Freshwater: Court approves settlement

| 32 Comments

The Mount Vernon News reported today that the probate court in Licking County, Ohio, has approved the terms of the settlement of Doe v. Mt. Vernon BOE, et al.. The sole remaining defendant had been John Freshwater, the Board having settled more than a year ago. According to the News’ story, the settlement terms give the Dennis family $25,000 in attorney fees and $150,000 each to Jenifer and Stephen Dennis as well as $150,000 in an annuity for Zachary, all of it from the Board’s insurance company (Freshwater was sued as an employee of the Board).

The only remaining proceeding still to be finished is the referee’s recommendation based on the administrative hearing, with Board action on the recommendation to follow. The referee reportedly hopes to finish his recommendation by the end of 2010.

32 Comments

Since this is a settlement, what does Freshwater get out of this? (There were extended negotiations on this after all.)

Oh DUH–! Check NCSE’s court docs webpage. [checks] Hmmm, not there yet. I’ll check back later.

Well this should pretty much nail the lid on the coffin as far as Freshwater is concerned. After all, how can you not fire someone who cost the board hundreds of thousands of dollars due to his misbehavior? It almost doesn’t matter if he even did anything anymore. Hopefully he will also learn that his intransigence and evasions have accomplished nothing whatsoever but to inflict needless pain, suffering and expense on everyone associated with this fiasco. For shame John, for shame. You should have read your bible more closely.

Why was this case in the the probate court? For a few irrelevant reasons I can appreciate that it’s in Licking County, but … probate court? What’s up with that?

The Curmudgeon said:

Why was this case in the the probate court? For a few irrelevant reasons I can appreciate that it’s in Licking County, but … probate court? What’s up with that?

Because the Dennises now reside in Licking County, having moved there because their kids were being harassed in the Mt. Vernon schools by other students, possibly a teacher or two, and at least one coach. The settlement includes the annuity for Zachary, a minor, and thus had to be approved by the probate court. I thought it would be the juvenile court, but apparently not according the the MVNews story.

As to what Freshwater gets out of it, nothing. Again, he was sued in his capacity as an employee of the District, and thus was defended by Board insurance company lawyers, who negotiated the settlement.

Ah, Zachary was a minor and his parents sued on his behalf. Gotcha. Thanks.

Daffyd ap Morgen said:

Since this is a settlement, what does Freshwater get out of this?

Its pretty common for the paying party to get (i) the amount payed to be private/undisclosed, and (ii) some sort of public statement to the effect that the settlement is no admission of guilt or wrongdoing.

But Freshwater didn’t even get that. Wow.

eric said:

Its pretty common for the paying party to get (i) the amount payed to be private/undisclosed, and (ii) some sort of public statement to the effect that the settlement is no admission of guilt or wrongdoing.

But Freshwater didn’t even get that. Wow.

If I understand correctly, as it’s the insurers who are coughing up, they probably negotiated the terms. Freshwater would have basically been uninvolved (other than being the instigator of the whole affair). As he is not directly financially liable for the settlement, he is also unlikely to benefit from any ‘confidentiality’ clauses in the settlement, therefore he’s entitled to little protection from point (i). I suspect your 2nd point (ii) will still hold true, but looking forward to seeing the documents.

Thanks for the update, Richard. Somehow, holding court in “Licking” was prescient. That Freshwater sure dun got a good one…

There is still one step missing in all this; and that is the infliction of deep financial pain on the perpetrators of ID/creationism.

In the 40+ years they have been inflicting financial pain on taxpayers, ID/creationists themselves have yet to suffer anything more than the humiliation of court defeats; which, apparently, has not been enough to deter them from trying again and again.

If at some point the ICR, AiG, the DI, and other fundamentalist organizations were bled into bankruptcy by their instigations of sectarian warfare on public, secular institutions, then maybe we would begin to seen some glimmer of reality creeping into their hermetically sealed little heads.

The leaders of these people operate like mafia dons.

I’ll bet the insurance company isn’t too happy about paying a fair amount of money out because of the school district.

I wonder if they will raise the rates on Mt. Vernon school district next time the contract comes up?

I wonder if they will require the school district to start some sort of First Amendment training program for the teachers?

The insurance company for the Penn. Dover school district was pretty clever. They advised the school district that what they were doing was illegal and they wouldn’t pay if they got sued and lost. The school district ended up paying out.

If at some point the ICR, AiG, the DI, and other fundamentalist organizations were bled into bankruptcy by their instigations of sectarian warfare on public, secular institutions,…

The DI, AIG, and ICR are always very careful not to get directly involved. They know they would lose and they know it would cost them.

They much prefer to find willing suckers to lose in court and pay the judgements.

As time goes on, they seem to be getting fewer and fewer.

I don’t know; it seems to me that somebody down in Louisiana or Texas could be ignorant of the business happening up in Pennsylvania and Ohio, or think that a local judge might be more sympathetic than those Godless northerners.

And let’s not forget one big lesson that Freshwater taught us - some people value feeling like a Martyr For Jesus very highly.

Freshwater himself has been toast for a while, but there will be others like him - power-hungry, small-minded, ignorant, egotistical, vastly overvaluing their own importance and intelligence, and easily suckered in by the Hamiltons, Matolyaks, and Daubenmires of their own community.

And there are a lot of communities where Creationism is the majority view, and there’s a lot of pressure on anyone bucking that line - the Dennises moved out to escape and, IIRC, some Dover family or families did so as well.

Not to be all Cassandra about all this, but I just feel like the next one up will be pretty soon. I don’t feel like the pressure and the price paid is enough to necessarily deter the next Liar for Jesus.

raven said:

I’ll bet the insurance company isn’t too happy about paying a fair amount of money out because of the school district.

I wonder if they will raise the rates on Mt. Vernon school district next time the contract comes up?

I wouldn’t be surprised.

I wonder if they will require the school district to start some sort of First Amendment training program for the teachers?

That was one of the conditions specified by the Dennises in their settlement with the District in Doe v. Mt. Vernon BOE, et al., and it started last year.

The insurance company for the Penn. Dover school district was pretty clever. They advised the school district that what they were doing was illegal and they wouldn’t pay if they got sued and lost. The school district ended up paying out.

Actually, IIRC it was the Dover Board’s own counsel that gave that advice about the unconstitutionality, though it had the same effect by allowing the insurance company an ironclad reason to decline to defend Board or pay off the plaintiffs, the ground being that the Board disregarded the legal advice it was given.

Daffyd ap Morgen said:

Since this is a settlement, what does Freshwater get out of this? (There were extended negotiations on this after all.)

I think all Freshwater got out of the negotiations is the smallest possible settlement to the Dennis’ he (they) could talk them down to.

*sigh* What a fracking train wreck.

As a Christian, I am appalled and ashamed! Freshwater has squandered the talents and treasures that God blesses us with in a vain attempt to glorify himself through martyrdom. How’d that work our for ya’ John?

In the end the family gets a pittance (yeah, 500K is a pittance), the semi-pro “Christian” lawyer bleeds Freshwater nearly dry (and makes us Christians look like rubes; again), the school board and the courts waste countless hours and money. And, in the end, the real message of the Gospel is lost. Jesus looks down on the scene and rolls His eyes.

The money, personpower, and talent that was wasted on this trial, hearing, settlement, blah, could have built three or four houses, fed the hungry, bought medicine – you know, HELPED PEOPLE and make the world better.

There are days when I wish the Lord would descend in all of his glory stride up to some of these mopes and *smeck* these litigious creationist idiots on the back of their heads.

*grumble, grumble* Thanks, I feel better now… -*Zortag*-

Zortag said: The money, personpower, and talent that was wasted on this trial, hearing, settlement, blah, could have built three or four houses, fed the hungry, bought medicine – you know, HELPED PEOPLE and make the world better.

Zortag, I agree with this completely. A major problem is that there’s a high probability that Freshwater and others like him strongly believe that they are going to make the world a better place by insisting that people are constantly exposed to their religious ideas. In fact, they have to proselytize in order to make the world a better place.

They believe this more strongly than they believe in the laws of the state they live.

The Founding Mothers said:

Zortag said: The money, personpower, and talent that was wasted on this trial, hearing, settlement, blah, could have built three or four houses, fed the hungry, bought medicine – you know, HELPED PEOPLE and make the world better.

Zortag, I agree with this completely. A major problem is that there’s a high probability that Freshwater and others like him strongly believe that they are going to make the world a better place by insisting that people are constantly exposed to their religious ideas. In fact, they have to proselytize in order to make the world a better place.

They believe this more strongly than they believe in the laws of the state they live.

And that goes to the heart of the problem with most religious people. They believe that they must indoctrinate others to their way of thinking and that by doing so they’re accomplishing a noble, godly cause by ‘saving souls’ from eternal damnation.

Those of us who don’t agree with their beliefs are obviously ignorant and blind to their godly truth, so we must be ‘saved’.

Mike Elzinga said: There is still one step missing in all this; and that is the infliction of deep financial pain on the perpetrators of ID/creationism.

It appears that in the ongoing AFA vs. CSC case, the DI may end up with some pain.

Background: AFA wanted to show an ID film at the Calfornia Science Center. Both parties signed an agreement, DI and AFA promptly and publicly misrepresented the agreement as support, and CSC backed out. AFA is now suing CSC for viewpoint discrimination. CSC says its breach of contract because AFA did not follow the agreement’s publicity requirements; AFA says this is merely pretense, that CSC was looking for any excuse to discriminate against AFA’s pro-ID film.

Now here’s where the DI gets the pain: CSC is requesting all AFA-DI emails. (My understanding is that) they intend to show that the two organizations colluded to intentionally or willfully breach the contract. This brings DI into the suit and airs their dirty laundry whether they want to or not. And it also provides other, future defendents a plan and precedent for bringing DI into cases as a culpable party. If CSC’s tactic is successful, then in the future we may see many more defendents subpoenaing [local creationist]-DI communications as a means of showing the locals intended to act in bad faith, breach the contract, break the law, whatever.

Probate Court vs. Juvenile Court

I’ve learned that Judge Hoover presides over both the Licking County Probate Court and the county Juvenile Court, and it was in the latter that he approved the terms of the settlement for Zachary.

Kris said:

The Founding Mothers said:

Zortag said: The money, personpower, and talent that was wasted on this trial, hearing, settlement, blah, could have built three or four houses, fed the hungry, bought medicine – you know, HELPED PEOPLE and make the world better.

Zortag, I agree with this completely. A major problem is that there’s a high probability that Freshwater and others like him strongly believe that they are going to make the world a better place by insisting that people are constantly exposed to their religious ideas. In fact, they have to proselytize in order to make the world a better place.

They believe this more strongly than they believe in the laws of the state they live.

And that goes to the heart of the problem with most religious people. They believe that they must indoctrinate others to their way of thinking and that by doing so they’re accomplishing a noble, godly cause by ‘saving souls’ from eternal damnation.

Those of us who don’t agree with their beliefs are obviously ignorant and blind to their godly truth, so we must be ‘saved’.

not most religious people - just Evangelicals in my experience most religious people have a live and let live attitude - MANY denominations/religions do not try to recruit, just (grudgingly) accept converts

RBH said:

Probate Court vs. Juvenile Court

I’ve learned that Judge Hoover presides over both the Licking County Probate Court and the county Juvenile Court, and it was in the latter that he approved the terms of the settlement for Zachary.

Good clarification. Thank you.

jasonmitchell said: not most religious people - just Evangelicals in my experience most religious people have a live and let live attitude - MANY denominations/religions do not try to recruit, just (grudgingly) accept converts

Just to drive this point home, Buddhism and Judaism are two obvious examples of religions which do not proselytize or seek converts.

eric said:

It appears that in the ongoing AFA vs. CSC case, the DI may end up with some pain.

Background: AFA wanted to show an ID film at the Calfornia Science Center. Both parties signed an agreement, DI and AFA promptly and publicly misrepresented the agreement as support, and CSC backed out. AFA is now suing CSC for viewpoint discrimination. CSC says its breach of contract because AFA did not follow the agreement’s publicity requirements; AFA says this is merely pretense, that CSC was looking for any excuse to discriminate against AFA’s pro-ID film.

Now here’s where the DI gets the pain: CSC is requesting all AFA-DI emails. (My understanding is that) they intend to show that the two organizations colluded to intentionally or willfully breach the contract. This brings DI into the suit and airs their dirty laundry whether they want to or not. And it also provides other, future defendents a plan and precedent for bringing DI into cases as a culpable party. If CSC’s tactic is successful, then in the future we may see many more defendents subpoenaing [local creationist]-DI communications as a means of showing the locals intended to act in bad faith, breach the contract, break the law, whatever.

If I’ve read it right, the CSC did the subpoena’ing back in May, or before, and that the AFA tried to withhold their communications with the DI on the grounds that the DI were “unretrained consultants” and that as such any communications were privileged. Since the whole basis of the AFA case is that the DI weren’t acting for the AFA, there is definitely a problem. Judging by the documents the AFA suppressed documentation based on the “privileged” argument without saying so, and screwed up by leaving in enough evidence to make it clear that they were hiding something.

Kevin B said: Since the whole basis of the AFA case is that the DI weren’t acting for the AFA…

I’m reaching a bit beyond my knowledge base here, but my understanding of the CSC argument is, they’re saying that regardless of whether the DI was an “agent,” they think the communications from AFA will show that the AFA intended to breach the contract. So those communications are evidence relevant to the case.

Sort of like, if there’s a reasonable suspicion that I planned and executed a robbery in November, a prosecuter might reasonably ask for my email traffic in November. If you and I happen to have sent messages back and forth in November, they don’t need to suspect you to get them, they just need to suspect me. But if you’re the sort of person who contacts local yokels and encourages them to rob banks, this might be a bit of a problem for you :)

The Founding Mothers replied to comment from Zortag | December 1, 2010 2:37 AM | Reply | Edit

Zortag said: The money, personpower, and talent that was wasted on this trial, hearing, settlement, blah, could have built three or four houses, fed the hungry, bought medicine – you know, HELPED PEOPLE and make the world better.

Zortag, I agree with this completely. A major problem is that there’s a high probability that Freshwater and others like him strongly believe that they are going to make the world a better place by insisting that people are constantly exposed to their religious ideas. In fact, they have to proselytize in order to make the world a better place.

And unfortunately they have the Bible and Christian tradition backing them up.

RBH said:

raven said:

I’ll bet the insurance company isn’t too happy about paying a fair amount of money out because of the school district.

I wonder if they will raise the rates on Mt. Vernon school district next time the contract comes up?

I wouldn’t be surprised.

I wonder if they will require the school district to start some sort of First Amendment training program for the teachers?

That was one of the conditions specified by the Dennises in their settlement with the District in Doe v. Mt. Vernon BOE, et al., and it started last year.

The insurance company for the Penn. Dover school district was pretty clever. They advised the school district that what they were doing was illegal and they wouldn’t pay if they got sued and lost. The school district ended up paying out.

Actually, IIRC it was the Dover Board’s own counsel that gave that advice about the unconstitutionality, though it had the same effect by allowing the insurance company an ironclad reason to decline to defend Board or pay off the plaintiffs, the ground being that the Board disregarded the legal advice it was given.

IIRC, several board members lied about it and claimed that they WERE following the advice of their counsel.

eric said:

Just to drive this point home, Buddhism and Judaism are two obvious examples of religions which do not proselytize or seek converts.

In general you are right about Buddhism. As always there are exceptions; Soka Gakkai springs to mind. Most Buddhists are happy to answer if asked but we don’t generally proselytise much.

rossum

Buddhism and Judaism are two obvious examples of religions which do not proselytize or seek converts.

I can’t comment on Buddhism, but Jews sought converts until, roughly, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire and proselytizing became illegal, and at least one Chassidic sect today seeks to convert other, usually more liberal Jews to its sect.

at least one Chassidic sect today seeks to convert other, usually more liberal Jews to its sect.

Just like the fundie xians. The xian missionaries have been over the world so many times, there aren’t many heathens left for them to convert.

Most missionary efforts these days seem to be one group of xians poaching members from another one. The Mormons and JWs are the most notorious offenders but many sects do it.

Matt Young said:

I can’t comment on Buddhism, but Jews sought converts until, roughly, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire and proselytizing became illegal, and at least one Chassidic sect today seeks to convert other, usually more liberal Jews to its sect.

If you mean Chabad, it’s my understanding that they try to persuade non-observant Jews to be more religious. While the Chabad folks probably would like to increase their numbers, their ultimate ambition is, AFAIK, more Orthodox Jews. Convert does not seem to be the right term; they do not seek out non-Jews.

Susan Silberstein said:

Convert does not seem to be the right term; they do not seek out non-Jews.

They’re still annoying and not infrequently obnoxious, but that’s correct; they don’t bother with non-Jews.

As time goes on, they seem to be getting fewer and fewer.

What makes you say that? Do you have data?

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