Update June 11: Tehama County election results show that sheriff’s Detective Dave Hencratt defeated longtime Sheriff Clay Parker with 52 percent of Tuesday’s vote.
Update May 24: Melissa Jones, who was found guilty in April of "issuing terrorist threats with a special allegation of brandishing a firearm" at Barry Clausen, but not of physically attacking him in the Red Bluff North Valley Baptist Church parking lot where they met, has been sentenced to 90 days in the Tehama County Jail.
Update: March 13 -- Ten-years-in-office Tehama County District Attorney, Gregg Cohen (at left), announced this week his office will not be filing charges against any former Juvenile Justice Center employees, according to the Tehama County Daily News.
Cohen announced his intention to run for re-election the day before this news. Earlier reports on this story said that evidence had been submitted to the regional state Dept. of Justice office in Redding (Shasta County), but nothing in this week's story on the decision to drop the charges mentioned any involvement of the DOJ.
Opinion: There is a lack of full disclosure in this case that reflects poorly on the Tehama District Attorney and the Tehama County Sheriff (Clay Parker, below, left, also up for reelection). If indeed there is "no evidence of wrongdoing," the public should be informed as to what evidence was gathered and how it was evaluated to reach that decision.
Sheriff Parker is president of the California State Sheriff's Association, and last week introduced the "Keeping Kids on Track and Out of Trouble" report from California's After-School Commitment.
On January 7, we posted “Abuse of incarcerated juveniles: California is not home free,” a story about an on-going investigation of the Tehama County Juvenile Justice Center in Red Bluff. We quoted the Red Bluff Daily News, but found no other on-line source of information (the evidence was submitted earlier this month to the California Department of Justice’s Redding branch – Redding is in Shasta County). Reason: best coverage was by Sara Ines Calderon, a reporter for the in-print-only Sacramento Valley Mirror.
The editor and publisher of the Mirror, Tim Crews, has kindly sent me the four issues of the paper (August 19, 22, 26, & 29, 2009) that contain the four-part investigative report, “Sex, drugs and violence in Tehama Juvenile Hall.” All the information below is from the Mirror and, whether directly quoted or paraphrased or condensed, is copyrighted by that newspaper. Back issues can be purchased for $1 each plus mailing from the Sacramento Valley Mirror, 138 W. Sycamore, Willows, CA 95988. For more information: Tim Crews, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alleged: that, since at least 2003, two (now former) employees of the County: Alicia Allen, 30, a mental health counselor; and Melissa Jones, 40, (below, left, Jones talks with an unidentified young man outside the court room; photo by Meredith J. Cooper) a probation officer, had sex with juveniles both when they were incarcerated and after they were released, provided these juveniles with drugs and alcohol, offered them money and guns, and paid for piercings and tattoos.
Over that period of time, juveniles, their parents, and other employees of the county reported the abuses to then-Chief Probation Officer, Dan Emry. (Emry resigned from the department last summer, as did the two women.)
Emry’s replacement at Tehama is Renny Noll, a man with 37 years experience in probation. He told the Mirror that he expected things [at the facility] to change. “I don’t own that stuff but it isn’t going to happen again.”
[“That stuff” included an earlier story for the Mirror about the alleged sexual improprieties of Melissa Jones with male minors in Tehama County. The reporter was Barry Clausen, (below, right, in a courthouse photo by Meredith J. Cooper) a freelancer for the paper and a former counselor at the Tehama County Juvenile Justice Center (who was fired in 2004 when he reported the abuse he witnessed). Clausen, 67, arranged to meet Jones to discuss the story; she currently faces charges “of making terrorist threats and assault with a deadly weapon” for the March 31 incident. When she met Clausen, she pulled a .45 Glock on him. More details are available from this site.]
The Mirror report also includes stories from juveniles (who, fearing recrimination, do not use their real names) about physical abuse, sexual relationships with other staff members, and, in the case of one girl, spending 23 hours a day in solitary confinement for six weeks for reporting physical abuse.
Other allegations involve another former employee, counselor James Mossman, who has been accused of twisting arms, breaking a boy’s arm, chokeholds, choking children unconscious, throwing kids to the ground, splitting lips, direct-face pepper spray, and covering a juvenile’s head with a pillowcase.
The Mirror highlights the irony of the abuses occurring in an environment filled with mandated child abuse reporters. (Probation officers and employees of juvenile halls are required by state law to report a reasonable suspicion of child abuse, either by phone or in writing, within 36 hours of the incident, said Sue Burrell, staff attorney with the Youth Law Center, a San Francisco public interest law firm that works to protect children in foster care and juvenile justice systems. Juvenile hall is not jail, Burrell emphasized; its employees are governed by the state welfare and institution code, not the penal code.)
Most interesting: Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen acknowledged that his office received information about sex, drugs and violence in juvenile hall and encouraged any parents or former victims of abuse to inform law enforcement.
At least one person, Mr. Clausen, did report it, over and over, to the board of supervisors, the district attorney, the county counsel, Superior Court Judge Edward King – and the sheriff.
No one did anything, until Renny Noll showed up last summer in the wake of Dan Emry’s resignation.