The Accidental Jurist

Leonard Peltier. Stephen Miles. Now the witness who might break the Ramsey case. Itís no wonder Lee Hill thinks he needs to pack a pistol.

Resigned, he asked her to tell him her story. She had been victimized since early childhood, she said, by a subculture, including members of her own family, that used children for sex. One of the men who had participated in the abuse was a friend of the Ramseys.

The woman listed the ways she could authenticate her connection to this man and prove what she was alleging. For example, when she was seventeen years old, she had persuaded the police in the small southern California town where she lived to charge a man named Mackie Boykin with sexual assault. Boykin, she said, had choked her using cords, scarves and ropes to make her body simulate orgasm while other men had sex with her. Boykin had pleaded guilty and been sent to prison.

The more the woman talked, the more disturbed Hill became. If even part of what she said was true, she had endured one of the most horrific childhoods he'd ever heard of. And if the woman's therapist -- who The Witness said could verify that she'd been telling this story long before JonBenét was killed -- was legitimate, then this woman was potentially a very important witness.

Lee Hill
Lee Hill
Action figures: Steven Seagal and Lee Hill are working on movie and television projects.
Action figures: Steven Seagal and Lee Hill are working on movie and television projects.

Within the hour, Hill received another call, this time from the woman's therapist. She confirmed what he'd been told. "I feel sorry for you," she said. "You're where I was ten years ago."

Recalling the Akiki case, Hill's first question was whether she practiced "repressed memory development" or used hypnosis. No, the therapist replied. Her client, like many others who have suffered sexual abuse as children, had mental-health issues dealing with dissociation; but otherwise she was a mentally competent and honest woman who only asked that the police investigate her allegations. "She's doing it for other little girls," she said.

Hill looked for any excuse to dismiss what The Witness had to say. He did not need to get re-involved in a case that had already cost him more than he could afford. He had plenty of other cases to worry about.

Still, this woman sounded so alone and frightened. After several more telephone conversations with The Witness, as he'd now come to think of her, and her therapist, Hill decided he needed to go to California to meet her and review her materials.

At her therapist's office, The Witness laid out what she knew while Hill videotaped. She said she didn't expect Hill, or the police, to take her word for what had happened to her -- what was still happening, she said, as her therapist confirmed that The Witness continued to be assaulted and controlled by this subculture. The police in her hometown just took her family's word for it that she was crazy, despite the fact that she had told the truth twenty years ago and sent a perpetrator to jail.

Hill returned from that trip "a changed man." He believed her -- even if not every word she said was true, even if she was drawing conclusions that might not be accurate, he agreed that a qualified law-enforcement agency needed to look into her claims.

Back in Boulder, Hill spoke to Barrie Hartman, who arranged a secret meeting with Hunter. Accompanied by Singular, who thought that in light of his own research The Witness's story was plausible, Hill met with the district attorney and one of his investigators at Hartman's home.

Hill presented what The Witness had told him. He knew it sounded incredible, but was impressed when Hunter didn't blow him off. He, in fact, asked a lot of questions. They all agreed that they should proceed slowly, that The Witness should gather what evidence she could of her family's own role in the sexual abuse of children and its possible connection to the Ramsey case.

But then things changed drastically. The Witness called, frightened. She had recently been beaten and sexually assaulted by members of her extended family, and they'd warned her about keeping her mouth shut, she said. They were trying to pressure her into coming to Colorado with one of the men she said had been her childhood tormentor, who was connected to the Ramseys. He had been calling her himself, ever since Hill's television interview regarding the Ramsey deposition, to check on her. Now she was afraid she might be abducted, or worse.

Hill contacted law-enforcement friends in the Los Angeles area, where The Witness claimed much of the abuse had happened, to try to get a case going. However, he ran out of time.

On the Saturday of President's Day weekend, the woman's therapist called Hill from her mobile telephone. She had The Witness in her car and they were on the run. "We think we're being followed," the therapist said. The Witness had left everything -- her apartment, her clothes, her belongings, even her car, so that anyone stalking her wouldn't know that she was escaping. They were on their way to an airport four hours away so that The Witness wouldn't be spotted leaving Los Angeles. She was coming to Colorado.

Hill met her at Denver International Airport after midnight. She was frightened and had little more than the clothes on her back. She'd even left her purse and the prescribed estrogen she took because of a hysterectomy she'd undergone several years before (attributable, she said, to the sexual abuse she'd suffered since childhood).

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