Warning: This post may have quotes of language that could offend or be inappropriate for young readers and others. Parental guidance advised.
I was down at the court house Wednesday to poke around and to get the most recent information on the Cole case. Lorrie Hackney, Baker County Circuit Court assistant to Judge Baxter, told me that they didn't have access to the latest Cole case records right now. She was quoted in the November 26, 2010, Baker City Herald, as telling the Herald on Wednesday afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving:
"that Cole and the State had reached an agreement and the agreement will be put on the record beginning at 9 a.m. Monday in Circuit Court."
A relieved looking Brian Cole, right, and a more somber J. Robert Moon, prepare to leave the Circuit Court after Moon successfully defended the now 48 year old Cole against four counts of sex abuse involving a 17 year old high school girl.
Meanwhile, the Court House suffered a very damaging water leak from a frozen valve over the weekend which caused extremely damaging flooding of various offices, most especially the office of Circuit Court Judge Baxter, the Assessors office, the Justice Court, records room, and other basement areas. The state court records offices where the Cole case file has always been accessible suffered little or no damage.
I had called the Court on Tuesday and the message said that the offices were closed until Wednesday. I called again yesterday morning, Wednesday, and the identical message was on the machine. So, I went down to the new quarters to ask for the recent Cole case files that were supposed to be available on Monday. The court had been moved to emergency tents they had received from the state. When I was able to get access to the tent, Lorrie Hackney told me the files were unavailable and that she had no further information on the case.
Emergency Tents Housing Circuit Court.
After taking some photos of the new Circuit Court quarters, the tents to the south of the annex near where the gallows were once set up, I ran into Mark Bennett on the north side of the building. Mark was very gracious and hospitable, and offered to take me on a tour of the building--which happens to be a disaster zone right now in much of the building, which smelled of wet plaster. With regard to the closure, structural issues, and potential mold contamination, he said "We're going to have a clean bill of health before we let people back in here."
Interestingly, as stated above, the Circuit Court records office was not harmed by the leakage according to Bennett and this was confirmed by my my peep through the lower open portion of the blind on the public business window. The OJIN court records computer was functional, just not accessible to the public. The question in my mind was then why were the recent Cole files not available. Apparently, the state employees were not expected to enter their largely undamaged quarters to conduct that sort of business, and had many other problems to contend with in any event.
Fortunately, Tony Green, Director of Communications and Policy for the Attorney General's office was willing to answer some of my questions about the Cole case via e-mail. While not effusive in providing information about the case, I was able to extract a few answers about the recent decisions that have been made in the Cole case, I.E.:
Brian Cole, now 48, charged with four counts of Sex Abuse in the Third Degree, and two counts of Providing Liquor to a Person under 21 (a 17 year old), through his lawyer, J. Robert Moon, had plead guilty to one count of Providing Liquor to a Person under 21. For that, he will be placed on 18 months of probation. The state is not going to appeal the dismissal of the sex abuse charges.
In contrast, the alleged victim in this case suffered much emotional distress, was excluded from participation in state sporting events for using alcohol, lost her drivers license for a period of time, and she had to be home at 5 pm during that period (among other things).
Brian Cole gets 18 months probation and still drives around without a front license plate.
You may recall that Judge Reynolds had previously excluded evidence from one day prior to the original alleged offense of Providing Liquor to a Person under 21--evidence which could have been used in a trial on the other charges of Sex Abuse in the Third Degree. Why Judge Reynolds would exclude evidence from one day prior to the original offense is still a mystery to me. I will try to delve more into that reasoning at a later date. Here is a partial account of the submitted evidence record from the day prior to Halloween, 2009, leaving out references to the victim and a few others. This public record (at least it was once public, as I received my copy from the Circuit Court) was written by a State Police investigator in an Affidavit in Support of Application for Search Warrant:
STATEMENT OF PROBABLE CAUSE
On October 31, 2009, in the evening hours, 47 year old Brian D. Cole was found in the company of 17 year old [alleged victim] where they were parked outside of town on Pocahontas Road at a rural fire station in Brian Cole's vehicle. He was cited for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor after they were found to be drinking alcohol which Brian Cole provided. An investigation was commenced into the incident.
On November 3, 2009 I sought and obtained a search warrant for the cell phone records of [alleged victim] from US Celluiar with phone number 541-[deleted]. I sought and obtained a search warrant for the cell· phone records of Brian Cole from Verizon Wireless with a phone number of 541-[deleted]. I served both warrants on November 3, 2009, via fax machine. The affidavit and two mentioned search warrants are, by this reference, incorporated herein and attached as Exhibit 1.
US Cellular text records from the phone used by [alleged victim] captured a series of text messages between her phone (541) [deleted] and the phone of Brian Cole (541 [deleted]). The texts captured start 10/30/2009 and go to 11/1/2009.
Brian Cole texted [alleged victim] on 10/30/2009 at 6:54AM (Pacific) the message, "Shower?" [alleged victim] answered with, "Wht?" Brian Cole responded with, "0 uno"
On 10/30/2009 at 9:06AM (Pacfic) Brian Cole texted [alleged victim] the message, 'If u shower w me I will make u a lattee."
On 10/30/2009 at 7:25AM (Pacific) Brian Cole texted [alleged victim] the message, "Im so freekin on fire 4u" [alleged victim] responded with "Y?" The following exchange via text happened
Brian to [alleged victim] : "Must be hw u were Monday morn"
[alleged victim] to Brian: "hw ws i. I dnt remember."
Brian. to [alleged victim]: "I just wanna F'
On October 321, 2009 at 4:21PM Brian Cole texted [alleged victim] the following text, 'Dnt u thnk u n i r cute together?"
On November 11, 2009, Sergeant [deleted] and I interviewed [alleged victim] at the Oregon State Police office in Baker City, Oregon. [alleged victim] denied that there had been any sexual contact between her and Brian Cole. I told [alleged victim] that I had some of the text message content between her and Brian Cole. She did disclose that she and Brian Cole exchanged sexually explicit texts. She said that Brian Cole usually initiated the sexual texting and that they would involve sexual scenarios describing the specific sexual activities he would like to perform with her. She said that the sexual texting component of their relationship was not something she liked that much but that it was something she tolerated because there was other elements of the relationship she did enjoy. She indicated that she enjoyed the opportunity to talk with him as he was an adult man.
I asked [alleged victim] about the text Brian Cole sent to her stating, "I Just wanna f"
She acknowledged that the text meant: I Just want to fuck.
. . . .
[alleged victim] said that Brian Cole had admitted to her that he has a 'problem with pornography." She said that Brian Cole told her that he has not looked at any pornography since 2006.
[alleged victim] stated that after she had been cited for consumption of alcohol by the Baker County Sheriff Department she began texting her friend [deleted]. [friend] has a cell phone number of 541 [deleted]. She texted him, 'hey. I jst thot u shd no if u nevr wna talk 2 me again I wdnt blame u." [friend] responded with, 'Dont be rididulous why you would say that?l" [alleged victim] replied, 'It's a Ing story. Basicly I jst kp fuckng up my life and evry1s gna thnk im fng crazy dumest asshole In th wrld. So I jst thot Id tl u b4 every1 fnds out neway." She also texted, 'Its so mch wrse thn u thnk. Believe me. Bt jst wna tl y tht I do like u a lot" [Friend] said in an email that It didnt matter what she had done and that everyone has had stuff In their past. [alleged victim] responded by saying, 'Its nt th past. Its nw. And god u have no fn idea....Haha. Bt thanks. Dam"
[alleged victim] disclosed that she had been the victim of sexual abuse from Dean Bames. Dean Barnes was a man from Baker City who was convicted of sexually abusing [alleged victim] and another girl in 2008 and sent to prison.
On November 4, 2009, I received a faxed copy of a police report from Police Officer Kirk McCormick, Sergeant, with the Baker City Police Department. He is a police officer I know to be honest and truthful. Sgt. McCormick said that he received some documents from the La Grande, Oregon police department which made the allegation that child pornography images had been accessed from a computer at the Orbis Group, Brian Cole's business, located at 2101 Main Street, Baker City, Oregon. The documents, according to Sgt. McCormick, were entered Into evidence and later destroyed. Sgt. McCormick that the complaint was forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Portland for further investigation and later to FBI - Pendleton. Sgt. McCormick did not do any further Investigation Into the allegation. On February S, 2009, I spoke with Agent Ariel Miller of FBI - Pendieton. He told me that he had a vague recollection of the referral. He said that there was not enough Information to get a search warrant so no additional investigation or follow-up was done. Agent Miller did not have any documentation of the case or referral to provide further clarification of the matter. The report received from Baker City Police Department is, by this reference, incorporated herein and attached as Exhibit #4.
So, one might question why this evidence was excluded by Judge Reynolds, even though his even more questionable recent decision to dismiss charges of sexual abuse due to a "Civil Compromise" makes it a moot point. One might also expect that the state had much more evidence that was not found in the file.
For today's local letters to the editor from Jerry Boyd and Carl Kostol in the Herald see:
Letters to the Editor for Dec. 1, 2010
Monetary damage estimates for the Courthouse fiasco should be available Thursday after the County meet with insurance investigators, but it is clearly going to be in the many, many thousands of dollars. I suppose the upside is that all the necessary spending will provide a little stimulus to the local economy.
[(Added Thursday afternoon, 1/2/10) According to Mark Bennett, the estimates on the dollar costs of the damage were not given to the County today. The insurance investigators and the County estimate that 25 to 30% of the roughly 33,000 square foot building, or about 12,000 square feet, [Bennett's numbers, not mine] was damaged by the water leak. There was very little structural damage. Bennett thought today that they might get an estimate on Tuesday.]
Took some natty photos with my little old camera of some of the damage at the Courthouse today. They have put more insulation on the pipes and valve(s) involved in the leaks, as reported in the very good Herald article Wednesday (Courthouse cleanup continues).
New Valves and Newly Applied Insulation at Leak Site Above Judge Baxter's Chambers
Circuit Court Room a Few Months Ago
Circuit Court Room 12/1/10
Judge Baxter's Chambers 1, 12/1/10
Judge Baxter's Chambers 2, 12/1/10
Tami Green, County Clerk, has been drying old documents by hand for several days now. Old Circuit Court probate records and old tax assessment records were damaged. Mining records, deed records, County Commission Records, County Court Journals, and mortgage records are all fine.
Old County Documents Drying on Racks
Mark Bennett, Head of Emergency Management, Shows Room in Basement that Collected 4-6 inches of Water
Mark Bennett (right) & Vince Woods Discuss Issues In Assessor's Office