D.A. Bluenose: "Let the Healing Begin"

Larry Manzanares.

Did you have trouble digesting the Jefferson County DA's highly defensive, just-doing-my-job rebuttal in the Rocky Mountain News this weekend concerning his office's handling of the Larry Manzanares case?

Join the club.

DA Scott Storey has been slapped sideways in op-ed pieces for making a big deal out of the prosecution of the former judge and ex-Denver city attorney, whose shifting stories about how he came into possession of a court-owned laptop spiraled into three felony charges. Manzanares committed suicide on June 22, just days after the charges were filed.

In Saturday's letter in the Rocky, Storey defended his role (special prosecutor, so he was appointed to the case rather than seeking it out); the incredibly lengthy arrest affidavit (his investigator is long-winded) handed out to all comers (hey, it's a public document); and the press conference he called to announce the charges (more "efficient," given all the damned media interest). As for the references to porn on the computer — "massive" amounts of "sexually explicit" stuff, according to the affidavit — well, that was just one page in a lengthy document. How was he supposed to know the media would run with the porn angle?

How indeed? What Storey won't cop to in his letter is the way he packaged the porn in his presentation of the charges to the press. Manzanares "didn't have permission to use the computer at home and view the things he did," he huffed. Certain images on the computer had been sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children "to compare images to its database," the wide-eyed Denver Post duly reported.

Really? Rest assured that if Storey had any real evidence of kiddie porn on the laptop, the charges would have been much worse. But the insinuation that something totally heinous was found on the computer slipped into news reports with no real evidence at all. Shame on Storey, and shame on the reporters for swallowing his bluenosed outrage wholesale.

Unsavory as it might be, particularly when found in the home of a (gasp!) Harvard graduate, there's nothing illegal about adult porn. That Manzanares shouldn't have appropriated a court-owned computer for personal use, then told inept stories about how he came to have it, is obvious, too. But DA Bluenose is one hulking crusader against the sexual exploitation of children, much as a Baptist minister is against sin. Check out his website, which strongly touts the county's Child Internet Sex Offender Program. The program nabbed its 100th suspected online predator just days after the Manzanares charges were announced.

Yes, the porn angle amounts to a page in a lengthy affidavit. But the DA and his rightminded friends in the press made it much, much more. –Alan Prendergast