Montana False Charges Result in Million Dollar Suit
By Edward Snook
Stillwater County, Montana – On January 5, 2007, Molt, Montana resident Steven Slyder was arrested and charged with Violation of a Protective Order, Intimidation and Rape. The Protective Orders were dismissed on January 8, 2008. On February 19, 2008, the Intimidation and Rape charges were dismissed by Stillwater County Attorney John Petak.
Susan Maki Schaff
“My Dearest Sweet Steve” ~ Susan Maki Schaff
Susan Maki-Schaff of Molt, Montana accused Slyder of raping her on the night of October 30, 2006. In the days following the alleged rape, Maki wrote love letters to Slyder, which were eventually used by Slyder’s attorney to force Petak to drop the false criminal charges. The charges were supposed to be dropped with prejudice, meaning they couldn’t be brought up again, however they were dismissed without prejudice, leaving them hanging over Slyder ever since.
On the night of the false rape allegation an alleged phone call came in to the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch claiming that Maki, who was caretaking for an elderly woman named Opel Sutherland, was being abused by Slyder. Slyder was staying with Maki, who was living with and caretaking for Stillwater County resident Opel Sutherland at the time.
Stillwater County Deputy Sheriff Randy Smith arrived at Opel Sutherland’s residence shortly after the alleged call was made. Smith was greeted at the door by Maki at 11:30 p.m. that night. Slyder states that Maki had been on a lengthy phone call with Thomas Devlin and almost immediately after she hung the phone up, Smith appeared at the door, making the alleged call to dispatch nearly impossible.
Slyder’s claims to have had a love affair with Maki, are well substantiated by the letters used by Petak as his reason for dropping the false charges. Slyder claims that Petak had the letters in his possession before he filed the charges. One love letter from Maki to Slyder states, “My Dearest Sweet Steve – Words don’t say and can’t say – our journey together – what life brings with such ‘zoo-ber-ance’ oh my God you have touched my life like no other… Forever Suzi.” Another letter states, “Here Dear Steve – walnuts for your kind loving heart – Love Me” This certainly doesn’t sound like a poor abused rape victim writing to her rapist does it?
Slyder has held that Susan Maki was under the control of a third party in the filing of her false charges and that she didn’t have any choice in the matter. Slyder also stated that the alleged phone call to dispatch could not have taken place and no dispatch record has been produced.
This writer secured special visiting privileges at the Montana State Women’s Prison in Billings with Maki in the fall of 2009. Maki had obtained funding from her Mother Leona Maki and hired the Observer to attempt to get her out of prison. During phone conversations with Susan Maki, I informed her that in order for me to be able to help her that she would have to tell me who it was that was controlling her life – forcing her to do their bidding. Before I scheduled my trip to the Prison, Maki fully agreed to disclose the names of those controlling her. After three days of semi-private visits at the prison, Maki refused to make the disclosure. Maki continued to slander Slyder throughout my visits and ironically Slyder continued to support both Maki and his claims that someone was controlling her. This scenario might just support the saying that, “Love is Blind.” During my interviews Maki admitted writing her love letters to Slyder after he allegedly raped her and then when I confronted her about this, she starting lying, saying, “Oh no, I was mistaken, it was before the rape.” She continued on making other excuses for the letters, however the letters speak loud and clear – they say what they say…and Maki admitted writing them…after the alleged rape.
Stillwater County Attorney John I. Petak
Named defendants include the County of Stillwater, Susan Maki Schaff, Tom Devlin, Stillwater County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Eugene Smith, Stillwater County Under Sheriff Woody Claunch, Deputy Stillwater County Attorney Patrick Begley, Deputy Stillwater County Attorney Matt Erickson and Stillwater County Attorney John I. Petak.
The suit claims, “Defendants knowingly, without probable cause falsely charged Plaintiff (Slyder) with Felony crimes.” The suit continues, “As part of bringing the false charges Defendants aided/abetted in the obtaining of protective orders, which terminated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights to possess firearms and hunting licenses under Montana and federal laws. In the interest of justice, the District Judge nullified the protective orders on January 8, 2008 and Plaintiff’s rights were restored by the Honorable Russell C. Fagg of the Thirteenth Judicial District, when the Honorable Blair Jones recused himself.” I should note that it was Judge Fagg’s responsibility to inform the federal data base that Slyder’s charges were dismissed – this never happened until April 4, 2011 and the only reason they were dismissed on April 4, 2011 is because Slyder himself notified the authorities and had them correct the record.
It is clear that Steve Slyder’s relationship with Susan Maki Schaff and the subsequent actions taken by government officials and others has ruined his life. He now suffers from a severe heart condition caused in part by stress and he has certainly suffered great public humiliation. Slyder is seeking approximately one million dollars in damages as a result.
Editor’s Note: Look for much more on Steve Slyder’s Lawsuit. Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact Edward Snook at 541-474-7885 – All calls are strictly confidential.