Friday, April 16, 2010

Ben LaGuer Seeks Parole After 26 Years

Ben LaGuer's story reads like a sequel of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird". He begins his early adulthood as a typical well liked "good kid" who was never in any sort of trouble. LaGuer was a member of the drama club who quit school and joined the Army. After being honorably discharged he comes home to Leominster, MA from Germany shortly after his 20th birthday, and in the midst of making plans to attend college he finds himself the suspect of an horrific attack on his neighbor, Lennice Plante, age 59.What happens next is a series of events so strange that they defy belief.

It now seems evident that because LaGuer matched a physical description of the attacker given by the victim he was pulled in and the case was built around him. Detective Ronald N. Carignan must have been sure this was a slam dunk case, at least until the fingerprints came back as not a match. It would have been nice to have a better look at those prints, but they were lost and there existence was never actually shared with the defense council. Other items have "gone missing" or been mislabeled, like the shirt LaGuer is wearing in his mug shot and how it is now listed as evidence found at the scene. What is even more disturbing is pondering the motive Det. Carignan could have had to give false details on a warrant to search LaGuer's apartment and how items where taken that where not documented. Carignan also gave false details at the grand jury indictment hearing, some of which the victim herself contradicted.

Somewhere along the line someone in law enforcement must have realized what was going on here and decided it would be best to keep the public feeling safe by sticking to the idea that police had caught the culprit rather than allow fear to spread and have panic ensue. An all white all male jury was presented no physical evidence and only the sole testimony of a frail old victim who we now know was insane at the time she was on the witness stand; her medical records sealed prior to trial. One of the jurors reported that he heard another juror say "Look at the Spic, he's guilty just sitting there. Why should we even bother having a trial? LaGuer was convicted anyway, and instead of taking the plea bargain he was offered for two years if he confessed he got a life sentence.

After 15 years served LaGuer was denied parole because he refuses to admit to a crime he claims he did not commit. The same has happened after 20 years in spite of the fact that he has earned a degree from Boston University Magna Cum Laude as well as a PEN award. Now LaGuer has served 26 years on a very questionable conviction and has proven himself rehabilitated if one wanted to assume his guilt. Does it really serve our public good to continue to deny him freedom solely because he refuses to admit guilt to a crime he adamantly denies being guilty of?

I have a bit more insight since I have personally known Ben LaGuer since 2006 when I wrote an article questioning Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey's usage of LaGuer's case to besmirch Gov. Deval Patrick. He contacted me to thank me for writing about him and our interactions became common. The more time I invested into knowing who LaGuer was and the details of this case the more I came to my opinion that he is innocent. No guilty man keeps himself in jail when all he would have to do to be free is tell the truth. Only an innocent person would refuse to admit guilt even at the cost of their own freedom. We have examples of this right here in Massachusetts that are irrefutable; the Salem Witch Trials. Let's hope that both common sense and justice prevail on April 22, only days before his May 1st birthday. He has spent more than half his life in prison, 24 years longer than if he had plead out.

If you wish to share your opinions with the board the phone number is  (508) 650-4500.

UPDATED: From the website it has been made public that LaGuer may be seriously ill.

In other news Dr. Benjamin Smith of Lemuel Shattuck hospital
reported that an area of my liver has a lesion "highly worrisome
for hepatocellular carcinoma given the size of the lesion and in
light of the patient's history of elevated alpha-fetoprotein."
(2/3/10) I am concerned that if I am released from prison
needing treatments, I'll no longer enjoy the healthcare that the
prison currently affords me.

Also, here is a link to the information on the other more likely culprit as mentioned on this blog by a commentator. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Catholic Church's Troubles Continue

 Written by Wayne Besen, director or

In my column this week I wrote:
Whether it’s groping by priests or greed on Wall Street – institutions that don’t change in the face of crisis and public indignation will eventually become irrelevant. If history has shown one truism, it is that nothing is too big to fail.
It seems the disintegration of the church is happening faster than I had imagined. Consider the following stories in the past two days:

The Associated Press
A German man who says a priest sexually abused him as an altar boy is demanding an apology from Pope Benedict XVI and compensation “even if the church goes bankrupt.”
Wilfried Fesselmann said then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is ultimately to blame for allowing the priest to continue in his pastoral duties.
“It is an insolence that the Catholic Church was only busy with covering-up and moving the priest around for years instead of dismissing him,” Fesselmann said in an interview this week with The Associated Press.
Fesselmann claims a chaplain, the Rev. Peter Hullermann, forced him to sleep with him and practice oral sex when he was an 11-year-old boy in the western city of Essen.
The New York Times
The priest, convicted of tying up and abusing two young boys in a California church rectory, wanted to leave the ministry. But in 1985, four years after the priest and his bishop first asked that he be defrocked, the future Pope Benedict XVI, then a top Vatican official, signed a letter saying that the case needed more time and that “the good of the Universal Church” had to be considered in the final decision, according to church documents released through lawsuits.
What is important to consider is that these are not isolated incidents. The unrelenting faucet of facts keeps dripping and shows no signs of slowing. The more people speak out – the more other victims are emboldened to do so.

The Papacy of Benedict XVI is essentially over. He has lost his moral authority and the trust of Catholics and others worldwide. Each day he remains, the Pope strains the credibility of the Catholic Church and exacerbates the public relations nightmare. If Pope Benedict XVI loves his church, he will step down.
This is the type of disaster that can happen when hard-headed social conservatives run a church. They are so unwilling to compromise, change their ways or accept reality – that they continue to repeat the same devastating mistakes – even as they go through contortions to play the victim or blame others for their own personal failures.

Not even finger pointing at innocent gay people will work this time. The Pope is left swimming on his own in the middle of the ocean without a life-vest. As the sordid and tawdry headlines continue unabated, this most uninspiring pontiff is headed towards inglorious infamy. ~End

For more reading on this subject here are some of the many pertinent links:
New York Times Coverage of Roman Catholic Sex Abuse