By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
In the meantime, the European press quietly dropped the "playing doctor" angle and focused on the ethics of arresting and incarcerating an (as of October) eleven-year-old boy.
The Wuthriches' attorney, Vincent Todd, concedes that Beverly frequented a topless bar, where "Cindy" worked as a dancer, before her marriage but says, "I don't believe Beverly ever worked for an escort service." And, he says, Cindy stayed with the Wuthriches for only three days and then left "after running up a thousand-dollar phone bill." Todd says he was given an investigative report from the District Attorney's office that included Cindy's allegations about the escort service, the pornography in front of the children, the sex in front of the children, the fire-setting and animal abuse. He points out that the Wuthriches' babysitter this past summer testified at a hearing that the children were not allowed to view pornography and that the parents seemed conscientious about what their children watched. He says that it is his "impression" that Cindy was trying to "work out a deal" with the DA's office for some legal trouble in California, which is why she might have made allegations against the Wuthriches. Those allegations were repeated in court by Hal Sargent, which Todd says was unethical. "He knows if he had made them outside the courtroom where what we say is protected, he would have been sued."
"Our effort was never about slandering or vilifying the family," Sargent counters. "It was to inform the court so that measures be taken to protect and treat the child." The parents' character is relevant, Sargent says, because "typically juvenile sex offenders are not charged criminally, and decisions to prosecute are usually only made when the parents are unable or unwilling to provide protection and treatment." In most juvenile sex-offender cases, the child is going to be sent home. Therefore, Sargent says, it is relevant to know what kind of environment the child will be returned to. Parents can either help with therapy or completely undermine the process. Sargent does admit the criminal system is "an imperfect fit for young sex offenders."
Todd says there is no real evidence that Raoul was doing anything sexually inappropriate. He says that Mehmert changed her story as time went on and that Raoul, who, when kneeling, comes up to his sister's chest, "would have had to have been a contortionist" to plant his lips on his sister's genitals. He notes that the August 1998 report by Mehmert, in which Raoul supposedly admitted that he was in trouble for kissing his sister's privates and that the children had burns on their bodies, was deemed "unfounded" by a social services investigator. "There was no scarring from any burns." And, Todd says, Raoul claimed he didn't know why his sister would keep making the allegations "if they weren't true."
The sheriff's office hadn't followed up on Mehmert's original report because there was no evidence of sexual contact, Todd says. The caseworker who talked to Mehmert noted only that she'd seen him pull down his sister's pants and thought it was predatory, and Beverly Wuthrich had told the deputy and Miklic that Raoul was "only helping his sister urinate." When the sheriff's office did get involved, Todd contends, officers "committed felonies that far outweigh anything Raoul was accused of doing." The first, he says, was perjury -- for falsifying the warrantless arrest affidavit. "It says the arrest occurred at 3:30, when everybody knew it didn't. The second was that it claimed there was sexual contact when that's not what the original report stated." (Mehmert says she told her full story when she first called social services on May 25 and when she talked to the deputy on June 30.)
When he took Raoul from his bedroom, the deputy committed felony second-degree kidnapping, Todd adds. "He had consent to come into the living room. The mom even asked if this couldn't wait until the morning, but he said, 'No, he's coming with me now.'" The deputy was "armed with a deadly weapon" and had no right to go to the boy's bedroom. District Attorney Dave Thomas "pretends that this is a small detail, when it's a felony under both federal and state law," Todd says.
The Department of Human Services didn't initiate a D&N procedure, according to Todd, until after the parents fled the country "because they saw no need." In fact, he contends, the parents were cooperating with the agency until Raoul's arrest. The Wuthriches felt "betrayed by the system" and saw Raoul's arrest as "bizarre." They sent the girls to Switzerland with their paternal grandmother before going overseas themselves. They believed, Todd says, that if Raoul did have a problem, he could receive "more appropriate" treatment in Europe, where people are "more developed regarding human sexuality."
The animal-abuse charges stem from Raoul mishandling the foster home's pet Chihuahua because Raoul was used to bigger dogs. "The woman freaked," Todd says. He says he's never heard of the abuse of the rabbits.
Raoul's fire-setting involved lighting fires in a pit "with permission" in the backyard, Todd says. He says he asked Andreas about the alleged fire in Switzerland and that Andreas told him "that was ridiculous."