Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fireworks at the Goodman - Kreider Debate - Part 2


The second episode occurred when Kennedy Kent and James Whitaker (Mr. Whitaker shown at left), confronted David Goodman about an attack on two West High School students that took place on February 14, 2006. Apparently Goodman's office had been asked to help in the case -- exactly how was not well explained -- and Ms. Kent and Mr. Whitaker felt that they were being stonewalled.

The details didn't really come into focus for the audience, because the pair essentially spoke as if the audience was already oriented to the context of their concerns. Nor did most of us grasp Ms. Kent and Mr. Whitaker's connection to the event. Personally, I didn't even catch their names, and only figured out their identities a short time ago.

After the debate, I spoke to Mr. Whitaker -- I should have gotten his name but unfortunately did not -- and although initially he seemed a bit wary of me until he got a basic idea of who I was, he was then kind enough to let him take a snapshot of him (and reciprocated by getting one of me, I guess just in case). He also gave me two CD-Rs with material on the incident. Both contain recordings of phone conversations: the initial 911 call and seven subsequent exchanges with various school board and law enforcement officials.

I listened to the conversations and could gain only an impressionistic picture of what had occurred. But using various names, dates, and so on, I conducted several Google searches until I found a web site, Justice for Kids. That's how I finally learned the names of Ms. Kent and Mr. Whitaker.

According to the Justice for Kids (JFK) web site, the pair "have been fighting for children's rights for over 20 years. They are professional advocates and educators, and their passion and conviction have helped many."

Here's the gist of the original incident and its significance, taken from a JFK press release on June 6, 2006:
[T]wo teenage girls were assaulted on February 14, 2006 at a West High School basketball game by a 36 year old male felon named James Drennen and another unidentified male adult.

The police report, hospital records, photographs and criminal complaints filed February 15, 2006 at the City Prosecutor's office indicated the girls were seriously assaulted on February 14, 2006. Although James Drennen was arrested that night, he was released from Reynoldsburg jail on an unrelated charge February 16, 2006.

The criminal complaints against James Drennen for his attack on the girls were closed with unsigned letters to the parents dated March 1, 2006 and with the approval of three male intake persons, one of them being Bill Hedrick, the Director of Intake in the City Prosecutor's office.

Due to the effort of Justice for Kids and the families affected by James Drennen, the case was reopened May 11, 2006; and Steve McIntosh, our Chief City Prosecutor, indicated he and another prosecutor would personally handle the case.

On May 23, 2006, Assistant City Prosecutor Bill Hedrick charged James Drennen with two counts of menacing threats and two counts of disorderly conduct on West High School property on May 19, 2006; however, Drennen was not charged for his previous menacing threats and assaults against children and women. Why so little protection for children and women?

Even with his criminal history of felonious assault, theft, robbery, manslaughter, crack cocaine possession, and present charges of menacing threats and disorderly conduct on school property, James Drennen is still free to threaten and intimidate our most vulnerable citizens.
Subsequent press releases detail JFK's advocacy efforts in connection with the case, but none mention David Goodman or state senator Ray Miller, in whose 15th district the attack actually occurred.

Judging by the CD-Rs and a fascinating video on the web site, Ms. Kent and Mr. Whitaker usually adopt a pretty "in your face" stance toward public officials, who generally respond as if the pair are tiresome at best and slightly demented at worst. It's impossible for me at this point to offer much by way of a conclusive judgment on their advocacy efforts, but the JFK web site puts me in mind of a famous remark by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, "I have need to be all on fire, for I have mountains of ice about me to melt."

To return to last night's debate, however, I still don't get the "mountain of ice" dimension of David Goodman or his office.

I did speak to Goodman after the debate for several minutes. He told me that he was in touch with the parents of the girls in question and that the parents wished the matter to be addressed as privately as possible.

For additional details about Justice for Kids and the West High School incident, see the following:

Nasty federal NCLB [No Child Left Behind] /abuse investigation in Columbus, OH (Daily Kos, September 22, 2006)

KingCast Presents Audiotape . . . (Chris King's First Amendment Page, May 20, 2006)

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 (coming)

5 Comments:

Blogger Jill said...

Thanks for these accounts. I was very interested to hear how it went. Sounds like one for the books in some respects. The Arab slurs I have to say don't sound characteristic of David Goodman, but I don't really know I suppose. The Justice for Kids thing is curious but also sounds like it only has a tenuous connection. Can't figure it out at all really.

Looking forward to Part III.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Yellow Dog Sammy said...

I appreciate your investigative efforts, Mark!

What did you think of the debate itself?

7:56 PM  
Blogger ohio21fan said...

I was also at the debate. The guy that accused Senator Goodman of Arab Slurs was totally out of line, and the fact that the moderator allowed this slander to continue for 5 minutes was incomprehensible to me. Equally incomprehensible is how Emily Kreider herself did not seem the least bit upset by the incident. She did nothing to put a stop to it.

As to the debate itself, it was remarkable. Kreider's entire platform seemed to revolve around Goodman's funding sources. Goodman offered detailed plans which you were free to agree or disagree with.

10:34 PM  
Blogger bonobo said...

Thank you for getting the back story on the questioners. It's probably even more enlightening for those of us who were there.

2:57 PM  
Blogger JFK said...

Senator Goodman was initially contacted by one of the families in February concerning the attack on the children because she had found out Senator Goodman was promoting a “Bill” to increase the penalty for mandated reporters who fail to report child abuse. The parent then contacted us and provided Senator Goodman’s e-mail to us so that Ms. Kent, as a mandated reporter and our advocacy group could provide further detail.

Senator Goodman’s aide, Nathan, initially gave everyone the impression that this was the type of case Senator Goodman’s office was interested in and they would make the appropriate inquiries to ensure children are protected and allegations of “child abuse” are reported and investigated.

Senator Goodman stated in a news article dated April 29, 2005 that he found the actions of the administration of Mifflin High School in the face of the alleged sexual assault on a female student “inexcusable” and that was the reason for S.B. 317.

However, it appears Senator Goodman was only pushing the “Bill” for political exposure, and that is unacceptable to us. His pretense of concern without any formal inquiry to the various public agencies responsible for ensuring wraparound services for the child victims of the attack caused the girls to be retaliated against and further threatened for filing criminal complaints against their “known” attacker.

If you were at the debate, you probably heard Senator Goodman made a special effort to point out how much he cared about people, especially our children; however, we called Senator Goodman the next day as he asked. When he returned the call, he abruptly hung up after one minute and 52 seconds alleging he was allowing Prosecutor Steve McIntosh to handle the situation that has been in the prosecutor’s hands for over eight months.

Our frustration with Senator Goodman stems from his unwillingness to review and accept the facts of the case, which confirm law enforcement, although assigned to investigate the attack on the girls, did not investigate this case, and the Columbus Public School district sent a one and a half page letter dated September 6, 2006 stating “no child abuse” occurred and admitting school officials failed to report.

And as we had stated to Senator Goodman over the last six months that we have been speaking to his office, we have not only provided the investigatory materials to the Superintendent Gene Harris and the Columbus Board of Education, but we have provided the materials to Mayor Coleman’s persons; Chief of Police James Jackson, City Attorney Richard Pfeffier, Safety Director Mitchell Brown, City Council Members Boyce, Tavares and Mentel, as well as Senator Ray Miller.

Senator Goodman involved himself in this situation, and implied he could be of assistance; however, when he realized the allegations of “Failure to Report” included top administrators and public officials, he was no longer interested.

However, as we have stated to everyone, we are of the opinion that all persons should be concerned about our taxpayers dollars being used to cover-up an attack on school property by adult males, one of whom has a criminal history of robbery, theft, felonious assault, manslaughter and crack cocaine possession. These girls experienced this attack for at least twenty minutes before school officials and law enforcement were even aware it was occuring.

Please view our website at www.justiceforkids.net to view and/or ask any questions regarding the investigatory materials as well as the communications with our various public agencies and elected officials, which will include e-mails and phone conversations with Senator Goodman’s office.

3:45 PM  

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