By Edward Snook
Crook County, OR – As previously reported in the US~Observer, “18 year old Matthew Rinehart and his live-in girlfriend Diane Pike were sleeping together on October 6, 2012. According to witnesses, the two were involved in a very sensual and continuing sexual relationship. Pike was the same age as Rinehart and she was reportedly the aggressor during many of their intimate encounters.
“Pike’s parents were very upset about the relationship and were applying severe pressure on Pike to end her ‘love affair’ with Matt. Apparently, on October 6th, their pressure finally produced the intended results. Diane Pike accused Matthew Rinehart of ‘taking advantage of her,’ of sexually assaulting her while she was ‘physically helpless.’
“The Crook County Sheriff’s Office took over and teamed up with the District Attorney’s Office to file not only false, but completely ludicrous criminal charges against Rinehart.
“Matthew Rinehart was arraigned on October 10, 2012 on three counts – Sexual Abuse in the 1st Degree, Unlawful Sexual Penetration in the First Degree, and Sodomy in the First Degree, all for one allegedly routine and common event that took place on October 6th at his grandparents’ home where the two were living and sleeping together.”
The US~Observer laid out more than sufficient evidence of Matthew Rinehart’s innocence in the two articles we published on this case to have his case dropped; “Innocent Matt Rinehart Jailed On Unbelievable Rape Charges” and “DA Vitolins Continues Rinehart Abuse – Blatant Crook County Corruption“. Instead, Crook County District Attorney (DA) Daina Vitolins continued wasting tens of thousands of tax-payer dollars and continued her vicious and unwarranted attack on an innocent young man. Vitolin’s was aided by an either completely ignorant or corrupted Crook County Deputy Sheriff named Theresa Plinski who was more than willing to assist DA Vitolins in this attempted false prosecution.
Trial Charades and Expert Defense
Plinski and Vitolins promoted Pike’s absolute lie that she was asleep while a man who was roughly her height, weight, and age was on top of her for more than 5 minutes because an antibiotic Pike had been taking had “knocked her out.”
There must be only three people on earth who would say that Pike’s antibiotic could have knocked her out – Pike, deputy Plinski, and DA Vitolins. The nurse who examined Pike on October 6th testified at trial that she had never heard of the antibiotic causing unconsciousness. Esteemed Physician and drug expert, Robert Julien testified at trial that there is no known incident of Pike’s antibiotic ever causing unconsciousness in any adult when administered orally in the dose she took.
Keep in mind as you read on, Pike’s charges against Matt were recognized by the US~Observer to be both false and ridiculous well over a year and a half ago, at which time we presented our absolute evidence to DA Vitolins.
With the US~Observer’s help, Matt’s grandparents found and hired James E. Leuenberger to represent him. Leuenberger brought several of the weaknesses of the case to the attention of the state. He showed the state that the medical literature did not show that Pike’s antibiotic had unconsciousness as a side effect. He told the state that no normal woman would remain asleep while a man of her size and weight dry humped her unless she was under the influence of intoxicants and there was no evidence that either Pike or Matt had taken any alcohol or any drug other than Pike’s antibiotic. He reminded the state that Pike and Matt had a consensual sexual relationship for several months prior to October 6, 2012. He reminded the state that Pike had gotten into Matt’s bed willingly a few hours before she alleged she was “knocked out” and “taken advantage of.”
Months before trial, Leuenberger sent the state a picture of Pike taken by the nurse who examined her on Ocotber 6th. The picture showed Pike with a big smile on her face. Leuenberger told the state that a picture is worth a 1000 words and the picture of Pike’s smile said she was not distressed. DA Vitolins paid no attention to the facts presented by Leuenberger, as she continued her blood-thirsty pursuit of Rinehart.
Shortly before trial, Leuenberger told the state that he intended to use an audio recording of Pike’s October 8, 2012 statement to Plinksi to show that on that date, Pike was happy and lighthearted and laughing.
Unlike victims of sexual abuse who are almost universally distressed, hurt, and sad, Pike exhibited no non-verbal cues in the October 6th photograph or the October 8th audio recording that she was distressed, hurt, or sad.
Notwithstanding the weaknesses in the state’s case, the state insisted on a trial. Why? The best explanation for the state going forward, apart from the fact that this DA is an extremely evil person, is Vitolins must have thought they could use Matt’s words against him. Matt, a very immature 18 year old in October of 2012, had confirmed that he had told Pike that he might have taken advantage of her and that he had broken her heart. Vitolins must have thought that Matt would convict himself if he were to testify at trial. Vitolins knew that Matt had been badly hurt physically and emotionally when he was a child. Damaged people often hurt themselves. In short, Vitolins was merely exposing her own corrupt and perverse nature as she continued her attempts to destroy an innocent Matt Rinehart. She certainly wasn’t “seeking justice,” in any stretch of the imagination.
To make it more difficult to prepare for Matt’s trial, the state had the court put Matt in jail 2 weeks before trial because the state said he had contacted minors in violation of his pre-trial release conditions. The conditions of Rinehart’s conditional release were a bi-product of false and malicious charges and I assure any who punish him for this, that they will be in turn be punishing themselves publicly!
Leuenberger did not reveal the state’s greatest weakness in its case until he cross examined Pike during the trial. It was then that he got her to admit that she had told Crook County Deputy Sheriff Durheim that shortly after she had awoken on the floor, she had gone back to sleep and been awakened by Matt’s six year old, 40 pound sister getting on Pike’s bed – remember, she supposedly had just slept through Matt being on top of her.
The second greatest weakness in the state’s case was Pike. Pike put on the worst, least convincing performance of her acting career. Whenever the jury was in the courtroom, Pike looked sad and faked tears. Shortly after Leuenberger began cross examining her, she jumped off the witness stand and ran out of the courtroom. When the jury was not in the courtroom, Pike laughed and smiled. Pike even smiled at Matt in the courtroom when the jury was out. Leuenberger got Pike to admit to the jury that she was laughing and smiling immediately before the jury returned to the courtroom.
Leuenberger also demonstrated that Pike had a motive to lie. On October 1, 2012 Pike’s parents had kicked her out their home because she had spent the prior night with Matt. The next day Pike’s mother continued to condemn Pike. The next day Matt made sure Pike got examined and treated for what turned out to be a urinary tract infection. Two days later, when Pike was starting to recover from her urinary tract infection, she decided that she wanted to return to her parents. Pike figured that the way to have her parents accept her back was to accuse Matt of a crime. Pike accused Matt. Pike’s parents took her back.
Pike had enough of a conscience to send Matt text messages telling him she regretted sending him to jail.
A Responsible Jury
On July 7, 2014, 12 Crook County jurors began hearing the state’s case. They heard Deputy Durheim, Deputy Plinski, Nurse Haines, and Pike herself.
As the case continued, the jury endured warm afternoons as the heat in the courtroom rose to over 90 degrees because air conditioning could not be used when the jury was in the courtroom. Notwithstanding the heat and the seriousness of the charges, the jury remained cheerful throughout. There is a saying amongst defense attorneys, “a happy jury is a defense jury.” That old saying proved true.
The jury heard closing arguments and received its instructions from Judge Daniel Ahern around 11:15 a.m. on July 10th. It took them just long enough to finish their lunch to reach their “not guilty” verdicts for all three counts.
Justice was done. The cost was high. Matt spent a year and half in jail awaiting his trial. Matt’s grandparents have spent thousands of dollars for his attorney and owe thousands more dollars to his attorney. The state (actually the tax-payers) paid for Matt’s experts and well-known, professional private investigator Mike Kastelic who helped Leuenberger prepare for trial. The tax-payers also paid for the work of Dr. Robert Julien and forensic nurse Shirley Fitzgerald, who each testified for Matt.
And Then There is the Anxiety, the Real Damages
Matt’s grandfather suffered a heart attack early on. Matt’s grandmother suffered a heart attack shortly before trial. Matt’s mother has a brain tumor. Matt faced a possible 20-plus year sentence if he would have been convicted, not to mention the fact that he would be a registered sex-offender for life.
That cost is too high, readership!
Editor’s Note: All of us at the US~Observer highly commend the jury in the Rinehart case. They paid attention and saw right through the attempted false prosecution of Matthew Rinehart.
One juror stated, “I was a Juror in this trial. Unbelievable. I am glad Matthew is back with his family. It sickens me that he was incarcerated for almost 2 years for something he didn’t do. Diane Pike is the one that should be tried!”
The work of Matt’s jury is far from over. They need to continue showing their responsibility by sharing this tragic story with others in Crook County, Oregon and then the voters of Crook County need to get rid of corrupted DA Daina Vitolins and those who assist her in attempting to prosecute the innocent. Matt Rinehart is not Vitolins first victim and he will not be her last, unless citizens of Crook County, Oregon take action.
Most hard working tax-payers have no idea about the vast amount of money it takes to conduct an attempted false prosecution, nor do they realize the pain and grief that it places on innocent defendants and their families. We sincerely hope that Matthew’s story sheds much needed light on both…