DANBURY 2011 (4th Ward): Saadi, Nero kick off campaign
Time: 9:11 AM
With the election season officially underway, candidates for municipal office are making the rounds raising the cash to mount a campaign.
On Thursday, surrounded by aprox. 70 friends and supporters 4th Ward Democratic City Councilmen Peter Nero and Tom Saadi kicked off their campaign with a fundraiser at the Lebanon American Club on West Street. Here's video footage of the stump speech by Nero and Saadi.
Saadi/Nero 2011 campaign website
THE CASE AGAINST JOHN McGOWAN: Still in custody
Time: 6:17 PM
According to the CT Judicial Branch website, John McGowan is still in custody held on 25,000 bond (which works out to 2,500 cash to a bail bondsman or value totaling 25,000).
Surely the members of the Sovereign group Connecticut Republic Assembly can afford to get him out on bail...heck, where's pseudo-President Tim Turner when you need him.
Freshmen sports to be reinstated?
Time: 2:54 PM
City and school officials have come to an agreement to reappropriate a surplus $60,000 from the 2010-11 education budget to reinstate freshman sports in the 2011-12 school year .
The money was set to be returned to the city.
Mayor Mark Boughton and school finance director Elio Longo agreed Thursday that the $60,000 they identified while closing the year's accounts could be used for the program that serves about 260 freshmen each year.
The money needed to keep freshmen sports alive in Danbury was always available...hell, the fiscal year for 2010-11 school year ended IN JUNE.
It's a sham that the mayor, city council, and MOST IMPORTANTLY the Board of Education wasted parents time and energy as they worked tirelessly to raise the money needed to keep freshmen sports alive.
BREAKING NEWS: McGowan GUILTY
Time: 3:16 PM
(08.11.11) 11:20 AM: Since many of you aren't privileged enough to see McGowan in action, here's some clips of the now anti-immigrant/convicted rapist in action.
* You can view his last appearance on local access TV by clicking here.
* From happier times, here's anti-immigrant McGowan wearing a Uncle Sam outfit yelling at immigrant rights supporters, and desecrating a Mexican flag at an immigration march, Main Street, Danbury 2006 (McGowan was the co-founder, former Vice President of the Greater Danbury anti-immigration hate group United States Citizens for Immigration Control and Law Enforcement.)
* Here's a video montage a made back in 2007 of McGowan's out of control xenophobic behavior when he co-hosted a show with fellow anti-immigrant extremist Tom Big(o)T Bennett. McGowan's comment happens at 7:57 mark of the video WARNING: Some of the comments made by McGowan and Bennett are EXTREMELY disturbing.
...and here's McGowan agreeing with Bennett when the local access goof-ball threatened my life on the air over exposing the comments he made on TV.
I can go on and on but I think you get the point...
(08.11.11) 11:15 AM: Just want to welcome readers who found their way to my site from other media outlets. I'll almost done transcribing other moments from he trial yesterday that went un-reported in the press. Also, in fairness to McGowan supporters, I'll give my take on their stance on the case (which by the way are very legitimate).
(08.11.11) 11:00 AM:News-Times cover...
(08.11.11) 10:45 AM: McGowan story just went national. Associated Press (Boston Herald):
A talk show host on public access cable television in Bethel who once ran for Danbury mayor has been convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in 2008.
A six-person jury in Litchfield Superior Court convicted 45-year-old John McGowan on Wednesday of first-degree sexual assault, which carries two to 20 years in prison. Sentencing was set for Oct. 21.
McGowan was detained after a judge raised his bond to more than $32,000.
AP story was also picked up by the Norwich Bulletin, WTNH, Norwalk Hour, San Antonio Express News, Providence Journal, New York Newsday...
9:40 PM: Senior Assistant State’s Attorney David Shannon spoke to the media after the verdict (via Register-Citizen)
“I think the key was that the medical records showed injuries to (the victim), which corroborated her version of the story and conflicted with McGowan’s version of the story,” Shannon said after Wednesday’s verdict.
9:15 PM: When I reflect on this case, this quote from President Lincoln pretty much comes to mind...
"He who represents himself has a fool for a client." - Abraham Lincoln
In short, from day one, McGowan was his own worse enemy in this case. Notwithstanding his pre-trial antics (for instance, here, here, and here) although he kept his strange behavior to a minimum, McGowan's lack of legal experience was apparent from the start of the trial with his awful line of questioning, weak defense, and numerous missed opportunities to poke legitimate holes in the prosecution's case, which could have resulted in this case ending in a different outcome.
In many ways, McGowan did more to convict himself in the eyes of the jury than what the prosecution did...
8:30 PM: The News-Times and Yours Truly weren't the only people on hand reporting on the trial. The Register-Citizen has been at most of the trial with The Waterbury Republican on the scene once opening statements started.
Yesterday's account on the closing statements from the prosecution and McGowan by the Register-Citizen was spot on:
Here's the prosecution's closing:
McGowan’s defense revolved around the subject of consent. The victim testified that a game of strip poker turned into increasingly violent oral sex.
The victim said she tried to escape, but was restrained and forcibly sodomized by McGowan. While McGowan did not deny that the two had sex, he said the sex was consensual.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney David Shannon insisted the jury be informed, when they were charged with the law by Judge James P. Ginocchio, that consent can be given and then withdrawn during a specific sexual event.
“She (the victim) stated initially intercourse was consensual, but after it became rough it was not,” Shannon said in his closing argument, adding that the victim testified she is still fearful of McGowan.
“Her story was corroborated by the medical records, by Mr. McGowan himself, and by the physical injuries sustained,” he said.
“When you look at the case, the fact is that consent can be withdrawn,” Shannon said.
If the victim consented to some sexual activity and withdrew her consent by screaming, saying “stop,” or crying, that is enough to reach a verdict of guilty for sexual assault, according to Shannon.
He asked the jury to set sympathies aside and not to think about McGowan’s decision to represent himself while searching for a verdict.
Shannon then questioned the relevance of McGowan’s witnesses.
“Consider that none of these women who testified had ever had a sexual relationship with him. They all testified they were friends,” Shannon said. “This is not a stranger rape case. Did they really know him in that aspect?”
In the end, the case came down to credibility, specifically the victim’s, according to Shannon.
McGowan's closing argument:
McGowan began his closing argument by questioning the evidence.
“If she was allegedly non-consenting and allegedly fighting, doesn’t it make sense that she would keep on scratching and doing something to keep me away?” McGowan said.
During the examinations at the hospital, the victim’s fingernails were scraped.
“They found absolutely nothing under them. That speaks volumes to her not putting up a struggle,” McGowan said. “You can go into the hospital and complain about everything under the sun, but what it comes down to is the doctor’s report did not back up what she was complaining about.”
McGowan addressed his reasoning behind self-representation.
“If I hired a lawyer, I would be showing the entire world that I have something to hide, that I need that person for something to hide behind,” he said. “I am fighting for myself, the way it should be.”
McGowan also questioned the victim’s lack of injury during his argument.
“I don’t know anybody that hasn’t had a rug burn just from the slightest pressure and movement on it… The doctor’s papers showed not one single injury on her,” he said.
McGowan reminded the jury that doctors were not able to confirm if the injuries were consistent with sexual assault.
Moreover, McGowan said the victim had tried to contact him following the incident, something not consistent with terror or fear of your life.
“The prosecution proved I am innocent. You’ll find that there was no probable cause… I had sexual relations with a woman I planned to marry. The state has failed to prove its burden, ” he said.
During Shannon’s rebuttal, he reminded the jury the victim testified she took a shower every day.
“Would you expect to find those things if she had showered at least twice before she went to the hospital?” Shannon said of the lack of evidence under her fingernails.
Shannon questioned why the victim might not have scratched McGowan or fought back.
“If you’re in that position, someone more than 200 pounds bigger than you, at a remote house with no power or telephone, are you obligated to fight back? Is that a safe thing to do?” Shannon said.
Prosecutor's final words...
Shannon paraphrased a Mark Twain quote while concluding his closing arguments.
“We are all like the moon; we all have a dark side and we don’t show it to anybody,” Shannon said. “On that night, his dark side came out. He did what he did, and did it without consent. If you base your decisions on the evidence, then the only verdict is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
8:00 PM: Here's the best transcription I could make of the moment when the verdict was announced (the jury informed the court that they were ready to give a verdict around 2:55. Court resumed at aprox. 3:04.
Roll call of the jury was conducted: 7 People, (2 Women, 5 Men). There were two alternates (1 man, 1 woman) but they were no longer needed once the deliberations started.
Court Clerk: Mr. McGowan, please rise and face the jury.
(McGowan rises and faces the jury).
Court Clerk: "As to the long formed information charging the defendant with sexual assault in the first degree by way of anal sexual intercourse, in violation of Connecticut State Statue 53a-70, do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty.
Jury foreman: Guilty.
Clerk: "…as to the long formed information charging the defendant with sexual assault in the first degree by way of anal sexual intercourse, you said that the defendant is guilty. So say Mr. Foreperson so say you all."
I'm still working on transcribing my chicken scratch and will have the rough transcript of the prosecution's request for an increase in bond.
UPDATE 6:35PM: McGowan's Sovereign citizen movement ilk spoke to the News-Times:
Outside the court after the jury's verdict, two of McGowan's supporters -- Michelle Scalpi of New York and Chris Salonia of Meriden -- bitterly questioned the jury's decision.
"I don't think that the jury was hearing what I was hearing,'' Scalpi said. "I was hearing that there was no evidence, except a woman's word.''
Scalpi and Salonia said they think that the state was unable to produce any physical evidence that the heavy-set McGowan forcibly sodomized Doe.
"This is a 300-pound guy, but there were no bruises?'' Salonia said. "There were no scratches, no bruises, no rug burns. If you have sex on a rug, you get rug burns.''
...lets just say that "senator" Salonia's laughable testimony during the trial didn't help McGowan's case.
Another of McGowan’s witnesses, therapist and holistic health counselor Chris Salonia, was disallowed as an expert witness following questions from senior assistant state’s attorney David Shannon about her training. Salonia is currently waiting to testify as an expert witness in a civil suit against the estate of Dr. George Reardon, who allegedly molested hundreds of boys while working as a doctor, and St. Francis Hospital, where Dr. Reardon worked as an endocrinologist.
Responding to questions about her background as a therapist, Salonia claimed that “Western medicine has not found the way to healing” when it comes to sexual assault trauma. Instead, Salonia described pharmaceutical remedies as “chemotherapy” in contrast to her practice of rebirthing and emotional freedom techniques.
“Prozac and alcohol are chemotherapy?” asked Shannon.
“Yes, they’re chemical therapy,” Salonia responded.
Salonia was eventually permitted as a character witness after Judge James P. Ginocchio ruled that her experience treating post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as drug and alcohol dependency, would not make her suited to be an expert witness. Additionally, Salonia stated she would testify that the injuries described by Doe were inconsistent with sexual assault, but Ginocchio ruled that was a medical question for medical experts.
“What I would be testifying to is when you’re sexually assaulted from behind, it’s not how she described,” Salonia said. “You would need to have multiple arms, and John McGowan would need to have a penis like a boa constrictor.”
After attesting to McGowan’s character, though, Salonia’s testimony quickly veered into the political arena. Salonia and McGowan both belong to the Republic of the United States of America, as do the three character witnesses following Salonia. Shannon asked about Salonia’s membership during cross-examination — one of the references Salonia cited for McGowan’s character was a trip the two took to the Republic of the United States of America’s Continental Congress in Utah — touching off a prolonged discussion of the group’s beliefs.
Salonia asserted the Republic’s belief that the Constitution was replaced by former President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, transforming the country into a “corporation.” Salonia and McGowan are both “senators” in the “Connecticut Republic,” one of 50 groups claiming to be part of the Republic of the United States of America. Considering the state of the Constitution, Salonia stated, the Connecticut judicial system has no jurisdiction in the case, because according to “the original Constitution,” McGowan’s accuser must bring the charges against McGowan, not the state of Connecticut.
“The state is accusing me of sexually assaulting the state?” asked McGowan of Salonia, who responded in the affirmative.
McGowan continued by asking Salonia if the case was consequently unconstitutional, since all of the paperwork for the case read “the state of Connecticut vs. John McGowan.” Salonia concurred.
“They’re not the injured party,” Salonia said, “so they have no jurisdiction.”
Maybe the wanna-be senator should take a moment and reflect on whether or not her idiotic testimony hurt McGowan's case.
UPDATE 6:30PM: The Waterbury Republican-American and the Register-Citizen were on hand today for the verdict. I'll post their write-ups once they're published online.
UPDATE 5:00 PM: Traffic on the site has spiked to insane levels. I'm in the process of providing an account on what happened today as soon as possible.
- McGowan supporters included his parents, Sovereign citizen movement "senator" Chris Salonia and other anti-government whackos, anti-immigrant friend, former lover of McGowan, and local access TV host Barbara Keidel (and her show producer Sandra Worbel), former local access TV partner and anti-immigrant extremist tom Big(o)T Bennett.
- McGowan supporters were visibly shocked with his bail increase, which resulted in him being taken away in handcuffs.
- McGowan seemed to have anticipated a guilty verdict as he had a written document prepared for the court after the verdict.
- McGowan claimed that he would be unable to come up with the increase in bond and that the increase should not happen because he appeared at every court hearing. In response (and in a bit or irony) the judge brought up as one rationale behind increasing the bond was the fact that McGowan claimed repeatedly in court hearings that he believed that the courts have no jurisdiction over him.
- After listening to a re-broadcast of the victim and detective's testimony, the took less than an hour to come to a decision.
- McGowan demanded a jury poll after they gave their verdict and each member of the jury stood and said McGowan was guilty.
I'm racing against the clock to do my write-up...I'll have a more detailed write-up posted ASAP.
At 3:04 PM, a jury of 4 men and 2 woman rendered a verdict of guilty in the rape case against former Danbury mayoral candidate and local anti-immigrant activist John McGowan. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct 21 and the judge increased McGowan's bond by 25,000 dollars.
McGowan was taken away in handcuffs and is now in custody until the bond can paid.
I'll have more on what happened in court soon...
BREAKING NEWS: McGowan case handed to the jury; possible verdict today
Time: 12:37 PM
CHECK THE HATCITYBLOG TWITTER FEED FOR LIVE UPDATES
UPDATE 5:30 PM The jury requested to hear a playback of the alleged victim's testimony. Court ended without a verdict...deliberations will continue tomorrow morning.
UPDATE 4:00 No word from the jury yet (court closes at 5PM). News-Times John Pirro filed the following report regarding the closing statements made earlier today:
Both McGowan, who is acting as his own attorney, and Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney David Shannon delivered their closing arguments Tuesday morning, and Judge James Ginocchio began instructing the jury on the law they must apply in deliberating a verdict.
The deliberations are expected to begin after the lunch recess.
McGowan claims the woman, with whom he was romantically involved, consented to anal sex with him, while Shannon, the prosecutor, painted a dramatically different picture, one of a man who used his superior size and strength to dominate and humiliate his alleged victim.
"Why would she lie? Why would she stick with this story and come in here three years later if it wasn't true?" Shannon said.
Shannon also said that even though the victim admitted the sex began consensually, it became rape when McGowan began sodomizing her and refused to stop when she objected.
But in his comments to the jury, McGowan said the victim, referred to throughout the week-long trial as "Jane Doe," went to authorities because she had "cheated on her partner of 25 years and got caught."
He said neither of the two doctors who examined the woman at New Milford Hospital could say conclusively whether marks on her body were the result of consensual intercourse or forced sex.
He also noted there were no injuries on his own body that would indicate the alleged victim tried to fight him off.
During his closing statement, McGowan told the jury he chose to represent himself because hiring a lawyer would be an admission he had something to hide.
UPDATE 2:10 PM:Jury has started deliberating on the case. Read the hatcityblog twitter feed for live updates!
After two years of following this case, John McGowan's fate is now in the hands of the jury. At this moment, the judge is giving final instructions to the jury with deliberations scheduled to start at 2 PM.
While the judge gives to jury their final instructions, I'm going to use this moment to transcribe my notes from the closing arguments and do a quick write-up on what happened so far today. In short, both sides made a compelling case (yes, believe it or not, McGowan didn't sound totally like an idiot). Personally, I don't see this as a open and shut case...in fact, it wouldn't be a far stretch to say that there isn't one juror that could have reasonable doubt. That being said, McGowan's chances at being found not guilty was severely damaged by the anti-immigrant activist representing himself.
I'll stay at the courthouse for as long as possible today. reporters for the News-Times, Waterbury Rep-Am, and Register-Citizen are also on hand so if a verdict is done today, you'll know about it in real time.
Bob Burke: The Tea Party candidate or the spoiler?
Time: 10:22 AM
BETHEL -- Robert Burke is a petitioning candidate for first selectman as a member of the Connecticut Tea Party, along with a proposed slate of candidates, according to the secretary of the state's office.
Burke applied for a nominating petition for his slate for the Nov. 8 municipal election. He needs 49 signatures and must present them to the Bethel town clerk or the Secretary of the State's office by Wednesday.
Burke, who did not return phone calls Friday, plans to run against incumbent Democrat Matt Knickerbocker and Republican Kevin Cleary.
Burke announced in April that he planned to run for office again. It was on the day a second-degree harassment charge against him was dismissed because he had completed an accelerated rehabilitation program, a form of probation only offered to first-time offenders, according to court records.
The case stemmed from complaint filed when he was first selectman in 2009 by a woman with whom he allegedly had a yearlong relationship, according to a court affidavit.
Burke's announcement shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. He came close to beating Kevin Cleary at the Republican convention and the former First Selectman still has a following of core supporters.
Does Burke have a chance in becoming First Selectman again or does his entry into the race guarantee another term for Matt Knickerbocker? Many in Bethel believe that Burke played the spoiler two years ago by pulling away votes from Republican candidate Larry Craybas and handing Knickerbocker a victory.
Here's what Bethel RTC chairman Paul Improta had to say about Burke on election night two years ago...
Republican party chairman Paul Improta was furious with Burke's role in the election.
"He got over 1,200 votes," Improta said. "He has a pending criminal situation and they would still come out and vote for him.''
If Burke pulled 1,200 votes two years ago (in face of his criminal situation at the time), why couldn't Burke pull 1,200 votes (or more) two years later? Remember, the Republicans in Bethel just nominated as their choice for First Selectman someone who was a Democratic candidate for Selectman back in 2007 as well as someone who stood up for Jason Bartlett in face of the disdain Burke, Selectman Paul Szatkowski, and the Bethel Republican had for the former State Rep. back in 2008...
News-Times October 6 2008:
For the last two years, First Selectman Bob Burke, a Republican, has made no secret of his disdain for state Rep. Jason Bartlett, D-Bethel.
But a recent political flier endorsed by Burke and the Bethel Republican Town Committee wasn't just out of bounds, it was against the law.
Under the state's new public financing laws, only opposing candidates can issue attack ads against each other. In this case, Bartlett's challenger for the 2nd District, Republican Melanie O'Brien, was nowhere to be seen.
What's more, the Burke-authored flier skewers Bartlett on issues that aren't in the 2nd District, including repaving roads in the Stony Hill Sewer District and protecting open space on Hickok Avenue.
Even if you believe Bartlett is "a bag of hot air," as Republican Town Committee chairman Paul Improta suggests, it doesn't excuse Improta from showing zero remorse Tuesday for violating the new public financing laws.
"We are willing to pay the penalty," an indignant Improta told The News-Times.
Is this the message Republicans really want to convey in Bethel?
One of the main points of contention between Burke and Bartlett is a $500,000 state bond appropriation Bartlett secured to make improvements in downtown Bethel.
Burke claims the money is not available. Bartlett disagrees in no uncertain terms.
According to Bartlett, the money has been bonded and is available to improve sidewalks, create retail parking, renovate the teen center or any other downtown project Bethel wishes to pursue.
Does the money need to be released first by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican? You bet.
Will she do it while Connecticut and the rest of the nation are mired in economic turmoil? Not likely.
Bartlett was supposed to address the Board of Selectmen about the $500,000 bond earlier this year, but the meeting was cancelled and Bartlett's appearance not rescheduled.
At the board's Sept. 2 meeting, Selectman Kevin Cleary, a Democrat, requested that Bartlett be added to the next meeting's agenda to discuss the bond allocation.
When Burke said Cleary needed to make a formal motion, Cleary obliged and asked for a second. Suddenly, Roberts Rules of Order was little more than political posturing.
Burke and fellow Republican Selectman Paul Szatkowski sat in sheer silence, until Burke finally responded, "Your motion does not have a second, therefore it has failed."
But who really failed here?
It's not a stretch to contend Burke failed townspeople by not allowing Bartlett to address the selectmen, effectively censoring him.
Clearly, Burke should have seconded Cleary's motion and put Bartlett back on the agenda. As someone who represents Bethel in Hartford, Bartlett should get the floor, just like he should be held accountable for his actions.
It's not a stretch to say that some Republicans in Bethel remember the Democratic Clearly during his time as Selectman when he locked heads with the Republicans and might be turned off with his candidacy...I mean we're talking about Bethel politics.
Lets just say that (once again) Bethel's campaign season could turn out to be very interesting...
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