, “a pin-point … hooked up to a big square box … with a cord to an outlet.” She said it was on the table where the overhead normally was.

She said Zachary and the other volunteers went up and Freshwater touched them with “the pin thing.” He “did an X.” He did the same with each volunteer, she said. She testified that he said “The mark would go away in a little while.”

She didn’t remember the glowing tubes of gases nor the daisy chain exercise. She said doing the marks on the volunteers was the only thing done with the Tesla coil that day.

She did not recall if there was a debate on evolution and creationism, nor did she recall mention of hydrosphere theory or water canopies. She remembered videos about volcanoes, the earth, and so on.

Girl D redirect

Asked by Hamilton, she agreed it was hard to remember 8th grade.

Girl E

Girl E direct

Once again we did the interview/affidavit intro and the seating diagram exercise.

Again, shown the Watchmaker video by Hamilton during the interview, she said she had never seen it before.

On the day of the Tesla coil incident, she testified, Freshwater did not hold anyone’s arm down. She said all were volunteers, and no one cried out or showed pain. She knew Zachary Dennis well–she rode the bus with him. Given Hamilton’s dramatic re-enactment, she said “It never happened.” Pressed, she said he “would not be telling the truth.”

She recalled the exercise with the gas-filled tubes.

She said Freshwater didn’t hold up the Bible or talk about it. She didn’t see it on his desk.

She said Freshwater did not talk abou creationism or intelligent design. Regarding the incident where the boy was touched on the back with the Tesla coil, she said she didn’t see it. The boy said something about it later, she said.

She rode the bus with Zachary after school that day, sitting a row or two behind him. He and two friends were looking at the mark on Zachary’s arm. According to her he did not complain of pain, and she thought that the mark appeared to be fading. She was surprised n the picture of Zachary’s arm in the newspaper, and thought it looked worse in the photograph than it did on the bus that day.

Girl E never attended FCA.

Girl E cross

Asked by Millstone, Girl E did not recall an evolution/creationism debate, or discussions of Good Friday or Easter.

Asked to describe the procedure with the volunteers, she said that Freshwater stood to the side of the overhead. The volunteer would hold out an arm. She said Freshwater didn’t force them down, and he made one line up the arm and one across. She drew a cross shape on her own arm. She testified that he said it “show up for for a couple of minutes.”

She didn’t remember the daisy chain exercise, nor whether Freshwater used the Tesla coil on himself.

She couldn’t recall the beginning of year questionnaire. Showed her own questionnaire, she didn’t recall the trilobite exercise.

Asked if she saw the mark on Zachary’s arm, she replied “Yes.” Asked what it looked like, she said “a cross or T.”

Girl E redirect

Hamilton asked if kids got excited when the Tesla coil came out. She replied that they did. He asked if Freshwater ever asked religious questions. She replied he did not.

Girl F

Girl F direct

Again, we went through the interview/affidavit/seeting diagram preliminaries.

Girl F though she had seen the Watchmaker video before, but she couldn’t recall when or where. She said it showed “a different way the world had come.”

Asked about the Tesla coil exercise, she didn’t remember the gas tube demonstration. She testified that she did not recall Freshwater holding anyone’s arm down, and she didn’t recall where the overhead was. Shown Hamilton’s dramatic re-enactment, she said she didn’t see that. She couldn’t remember if she herself had volunteered–Zachary had testified that she did, but she couldn’t recall whether she did or not.

Asked, she said Freshwater didn’t talk about the Bible in class, and she didn’t remember seeing one on his desk.

She was another of the students who did the English class writing assignment that was in the black bag. Shown hers, she couldn’t remember much about it.

Girl F cross

Asked b Millstone, she couldn’t recall if she saw the Watchmaker video in Freshwater’s class.

Regarding the Tesla coil demonstrations, she said he may have tried it on himself. “I don’t rell remember much about it.”

Boy A

Once again we saw the interview/affidavit/seating diagram exercises.

Shown the Watchmaker video during his interview with Hamilton, Boy A said he had not seen itbefore.

On the Tesla coil incident, Boy A recalled the gas tubes demonstration. He didn’t recall theboy being touched on the back with the Tesla coil.

Given Hamilton’s dramatic re-enactment, Boy A said he didn’t see anything like that. Pressed by Hamilton, he said Zach must be lying.

Boy A was one of the volunteers. He said on a pain scale of 0 to 5, it was a 0. Asked about the pattern Freshwater traced, Boy A said one line straight down. Freshwater did it on himself first, Boy A testified.

Boy A said he saw Freshwater’s Bible on his desk. He went to FCA once.

Boy A cross

In cross Boy A testified that he didn’t remember the one FCA meeting he went to.

Boy A testified that Hamilton geve him some of his cards and asked him to distribute the cards to students in school. (A teacher got wind of that and reported it to the principal, who put a stop to it.)

Boy A testified that the Tesla coil contact felt “weird.” He testified that Freshwater said that the Tesla coil might leave a small mark. He remembered the daisy chain exercise and the gas tube demonstration. He said the mark on his arm lasted 2 or 3 minutes before fading.

Boy B

Boy B direct

Again, the interview/affidavit/seating chart exercises.

Again, shown the video by Hamilton during their interview, Boy B said he had not seen it before.

Regarding the Tesla coil events, he said he didn’t remember the gas tube demonstration. Asked if he recalled the Tesla coil being used, he replied, “Not really.”

Given Hamilton’s re-enactment, Boy B said he didn’t even remember Zachary getting up. He didn’t remember the incident of the boy being touchedon the back with the Tesla coil.

Asked, Boy B said he couldn’t remember if Freshwater mentioned intelligent design, creationism, God, or the Bible. He didn’t remember if Freshwater ised the “here” code. Finally (and perhapsnot surprisingly), Boy B didn’t recall seeing a Bible on Fershwater’s desk.

Boy B cross

In cross Boy B volunteered that he does not have a real good memory for that year because, he said unprompted, he was on ADHD medication.

Boy C

Again the interview/affidavit/seating diagram introductory material.

Boy C bought Boy D with him to the interview without either’s parents and without Boy D’s parents even knowing he was going to the interview.

Again, shown it by Hamilton, Boy C said he had not seen the Watchmaker video before.

Given Hamilton’s dramatic re-enactment, Boy C said he didn’t see that happen and had he seen it he would have jumped up to help the person whose arm was being held down. Pressed by Hamilton on a hypothetical, Boy C said Zachary would not be telling the truth if he said that happened.

Boy C was also a volunteer, and rated the pain as 1 on a 0 to 5 scale. He testified that he saw no one hurt that day. He testified that he did not see the boy touched on the back with the Tesla coil.

He did not hear Freshwater say anything about temporary tattoo or cross marks with reference to the Tesla coil.

He said he did not hear Freshwater say anything about religion in class, nor did he see the Bible on Freshwater’s desk.

Boy C cross

Asked by Millstone, Boy C couldn’t remember who volunteered for the Tesla coil exercise. Asked if Zachar had volunteered, Boy C replied that he had.

Asked, Boy C now said Freshwater said there may be a temporary mark from the Tesla coil. He said Freshwater moved the Tesla coil “down and across.” He said it didn’t leave a mark on him.

He didn’t recall an evolution/creationism debate. He didn’t attend FCA. Asked, he said there were not Ten Commandments posters in Freshwater’s room.

Boy D

Boy D direct

Minor Boy D’s parents were unaware that he was being interviewed and an affidavit solicited and obtained from him by attorney Hamilton. He went with Boy C to meet Hamilton, and Hamilton apparently regarded him as a target of opportunity.

Again we covered the interview/affidavit/seating diagram introduction.

Again, shown the video by Hamilton, Boy D said he’d never seen it before.

Regarding the Tesla coil incident, he did not remember the gas tube demonstration. He was one of the volunteers and testified that it felt like “static.” He rated it a 0 on the 0-5 pain scale. Boy D testified that Freshwater said nothing about a temporary tattoo or cross.

Seeing Hamilton’s dramatic re-enactment, Boy D said he didn’t see that. He said he saw Zachary being zapped. Pressed for a hypothetical, he said, “I think he’s lying, to tell you the truth.

Boy D testified that he didn’t know Freshwater had a Bible on his desk, and Freshwater never talked about creationism or intelligent design.

Boy D cross

Millstone asked if Hamilton had talked to his parents before the interview along with Boy C. He answered “No.”

On the Tesla coil incident, he testified that Freshwater asked for volunteers to “see what it felt like.” People raised their hands and came up when Freshwater called on them. He doesn’t remember who was first, nor who else volunteered except Boy C. (Yes, I know that’s different from his direct testimony,) HE did not recall Freshwater saying it would leave a mark. He didn’t remember the daisy chain.

Thus endeth those two days.

The next scheduled hearing date is June 2, and they’re tring to get 5 days in before the summer recess. Yes, my children, we’re recessing for the summer again if we don’t finish by June 8. I still haven’t heard if the federal trial is going ahead on May 24 given the recent withdrawal of two of Freshwater’s trial attorneys.

38 Comments

A beautifully organized summary. Not only is the case sad (and interesting) but I’m learning a lot from you on how to organize the presentation of materials. Thanks!

Alix says hi.

I have to wonder, for the kids who claim not to have seen the Watchmaker Video, are they lying due to social pressure and the like or did they just pay so little attention in class as to not remember it?

Rilke’s Granddaughter said:

A beautifully organized summary. Not only is the case sad (and interesting) but I’m learning a lot from you on how to organize the presentation of materials. Thanks!

Alix says hi.

Many thanks for the kind words.

And hi to Alix! :)

Joshua Zelinsky said:

I have to wonder, for the kids who claim not to have seen the Watchmaker Video, are they lying due to social pressure and the like or did they just pay so little attention in class as to not remember it?

Back when I was professing at a very good private liberal arts college, when a student in intro was getting in trouble in the class I’d have them come in to my office, bringing their class notes and text. Reviewing their notes, there were times when I couldn’t even tell what course they were supposed to be for. Some kids have no clue what’s going on in classes.

My guess is that they flat don’t remember due to inattention and/or interference effects in memory due to seeing a whole lot of videos in middle school classes.

My guess is that they flat don’t remember due to inattention and/or interference effects in memory due to seeing a whole lot of videos in middle school classes.

That’s consistent with my own experience TAing. It might have been interesting on the cross to have picked a few other classroom education videos and seen if they could identify which they had seen (using some that were fixed in the curriculum and some were definitely not used).

Thanks RBH. I’ve been following your coverage since this shyster was first uncovered. One thing I’m very interested in, and one thing I’m not hearing much about is the, ‘court of public opinion’, and how this hub-cap is playing to the ‘man on the street’, as it were. What is the feeling in town? I know they are liars, you know they are liars, the readers of your coverage know they are liars; what about the townsfolk? Is it as plainly obvious to them, that they have in their midst a liar on vast scale; albeit for god.

Keep up your sterling work.

robert van bakel said:

Thanks RBH. I’ve been following your coverage since this shyster was first uncovered. One thing I’m very interested in, and one thing I’m not hearing much about is the, ‘court of public opinion’, and how this hub-cap is playing to the ‘man on the street’, as it were.

As you might expect, there are four basic positions around here:


1. The true believers, for whom Freshwater is being martyred for his faith.

2. Those who think, as you note, that he is at the very best badly misguided and would be a whole lot better off teaching in a private Christian school rather than the public schools.

3. The “a pox on both your houses” contingent who are mainly concerned with the amount of money this is costing the district. They’re split on who they blame, with (my guess) a majority blaming Freshwater.

4. The “Huh? What?” contingent, who don’t pay any attention to it.

I’d be hard pressed to assign trustworthy numbers to those categories, but 2 is pretty large and growing as the hearing goes on, and 3 is also large and growing.

Very nice write-up RBH.

I seem to recall that at one point Freshwater claimed he never marked anyone with the Tesla coil. Now he’s got 10 of his own witnesses testifying he did.

Aside from that I don’t understand all the emphasis on whether Freshwater held their arm(s) or not. They are minors; their consent has little to do with the issue of whether it was irresponsible for Freshwater to mark them. Or maybe I do understand - maybe Hamilton is hoping that by questioning whether each individual tree is an oak or an elm, everyone will miss seeing the forest.

RBH said: In several instances Hamilton interviewed a student and obtained an affidavit from that student without a parent or guardian being present. In at least one case Hamilton interviewed a minor student and obtained an affidavit from that minor student without the parents even knowing the student was being interviewed…

Question to RBH or any lawyers - could this be the reason the two attorneys quit? Would such actions be sufficiently questionable that the lawyers could legitimately leave the case?

Good job, Richard. As always.

One of the problems is the conflicting testimony from the students, where in some classes Freshwater seemed to have pressed biblical themes hard, and other classes where he didn’t. And Freshwater (a la Hamilton) is vigorously denying use of assessment questionnaires at the start of the class year. What if Freshwater used the questionnaire results to gauge how safe it was to teach bible doctrine on science? He could then sit down with Hamilton and say which class he didn’t push the bible. Hamilton could then parade those students before the school board and make Freshwater look good.

robert van bakel said:

Thanks RBH. I’ve been following your coverage since this shyster was first uncovered. One thing I’m very interested in, and one thing I’m not hearing much about is the, ‘court of public opinion’, and how this hub-cap is playing to the ‘man on the street’, as it were. What is the feeling in town? I know they are liars, you know they are liars, the readers of your coverage know they are liars; what about the townsfolk? Is it as plainly obvious to them, that they have in their midst a liar on vast scale; albeit for god.

Keep up your sterling work.

I’d say RBH’s answer is pretty much dead on. From where I sit in Mt Vernon, it’s difficult to get a sense of the entirety of the population since the very hard liners, pro-Freshwater aren’t attending church with me, sending their children the same places I’m sending mine, etc. I think the onyl universal feeling is “can this please be over soon”.

Tomorrow’s a vote on a renewal levy for the school system. There hasn’t been an organized effort against the levy (perhaps because pro-Freshwater school board member Steve Thompson spoke in favor of the levy renewal), but people in group 3 upset about the money spent may vote against it. We’ve already passed one renewal since this fiasco began, and I’m hopeful we’ll do the same again tomorrow.

RBH said:

robert van bakel said:

Thanks RBH. I’ve been following your coverage since this shyster was first uncovered. One thing I’m very interested in, and one thing I’m not hearing much about is the, ‘court of public opinion’, and how this hub-cap is playing to the ‘man on the street’, as it were.

As you might expect, there are four basic positions around here:


1. The true believers, for whom Freshwater is being martyred for his faith.

2. Those who think, as you note, that he is at the very best badly misguided and would be a whole lot better off teaching in a private Christian school rather than the public schools.

3. The “a pox on both your houses” contingent who are mainly concerned with the amount of money this is costing the district. They’re split on who they blame, with (my guess) a majority blaming Freshwater.

4. The “Huh? What?” contingent, who don’t pay any attention to it.

I’d be hard pressed to assign trustworthy numbers to those categories, but 2 is pretty large and growing as the hearing goes on, and 3 is also large and growing.

There’s no 5th position? The position that somebody who would brand a cross on a kids arm is a creepy old man with a sick fetish who should not be allowed to be around children even in a private school?

eric said:

Very nice write-up RBH.

I seem to recall that at one point Freshwater claimed he never marked anyone with the Tesla coil. Now he’s got 10 of his own witnesses testifying he did.

That’s correct.

Aside from that I don’t understand all the emphasis on whether Freshwater held their arm(s) or not. They are minors; their consent has little to do with the issue of whether it was irresponsible for Freshwater to mark them. Or maybe I do understand - maybe Hamilton is hoping that by questioning whether each individual tree is an oak or an elm, everyone will miss seeing the forest.

All that was aimed at impeaching Zach Dennis’s account of the incident and by extension his credibility.

JRE wrote:

“We’ve already passed one renewal since this fiasco began, and I’m hopeful we’ll do the same again tomorrow.”

Agreed. It is certainly a shame that all of the money wasted on this nonsense could have been used for real education in the first place. It would certainly be a shame if there was a voter backlash now that would harm real education. However, it might be good if the school district were to declare bankruptcy and force Freshwater to pay all of the court costs. They could then get a new school board who would no doubt be much more careful about letting their teachers run amok. Somehow that would seem like poetic justice for all of the crap this guy has pulled and for the people who let him get away with it for so long. Now that would send the right message to other would-be perpetrators.

Daffyd ap Morgen said: One of the problems is the conflicting testimony from the students, where in some classes Freshwater seemed to have pressed biblical themes hard, and other classes where he didn’t.

Hamilton’s questions seem all over the place. Asking about the whether kids noticed the position of the bible on the desk? What does that have to do with the price of fish?

I’m not sure whether Hamilton actually believes such issues are pertinent to the firing, or if he knows they aren’t and is simply introducing loads of irrelevant data in order to confuse the issue.

I also suspect Hamilton might use the conflicts in testimony as a type of defense. If he shows students, as a group, are generally unreliable as witnesses, then by implication Zack Dennis’ claims (that he was burned) is unreliable - never mind that marking students is one event the students all appear to agree happened. Its sort of like saying “if you can’t remember whether the bird chirped at 12:01 or 12:05, your claim to have seen my client commit murder is unreliable.” Pretty lousy defense but there it is.

eric said:

Daffyd ap Morgen said: One of the problems is the conflicting testimony from the students, where in some classes Freshwater seemed to have pressed biblical themes hard, and other classes where he didn’t.

Hamilton’s questions seem all over the place. Asking about the whether kids noticed the position of the bible on the desk? What does that have to do with the price of fish?

I’m not sure whether Hamilton actually believes such issues are pertinent to the firing, or if he knows they aren’t and is simply introducing loads of irrelevant data in order to confuse the issue.

I also suspect Hamilton might use the conflicts in testimony as a type of defense. If he shows students, as a group, are generally unreliable as witnesses, then by implication Zack Dennis’ claims (that he was burned) is unreliable - never mind that marking students is one event the students all appear to agree happened. Its sort of like saying “if you can’t remember whether the bird chirped at 12:01 or 12:05, your claim to have seen my client commit murder is unreliable.” Pretty lousy defense but there it is.

Ladies and gentleman, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookie from the planet Kashyyyk…

Jesse said: There’s no 5th position? The position that somebody who would brand a cross on a kids arm is a creepy old man with a sick fetish who should not be allowed to be around children even in a private school?

No, there isn’t, because Freshwater, for all his faults and mistakes, is in some respects a good man. I share some experiences with him–we’ve both been firefighters, for example–and I don’t regard him as an evil or creepy man.

I do think he’s made bad decisions and serious mistakes. He has acted on execrably bad advice from people who have neither his nor the students’ best interests in mind. He is deluded about the nature of the world in important respects and he insulates himself within a socio-cultural and religious context that only reinforces those delusions and actively discourages examination of them. But he also has some admirable traits. That’s part of the tragedy of this affair. Very few people are simply this or that.

RBH said:

Jesse said: There’s no 5th position? The position that somebody who would brand a cross on a kids arm is a creepy old man with a sick fetish who should not be allowed to be around children even in a private school?

No, there isn’t, because Freshwater, for all his faults and mistakes, is in some respects a good man. I share some experiences with him–we’ve both been firefighters, for example–and I don’t regard him as an evil or creepy man.

I do think he’s made bad decisions and serious mistakes. He has acted on execrably bad advice from people who have neither his nor the students’ best interests in mind. He is deluded about the nature of the world in important respects and he insulates himself within a socio-cultural and religious context that only reinforces those delusions and actively discourages examination of them. But he also has some admirable traits. That’s part of the tragedy of this affair. Very few people are simply this or that.

Richard,

He branded a religious symbol on a kid’s arm of his own volition. That makes up for a lot of the good things he may have done in life. That is creepy. Bad advice or not, he has also lied and wasted a lot of time and a lot of his community’s resources. Judging by his actions, he sees nothing wrong with what he has done. I have a problem with people like that, and I won’t be nice about it in the interests of civility.

eric said:

Daffyd ap Morgen said: One of the problems is the conflicting testimony from the students, where in some classes Freshwater seemed to have pressed biblical themes hard, and other classes where he didn’t.

Hamilton’s questions seem all over the place. Asking about the whether kids noticed the position of the bible on the desk? What does that have to do with the price of fish?

I’m not sure whether Hamilton actually believes such issues are pertinent to the firing, or if he knows they aren’t and is simply introducing loads of irrelevant data in order to confuse the issue.

I also suspect Hamilton might use the conflicts in testimony as a type of defense. If he shows students, as a group, are generally unreliable as witnesses, then by implication Zack Dennis’ claims (that he was burned) is unreliable - never mind that marking students is one event the students all appear to agree happened. Its sort of like saying “if you can’t remember whether the bird chirped at 12:01 or 12:05, your claim to have seen my client commit murder is unreliable.” Pretty lousy defense but there it is.

What Hamilton is doing seems to be the M.O. of the typical creationist. Obfuscation, misrepresentation, ignoring contradictory stories is standard practice in advancing the creationist position. So it comes as no surprise that Hamilton uses those tactics in the Freshwater case.

The sad thing here is that regardless of whether Freshwater wins or loses, the children in his school district have already lost. This whole fiasco has wasted time and money that could have been used to educate. And not only has Freshwater taught religion in science class, he has served as example to children that support him that it is alright to lie as long as it’s for Jesus. I guess the commandment about bearing false witness was as hard to locate in the classroom as the Bible on Freshwater’s desk.

Is this the Freshwater case or is it Jarndyce and Jarndyce?

If we believe the witnesses, Freshwater’s class was utterly forgettable. He uses a Tesla coil to light up tubes of gases in various colors, and his students don’t remember a thing.

Is he trying to prove that he’s a bad teacher?

He branded a religious symbol on a kid’s arm of his own volition. That makes up for a lot of the good things he may have done in life. That is creepy. Bad advice or not, he has also lied and wasted a lot of time and a lot of his community’s resources. Judging by his actions, he sees nothing wrong with what he has done. I have a problem with people like that, and I won’t be nice about it in the interests of civility.

Indeed Jesse.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.

In this country(the UK) anyone who did something like this to children would immediately be brought to the attention of Social Services who, I would imagine, take a very dim view of his/her actions. Does the US have an equivalent ?

Social services have been heavily criticised here for acting with undue haste in some instances:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/a[…]-belief.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clevel[…]buse_scandal

and not enough in others:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Baby_P

You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t as one social worker once said to me.

However, the Freshwater case seems pretty clear cut. In the UK he would likely be suspended and probably prevented from teaching again in any school, Christian or otherwise. After all Richard, what do you think would happen to a Doctor (GP) if they did something like this to a child ? I have absolutely no doubt they’d be struck off.

Freshwater seems to be approaching this the way John Gotti would approach a criminal trial (no insult to the late Mr. Gotti intended).

His strategy simply seems to be “if I can create sufficient confusion and doubt, then you won’t have proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and I won’t be ‘convicted’”.

This indicates a remarkably decadent and degenerate latter-day post-modern version of Christianity.

Rather than defiantly state “I preached the Word of the Lord openly, and I will continue to do so” - the universal approach of all recognized religious martyrs…

Freshwater’s approach seems to be dissembling denial.

“Winning” and “getting away with it” seem to be all that matters, with traditional Christianity or any other kind of ethical system being utterly uninvolved.

harold said: Rather than defiantly state “I preached the Word of the Lord openly, and I will continue to do so” - the universal approach of all recognized religious martyrs…

Yep. Its a long, long fall from “I won’t lie about my convictions, even if you throw me to the lions” to “I’ll lie about my convictions if it gets me a change in the one week evolution unit of the 8th grade science class curriculum.”

Freshwater, Buckingham, Bonsell - whats disappointing about these folks is not that they’ll sell out their faith. Practically everyone has a breaking point. Its that they sell it out for so very very little.

Peter Henderson said:

He branded a religious symbol on a kid’s arm of his own volition. That makes up for a lot of the good things he may have done in life. That is creepy. Bad advice or not, he has also lied and wasted a lot of time and a lot of his community’s resources. Judging by his actions, he sees nothing wrong with what he has done. I have a problem with people like that, and I won’t be nice about it in the interests of civility.

Indeed Jesse.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.

In this country(the UK) anyone who did something like this to children would immediately be brought to the attention of Social Services who, I would imagine, take a very dim view of his/her actions. Does the US have an equivalent ?

Social services have been heavily criticised here for acting with undue haste in some instances:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/a[…]-belief.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clevel[…]buse_scandal

and not enough in others:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Baby_P

You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t as one social worker once said to me.

However, the Freshwater case seems pretty clear cut. In the UK he would likely be suspended and probably prevented from teaching again in any school, Christian or otherwise. After all Richard, what do you think would happen to a Doctor (GP) if they did something like this to a child ? I have absolutely no doubt they’d be struck off.

If a parents got caught doing that to their child, it’s pretty likely that they’d spend some jail time and child protective services would take the kid away until a judge decided what to do.

That is an interesting angle Harold. Perhaps a strategy Millstone could adopt with Freshwater on the stand would be to question Freshwater’s faith, starting with the first question being, “Are you ashamed of your faith, Mr. Freshwater?” and working from there.

And that Sheri Perry is a disgrace to an education career. Daughter of an education family at that.

harold said:

Rather than defiantly state “I preached the Word of the Lord openly, and I will continue to do so” - the universal approach of all recognized religious martyrs…

Freshwater’s approach seems to be dissembling denial.

Peter Henderson said: Indeed Jesse.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.

In this country(the UK) anyone who did something like this to children would immediately be brought to the attention of Social Services who, I would imagine, take a very dim view of his/her actions. Does the US have an equivalent ?

That should have happened in this instance. The administrators to whom the incident was reported by the parents are themselves “mandatory reporters,” required by state law to report cases where there is some suspicion of child abuse. They dropped that ball badly, and at times in the hearing Hamilton has hinted that because they didn’t report it, it must not have occurred.

RBH said:

That should have happened in this instance. The administrators to whom the incident was reported by the parents are themselves “mandatory reporters,” required by state law to report cases where there is some suspicion of child abuse. They dropped that ball badly, and at times in the hearing Hamilton has hinted that because they didn’t report it, it must not have occurred.

Too bad for Hamilton that his own witnesses state that the branding incident did occur. It’s pretty easy in legal proceedings to see if one party is being dishonest. The key to detecting dishonesty is to note that one side keeps changing their story and the other side doesn’t. After all the truth doesn’t change and all the honest person need do is cling to the truth if they get confused, where as the liar has to remember all the lies they told which becomes impossible in long proceedings such as this. It’s really no surprise that this whole debacle has gotten so strange.

Dornier Pfeil said:

That is an interesting angle Harold. Perhaps a strategy Millstone could adopt with Freshwater on the stand would be to question Freshwater’s faith, starting with the first question being, “Are you ashamed of your faith, Mr. Freshwater?” and working from there.

And that Sheri Perry is a disgrace to an education career. Daughter of an education family at that.

harold said:

Rather than defiantly state “I preached the Word of the Lord openly, and I will continue to do so” - the universal approach of all recognized religious martyrs…

Freshwater’s approach seems to be dissembling denial.

Mr. Freshwater, did you order the Code Red? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOYGbM3nK9k

Childermass said:

Is this the Freshwater case or is it Jarndyce v Jarndyce?

The business with the sack of evidence in dubious circumstances is more like something out of Earle Stanley Gardner.

Ah, yes.

The Case of the Freshwater Shark

starring R Kelly Hamilton as Perry Mason.

Kevin B said:

Childermass said:

Is this the Freshwater case or is it Jarndyce v Jarndyce?

The business with the sack of evidence in dubious circumstances is more like something out of Earle Stanley Gardner.

Ah, yes.

The Case of the Freshwater Shark

starring R Kelly Hamilton as Perry Mason.

Shouldn’t R. Kelly play the part of Hamilton Burger? I would think that to be more appropriate.

JimNorth said:

Kevin B said:

Childermass said:

Is this the Freshwater case or is it Jarndyce v Jarndyce?

The business with the sack of evidence in dubious circumstances is more like something out of Earle Stanley Gardner.

Ah, yes.

The Case of the Freshwater Shark

starring R Kelly Hamilton as Perry Mason.

Shouldn’t R. Kelly play the part of Hamilton Burger? I would think that to be more appropriate.

This is the remake by the same people who made EXPELLED, with Ben Stein appearing as the judge.

John Freshwater in a radio interview said that on Thursday and Friday of last week there were 10 eyewitnesses to the cross branding incident. He identified the accusing student (ZD) by name and said that the witnesses (the kids Richard says were being “exploited”) said that ZD was lying.

I am sort of appalled that an adult, and a teacher at that, would make that kind of accusation against a minor in a public forum. It’s not criminal, but it says quite a bit about Freshwater’s character.

This was the Bob Burney Live show on WRFD that has been referenced here before.

Joe Zeitler said: John Freshwater in a radio interview said that on Thursday and Friday of last week there were 10 eyewitnesses to the cross branding incident. He identified the accusing student (ZD) by name and said that the witnesses (the kids Richard says were being “exploited”) said that ZD was lying.

I am sort of appalled that an adult, and a teacher at that, would make that kind of accusation against a minor in a public forum. It’s not criminal, but it says quite a bit about Freshwater’s character.

This was the Bob Burney Live show on WRFD that has been referenced here before.

Ugh. The kids did not say Zachary was lying. In response to a hypothetical question from Hamilton, they said if Zachary claimed that what Hamilton had re-enacted happened, he’d be lying. But of course, Hamilton’s exaggerated and inaccurate re-enactment did not faithfully represent either Zachary’s or Taylor Strack’s testimony about the way the incident played out.

RBH said:

Joe Zeitler said: John Freshwater in a radio interview said that on Thursday and Friday of last week there were 10 eyewitnesses to the cross branding incident. He identified the accusing student (ZD) by name and said that the witnesses (the kids Richard says were being “exploited”) said that ZD was lying.

I am sort of appalled that an adult, and a teacher at that, would make that kind of accusation against a minor in a public forum. It’s not criminal, but it says quite a bit about Freshwater’s character.

This was the Bob Burney Live show on WRFD that has been referenced here before.

Ugh. The kids did not say Zachary was lying. In response to a hypothetical question from Hamilton, they said if Zachary claimed that what Hamilton had re-enacted happened, he’d be lying. But of course, Hamilton’s exaggerated and inaccurate re-enactment did not faithfully represent either Zachary’s or Taylor Strack’s testimony about the way the incident played out.

It looks like Freshwater doesn’t share Hamilton’s concern about tainting the jury pool. Oh, wait! It is only tainting the pool when the other side does it! So an open hearing can taint a jury pool but lying about the testimony in that hearing doesn’t taint it.

The federal trial will be very interesting to say the least. I can’t wait to see how a federal judge will deal with these clowns.

hey wait a minute, why insult clowns?

RBH said:

Joe Zeitler said: John Freshwater in a radio interview said that on Thursday and Friday of last week there were 10 eyewitnesses to the cross branding incident. He identified the accusing student (ZD) by name and said that the witnesses (the kids Richard says were being “exploited”) said that ZD was lying.

I am sort of appalled that an adult, and a teacher at that, would make that kind of accusation against a minor in a public forum. It’s not criminal, but it says quite a bit about Freshwater’s character.

This was the Bob Burney Live show on WRFD that has been referenced here before.

Ugh. The kids did not say Zachary was lying. In response to a hypothetical question from Hamilton, they said if Zachary claimed that what Hamilton had re-enacted happened, he’d be lying. But of course, Hamilton’s exaggerated and inaccurate re-enactment did not faithfully represent either Zachary’s or Taylor Strack’s testimony about the way the incident played out.

As I sat through testimony at the hearing on these two days, it appeared very deliberate that not once did R. Kelly Hamilton actually ask the open ended question, “How did Mr. Freshwater use the Tesla Coil on student’s arms?” when he was questioning the students.

I wondered if he had even asked the students that when he questioned them before taking their dispositions. Any further questioning of the students that had testified regarding that now would be “tainted” by his dramatized visualization.

His questions were very “leading”.

After the big “hoopla” by Freshwater’s camp about finding the black bag and its “exhonerating contents”, I thought it was very telling that Mr. Hamilton continued with the same old long drawn out droning “testimonials” of how great Mr. Freshwater is as a person rather than just submitting the supposed “facts” that could end the case and put Mr. Freshwater back into the classroom.

After all, if there had been anything substantial in that black bag, it would have been submitted in these two days and this hearing would be over. So much for the contents of the mysterious black bag.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on May 2, 2010 11:58 PM.

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