This is Episode 14 in the story of the formation, rise and fall of the little education collective that used to exist up here on our mountain. I wrote and posted this account three years ago on my blog and then pulled it off because someone whose name I had not changed, objected. Now I have changed both the name of the little school itself, and the names of everyone who might be negatively impacted, and plan to re-post the story, one episode per day, until all 32 are again on my blog.
The Four-Year-Old Burglar
In case you think you misread that, think again. This is what happened. My older brother Brian was up here over the Holidays in 1989, while we were embroiled in the midst of these legal fracases. A decision on my libel case was pending, and we were feeling frustrated that we had had to take on so much stress, as a result of Imika.
Brian was interested and sympathetic. However, he began to take a more direct and pointed interest when he found out that Imika was seeing a psychiatrist. His interest stemmed from the information that Imika had threatened to kill the boys. Annie had been hidden behind a tree with the two older boys along the path below Imika’s house, while Imika was up on the road, engaged in a shouting match with other members of the collective, and Annie had hoped to spare the boys. Imagine her concern when Imika screamed out that she “knew” that it was my three boys who had broken into her house, and that she had a gun and was gong to shoot them. She sat up on the witness stand, in her cross-complaint to our libel suit, and testified that the three boys had broken into her house, and burglarized it.
At the time of the alleged incident, the boys would have been seven, six and four years old, respectively. Imagine that, Lito as a four-year-old burglar. Somehow, the judge couldn’t see it, and when he heard Imika had threatened to get her gun and shoot them, he took a dim view.
So we had Imika maintaining that I had tried to run Misha over and saying that Annie lied, when she said that Misha had kicked her in the Czech Lodge, and we had Imika accusing the boys of burglarizing her home. We were beside ourselves with stress over the nonstop flow of falsehoods coming from this woman. When Casey started having nightmares involving Imika and a gun, we naturally spoke with Brian about it.
He listened to the story and felt alarmed enough to decide that it was in everyone’s best interest, that he give Imika’s doctor a call. There is an oath to which doctors must adhere, which deals with being mandated reporters of information that may prove harmful to others, if not divulged. Brian felt that as Imika’s doctor, Judith Huff, needed to know that her patient was going around threatening to shoot little boys.
Timing being everything it’s cracked up to be, Imika used the fact that she was involved in a single-car accident on her way home from that particular appointment, where Dr. Huff informed Imika of Brian’s phone call, to file charges against Brian. Imika maintained that his contact with Judith Huff, was done with the intent of maligning Imika’s name, and that she was so distressed upon being informed of the phone call by Dr. Huff, that she immediately went out and wrecked her truck.
Well, as Barry Vogel once pointed out, anyone can sue anyone else, at any given time, and be within his or her rights. It was only when the lawsuits are frivolous, or vexatious, that they become unacceptable. However this particular bit of legal business was ridiculous. How could Imika twist what Brian had been attempting to do around, to make it seem as though there had been malice behind it? We couldn’t believe that Brian was going to have to drive up here from Martinez, because he had made one phone call, attempting to alert another doctor that her patient was just a little off the wall.
The statement that Judge Susan Illston included in this final lawsuit against the district, which named most of the Bell Springs community, went like this:
“The Chintzes also allege that collective members initiated a campaign of violence, threats, and harassment against Corrine. The Chintzes have submitted evidence implicating Joe, Tom and Marbry in the acts against Corrine. The plaintiffs also submit evidence that defendant Mark O’Neill directed his brother to call Corrine’s psychiatrist and complain of Corrine’s “bizarre” and “abusive” behavior toward O’Neill’s family and friends. The plaintiffs submit in support of their allegations concerning O’Neill an excerpt from Corrine’s deposition testimony relating the contents of a conversation between Corrine and her psychiatrist and a letter from Corrine’s psychiatrist. The Court disregards this evidence because it is comprised of hearsay and has been introduced without proper foundation. In addition, the plaintiffs’ exhibits do not show that O’Neill was acting in his official capacity as a contract teacher at the time of the alleged incident.”
Again, a judge had refused to believe the string of outrageous claims and allegations that Imika continued to levy against the people with whom she was angry, and this judge was a woman. Still a fifth judge, Judge Orr, had ruled that it was unnecessary for Brian to drive up to Laytonville, and appear in the suit that Imika had brought against him. How could Brian’s good-faith attempt to let Imika’s doctor know that Imika was engaging in harmful behavior, be construed as an attempt to harm Imika? It defied explanation and Judge Orr agreed.
I have not even considered this particularly sordid legal parry by Imika, to be included in the eight court cases I have mentioned being involved in. I must admit though, that this was one of the most egregious simply because it yanked someone into the morass, who was not even a member of our community. Was nothing sacred? At least enough time has now gone by, that Brian no longer remembers the particulars.
That’s fine with me; I just wish I did not.