Monday, August 01, 2016
Realtor: Dankelson a prosecutor who doesn't look out for victims
Normally I won't get involved with politics, yet this one hits close to home. Here's my story.
Endorsing Stephen Carlton – My tale of two “judges”
Not too many people pay attention to judicial elections. But for me it’s a matter of life and death.
I have had the unique position of dealing with both of the candidates for Division II Circuit Court Judge: Jasper County prosecutor, Dean Dankelson, and Division VI Judge, Stephen P. Carlton. Voters will choose between them this Tuesday.
Two years ago, I had a child whose mother was dealing with severe drug addiction, and was facing several felony charges.
Unfortunately, the behavior worsened. The mother kidnapped my daughter on two separate occasions. The police said they wanted kidnapping charges filed against the mother, as we had information that the mother was seeking someone to kill or injure me. She was facing a charge in Vernon County for hiring someone to hurt another woman. The police asked that we touch base with the prosecutor, as the officers would be going over to seek charges.
When the prosecutor was contacted he was rude and disinterested. Dean Dankelson refused to hear the reasons we needed to act quickly for the safety of my child. He waved off our concerns, saying he didn't have the time. I cannot explain to you the fear and anger that the system refused to help me.
Then my attorney sought help through the family court. Judge Stephen Carlton reacted promptly, professionally and in accordance with the law to help get my child returned. He provided us with orders that allowed us to go to Vernon County where we thought she was with the child. The Vernon County prosecutor and judge promptly assisted my attorney and provided Sheriff’s officers to go to the home where she was believed to be hiding. They found my one year-old daughter hidden under the home in a crawl space. The mother had her bags packed and was planning to flee the area with our child.
Instead of kidnapping, Mr. Dankelson begrudgingly charged her with a misdemeanor custody interference. This allowed her to leave jail on bond, which left us very worried. Then a few weeks later, our fears were confirmed: this woman hired two armed gunmen to invade my home and kidnap my daughter. They kicked in the door to my house and fired shots through the wall into the bedroom where I was with my child. Had I not placed some furniture items in the closet, we would have both been killed. The bullets stopped inside those pieces of furniture or would have struck either one or both of us. My daughter and I should have had the full extent of the law to protect us. Instead we got an inch of plywood.
It was only after this incident that Mr. Dankelson filed appropriate charges. While awaiting disposition of her case, the mother tried to hire someone at the jail to try again to remove me from my daughter’s life by violence. At disposition Mr. Dankelson agreed to dismiss the assault charge that would force the mother to serve 85% of her 15 year sentence. I am now in a position where this woman will likely be out of prison very soon. The pattern is very clear: I have no reason to believe that she will stop her efforts to remove my daughter from my life by any means necessary.
The only person who seemed to understand the gravity of this situation, and how the law could be used to protect me and my child was Judge Stephen P. Carlton. In all the meeting with prosecutors and staff I never met Mr. Dankelson. He offered no apology for failing to recognize the danger of this situation when we reached out to him. He never entered the courtroom for any of the hearings in this matter. He did not reach out to let me know that when he dismissed one charge I could be fighting for my child’s life again in less than 5 years on a 15 year sentence. His lack of response and failure to protect my child left me feeling that the prosecutor does not look out for the victims. Judge Carlton made me feel that he was empathetic to the situation and that his number one priority was the safety of my child. I thank him that I still have my child, and at least for a few more months we can live safely.
Judge Stephen P. Carlton has proven experience and a track record of following the law to protect victims in both civil and criminal court. Please keep this in mind when you place your vote this Tuesday, August 2.
This is not a popularity contest or a test of who we think is a nice person - it's a life or death difference in who will take action for people in our community like me and my daughter. Thank you.