7/02/2003 11:10am, #1
Molestation cases near dismissal
July 02, 2003
Nine County men will have charges entirely or partially cleared after court ruling
By Christine Louie, STAFF WRITER
REDWOOD CITY -- A man who pleaded no contest to two counts of molesting a child in 1977 will have his case formally dismissed in court today, as a result of last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling against retroactive prosecution. John Thomas Williamson, 67, was released on his own recognizance after he pleaded to two counts of child molestation in June. He was scheduled for sentencing later this month, but will instead appear in court today to have the charges wiped off his record. Deputy District Attorney Rick Good said Williamson's crimes occured in San Mateo between 1967 and 1981, although the D.A.'s office only pursued charges for incidents that occured in 1977. Good declined to say how old the victim was at the time of the abuse, only noting that she was younger than 13. The victim, he added, came forward to authorities in January 2002.
The Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling last Thursday essentially struck down a 1994 California law that allowed the prosecution of crimes beyond the six-year statute of limitations at the time. Williamson is one of nine men in the County whose child molestation charges will be partially or entirely dismissed. The court's ruling last week means child molestation cases that arose before 1988 but were prosecuted more than six years later must be dismissed. "I just think the (high) court elevated the so-called rights of the defendants over the interest of these victims who very courageously came forward after all these years," Good said. Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said another man, Donald Kelly, had 52 counts of child molestation dropped last week. Kelly had been awaiting trial on the charges, but has since been transferred to Santa Clara County. A spokesman for the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office -- which is looking into nearly 150 cases that might be affected by the ruling -- said Wednesday that Kelly could still face prosecution for alleged incidents that occured after 1988.
...Ramiro Jack Long, a karate instructor convicted of molesting one of his students in Redwood City in 1972, will also be released from prison in the next few weeks. Long, 67, was sentenced last October to one-year-to-life consecutive terms for the each of the 10 counts against him.
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7/11/2003 6:52am, #2
Molestation victim haunted by past after court decision
By Christine Louie, STAFF WRITER
At first glance, Stacy Benoist-Herv appears to have it all.
She runs her own dog-training business, competes in outrigger canoeing events -- and wins -- and even scuba dives off the Mendocino County coast. She's a black belt in karate, lives in a modest home with her husband of four years and has as 12-year-old son she adores. But with all her accomplishments, Benoist-Herv is haunted by awful memories that she says replay like a movie in her head and awaken her regularly with nightmares. The 43-year-old is a child-molestation survivor. The man she identifies as the perpetrator, Ramiro Jack Long, 68, is in state prison, but will be released soon because of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning the retroactive prosecution for crimes he committed nearly 30 years ago.
For a time, Benoist-Herv was able to block thoughts of the gang rapes and the drugging she claims she was subjected to by Long, who was her karate instructor in Redwood City. But the images flooded back when allegations of molestation by Catholic priests surfaced in recent years. Since then, the Rohnert Park resident has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, for which she takes medication. "I grew up way too fast," she said. "He took away everything I thought was pure."
A childhood tainted Benoist-Herv was just 14 when she met Long during a karate championship. She was smitten by his charm and his good looks. She lied, told him she was older, and the two started what she thought was a relationship. Long, then 39, was married at the time, although Benoist-Herv said he did not reveal that until six months later. "I was shocked," she recalled. "He was so casual about it." Having grown up in a dysfunctional family, Benoist-Herv said, she found in Long what she wanted most: love. She and her brothers were regularly beaten by their father before her parents' marriage ended. After the divorce, Benoist-Herv, then 7, was forced to run the household and care for her three older brothers. Her mother, she said, verbally abused her, but doted on her brothers, one of whom she said tried molesting her several times. So she threw herself into sports and karate -- anything that she could do to escape her home life.
That's when she met Long.
"I thought he loved me in the beginning," she said. "He'd say he did." Then living in Santa Rosa, Benoist-Herv would take the bus down to Long's Redwood City training facility nearly every weekend. She paid for the trips by working part-time at a convalescent home. Unending abuse Though Benoist-Herv acknowledged that she and Long initially engaged in consensual sex, she said Long soon began forcing himself on her. If she resisted, Long would physically threaten her or do what Benoist-Herv said she feared most: quit training her in karate. "He would tell me, 'If you say anything to anybody, I'll deny it,'" she said.
Soon, she said, Long would bring other men into his karate studio for gang-rape sessions, and drug her to the point where she wouldn't realize what was happening. Then, he would hold her down and allow the men -- many of them strangers -- to rape her repeatedly, she said. Sometimes, she said, Long would tell her they were going out, then take her to strangers' houses for sex parties. "He flung me in there," she said. "I didn't know who was touching me. He knew I didn't want to do it." Benoist-Herv tried to break it off with Long. But then he would write her, call her, and beg her to come back, she said. Still searching for what she thought was love, Benoist-Herv would reluctantly return to train at his studio. And the abuse would start again. It went on for five years, Benoist-Herv said, until she got pregnant as a result of one of the gang rapes. She got an abortion and realized she had to cut off ties with Long for good.
Moving forward A jury convicted Long last October of 10 felony counts of child molestation from incidents 30 years ago with one of his former students, who was 13. Long was originally charged with 30 counts, but prosecutors dismissed 20 of them because of insufficient evidence. The victim in that case was not Benoist-Herv, who said she was not aware of the trial until after it concluded. She calls the victim who appeared at Long's trial "a hero in my book." Barry Rekoon, Long's defense attorney, said he has mixed feelings about the Supreme Court ruling that will soon free his client. Though he said the law of the Constitution has to take "precedence over individual feelings" he still sympathizes with what the victims must now go through. During the trial, Long testified he thought the victim was over 18 and was adamant that he did nothing wrong. But even with no physical evidence, jurors spent only two hours before convicting him of the charges, Rekoon said, adding that the victim's testimony was very believable. Deputy District Attorney Rick Good, who prosecuted Long, said he felt the high court's decision elevated the "so-called rights" of the defendants over victims he said were very courageous for coming forward after all these years.
Good added that upon telling this victim about the Long's pending prison release, "she was extremely upset." Benoist-Herv said she knows there were likely dozens of other victims who were manipulated by Long, but she said she never reported the abuse because of fear. She had always wanted to come forward to the authorities, but said she didn't think she could handle it. She ended up going to Redwood City police in December, recounting to them her experiences with Long. An arrest warrant was put out on Long in June, who by that time was already serving his state prison sentence of 16 years. Benoist-Herv said she wants to reach out to any victim who might have been abused by Long, either recently or in decades past.
Long will be a free man after having served less than a year in prison. She says she doesn't hate him, but does want him to know one thing. "I want to show him that I survived," she said. "I changed my life, and he didn't destroy me."
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8/01/2003 1:08pm, #3
Charges dismissed after statute of limitations ruling
A San Mateo County court judge dismissed all criminal charges Wednesday against an ex-karate instructor convicted of molesting a girl in Redwood City in the 1970s and 1980s.
Ramiro Jack Long, 68, had been convicted in October 2002 of molesting a young karate pupil and was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. A June Supreme Court decision overturned part of a California law that allowed for Long's conviction. The high court found that certain cases, including Long's, had been unfairly filed past the statute of limitations.
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