“Rush to Accuse – Failure to Verify”
By Tedd Peck
Franklin, North Carolina – Over eighteen months ago justice was allowed to prevail in the state of North Carolina when the Attorney General brought an end to the rape case that was dragging on for almost two years involving three members of the Duke University Lacrosse Team. Roy Cooper stood before the cameras and stated, “We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations.” He went on to say that, “Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.” This reporter considers Cooper’s actions that day to be a stand-up position that restored confidence in the minds of the public regarding the justice system. However, this confidence must be bolstered by a consistent application of justice to all citizens of the state and not just to the accused who are wealthy and well-connected, or those who are in the national spotlight.
It is becoming more apparent that this type of criminal prosecution is more of a norm, than it is the exception, in North Carolina. In talking to citizens of Macon County, it was reported that there are many cases of a “rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations,” that plague the justice system in the state. One case that reflects the essence of a rush to accuse is taking place at this very minute in the town of Franklin.
Sheriff Deputy Falsely Charged
In June of this year, Macon County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputy, Chris Hoover dropped his step daughter off at her pre-school and was later called by his wife, telling him that the child’s school had informed her that her daughter was complaining of a sore bottom. Chris’ wife left her job and took the baby to her pediatrician and was joined a few minutes later by Chris. The baby was uncooperative in allowing a physical examination, and the pediatrician suggested they take her to Kids Place, a supposed safe haven for abused children, for further examination. The pediatrician then called the Department of Social Services.
The same afternoon the family is told that there are no signs of injury but the child did say that a “Doctor Jim hurt her bottom and Daddy did it too.” Upon this revelation the Sheriff Department launched into emergency mode. Chris admitted to giving the child an open hand spank on the bottom the night before because the child was being obstinate in refusing to prepare for bed. In addition, it was made clear that the child has consistent bouts of constipation that is manifested by a sore bottom.
Following the physical exam, the child is administered a video taped interview with Deputy Judy Bradford and a Department of Social Services employee Kristin Houser-Wood. During this hour-long interview Bradford attempted to get the young girl to connect the dots and identify Doctor Jim as being her daddy. Every attempt failed as the child described Doctor Jim to be a small man and not Chris who is considered to be a large man weighing in excess of 250 pounds. It should be noted that the only time the child was not with her parents during this ordeal was during the video taped session with Bradford. Following the session, Bradford commented that this was the longest interview she had ever had with a child this age. Since the girl was in a safe place playing with dolls and still did not make any accusations against her parents, shouldn’t the concern about foul play be terminated? Evidently not!
Rush to Accuse
After the session ended Chris and his family were standing in the parking lot at the Kids Place when Bradford called him aside and told Chris that he could not have contact with the child until all suspicions regarding him being “Doctor Jim’ are removed. Hearing this order Chris is overwhelmed with grief knowing he could not live with his wife and child. Bradford tells him he will have to take a lie detector test (witch hunt) to resolve this situation. The grandparents take the child, and Chris and his wife return to their home.
Some of Chris’ siblings stop by to console him and they all have a few beers while discussing the day’s events. Late in the evening two State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) cars pull up in Chris’ driveway. Special Agent (SA) Shannon Ashe identifies himself and tells Chris he has some questions for him. While they go into the house, the other agent, J.M. Schick, took Mrs. Hoover to his automobile to simultaneously question her regarding the case. The questions put forth by the SBI had to do with their marital relations and sexual desires. Chris Hoover, a shy person and pure of heart has a difficult time talking about his private sex life, but cooperates as best he can following instructions from his boss Sheriff Robbie Holland. Following the interrogation, Ashe asks Chris to accompany him to Skyland, N.C. for a polygraph test. They depart Franklin at approximately 9:45 for the hour ride to Skyland. After they leave, Schick and another SBI agent conduct a search of their home. One item of interest was a syringe used by the Hoovers to administer medicine to their daughter. It was photographed as evidence. This is the same type syringe used by most parents and pet owners to measure or administer liquid medicines. Leave no stone unturned.
Chris Hoover and Ashe arrive at the SBI office in Skyland and Chris is introduced to SA Chris Smith, the agent charged with administering the obviously pre-determined test in the middle of the night. After waiting for Smith to set up the test equipment Chris undergoes four separate tests relating to his sex life, as well as his conduct pertaining to his stepdaughter. Following the test, Smith informs Chris that he failed the test miserably and that Smith knew he was guilty when he first walked into the office (Duke Lacrosse all over again). Apparently, the SBI train their agents to be so astute in pre-determining guilt that follow up investigations are considered inconsequential. Chris tells him he is not guilty prior to Smith’s head long plunge into his Gestapo-esque interrogation.
Leading Chris through a maze of accusations, he tells him it is alright to make a parenting mistake. Everybody does that and there is no harm in this behavior. Chris admits that he may have made a parenting mistake while caring for his daughter. He admits to applying ointments on the child’s rashes and medicinal creams to her bottom when the situation warranted treatment. This very situation actually occurred recently when his daughter contracted a penicillin resistant infection. Chris’ wife works and they share the care of their young daughter – a very simple explanation unless you possess the mind-set of an abusive SBI agent. This parenting mistake evidently had to do with using his bare hand.
Once he admits this behavior, Smith asked him if he was sexually aroused by touching the baby’s genitals. Chris denied the allegations but Smith pressed on trying to get a statement from a man who stood by his wife the whole day while the child was interviewed and examined; had driven with Ashe one hour from his home late at night after consuming some beers with his family; was subjected to a polygraph and then informed he failed the test. After admitting he touched his child, he denied all further accusations but did admit he may have made a parenting mistake three or four times when he was threatened with, “I’ll ruin your life,” by Smith.
Coincidentally, this run up in occurrences resulted in three felony counts against Hoover. This coercive technique also consisted of braggadocio by Smith when he informed Chris that he began his law enforcement career before Chris was born and no one would believe Hoover over his word. He tells Chris that he will “jack him up and destroy his life” if he doesn’t admit to touching his child. Smith goes so far as to say that the daughter said that Chris did something bad to her and she was told not to tell Mommy. Again, note that the baby was never out of custody of the parents that whole day with the exception of the video taped interview in which she made no accusations against her Daddy. Amazing, how this allegation appears in an interrogation in the middle of the night that cannot be based in truth but only in a conspiracy by SBI agents to entrap a very fatigued, confused and disoriented young man.
Hoover and his family have requested copies of the video taped interrogation but have been told that it was against the law to tape interrogations and on another occasion (with a witness) was informed that taping interrogations and polygraph tests are not standard procedure. Following this interrogation, Chris is terminated from the Sheriff’s Department and all meaningful investigations cease. Makes one wonder, not about the rush to accuse but rather at what speed the process took place.
Failure to Verify
During the subsequent months the SBI agents conducted interviews with Hoover’s former coworkers in the MCSO. Most of them were shocked to hear of the allegations and stated they found it hard to believe that Chris could do such an act. They also depicted that Chris was well liked and assisted others in any way possible. In reading Ashe’s interviews, this reporter found a few alterations that Ashe stated to be facts. One such interviewed person said that Ashe was only interested in obtaining dirt regarding Chris and his sexual exploits going back to his bachelor days. She added that her statement was altered in meaning and when she told Ashe that Chris was a man of character, Ashe stopped transcribing her statement and became agitated. She also told Ashe and me that she would trust Chris with her own children any time because she new him to be a man of great character and impeccable demeanor. It stands to reason that if this agent made a material alteration to someone’s statement then there is a high probability that other statements were altered as well. We at the US~Observer refer to these very actions as corruption of the highest order.
While on the ground in Macon County, this reporter was prevented from verifying the statements of other sheriff deputies on orders from Sheriff Robbie Holland. He explained to me that he didn’t have a vendetta against former deputy Hoover but due to the ongoing investigation underway he couldn’t get involved. It was necessary to verify statements made by Deputy Bradford and to ascertain why she thought Chris should be the target of an investigation. I sensed the Blue Line closing ranks. We will deal with Sheriff Holland’s actions and actual involvement, which he denies, in future editions.
Changing directions, I proceeded to interview people who knew Chris Hoover. What I discovered was most revealing. Chris’ Pastor Keith Newell told me that Chris was an outstanding young man with a strong Christian ethic. Newell was so impressed with Chris that he stated that he would entrust his own children to Chris’ care. Next I spoke with Rick Moninghoff the Post Master in Otto, N.C. Mr. Moninghoff was Chris’s scout master for years and said that he never met a more noble man in his life. Of all of the young men he was associated with in scouting Chris was by far the most honest and ethical man he had known. Are these the accolades of a sexual predator? Note well, there is one common thread that is evident with these character witnesses. They were never approached by Ashe at any time. It appears Ashe has made a “rush to accuse” and is “failing to verify serious allegations” as put forth by Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office. He doesn’t care about justice if it will deprive him of a conviction.
One more piece of information that surfaced pertained to an occurrence when Ashe was a stand in lecturer for one of Chris’ criminal justice courses approximately four years ago at the Southwestern Community College. Ashe who is diminutive in statue, especially compared to Hoover, became annoyed when Chris bantered about Ashe standing up straight so they could see him while behind the lectern. Did Chris’s playful nature become his undoing?
Rush to Judgment
A few weeks ago Chris was presented with an agreement to plead guilty to one count of “taking liberties with a child.” Chris is rejecting this agreement because it is not the truth. This decision to reject the proffer is, however, exacting a high price on the Hoovers. According to a sworn affidavit, agent Ashe has approached Chris’ spouse and implored her to talk Chris into accepting the agreement. In addition, Ashe has threatened to take her daughter to Chapel Hill for a week, thereby subjecting the child to more tests nearly five months after the alleged incident. If she refuses to let the child go to this exam, better described as indoctrination, she too will be charged with the crime of impeding an investigation. The latest revelation also describes Ashe as telling her that the SBI budget is tight and if Chris will accept the plea agreement it will save the SBI a lot of money. If the agreement is rejected they will somehow find the money to indoctrinate the child. As recently as three weeks ago SBI agent
Ashe and assistant D.A. Jason Smith approached Mrs. Hoover and told her that if Chris didn’t take the plea agreement they would see to it that Chris was convicted and sent to prison where his life would be in danger (Duke Lacrosse false prosecution plus!).
All of what I have reported stems from a claim by a child that she had a sore bottom. The charges against Hoover stem from an out of control investigation by SBI, trying to fit Chris to their imaginary crime, based on a tainted, one-sided investigation, fraught with coercion, extortion, innuendo and a rush to accuse. I wonder if the Attorney General will put an end to this miscarriage of justice as he did in Durham!
Editor’s Note: Former Macon County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Hoover passed a polygraph test with flying colors, subsequent to the draconian tests provided by SBI Chris Smith. The positive test was administered by a highly qualified and unbiased professional – So much for the pre-determined tests given to Hoover in the middle of the night on June 2, 2008.
It should be noted that we have written the NC Attorney General, Macon County District Attorney and Macon County Sheriff twice and we sent them this article. They have chosen to ignore our simple request for a legitimate investigation into this case – in fact, on November 13, 2008 I attempted to call Attorney General Roy Cooper only to be informed that he doesn’t take calls. Now we go public!
If you are upset with the false prosecution of Chris Hoover take the time to call Macon County District Attorney Michael Bonfoey at (828) 454-6510 and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper at 919-716-6400 • Fax: 919-716-6750.
When we, as Americans, allow such witch hunts to take place without responding, we can all rest assured that we might just be next.