Documents filed Thursday in U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas indicate the Kanakuk defense is to use experts to show that the Texas boy whose family is suing Kanakuk may be creating repressed memories, with some of that recreation spurred on by two articles, including the May 23, 2010, Turner Report post, "Kanakuk Scandal Has Escaped National Radar, Local Scrutiny." The post began like this:
Imagine the reaction of the national news media if a public school teacher had a long history of having sex with students, claiming victims in several states.And what if, after the authorities finally caught on to this predator, school officials did not do anything for months to let parents know that this man had been teaching their children, and those children may very well be his victims.
Add a few salacious details into the mix, such as hot tub incidents and naked Truth or Dare and the story would be a staple on all of the cable news programs and every media outlet from the New York Times to the National Enquirer.
If such a thing happened, the nation would be outraged and rightfully so; headline-hungry legislators would jump on the opportunity to take advantage of the situation, filing bills to stop the “epidemic” (and yes, they would call it an epidemic) of sexual predators in the classroom.
After all, public schools, if you believe those who are seeking to destroy them, are a cesspool.
But when the situation happens with the director of a Christian youth sports camp, run by a man connected to the politically powerful Focus on the Family organization, the cry for reform is non-existent.
For the past several months, I have written about Pete Newman, former director of Branson, Missouri-based Kanakuk Kamps, who pleaded guilty April 30 to two counts of statutory sodomy in the first degree, three counts of statutory sodomy in the second degree, and three counts of enticement of a child. All of the crimes involved underage boys.
Newman has also been charged in Colorado with sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.
That post, along with a laundry list of high-priced expert witnesses, were cited in a filing in which Kanakuk officials told who they planned to call as witnesses and what the nature of their testimony would be.
Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, whose fee is $500 per hour, will attack the truth of the alleged victim's recollections, according to the filing:
Dr. Loftus is one of the leading experts on the effect of repressed memory and has testified in hundreds of cases.
The Kanakuk expert witness team also includes Dr. Richard J. Shaw of the Stanford University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. Earlier today, the court issued an order allowing Dr. Shaw to examine the alleged victim. Shaw, who is being paid $600 an hour for time spent testifying and $500 an hour for all other activities, plus expenses, will
testify that the alleged victim, John Doe I, does not suffer "from any major depressive disorder or disassociative amnesia," and that he "does not require residential or in-patient treatment."
Another witness is not a physician, though Robert E. Preston is president and CEO of "The Camp Doctor," a camp consulting firm in Virginia. Preston will be paid $200 an hour, plus $400 an hour for deposition and trial testimony. Preston will testify that Kanakuk did not err when it failed to fire Pete Newman after previous reports of inappropriate activity.
His testimony, the filing said, would show that "it was reasonable for Joe White and camp management to not fire Pete Newman after the incident in 2003."
The incident was described in the lawsuit petition:
"In or about 2003, a nude Defendant Newman was streaking through the 'kamp' property with nude minor 'kampers.' Although this conduct came to the attention of Defendants Joe T. White, Kanakuk Ministries, and/or Kanakuk, Heritage, Inc., again Newman remained on staff in easy reach of his future victims, including John Doe I."
Preston will testify there was "no evidence of gross negligence or malicious conduct by Joe White or camp management."
The filing also indicated that the witness list may include Joe White, as well as numerous other top Kanakuk officials.
In another filing earlier this month, the John Doe family opposed Kanakuk's efforts to push back the trial date from June to August, because it would interfere with Kanakuk Kamp operations and because one of Kanakuk's attorneys had planned a vacation. In the response, it was noted that the alleged victim is about to enter his senior year in high school and the delay would not be reasonable. The response also mentioned that none of Kanakuk's reasons had been brought up in a timely fashion.
In other Kanakuk news, A lawsuit brought against Kanakuk by its insurance company was dismissed earlier this month in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Kanakuk had filed a counterclaim Jan. 18 indicating that it was close to reaching a settlement in the Missouri lawsuit filed by a Pete Newman victim that was well within the boundaries set by the insurance policy, which was supposed to pay up to $1 million for one occurrence and $2 million in the aggregate.
Online records indicate the Missouri lawsuit, which was moved on a change of venue form Taney County to Christian County, is still ongoing.