With the new storage barn built, Uncle Rick and the crew went to work harvesting the bumper crops on the ranch, brought on in part by the fantastic summer they had. During the next two weeks Cody and Erik picked hundreds of bushels of vegetables, and fruit from the greenhouse, fields, and orchards. Together, Daniel and Jason mowed 320 acres of alfalfa, followed by Travis the next day driving the hay baler, baling the hay and then by Henry traveling a few rows behind with the harrow bed, scooping and stacking the bales neatly on its tilt-up flatbed. Vicente Sanchez brought his combine to the ranch and teamed with Uncle Rick and his own combine. Together they harvested 160 acres of sweet corn, 120 acres of oats, and 40 acres of waving wheat. Brandon, who was appointed official wizard and chef of the ranch, worked tirelessly in the kitchen to create delicious and healthy meals for the hard working crew. By the end of the second week the new storage barn was nearly fully stocked for the winter, leaving only a small area wide enough for a truck to drive through. After the harvest on the Rhyolite Ranch the crew drove their equipment over to the Sanchez Ranch. Travis and Raul exchanged hugs, happy to see each other again for the first time in two weeks. Both had been so busy working and so exhausted in the evenings; they hadn't had the opportunity to spend any time together. The Sanchez ranch was about half the size of the Rhyolite Ranch. With the combined crew of nine men and boys, the Sanchez crops were picked, mowed, bailed, stacked and harvested in five days. Vicente, Maria and Uncle Rick were long time best friends and did all they could to help each other and their families. They both understood the value of being loyal friends and neighbors.
The two families co-hosted a fall harvest festival. Neighbors and friends, including the guys from S.K Excavators, Chaparral Concrete, and Campbell-Pearson Hardware and Lumber Company were invited to the Rhyolite Ranch to celebrate the harvest. Doctor Hinton, Sheriff Waite and his wife, Irene were also invited to join the festivities. Vicente, Maria, and Raul provided the live music on the large concrete patio for dozens of neighbors who savored Brandon's delicious, steaming barbeque beef, Maria's delectable chicken enchiladas, and dozens of wonderful homemade dishes cooked by the neighbors. Dining, partying, dancing and singing along to the fun music lasted until late in the evening. Around midnight the guests pitched in and cleaned the area before saying their farewells.
The next morning, as the ranch family finished the last bites of Brandon's magic recipe blueberry waffles and crisp bacon, and orange juice made from freshly squeezed oranges, a parcel van pulled in the driveway, in front of the long covered porch shading the front of the ranch house. The driver walked to the front door of the ranch house and knocked. Uncle Rick answered the door.
Rob Tyler, the van driver, smiled at Uncle Rick. "Hi Rick. It's good to see you again. I have a delivery for you."
Uncle Rick was happy to see Rob, who had for years delivered packages for the shipping company to the Chaparral area. "Rob, it's always a pleasure. I hope life is treating you well. I don't remember ordering anything though. Are you sure it's for us?"
Rob checked the paperwork on his clipboard and showed it to Uncle Rick. "Yes indeed. It reads Rhyolite Ranch. Sign here please."
Uncle Rick signed the paperwork with a confused look and Rob opened the back of the truck, dropped the lifting dolly plate, grabbed a hand truck, strapped a large cardboard box securely to it, wheeled the large cardboard box onto the dolly and lowered it to the ground, then he wheeled it into the house. Uncle Rick directed him to an open area in the living room, next to the kitchen where Rob left the box, shook Uncle Rick's hand, said his farewells and hurried onto his next delivery destination.
Brandon came out of the kitchen to see Uncle Rick standing next to the box. "Did you order something, Rick?"
Uncle Rick shook his head. "Not that I can remember. Shall we see what it is?"
Uncle Rick and Brandon cut the straps securing the box and opened it to find a top-of-the-line dishwasher.
They stood looking at the half-unpacked dishwasher when Cody padded into the livingroom. "Oh, that was fast."
Uncle Rick turned to Cody. "Do you know something about this?"
Cody giggled and nodded. "I bet Ms. Sanchez would love to get a phone call from you, Uncle Rick."
"How do you know that? Wait. Forget I asked. I know better with you. I'll call Maria right now and get to the bottom of this."
Cody beamed as Uncle Rick dialed the Sanchez's number.
Maria, who expected the call, answered on the first ring and with a smile. "Good morning, Rick."
Uncle Rick hesitated. "Maria, how did you know it was me calling?"
Maria chuckled. "Rick, when will you men ever learn? I'm a mother. We know these things. Did Rob drop something off at your door this morning?"
Uncle Rick shook his head in disbelief. "Maria, what did you do? Did you buy this dishwasher for us?"
Maria blushed. "Vicente and I wanted to give you and the boys a gift for being such wonderful neighbors and for helping us with the harvest. I hope it will save Brandon and the boy's hands and conserve energy for you."
Uncle Rick knew better than to argue and thanked Maria several times and assured her the dishwasher would be installed and put to good use.
After ending the phone call with Maria, Uncle Rick, Henry, and Brandon looked over the kitchen and decided the dishwasher could be installed in place of a cabinet adjacent to the kitchen sink. Henry assured Uncle Rick and Brandon he could have the dishwasher installed by the end of the day. The boys were thrilled to learn their dishwashing days were over.
A few minutes later the phone rang once more. Uncle Rick answered it. As the caller talked, Uncle Rick wrote notes on a notepad, thanked the caller, and ended the call.
He sat at the table to talk to the boys. "Daniel and Erik, that was Paul Bullock, your attorney. Yesterday afternoon the attorney general called him to let him know they concluded the investigation on Bishop Foutz. A trial date has been scheduled for next Monday morning in Milford County. Paul would like us to be at the courthouse an hour before the trial starts to brief us about the court proceedings. Daniel and Erik, you'll most likely be called to testify as witnesses. Cody and Jason, there's a small chance you may be called to testify as well. It looks like we're going to need to buy some nice clothes for you monkeys to wear to court."
Cody gave Uncle Rick a mock expression of annoyance. "I think I'm experiencing an acute identity crisis."
The other guys were speechless at Cody's sudden professional wording and looked at Cody in surprise.
Uncle Rick raised his eyebrows. "Tell us, Doctor Cody, what has lead you to conclude that extraordinary self-diagnoses?"
Cody looked frustrated and gave a big sigh. "Uncle Rick, the other night I was called a puppy. I've also been called a stinky varmint and a lovable varmint. Now you are calling me a monkey. Just what am I?"
Everyone snickered and Uncle Rick grinned. "Cody, maybe what you really are is a wizard like Brandon, but instead of using magic to make our tasty meals, you change what you are, like a shapeshifter. Some nights, when you snuggle with Erik and the boys you're a puppy. Some mornings you're a varmint and other mornings you are a monkey."
Cody thought about it and grinned. "I think I like being a shape-shifting wizard, okay."
Jason spoke. "Uncle Rick, I can wear my suit I bought for business meetings at my old job. I'm all set."
"That will be great, Jason. If you like, you're welcome to come with us and help the boys pick out good looking outfits."
Uncle Rick parked in front of Perkins Mercantile just as the store owner unlocked the glass store doors and put the "Open" sign in the window. When they entered the store and told the boys and men's clothes department salesclerk what they needed, she excused herself, went in the back room and returned with two additional salesclerks to help her wait on the boys. Jason watched as the three sales clerks selected business-like dark grey suits. They took measurements while Jason picked out white long-sleeve dress shirts and ties that coordinated with the suits. The head clerk promised the fitted suits would be ready to try on Wednesday afternoon. That left a few days, which was plenty of time to make unforeseen last minute alterations before the trip to Milford County. The sales clerks finished measuring the boys, who then went to the shoe department, where they found appropriate footwear to coordinate with their new suits. The Perkins Mercantile seamstress was able to complete the tailoring of all three suits in time as promised. On Wednesday afternoon, Uncle Rick and the boys returned to the Mercantile for the boys to try on their new outfits. The tie Jason had selected for Cody was a little long, hanging halfway to his knees. Although Cody thought it would be fun to wear, Uncle Rick convinced him a shorter tie would be better for court. Cody reluctantly agreed to have Jason select a better fitting tie.
The next several days sped by quickly as the ranch family harvested the final summer crops from the greenhouse and garden, stored sufficient amounts of hay and oats in the stable for the horses, and readied the ranch for the upcoming cooler months of fall and winter.
Early Monday morning Uncle Rick, Daniel, Erik, Cody, and Jason drove to Milford in time to meet with Mr. Bullock.
The Milford County Courthouse was a grand grey concrete building having a stately entrance framed by a wide covered overhang, supported by thick carved granite columns that were emblematic of the architecture and design of municipal buildings constructed in the early years of the twentieth century. The building reminded Jason of the courthouse located on the backlot of Universal Studios that has been used in many movies including "Back to the Future". Uncle Rick and the boys opened the heavy overly tall brass and glass front doors and stepped into a round-shaped two-story high foyer capped by a domed glass roof. They made their way across the white granite floor, dulled by millions of footsteps taken throughout decades, to the center of the foyer. As they glanced around the room they glimpsed dozens of elaborately framed paintings of previous government leaders mounted on the walls. It occurred to Uncle Rick how quiet the building was, despite its large size and openness. They looked at a long corridor when they heard a heavy wooden and glass door open and shut, followed by the sound of footsteps. The footsteps grew louder as they came closer.
Mr. Bullock stepped into the foyer, saw Uncle Rick and the boys and smiled. He held his hand out to shake Uncle Rick's hand. "You must be Rick Hansen. I'm Paul Bullock. Welcome to Milford County."
He looked around at the boys. Holding his hand out he shook Daniel's hand. "You must be Daniel, and you must be Erik, Cody, and Jason."
He shook each of their hands.
"Thank you for meeting me here before the trial starts. I know you guys started the day early to drive here but I feel it's essential to discuss the trial to my clients. Let's step over here to the side and we can talk."
Mr. Bullock motioned them toward the side of the foyer and explained the nature of the trial, the charges against Bishop Foutz, and the possible penalties and jail time he could pay and serve respectively. Their attorney coached them on proper courtroom procedures and how to answer any questions honestly and thoroughly without the risk of rambling. He assured them he would be in the courtroom to keep a watchful eye and ensure they are treated respectfully. Several more people entered the courthouse as Mr. Bullock briefed his clients. Soon a bailiff walked across the granite floors of the foyer and through the corridor from which Paul had come earlier. The bailiff nodded to Paul Bullock and opened the double carved wooden doors to a courtroom. It was time to enter the courtroom and prepare for the trial. Mr. Bullock led the way through the corridor, lined with wooden framed replicas of historical documents and photographs of former judges, to the double wooden doors the bailiff had just opened. A plaque on the wall adjacent to the door read "District Court Department 10, Judge Franklin Sanders".
Mr. Bullock led the way into the courtroom and directed them to sit in the first row on the right side of the center aisle. The group made their way to the far end of the bench and sat quietly, watching. Jason looked around the aged cherry wood wall panels flanked by carved wood column dividers and the tall arched windows. The judge's bench and attached witness stand dominated the front of the courtroom, facing the rear of the courtroom, the prosecutor and defense tables located in front of three-foot high wood divider walls separating the litigants from the spectators. Flanking each side of the judge's bench on the back wall were tall wooden doors that mimicked the courtroom entrance doors. On the left side was a matching cherry wood jury box with 13 wooden chairs. A court clerk's desk and two chairs were located on the right wall, facing the jury box on the other side of the room. A small table and chair were in front of the court clerk's desk. The design of the courtroom furnishings appeared to be at least 50 years old. Jason glanced at the tall ceilings and the Edwardian-style overhead lighting that had lit the room for hundreds if not thousands of court cases throughout the decades. There were two mezzanines in the rear of the courtroom. Both mezzanines were filled with benches matching those on the main floor.
The door to the right of the witness stand opened and two clerks carried boxes of documents to their desk. The door opened once again and a court reporter carrying a case holding a stenograph made her way to the small table located in front of the court clerk's desk, opened the case, put her stenograph on the table, sat in the small chair and loaded stenograph paper into it. The noise level in the courtroom rose slightly as dozens of people made their way along the center aisle and found seating in the benches. The Attorney General, John Forbes, wearing a dark charcoal suit and dark maroon necktie, greeted Paul Bullock and the two attorneys walked together to the prosecutor's table. They sat in the antique hardwood chairs and unpacked their briefcases. The defense attorney, Mr. Robinson, wearing a medium grey suit, and Bishop Foutz, dressed in his black bishop's suit, entered the courtroom though the main entrance and found their places at the table on the left. It wasn't long before the entire courtroom, including the mezzanines, was filled with people. The door to the left of the judge's bench opened. A bailiff stepped out and to the side of the door. Eight men and five women followed him into the courtroom, made their way into the jury box and sat in the thirteen antique cherry wood chairs.
The bailiff moved to the side of the judge's bench and faced the rear of the courtroom. "Milford County District Court, Department 10, the honorable Judge Franklin Sanders presiding. Please rise."
All of the occupants of the courtroom rose. The door on the left of the judge's bench opened and Judge Sanders, carrying two State statute volumes, stepped out, glanced at the filled courtroom and sat in his high-backed chair.
The Bailiff announced, "Be seated."
Everyone sat again. The judge put the two volumes on his desk and opened them to pages that he had previously marked. He banged his gavel and declared the court in session and glanced to the county clerk.
The Clerk stood, holding a document. "Your Honor, this is Case number MC-98221. State vs. Harold Foutz. On September 6, 1988 a preliminary hearing was held. In that hearing it was the determination of this court the defendant was to be held for trial." The clerk sat at her table and began taking notes.
Judge Sanders looked from his intimidating bench at the Attorney General, who sat at the prosecutor's table in front of Uncle Rick and the boys. "Mr. Forbes?"
The Attorney General (A.G.) stood. "Your Honor, Harold Foutz is charged with extortion, racketeering, fraud, four counts of bribery, fifteen counts of obtaining money under false pretenses, fifteen counts of attempted kidnapping, kidnapping and one count of statutory rape, and in a separate case, scheduled to be heard in two months, possession of child pornography. In this trial, excluding the charge of possession of child pornography, being a separate litigation, I intend to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt Harold Foutz did indeed commit the aforementioned crimes. Your Honor, the state requests if found guilty, Harold Foutz serve the maximum sentences for those heinous infractions.
"Harold Foutz, acting as Bishop of the church, exploited and convinced twenty-four families, who were parishioners of the church, that their children were homosexuals who had been cursed by the devil. Additionally, he recommended the children be sent to Cedarline Institute, hereafter referred to as Cedarline, to be cured of their homosexuality. On four of those occasions he bribed the parents of those children, offering $3,000 each for them to hand over their children to his custody to transport to Cedarline. On fifteen separate occasions, without regard to their parent's decisions, Harold Foutz attempted to kidnap children in his congregation and transport them to Cedarline. On nine separate occasions Harold Foutz kidnapped teenage boys and transported them to Cedarline. Additionally on two separate occasions Harold Foutz obtained money to the sum of $35,900 from parents for the tuition and fees allegedly imposed by Cedarline. In fact, Harold Foutz deposited that $35,900, along with $432,000 paid in the form of finder's fees by Cederline to Harold Foutz, into his brother's business account in an attempt to keep the transactions confidential and hidden."
Judge Sanders acknowledged Attorney General Forbes. "Continue."
Attorney General Forbes then called his first witness, a sixteen-year old boy, Tony D'angelo.
Tony, who was the same age as Erik, stood and walked to the witness stand where the bailiff swore him in.
Erik leaned over and whispered to Daniel, "He was in my class the last couple years. He's really nice." Daniel nodded, understanding.
A.G. Forbes asked the Tony to describe what occurred on the afternoon of February 9, 1987.
Tony nervously answered. "Well, the morning started out kind of weird. Mom and Dad weren't talking much to me. I had skipped going to church the day before and I guess they were mad at me for that."
Mr. Robinson, the attorney for the defense stood and yelled, "Objection, speculation."
Judge Sanders agreed. "Sustained. Mr. D'angelo, please tell the court what was said and done, and please refrain from guessing and speculating as to why things were said and done. Do you understand?"
Tony nodded. "Yes sir."
Tony looked at A.G. Forbes and continued. "Well, I went to school as usual. About a half-hour before school let out I was called to the school office. When I got there Bishop Foutz was waiting for me. He told me my parents were at the church working on a project and had asked him to pick me up from school. I thought since he was the Bishop, everything was fine. We walked out to his car and he opened the back door for me. I thought it was kinda' weird but I got in the backseat and he shut the door. Bishop Foutz got in and drove the car out of the school parking lot. When he made a left turn onto the highway going north, I knew something was wrong. My home and the church were the other way. When he got on the highway he drove about 80 miles per hour so I figured I couldn't open the door and get out without killing myself. Three hours later he pulled into the Cedarline Institute's driveway."
A.G. Forbes casually walked closer to the witness stand. "Tony, did you ask Bishop Foutz to take you to Cedarline?"
"No, sir. When he turned onto the highway, I asked him to take me home."
"Did he respond to your request?"
Tony nodded. "Yes, he said to sit back, be quiet, enjoy the ride and everything was going to be fine."
"What happened after you arrived at Cedarline?"
"Four men came out of the building to the car. One of them went around to Bishop Foutz's door. His window was open and the man gave him something that looked like a check."
Mr. Robinson stood again. "Objection, the witness is speculating."
The Judge answered, "Overruled. Mr. D'angelo, please continue."
Tony nodded. "Yes, Your Honor. The other three men stood around my door. One of them opened it, pulled me out of the car by the arm. The three men took me into the building."
A.G. Forbes continued his questioning. "Did Bishop Foutz go into the building?"
"No sir. I never saw him again."
"Please tell the court what happened after you entered the building at Cedarline."
"After they took me into the building, they locked me in a small office. I was in there for a long time and finally a doctor came in and asked me a lot of questions."
"What questions did the doctor ask?"
"At first he asked me pretty normal stuff, about my name, age, and where I lived. After that the questions got weird. He asked me if I was attracted to boys and if I had ever had sex with boys."
"What happened after he interviewed you?"
"One of the three men who escorted me into the building came and took me to a room."
"What kind of a room was it?"
"It was like a bedroom only smaller. There was a small bed, a chair, a nightstand and lamp. Anyway, he locked me in there. Sometime in the evening he came back, unlocked my door and took me to a dining hall where they fed me. When I was finished eating, he took me back to my room and locked the door. I cried the rest of the night and finally fell asleep. The next morning someone came and got me. They took me to a room where there was a T.V. and some machine with a lot of wires coming out of it. A lady came in and attached the wires to little patches they put on my body. She turned out the lights and left the room. In a few minutes the T.V. came on and showed a bunch of pornographic movies. Every time guys were shown I'd get shocked really bad. If I got aroused the shocks would get stronger and longer."
"You say you were shocked really bad. How painful, say on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, were the shocks?"
"The really bad ones hurt more than anything I've ever felt before. They were a 10."
"How long did the electric shocks continue?"
"Those movies and the shocks usually lasted a couple hours. They showed them once in the mornings and then again in the afternoons. That lasted for two weeks."
"Were the wires attached to you every time?"
"Let me get this right. For two weeks you encountered severe electrical shocks for two hours, twice a day?"
Hearing Tony describe the torture he went through, Cody fidgeted and winced in empathy. Erik squeezed his hand firmly, letting him know he was there with him.
"Did you ever ask them to stop shocking you?"
"Yes, lots of times. Every morning and afternoon I begged them to stop shocking me and to let me go home. They always said something like, God had sent me to them to cure me of the disease the devil had put into my body and that I wasn't yet cured of the disease. Finally at the end of the second week they put me in the same office I was put in the day I arrived. The same doctor came in and asked me a bunch of questions. He asked me if I was physically attracted to men and if I became aroused when I saw naked men. I told him I was no longer attracted to men and the electric shocks had cured me. I said I never wanted to look at a naked man again. He must have believed me because they let me leave that day. My parents came to Cederline to get me and took me home."
"Tony, were you telling the truth when you told the person at Cedarline the electric shocks had cured you?"
"No, sir, but I didn't want to be shocked anymore. That was the most horrible thing I've ever experienced. I told them anything they wanted to hear just so they would let me go home."
"Did anyone at Cedarline conduct follow-up interviews with you?"
"No, sir. After my parents took me home, I never saw or heard from anyone at Cedarline again."
"Tony, have you experienced anything unusual or different in your life since your stay at Cedarline?"
"Since my stay there, every night it's hard to get to sleep and once I am asleep, I have nightmares."
"You say every night?"
"Did you have nightmares on a regular nightly basis prior to your stay at Cedarline?"
"No, sir. I hardly ever had nightmares."
"Tony, did you ever hear your parents discussing having you sent to Cedarline?"
"Yes, they talked about with me a few times"
"Did they mention anything in those conversations about paying Bishop Foutz money to take you there?"
"Yes, sir. They said they talked about possibly paying Bishop Foutz $3,000 to take me there."
"Did they at anytime tell you they paid him the $3,000?"
"So, when he showed up at the school that day, it was a complete surprise to you?"
"Thank you, Tony. No further questions."
Mr. Robinson stood and took a few steps toward the witness stand. "Mr. D'angelo, are you a homosexual?"
A.G. Forbes stood. "Objection, Your Honor. The question is irrelevant to the specific matters of this case."
Mr. Robinson argued. "Your Honor, the purpose of my question was to show just cause for the actions of Bishop Foutz and the staff at Cedarline Institute."
"Objection overruled. The witness will answer the question."
Tony hesitated and took a deep breath. "Yes, I'm gay."
Daniel and Jason looked at each other. They were horrified the judge would allow the question to stand. It was an indication the judge might be prejudiced against gay people.
Mr. Robinson continued. "Mr. D'angelo, have you ever engaged in sexual activity with another male?"
A.G. Forbes stood and yelled, "Objection."
Judge Sanders retorted, "Overruled. Please answer the question, Mr. D'angelo."
"No, I've never engaged in any sexual activity with anyone."
"Mr. D'angelo, isn't it a fact that you asked Bishop Foutz to drive you to Cedarline Institute and to admit you for treatment in the hope you could become normal?"
Mr. Forbes stood once more. "Objection, leading the witness."
Judge Sanders again retorted "Overruled. Please answer the question Mr. D'angelo."
"No, sir. I never asked Bishop Foutz to drive me anywhere or to ask for any treatment."
"Isn't it also a fact, Mr. D'angelo, that once you were admitted to Cedarline Institute you were relieved that you would receive treatment and be cured of your homosexuality?"
"No, I never wanted to go to Cederline. I hate that place and the horrible people in it. I never want to see them again and I never wanted to be anything but my real self."
Mr. Robinson smirked at Tony. "No further questions, Your Honor."
Judge Sanders dismissed Tony. Cody intently watched as Tony left the witness stand and walked by him to his seat. Cody gasped and attempted to get Uncle Rick's attention. Uncle Rick shushed Cody and shook his head, indicating it wasn't appropriate to talk.
A.G. Forbes called Daniel Bunch to testify. Daniel glanced at Jason, who gave him a comforting smile, took a deep breath, made his way to the center aisle and walked to the witness stand and stood. The county clerk swore him in and he was asked to sit in the witness stand.
A.G. Forbes began his questioning. "Daniel, do you recall what you were doing on evening of October 10, 1985?"
"Yes sir. I do."
"Would you please tell the court what happened that night?"
Daniel told the court about the events that led to his running away from home, about his father's rage, and about escaping from Milford. Paul Bullock sat listening closely to Daniel's accounting of the events that night.
A.G. Forbes thanked Daniel and addressed the court. "Your Honor, if it pleases the court, the next witness I call is the brother of Daniel Bunch, Erik Bunch, who will be asked to give his accounting of the events of that same night. Before Mr. Robinson cross-examines Daniel Bunch may, we hear Erik's testimony to provide a clearer understanding of what occurred that evening?"
Judge sanders looked over his wire glasses to the defense attorney. "Any objections, Mr. Robinson?"
Mr. Robinson stood halfway. "No objections, Your Honor."
A.G. Forbes then called Erik to the stand, where he was sworn in. After sitting in the witness stand he was asked to give his accounting of that fateful evening. Erik told the court what he recalled, often repeating Daniel's story.
A.G. Forbes continued, "Erik, would you tell the court what happened after your father sent you to the living room?"
"A car parked in the street in front of the house. Bishop Foutz and President Thomas got out and came to the door. Dad answered the door and told them Daniel would be out in a few minutes and asked them to wait outside."
"What happened next?"
"Well, Dad got impatient and went to our room to get Daniel. He came back really mad, yelling and cussing. He grabbed me by the neck and threatened to beat me to hell if I didn't tell him where Daniel went. I swore I didn't know and that Daniel didn't say anything to me. He told Bishop Foutz and President Thomas that Daniel had gone. Bishop Foutz and President Thomas started yelling at Dad. Bishop Foutz said he had paid Dad thousands of dollars and if he lost the finder's fee Cedarline paid him, he would sue him for every penny and more. President Thomas told Dad he would make sure Dad and Mom never would set foot in church again if he lost his finder's fee. Dad went with them in Bishop Foutz's car to look for Daniel. After a couple hours they came back, let Dad out of the car, and drove off. Dad came in the house, asked if Daniel came back, and then grabbed me by the neck again. He was so mad he was spitting his words at me. I swore to God again I didn't know where Daniel was. He let me go to my room and he and mom got in a bad argument, yelling and I think shoving. I heard stuff being banged around and her crying."
"Was that night the last time Bishop Foutz visited the house?"
"No, he called the house every day asking if Daniel had come back. Sometimes he would drive by the house, looking around the yard. Other times he would knock on the door and talk to Dad out on the porch."
"Erik, prior to that night, did Daniel ever talk to you about his homosexuality?"
"Yes, we talked about it a few times."
"Did he ever express his desire to be cured of his homosexuality?"
Erik was firm with his answer. "Definitely not, Daniel was always happy being who he was. We heard about Cederline and wanted nothing to do with it."
"Thank you Erik. No further questions, Your Honor."
Judge Sanders faced Mr. Robinson. "Counselor, your witness."
Mr. Robinson stood. "Thank you, Your Honor. Mr. Bunch, how old were you that night Daniel ran away from home?"
"I was 10-years old, sir."
Mr. Robinson continued with an arrogant tone and smirk. "So let me understand this. You would like this court to believe, at 10-years old you remembered every thing, every small detail, and nuance of what happened that night, is that right?"
Paul Bullock stood and loudly interrupted. "Objection, Your Honor, intimidating the witness."
Mr. Robinson backed off. "I'll withdraw the question. No further questions for this or the preceding witness, Your Honor."
Judge Sanders turned to Erik. "Mr. Bunch, you may step down, however, please stay for the remainder of the proceedings as you may be called again to testify."
"Yes sir." Erik left the witness stand to take his seat with his brother, between Cody and Jason.
After the judge recessed the trial for the evening, Uncle Rick and the boys checked in to the Milford Pioneer Country Inn, an L-shaped 2-story motel, where they would lodge until the trial was over. While Uncle Rick was filling out the information card in order to check in, the sweet elderly lady behind the desk looked over her wire-framed glasses and warmly smiled at the smartly dressed boys. They all smiled back.
Cody gave an extra big smile. "Excuse me, ma'am."
The desk clerk looked at Cody. "Yes, young man?"
Cody continued. "Do you have grandkids?"
Uncle Rick looked down sternly. "Cody!"
The desk clerk scoffed, "Oh that's ok. I don't mind. Yes, I do, young man. I have 3 grandkids. One of them is about your age."
Cody imagined her grandkids cuddling with their grandma while she read them stories. "I can tell you're a really good grandma. Your grandkids are really lucky to have a sweet lady like you for their grandma."
Tears formed in the desk clerk's eyes. "Young man, that is the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me. May I give you a grandma hug?"
Cody beamed from ear to ear and went around the side of the desk where the sweet desk clerk gave Cody a big warm hug. He closed his eyes and hugged her back lovingly."
She completed the check in for the group and asked if they were hungry. They all answered with a resounding "Yes!" She recommended the café, The Apple Harvest, located on the corner in front of the motel, as a convenient dinner place where they could eat tasty and reasonably priced home-cooked meals.
The gang checked into their rooms at the Inn and walked to the Apple Harvest Café, where a young teenage girl sat them at a large booth. A young waiter introduced himself as Mario, took their drink and food orders, and returned to the kitchen.
Uncle Rick stared as Mario hurried to the kitchen. "That young man looks familiar." The boys agreed.
In a few minutes Mario returned to the booth with their drinks and noticed the group looking at him. "Is there something else I can get for you?"
Daniel spoke first. "Mario, did you go to Milford High School?"
Mario smiled. "Yes I graduated from there in '86."
"Do you have a younger brother named Tony?"
Mario looked surprised. "Yeah, I do. Why do you ask?"
"Is your last name D'angelo?"
"Yes, it is. Do you know my brother?"
Uncle Rick explained. "We were at the trial where he testified today. Is he going to be okay?"
Mario became solemn. "Honestly, I don't know what is going to happen to Tony and me. My parents disowned him and kicked him out of the house. He lives with me for now. Please excuse me. I'll be right back."
Mario hurried to the kitchen as the boys and Uncle Rick sat in silence. Finally, Daniel was the first to speak. "I remember Mario and Tony. Their parents lived a couple blocks away from our parents. I hope they are going to be alright."
Uncle Rick noticed Cody in deep contemplation about something. "Cody, is something wrong?"
Cody nodded, "Uncle Rick, we're supposed to help them."
Uncle Rick looked surprised. "Cody, is that what you were trying to tell me in the trial today?
Cody nodded. "Yes, We need to help Mario and Tony. "
"Cody, how can we help Tony and Mario? They live here in Milford and have their own lives."
Cody shook his head. "Uncle Rick, Tony can't stay here. Mario is doing all he can for his brother but it's not safe for Tony here in Milford. Can't we do something?"
"Cody, is this one of those things we're supposed to do?"
Cody gave Uncle Rick a firm serious look. "Yes, Uncle Rick. The church is really mad at him now and he's in danger. He's supposed to come stay with us. Please!"
"I'll talk with Mario before we leave, alright?"
Cody smiled and nodded. "Thank you, Uncle Rick."
Within minutes, Mario returned carrying a large tray filled with plates of delicious homemade grated carrot meatloaf, roasted turkey, chicken fried steak, fried chicken, and hamburgers. He handed the appropriate dinners to the boys and Uncle Rick. "I'll be back with more drinks.
The hungry group quickly downed the delicious meals. Mario returned to the booth asking if there was anything else he could bring. Everyone was too full to consider dessert so Uncle Rick asked for the check. Mario returned quickly with the check, thanking them and telling Uncle Rick he can pay at the cashier on the way out.
Uncle Rick handed Mario several ten-dollar bills. "That is for you, Mario. Thank you. There is one other thing."
Mario was confused and surprised upon receiving such a large tip. "Yes?"
Uncle Rick explained their concerns. "Mario, your brother did really a good job on the witness stand today but we're worried about him. There were some serious accusations made against Bishop Foutz and we're fearful the church may want retribution for what he said."
Mario nodded, and whispered. "I don't know what we should do. Everyone in town knows Tony lives with me and where we live. I don't have a car and can't take him to a safer place. I can't really talk here. Some of the employees are church members."
"We're staying next door at the inn. I'm in room 209. Would you come talk after work?"
Mario wrote the room number on his order pad and whispered, "Room 209. I get off work at 9:00 P.M. I'll come right over. See you then." In his normal volume voice he smiled and continued, "Thank you and have a good night."
Mario returned to the kitchen. Uncle Rick paid the cashier for their meal and they returned to Uncle Rick's room at the inn. Just after 9:00 P.M. Mario knocked on Uncle Rick's door. Uncle Rick invited him in.
Mario was grateful to be able to talk with someone other than a church member. "Thank you for asking me here. I have been scared for my brother for a long time. Do you have any ideas to help?"
Uncle Rick formally introduced the boys and himself. They shook hands. "I have a couple ideas. Daniel and Erik also testified today. Their lawyer is also staying in Milford until the trial ends. He asked me to call him anytime if I needed anything. I'm sure he wouldn't mind a phone call now. Perhaps he can file a restraining order against the church."
"Mr. Hansen, I can't afford a lawyer. I barely have enough money to pay my rent and eat."
"Please, call me Uncle Rick, like everyone else does and let's not worry about you paying for a lawyer. I'll take care of that."
"Mr. Hansen...Uncle Rick, I can't ask you to do that."
"You didn't ask and I'm offering because your brother is in danger. Sit tight while I call Paul Bullock now."
Uncle Rick called Paul Bullock. He didn't mind the late phone call and asked what was the reason for the call. Uncle Rick explained Tony and Mario's situation and his concern about Tony being in danger. Paul asked Uncle Rick to put Mario on the phone. He handed the phone to Mario. After a few minutes Mario hung up the phone.
"Mr. Bullock said he would come right over. He wants to help. I can't thank you enough."
Uncle Rick put his hand on Mario's shoulder reassuringly. "That's ok, the important thing is we need to keep you and your brother safe."
In a short time there was a knock at the door. Uncle Rick opened it and let Paul Bullock in the room. He introduced him to Mario. Paul shook Mario's hand and said hello to the other boys.
Cody was the first to speak. "Mr. Bullock, Tony is in a lot of danger. He's vunera..vulerna.."
Erik jumped in the conversation. "What Cody is trying to say is that after his testimony today, Tony is vulnerable to being hurt by the church and he needs help."
Cody nodded. "I'm really worried about him, Mr. Bullock."
"Okay, Cody. Thanks for letting me know the situation. I'll do my best to get Tony to safety and make sure the church doesn't do him harm. Mario, is Tony at your home now?"
Tony nodded. I'm pretty sure he is, sir. I left him there to go to work and told him not to leave the apartment or to let anyone in."
Can you call him and let him know we are going over there and I'll take him to a safe place?"
"I'll do that now."
Mario called his apartment and told Tony what was going on and to be ready to leave with Mr. Bullock, who will make sure he is safe. Tony said he understood and would be ready when they arrived.
Mario's apartment was only four blocks away, less than a five-minute drive. Tony was ready when Mario and Paul arrived. Mario introduced them. Tony recognized Paul from being in the courtroom that morning and felt safe with him. The brothers hugged and Tony went with Paul, who drove him to the house his law firm owned and kept for the attorneys and employees to stay when they had business in Milford.
The next morning Paul coordinated with Mallory Tobin to arrange for the filing of a restraining order against the church and it's members in the names of Tony and Mario D'angelo.
Cody felt at ease and thanked Uncle Rick for taking action to help Tony.
For the next two days Tony arrived with Paul Bullock and sat with Uncle Rick and the boys in the spectator benches. After the judge recessed the court at the end of the first of those two days, Paul Bullock handed Uncle Rick and Tony copies of the filed restraining order and an order of guardianship, giving Uncle Rick official guardianship over Tony, both signed by Judge Sanders.
A.G. Forbes called twenty-four teenage boys and girls, as well as the parents and siblings of those children over the course of the next two days. Many testified of their experiences with Bishop Foutz and Cedarline. Through the course of the testimony emerged distinct patterns in how Bishop Foutz allegedly coerced parents to relinquish control over their children to him. Some parents were bribed thousands of dollars while others were threatened with excommunication and being banned from the church if they didn't pay the Bishop to transport their children to Cedarline. Defense Attorney Robinson did his best to discredit the testimony of each of the witnesses.
Jason and Daniel looked at the jury members several times during the days of testimony for any signs of empathy for the witnesses or for the Bishop. They remained expressionless, giving no indication of how they leaned.
On the morning of the third day A.G. Forbes called 17-year old Ella Conrad to the stand. After being sworn in Ella testified about her experiences with Bishop Foutz and Cedarline. She told of being met at school by Bishop Foutz three years ago. Her accounting of the event started off similarly to Tony D'angelo's testimony. However there was a significant departure from the testimony of the other witnesses.
A.G. Forbes asked Ella Conrad to continue with her testimony. "Ms. Conrad, where in his car did Bishop Foutz ask you to sit?"
Tears formed in Ella's eyes. "He opened the passenger door for me to get in."
"Was that the front passenger door or the rear passenger door?"
"He opened the front passenger door for me."
"Then what happened?"
"Well, after he got in the car he drove over to the highway. He said he needed to go to Continental Dry Cleaners to get a suit he had left there to be dry cleaned; only he drove past the dry cleaners and started driving really fast. I asked him where he was going and he told me it was a surprise and to just sit and enjoy the drive."
"Did you ask him to take you home?"
"Yes, sir. I told him my parents would be expecting me home right after school and asked him to take me home."
"How did he respond to you?"
"He didn't say anything. He just stepped on the gas and went faster. After about an hour he pulled off the highway onto a dirt road that went into an orchard. He stopped the car, turned off the engine and told me it was time for my surprise." Ella began crying.
A.G. Forbes handed her a few tissues from a brass tissue holder near the witness stand. "Ms. Conrad, I know this is painful to talk about. I am sorry you have to discuss this but it's essential that you do."
Ella wiped her tears and the A.G. continued. "Ms. Conrad, Ella, would you please tell us what happened next?"
Ella struggled through her tears and managed to describe how Bishop Foutz told her God had told him to have his way sexually with her. She testified he told her if she didn't agree, God would spite her and send her to hell. After he had his way with her, he told her if she told a soul she and her family would be permanently banned from the church and chastised by the entire congregation. He started the car, drove back to the highway and continued to Cedarline, where three men took her inside the building. Her accounting of her experience at Cedarline was much the same as the other witnesse's accounts.
In cross-examining Ella Conrad, Mr. Robinson asked oddly worded questions in an attempt to confuse the young girl. At one point Ella stumbled with her answer and Mr. Robinson interrupted her, intimidating her, demanding she answer the question forthrightly. A.G. Forbes objected on the grounds of intimidating the witness. Judge Sanders sustained the objection.
Mr. Robinson continued his cross-examination. "Ms. Conrad, did you tell anyone at Cedarline Institute about what allegedly occurred on the drive there?"
Ella shook her head. "No, I was afraid God would punish me and my family would be banned from the church, like Bishop Foutz said."
"Did a doctor, nurse, or medical technician physically examine you after you arrived at Cedarline?"
Again, Ella shook her head. "No, sir."
"So if I understand this correctly, Bishop Foutz picked you up at school for your parents, drove you to Cedarline Institute, stopped somewhere along the way, had his way sexually with you, after which he started the car and continued to Cedarline. There was no mention of the alleged incident and no examination to provide evidence of the alleged incident occurring. In fact, what we have here, is your word against the word of a highly regarded spiritual leader. I have no further questions, Your Honor."
Judge Sanders glanced at Ella Conrad. "You may go back to your seat, Ms. Conrad."
On the afternoon of the third day, A.G. Forbes called the Manager of The Milford Guardian Bank, Mr. Michael Brady. A.G. Forbes produced documents obtained by subpoena and asked Mr. Brady to verify the authenticity of the documents showing undisputable trails of unlawful payments totaling $432,000 from Cedarline Institute to Bishop Foutz, and deposits into the business bank account of Bishop Foutz's brother in the total amount of $35,900 and $432,000. Mr. Brady authenticated the documents and transactions.
Mr. Robinson did his best to discredit Mr. Brady in cross-examination, however Mr. Brady was used to being in court. Mr. Robinson's tactics were ineffective in creating doubt about a man whose reputation for honesty was recognized in the community.
In his closing remarks, A.G. Forbes gave a concise summary of the testimonies of all of the witnesses. He gave a firmly supported argument as to why Harold Foutz should be found guilty of all of the charges brought against him and should serve the maximum sentences for each of those charges.
A.G. Forbes cautioned the jury. "Ladies and Gentleman, the defense attorney, Mr. Robinson, is a fine lawyer. It's his fiduciary duty to advocate for his client and protect him from harm. In the process of his defense, Mr. Robinson may use a very old and time-tested defense called projection. Projection, quoting the Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, is defined as 'The unconscious act or process of ascribing to others one's own ideas, impulses, or emotions, especially when they are considered undesirable or cause anxiety'. Although far from being unconscious, Mr. Robinson will no doubt try and convince you that those innocent children, those victims who were fraudulently taken against their will and subjected to inhumane torturous treatment, for which there is no evidence of efficacy, are evil beings. He will try and convince you they are cursed by the devil with a horrible disease, a disease that goes against society's code of ethics and morality. However, the evidence presented in this trial tells us the real story, not the projected fabrications Mr. Robinson will attempt to so diligently impose upon you in order to protect his client. The real evil being is the defendant, Harold Foutz; not these children who had their innocence so unpardonably stripped."
A.G. Forbes thanked the jury for their time and attention with this case and encouraged the jury to diligently review the details of the case and conclude the defendant is guilty as charged.
As accurately predicted by A.G. Forbes, Mr. Robinson took a different approach with his closing arguments, deflecting from the facts of the case as presented by A.G. Forbes and the witnesses and projecting the evil of Bishop Foutz's character onto the children. Mr. Robinson chose to attempt to discredit the witnesses, summarizing their testimony was fabricated beyond belief and that no man, especially a man of God, could be as evil as to commit the acts of which the Bishop has been accused. Mr. Robinson highlighted the bishop's reputation within his congregation as an honest God-fearing man, portraying him as a benevolent soul guided by his God to serve his flock in the name of the Lord.
The defense rested. Judge Sanders gave his instructions to the jury, sequestered them to deliberate in seclusion, and recessed the court until such time as the jury reached a verdict. The jury deliberated for three hours and sent a note to the judge via the bailiff stating they had reached a verdict. The jury was summoned into the courtroom, where they took their seats.
Judge Sanders returned from his chambers, banged his gavel and called the court in session. "Ladies and gentleman of the jury, have you reached a verdict?"
The jury foreman stood. "Yes, Your Honor, we have reached a verdict."
"Would you please give the bailiff your verdict?"
The bailiff took the written verdict from the foreman and walked it to the court clerk to read.
The court clerk stood and read the verdict. "State vs. Harold Foutz,
We the jury, duly impaneled and sworn in the above entitled action, upon our oath, do find the defendant as follows:
Verdict, Count 1., extortion, guilty.
Verdict, Count 2., racketeering, guilty.
Verdict, Count 3., fraud, guilty.
Verdict, Count 4., bribery, guilty.
Verdict, Count 5., obtaining money under false pretenses, guilty.
Verdict, Count 6., attempted kidnapping, guilty
Verdict, Count 7., kidnapping, not guilty.
Verdict, Count 8., statutory rape, not guilty."
"Are these your true verdicts, say you one and all? "
The Jury Foreman nodded. "They are."
The county clerk then asked each of the jurors, "Are these your true verdicts?"
All jurors answered in the affirmative.
Judge Sanders addressed the jury. "Ladies and gentleman of the jury, thank you for fulfilling your civic duties in this trial. Your duties are hereby concluded and you are excused."
Judge Sanders faced the two attorneys and defendant. "The sentencing phase of this trial shall commence at 9:00 A.M. tomorrow morning. Be here prepared no later than 8:45 A.M. Court is in recess." The judge banged his gavel.
By 8:45 A.M. the following morning, the courtroom was again packed with spectators, jurors, bailiff, attorneys, clerks, and witnesses, all ready for the judge to enter and call the court in session. At precisely 9:00 A.M. the judge entered the courtroom from his chambers.
The Bailiff announced "All Stand."
Judge Sanders sat in his chair behind the bench and glanced at the county clerk. The county clerk stood and read from her notes. "Case number MC-98221. State vs. Harold Foutz. The impaneled and sworn jury has found the defendant, Harold Foutz, guilty of Counts one through seven."
Judge Sanders put on his glasses and read aloud. "To the 24 counts of extortion the defendant has been found guilty, shall serve 10 years in state prison and is fined $10,000 for each count. To the one count of racketeering, the defendant has been found guilty, shall serve 8 years in prison and is fined $50,000. To the one count of fraud, the defendant has been found guilty, shall serve 10 years in prison and is fined $50,000. To the four counts of bribery, the defendant has been found guilty, shall serve 10 years for each count for a total of 40 years in prison and is fined $50,000 for each count to a total of $200,000. To the one count of obtaining money under false pretenses, the defendant has been found guilty, shall serve 10 years in prison and is fined $5,000. To the fifteen counts of attempted kidnapping, the defendant has been found guilty, shall serve 5 years for each count for a combined total of 75 years. Time to be served shall run concurrently for a period of 75 years with eligibility for parole in 40 years. The defendant is ordered to pay a total of $540,000 in fines. In addition to the aforementioned fines, the defendant is required to pay restitution to the victims of his crimes in the amount of $2,810,000, to be divided equally among those proven harmed by the defendant. This case closed."
The judge banged his gavel and exited to his chambers.
The bailiff handcuffed Bishop Foutz and took him out of the courtroom to jail. As Cody watched the convicted man walk towards his punitive destiny he thought about how the bishop had caused his own fate to transpire. He nodded and said quietly, "Things are becoming as they are supposed to be."
The spectators, witnesses, jury, staff and litigants left the courtroom. Uncle Rick, Cody, Erik Daniel, and Tony waited in the corridor outside the courtroom for Paul Bullock.
Paul smiled and shook hands with Uncle Rick and the boys. "Daniel, Erik and Tony, Bishop Foutz won't be bothering you anytime soon. It will be at least 40 years before he sees the light of day beyond prison walls."
Daniel was concerned and confused. "Mr. Bullock, I understand why the jury found the Bishop not guilty of kidnapping, but why did they think Bishop Foutz was innocent of having his way with that girl?"
Paul looked Daniel directly in the eyes. "Daniel, it's possible the jury believed he committed that crime. We will never know for sure. Unfortunately for her, there was no evidence, other than her word, to prove he did it."
Daniel was still confused. "Then why did the Attorney General have her testify?"
"Daniel, building a legal case is similar to playing a game of marbles. The more marbles you have on your side, the better chance you have of winning the game. It's true the Attorney General knew he couldn't prove, with just her testimony, that Harold Foutz was guilty of statutory rape. Her testimony was enough, however, to demonstrate to the jury the man's malevolent nature and to put another marble on the prosecution's side. Also, the prison times to which the judge sentenced Harold Foutz, ran concurrently. Had the jury found him guilty, the only difference in his sentence would have been possibly another 10 years before eligibility for parole. Harold Foutz is 52 years old now. He will be 92 years old before he is eligible for parole. Most likely it wouldn't make a difference and given the average male's lifespan is about 78 years, he probably won't live to see that additional 10 years anyway."
Paul opened his briefcase and pulled out a pad of legal paper. His notes from the trial were on the top sheet. He pointed to a circled dollar figure labeled "restitution". "This is the amount of restitution, the money Harold Foutz has to pay to the victims. The amount of restitution is left to the discretion of the judge. Notice the amount, $2,810,000. It's an odd figure, isn't it? I'm sure the judge will never discuss or admit it but the attorney general and I are pretty sure that extra $10,000 is the fine for statutory rape that he added to the total. The bottom line is although he wasn't found guilty of statutory rape, the judge believed him to be guilty and calculated his restitution accordingly."
Daniel nodded. "Thank you for explaining that. What will happen next, Mr. Bullock?"
"Daniel and Erik, in three weeks you will need to return and most likely will be called as witnesses in your mother's trial. In two months Harold Foutz will stand trial for possession of child pornography. Also, the attorney general informed me there are federal investigations into Harold Foutz and into Cedarline. It seems their crimes extended to other states, which triggers the F.B.I. to become involved in the cases."
Uncle Rick raised his eyebrows in surprise. "This seems to be getting to be a bigger deal all the time."
Paul nodded in agreement. "Let's hope so. These guys need to be closed permanently."
Erik raised his hand to get Paul's attention. "Mr Bullock, what about Tony?"
"Your Uncle Rick and I have worked that out. Tony is going to ride with you back to the ranch where he can be safe from the church."
Uncle Rick nodded. "We have plenty of room in the ranch house and you'll be safer there. Does that sound like something you'd want to do, Tony?"
Tony felt tears forming in his eyes. "You all are so nice to me. Thank you. Yes, please." He gave Paul Bullock a hug. "Thank you for helping me, Mr. Bullock. I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you've done."
Paul gave Tony a hug and said his farewells to the group, indicating he would keep them apprised about Rowena Bunch's trial and the investigation into Bishop Foutz and Cedarline, and left the courthouse.
Uncle Rick looked at his watch. "Well guys, we should grab some lunch and head back to the ranch, shall we?"
They found a small cafÇ near the courthouse where they ordered deli style sandwiches heaping with meat, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. They found a service station a block from the cafÇ where Uncle Rick filled the truck's gas tanks before leaving Milford to drive to Chaparral. There was a lot to talk about the trial during the drive home and the time passed quickly. Just before sundown, Uncle Rick was about to pull into the driveway of the ranch. He and the boys immediately noticed a white Dodge passenger van parked on the road in front of the ranch.
Erik gasped. "That van belongs to the church. I know it."
Daniel agreed. "Uncle Rick, he's right. We used to ride in that van to church events. See the church logo on the door?"
Tony shrunk down in his seat and began shaking. Cody took reached and held Tony's hand offering comfort. Tony held it tight.
Uncle Rick quietly backed the truck down the road to a new side driveway that was graded in order to enable the harvesting equipment access to the new barn. He slowly drove the truck to the new barn, entered through the large barn door that was hidden from the van and shut off the engine. "Jason, I'd like you to hop out and use the telephone to call Sheriff Waite. Let him know we're in the new barn and someone from the church is here at the ranch in violation of the restraining order. The rest of you, stay in the truck out of sight with me."
I recently received an email calling attention to certain aspects of my story that were unrealistic. I have to agree with that comment. My story is purely fictional. The characters, names, local and state locations are fictitious and do not exist beyond the pages of this story. My goals for writing Uncle Rick's Rhyolite Ranch are to entertain you, the readers, to generate your, I hope good, emotions, and to provide a temporary escape from real life into a fantasy make-believe world. It is a world of peaceful co-habitation of a group of like-minded men and boys, a world where a 10-year old has the ability to observe when events are out of alignment with the course of life, a world where a small group of men and boys can construct a building within a week as contractors and delivery people show up to the job site on time, in perfect harmonic sequences, a world where a greenhouse, garden, orchards and fields can produce enough food to support a growing household of now 9 loving people, and a world in which men are able to be with their soul mates.
Uncle Rick's Rhyolite should be read as a fictional fantasy. It should not be used as instruction manuals for flying an airplane, growing crops, ranching, or constructing buildings.
In this chapter a trial is heard in a fictitious courtroom, in a fictitious courthouse, in a fictitious city, located in a fictitious state. I've included testimony from fictitious witnesses who were questioned by fictitious attorneys, overseen by a fictitious judge and heard by a fictitious jury involving a fictitious antagonist who has committed fictitious crimes. The arguments, questions, and procedures may or may not be realistic in nature. The penalties and fees for handed down for convictions are hopefully somewhat realistic but not intended to be based on case law or statute laws of any real world state. In some states juries determine sentences of convicted criminals and in other states judges determine sentences of convicted criminals. In the fictitious state where Uncle Rick and the ranch family live, the latter applies.
I give my thanks to my anonymous S.L. friend and Mark C. for proofreading, editing, and making suggestions that make me look like a better writer.
I welcome any respectful comments. If you enjoy this story please send me an email and tell me what you think about the story. Thanks!