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Letter: Accusations trump fairness

7-31-15 Oregon:

Jack Harris re Mick Mitchell

I have waited for the justice system to run its course before publicly commenting on the case of Mick Mitchell and the child abuse accusations leveled against him. From the beginning, I have been very disappointed in the unfairness of many of our local institutions.

The district attorney’s office inflated the accusations at every opportunity, originally charging him with crimes that could have resulted in over 300 years of prison. Even after the most serious of the charges were dropped, they continued to use the blunt sledgehammer of a “choice” between the possibility of spending 180 years in prison with a trial, or taking a plea for 60 days of alternative sanctions.

The fact that the district attorney was willing to settle for a couple months over the original 300 years speaks to the weakness of their case. Not once was Mitchell given an opportunity in court to tell his side of the story.

The Daily Astorian was very happy to sensationalize his case on the front page, but as the charges were lessened, their interest waned. For the most part, The Daily Astorian served only as a one sided narrative for the district attorney’s office. To this day, they are deleting online comments in support of Mitchell on their website. They never once asked him for his side of the story.

His employer, the Astoria Co-Op, summarily fired him when the charges were filed and to add insult to injury, trespassed him from his workplace of over 16 years. He was never asked for his side of the story.

I completely understand the horrendous nature of the accusations that were made against him, and the sensitivity that must be exercised in child abuse cases, but these were accusations that Mitchell was never given a fair chance to defend himself against. Any honest attempt to get at the truth of the matter would have involved interviewing the alleged criminal, investigating his background, and speaking with character witnesses. This never happened.

It is the blatant unfairness of the process that discourages me. Some will say he got off easy. If being bankrupted, losing your career, being officially labeled as a sex offender and having to spend nearly a year being an exile in your own town is getting off easy, then we all now know what 19 years of working and living in this community is worth once a finger is pointed at you.

I believe he is entirely innocent of the charges, but my point is about fairness. If he can be accused of this crime, and have his life and reputation destroyed, then any one of us is vulnerable. Is somebody going to stand up for fairness when the finger is pointing at you?

Jack Harris
Astoria ..Source..

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