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home : opinion : letters to the editor February 26, 2015

9/23/2013 9:50:00 AM
Redemptive Footnote

Editor, Times-Union:
If one were to Google “Zhenya Ogden, Winona Lake,” as a potential employer would be likely to do, they would find a record of arrest on a felony charge. What you will not find is the rest of the story, the fact that no charges were filed, or why no charges were filed. On behalf of  Zhenya, and all that makes me proud to call him my son (and there is plenty), I offer this redemptive footnote, and add an important plea.
On Aug. 11, Zhenya (18) was arrested on charges of battery against a minor (Class C felony) for “battery” that never occurred. After bailing him out of jail, the next morning, at no small fee, I contacted the prosecutor’s office to see what’s next. I was informed that, according to the police report (public record) they could “see nothing that would fit a charge of battery and that even the ‘victim’ said, according to the police report, that the single point of contact, in question, was accidental.” (Two kids playing around.) Therefore, the prosecutor’s office said they “were not going to file charges.” Well, that is good news, but not good enough news to have much redemptive impact on the effects of the original news regarding the arrest. The record of the arrest charges do not go away. Felony and battery are forever tattooed on Zhenya’s character profile for all to see, for something he did not do.
 In many cases, employers are prohibited to hire those with felony arrest charges, even if the charges were never filed, or were filed and then dropped. Case in point: Last summer Zhenya served faithfully and well, as a volunteer at the Meadows. The director wrote him a glowing letter of recommendation, and told him that he would be in good standing for a paid position when he turned 18 this past March. These arrest charges change all of that ... and close many other doors, as well, in an adult world, growingly compromised by diminishing opportunities. (Thank you, Mr. President.)
There are no hard feelings here, just a plea for greater discernment. The point is that arrests can be made with the assumption that no harm is done if proven innocent. Not so. Unnecessary arrests lead to unnecessary news which leads to unnecessary personal harm. It would be one thing to make a charge of “public nuisance” for instance, but class C felony is quite another thing. It sticks.
We authority figures often bring an unintended irony to our jobs and our objectives. We complain about the attitudes among our youth. We want respect. Yet we do things, like what has happened here to Zhenya, without the slightest apology or compensation for the losses incurred. We imagine that apology, compromises integrity, when it is just the opposite. This all has an accumulative impact on attitude. And then we despise and punish them for the very attitude we help create as if we had nothing to do with it.
Sometimes there aren’t enough mirrors.
Ron Ogden
Winona Lake, via e-mail

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Article comment by: Dan C

Justice system "just a system". Unfortunately this happens more than most people realize and has happened to me when i was 18 and being arrested for a crime that i never committed and the police chief that did the report even knew i never battered anyone and when i went to trial the prosecutor dropped the charges and i begged him not to drop them cause i wanted them to look like the fools they were with all of my evidence of innocence and the prosecutor seen my documentation and admitted that he would have looked like a jack ass if he had not dropped it. The supposed victim did not show up cause they knew what they did was wrong but of course they was never charged with filing a false police report or perjury. I got my bond money back except for $5 bucks that goes to their police pension. The system rewards people that make up fake crimes. This event caused me to have ptsd and i could never again trust a cop.

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: Bill Rayburn

The High School Graduate Programs Today

Programs are available now which will allow your child to graduate high school even if your child refuses to attend regular classes, fails classes or drops out of high school. These children are offered a shorter and easier way to graduate high school.
I know a young lady that was offered a program to receive her last 2 years of her high school credits in only 6 weeks. She started to attend in late August and is considered complete just 6 weeks later. It is true she can now list, “High School Graduate” on an employment application.
Am I missing something here?
Do these children, (sometimes called the troubled kids) really receive 2 years worth of education in just 6 weeks?
How does this type of program encourage our children to stay in school and learn the skills they need to get along in society and the work place.
It seems that this type of program encourages and rewards poor attendance and performance in our schools.
Do you think these type programs good?
Bill Rayburn Burket, Indiana
via Email

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