EDITORIAL FOR OCTOBER 31-November 2, 2017
Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof. The story Iím about to tell might someday be made into a TV feature or maybe a movie. It is a strange tale whose central character is a man who has an only-in-America name of Jesus Ricardo Larriva Schmidt. Because his name is so long Jesus Ricardo Larriva Schmidt is known to his friends as J. R. and thatís what Iíll call him. J. R., by occupation, is a fireman and a paramedic who has been employed by the Sierra Vista Fire Department and he also has been a volunteer firefighter for the Benson Fire Department. Fire fighting can have its dramatic moments but thatís not what this saga is about.
Like many good looking young men, J.R. has had a number of girlfriends and at least one wife that I know of. About seven years ago, in 2010, J.R. broke up with a girl and she decided to get some sweet revenge. She moved from Benson to Tucson and along with her she grabbed a notebook computer that belonged to J.R. She then took the computer to the Tucson Police Department and accused J.R. of having child pornography on the computerís drive. The Tucson police determined that if a crime took place it didnít happen in Tucson so the computer was given to the Benson Police who accepted it as evidence. The case was assigned to a detective named Brian Williams and the Benson Police decided to file charges against J.R. The evidence was presented to the Cochise County Attorneyís office and they decided to drop the charges. The county attorneyís office felt that Williams had mishandled the evidence and that made conviction unlikely. This development undoubtedly was welcome news for J.R. because under Arizona law he could spend the rest of his life in prison for possession of dirty pictures of naked juveniles. Perhaps the story should have ended when the charges were dismissed but thatís not what happened.
Five years after the charges were dismissed , in early 2015, J.R. filed a formal complaint with the Wages and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor. The complaint claimed that the Benson Volunteer Fire Department Corporation had improper hiring practices. Eventually the federal agency claimed that they lacked jurisdiction in the matter and they refused to pursue the complaint.
Around that time J.R. found a new girlfriend named Crystal. He married her and moved in with Crystal who had at least one child from a previous relationship.
In August of 2015 J.R. was arrested. This time Benson Police Chief Paul Moncada and some fellow officers urged the Arizona Attorney Generalís office to re-file the child porn charges and get J.R. indicted at the state level. He returned to the Cochise County Jail and again faced the same five year old charges of possession of child pornography plus one additional charge. Turns out that his stepson accused him of molestation. Many months later, the kid admitted that he had lied. J.R.ís attorney then petitioned the court to release his client on his own recognizance and J. R. was released. Largely as a result of his stepsonís fib, J.R. spent nearly an entire year in jail.
Crystal Larriva Schmidt filed for divorce and also ran for a seat on the Benson City Council one year ago,, using the name of Crystal Schmidt. She got elected but after only seven months on the council she resigned her seat and reportedly decided to leave town. She also remarried.
Meanwhile J.R. somehow hooked up with a couple of top notch criminal attorneys from Tucson and just last week the attorneys filed their motions with Judge Wally Hoggett in Cochise County Superior Court. To summarize the defense arguments, many people had access to J.R.ís computer and any one of them might have downloaded the child porn. Accordingly, the lawyers argued, no case can be made that J.R. is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Judge Hoggatt will make his decision known on or about November 20th. If Hoggatt convicts J.R. and the conviction prevails, J.R. will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. But what if J.R. is acquitted?
If J.R. is acquitted that would almost certainly pave the way for a civil rights case against the City of Benson and possibly against the State of Arizona. J.R.ís attorneys would likely argue that the City had no business arresting J.R. solely on the basis of the testimony of a small child. But an even more compelling argument would be that the city was trying to get revenge for the complaint that J.R. had filed against the fire department. An additional claim would be that the Benson Police Department should have accepted the verdict of the County Attorneyís office that the case against J.R. was too weak to pursue.
The City of Benson has a terrible track record when it comes to being on the wrong side of civil rights cases. About twenty years ago the city ended up with a million dollar judgement for the wrongful death of a truck driver. More recently there was the Stagecoach Trails lawsuit that cost over a million dollars to pursue. And now maybe another civil rights case is brewing. It will be interesting to see what transpires.
Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof and the opinions youíve just heard are mine and not necessarily anyone elseís. If youíd like a copy of this editorial or youíd like to express your opinions go to the CAVE web site. Weíre at CAVEFM.com. Thatís CAVEFM.com