You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
Crime-and-courts
Lawsuit: High school junior raped 13-year-old girl in Shoshone school computer lab

SHOSHONE — The family of a 13-year-old girl who reported being raped by an older classmate in a Shoshone school computer lab in April has filed a federal lawsuit against the Shoshone School District.

Federal court documents say the girl and her mother were told she could not stay at the school following what was described as a violent rape by a prominent student athlete.

Court documents show the boy, a high school junior, pleaded guilty to eight counts of felony lewd conduct in juvenile court.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 27 in U.S. District Court, alleges the school district had a “deliberate indifferent response,” failed to appropriately investigate and respond, and subjected the victim to a “hostile environment and sexual discrimination that denied her an education in the District.”

Shoshone School District Superintendent Rob Waite said Friday he has been encouraged to limit comments on pending litigation. But he said he urges people to understand the allegations that the school failed to investigate are “just a one-sided story.”

The school district is working with legal counsel to file a formal response by Feb. 1 that will be “vigorous and detailed,” Waite said. Then, he said, both sides of the story will be available.

The girl, who is now 14, lives in Gooding and is attending high school in the Gooding School District, according to court documents.

The lawsuit alleges the girl was denied equal protection until Title IX and that the school district retaliated against her.

On or around April 26, school district employees and administrators viewed a videotape of the incident, and notified the victim’s mother and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, which came to the school to start an investigation, according to court documents.

A deputy determined the case to be “lewd and lascivious conduct by a seventeen (17) year old male.”

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office took the boy into custody and he was transported to the Snake River Juvenile Detention Center.

Following a Sheriff’s investigation, the boy was charged as a juvenile and plead guilty on or around Nov. 17 to multiple felony charges of lewd conduct with a child under 16.

Court documents state “on information and belief,” the boy “was not incarcerated other than a short period of home detention.”

E. Lee Schlender of Mountain Home, the attorney for the girl’s family, said Friday he has been in touch with the Shoshone School District’s insurance carrier.

He said he hopes “that we can get this resolved as quickly as possible.”

“The mother and the children are destitute,” he said. “She had to move them from Shoshone over to Gooding, get an apartment, get them enrolled in school over there and has no money.”

The school district has asked for another two or three weeks to formally respond to the complaint, Schlender said.

In the meantime, he said, he has been trying to help the girl’s mother find house cleaning jobs.

Schlender said they’re a very strong family, and the mother has dedicated her life to her children and doing everything possible to take care of them.

“She’s very pleased with how everyone in Gooding has treated her,” he said. “She says the school has been fantastic.”

The victim is undergoing continued medical treatment, Schlender said, and has been “shocked and traumatized deeply by this.”

He said she was victimized once by being raped twice at the school and again by being told she had to leave the school.

Court records say the girl was a student at Shoshone Middle School at the time of the incident. The 17-year-old boy, who was “a prominent athlete at the school,” violently and forcibly had sex with the girl without her consent on April 24 and 25 in an unlocked Shoshone High School computer lab.

The lab was unsupervised and could be locked from the inside, requiring a key to enter from the outside. “The room was unlighted and the door locked automatically after entry,” court records say.

The school district’s surveillance and monitoring system covers the computer lab, and recorded the alleged rape and other actions, such as the boy and girl “carefully walking past the offices of the Principal/Superintendent, closely together and alone while all other students were in classrooms.”

On or about the time of April 24 and 25, a school administrator unlocked the computer lab, and found the girl and boy inside. The boy told her they were watching a movie on a laptop computer.

The administrator “performed no investigation or questioning, other than directing that they leave the room,” the records say.

The lawsuit says school district officials became aware of the incident around April 23-26, 2017.

From the time of the sexual assault and afterward, records say the victim “was harassed and frightened.” Following the investigation, the school district allowed the boy to continue attending Shoshone High School with a one-day suspension.

The boy’s father is a coach, and the family has been in Shoshone for more than 30 years and “had cultivated professional and personal relationships with school faculty, trustees and administrative personnel,” records say.

Within 10 days following the incident, the school administrator held a meeting with the girl and her mother and presented two options for schooling, the lawsuit says: stop attending Shoshone schools “with no further remedial action of any kind” or being homeschooled, with the school providing homework assignments weekly.

The girl and her mother decided on the homeschooling option, but say they didn’t receive homework assignments the first week.

“Now desperate to continue her education, (the girl) her brother and mother although destitute, were forced to leave their home in Shoshone and relocate to Gooding, Idaho, for the purpose of continuing the education of the two teenagers,” court documents say.

The girl “suffered severe physical, and mental distress, physiological damage, loss of standing in their community and damage to her reputation,” according to the documents.

The girl and her mother have been required to attend counseling and receive treatment with psychotropic medication.

The family has turned to charities for help with paying the rent, buying food and other necessities.

Check Magicvalley.com for updates.


Local
Unfair competition? Parks department's plan to build RV park causes concern for campground owners

HAGERMAN — Owners of an RV park on the outskirts of town say the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation’s plan to install an RV park at the Billingsley Creek unit of Thousand Springs State Park could put them out of business.

Ed Wickham said he and his wife, Beverly, poured their life savings into Hagerman RV Village more than 20 years ago. They built up their business — and in doing so, they say they’ve helped build up Hagerman’s tourism base to what it is now.

The parks department plans an $8 million upgrade to the Billingsley Creek unit just north of U.S. 30 near Wickham’s RV park. The Wickhams are not objecting to the whole plan, just the RV park, calling it unfair competition.

“I don’t feel it’s right,” said Beverly Wickham. “I don’t want my tax dollars going to a business that is going to compete with our business.”

It costs the Wickhams $25,000 each year to advertise in national tourism magazines to draw visitors in, Ed Wickham said. Their guests range from construction workers who rent by the month to snowbirds to those who stay only a night.

In February, “our big groups come in,” said Ed Wickham. “We’re a Good Sam RV park.”

Opinions are mixed on the idea of public entities competing against private enterprise

The park department’s project is a win-win proposition, Hagerman Mayor Noel “Pete” Weir said. The Billingsley Creek unit is expected to be a boon for Hagerman’s economy.

IDPR spokeswoman Jennifer Okerlund agrees, saying the parks department’s intent is to bring in more business, not take business away.

“The rising tide will float more boats,” Okerlund said Thursday, “by bringing in more business to other campgrounds, restaurants, motels and hotels.”

But the Wickhams aren’t convinced. Neither is Rep. Steve Miller, R-Fairfield.

The tendency for government to compete with the private sector recurs every so often, he said. But it shouldn’t.

There’s no state policy against it, Miller said Friday, “but philosophically, the government should never compete with private enterprise.”

Hagerman RV Village includes 68 RV spaces and cabins for rent.

“It’s their retirement,” Miller said. “They had plans to expand, and then this comes along.”

The Wickham claim the Billingsley RV park will take a quarter of their business.

“It all may balance out later on,” Ed Wickham said, “but I don’t think I can survive that long.”

The Wickhams have legitimate concerns, David Landrum, Thousand Springs State Park manager, said Thursday.

The Billingsley Creek plan calls for a full-service, 50-space RV park with a dumping station, plus “primitive” camping will also be available for those who want to rough it, Landrum said. Plans also call for an amphitheater, arboretum, information huts, a large picnic shelter, a group camp and a concrete “pump track” for bicycles.

“But it’s not an ‘us-against-them’ issue,” he said. “We’re all part of a small community. We want people to work with each other so we will all benefit.”

“I don’t feel it’s right. I don’t want my tax dollars going to a business that is going to compete with our business.” Beverly Wickham, an owner of Hagerman RV Village

Local
Thousands gather Friday to remember president of LDS church during funeral proceedings

SALT LAKE CITY — The clear, sweet notes of the organ broke the reverent solemnity that filled the conference center as the choir rose and began to sing.

“Out in the desert they wander, hungry and helpless and cold. Off to the rescue he hastens, bringing them back to the fold.”

Though this favorite Mormon hymn is a reference to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, it seems the parallels in former LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson’s own life are striking.

“He would go to visit someone in need, feel while he was there an impression to go to another person, and then to another. More than a few times, such a person said, ‘I knew you would come,’” said President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency under President Monson.

Thousands gathered Friday afternoon for funeral proceedings honoring President Monson who served as the prophet and leader of the LDS Church for nearly a decade.

Many remembered his unfailing service to others, especially the sick and lonely. His daughter, Ann M. Dibb, recounted memories accompanying her father to visit a lifelong, 98-year-old friend, Elder Glen Rudd.

At one point, a little too much time had passed between their visits when President Monson’s secretary answered a phone call from Rudd who asked, “Is President Monson out visiting the sick, the afflicted and the aged? If so, I qualify!”

President Monson and his daughter quickly went to visit their friend and afterward, the prophet turned to his daughter and said, “I feel we’ve done some good today!”

President Monson’s reputation of selflessness also extended overseas and, during 1988, he traveled with other local church leaders to East Berlin in the then-communist German Democratic Republic. The country had been closed to church missionary work for more than 50 years, but President Monson felt impressed to ask permission for missionaries to serve there.

The delegation met with Erich Honecker, chairman of the state council for the German Democratic Republic, and his staff. After a long speech about the merits of communism, Honecker invited President Monson to speak.

“He boldly but kindly presented his message of how and why our missionaries would be good for that country,” President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles under President Monson, said.

“After President Monson’s pleas, all awaited Chairman Honecker’s response with breathless anxiety. I will never forget his reply: ‘President Monson, we know you! We have watched you for many years! We trust you! Your request regarding missionaries is approved!’”

In that moment, it felt as if the clouds had parted as heaven smiled upon what had happened, President Nelson said.


Govt-and-politics
Ahlquist: $100M promise may not result in Idaho budget cut

BOISE — Idaho Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist said Jan. 10 that his campaign promise to cut $100 million in 100 days if elected may not result in a reduction to the state budget.

“I am not saying cutting the budget,” said Ahlquist during an interview with KLIX. “What I’m saying is let’s go find $100 million in spending that we can put toward something else.”

Ahlquist first announced his plans to trim $100 million of the state budget last year. He has since released multiple statewide television advertisements promising to eliminate $100 million in wasteful spending.

During Wednesday’s interview, Ahlquist said he wants to identify the money within Idaho’s $3.5 billion budget and possibly reallocate that amount elsewhere in state government.

Campaign manager David Johnston said Friday that Ahlquist’s comments were consistent with prior statements. Johnston says the candidate’s goal has always been to cut $100 million of government waste and use it to fund different projects or give it back to the taxpayer.

Ahlquist is running for political office for the first time against Republicans Lt. Gov. Brad Little and U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador in the upcoming May primary election.

“Tommy Ahlquist has spent over one million dollars misleading Idahoans that he wanted to cut spending. He has shown again and again that he will say anything to get elected,” said Labrador’s campaign manager China Veldhouse Gum, in a prepared statement — adding that Labrador has promised to cut spending and take on establishment candidates.

Little did not respond to a telephone request for comment.

Ahlquist’s comments on reallocating money cut from the state budget caught the attention of political analyst who has been following his campaign since the Boise businessman entered the race and politics in February and then made the promise in June.

“I follow along with the news and saw the ads, I never remember getting that the intent was about reallocating the money. It sounded like a cut,” said Jaclyn Kettler, a Boise State University political scientist. “To me, this isn’t a complete flip flop. It’s adding more nuance to something that maybe should have been there in the beginning.”

Ahlquist’s promise to cut $100 million of the budget immediately raised eyebrows from state budget writers and government watchdog groups wary that the promise might result in reductions to education or health care services. Republican leaders in charge of drafting the state budget have also countered the budget is already lean, with sections still waiting backfill from the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, Ahlquist’s campaign has not disclosed what could get cut, but Ahlquist told radio host Bill Colley during Wednesday’s interview his team is analyzing all of the state’s agencies.

Separately, one of Ahlquist’s campaign advertisements said $60 million could be saved by changing the state’s employee health insurance system. That number — based on a 2016 legislative report — has since been dismissed by experts studying the issue after receiving a new analysis over the summer.

“I just see so many ways to innovate and to make our government more streamlined and bring that excellence into it that we’re going to save and use it for things that matter,” Ahlquist said. “That’s very different than saying we’re going to slash government money. I just don’t understand that. I think that’s silly.”

Labrador has proposed drastically reducing state taxes on sales, income and corporations in a package that experts estimate would reduce state revenue by more than $1 billion.

Labrador has not said what state services, such as education or law enforcement, would face reductions if elected and his tax plan is enacted.

Three-term Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, a Republican, is not seeking re-election.

Also running for governor in heavily Republican Idaho are Democrats A.J. Balukoff, a Boise businessman, and state Rep. Paulette Jordan.


Ahlquist


If you do one thing

If you do one thing: A contra dance will feature music by the Strings Attached band at 7 p.m. at the Grange Hall, 609 S. Third Ave., Hailey. Tickets are $10 and $15 at the door.


DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS FILE PHOTO  

Shoshone High School


PAT SUTPHIN, TIMES-NEWS 

Burley senior Sydney Pilling, left, and Minico senior Saydi Anderson, right, fight for possession of a loose ball Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, at Minico High School in Rupert.


Crime-and-courts
Officials say it could take months to fill Judge Stoker's seat in Twin Falls County Court

TWIN FALLS — Longtime District Judge Randy Stoker succumbed to a years-long battle with cancer earlier this week, ending a 15-year era in the Twin Falls courthouse.

Now, the state will begin what’s likely to be a months-long process to fill the vacancy left by his death.

District judges are ultimately selected by the governor — but those appointments don’t just come out of thin air. The new judge will be chosen from a short list of recommended candidates, provided by the Idaho Judicial Council.

To come up with that short list, the Judicial Council puts out an announcement asking for District Judge applications. The council then interviews the applicants, and, after seeking comment from the public and the state’s bar association, submits between two and four finalists for the governor’s consideration.

From there, the governor himself interviews the candidates and makes a final decision.

The Idaho Judicial Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the projected timeline for finding a replacement. As of Thursday afternoon, a recruitment notice for the position had not yet been posted on the Judicial Council’s website.

The process can take several months from start to finish, said Diane Minnich, executive director of Idaho State Bar. The timing depends on several factors, including the length of the initial application and interview process, how busy the governor is at the time, and any adjustments that the appointee may need to make in his or her personal or professional life.

However, Minnich speculated, given the circumstances of the vacancy, and the suddenness of Stoker’s death, “they’ll probably speed it up as much as they can.”

Shelli Tubbs, trial court administrator for the fifth judicial district, said that while she isn’t aware of any definitive dates, she anticipates that the recruitment process will begin “fairly soon.”

In the meantime, the district will continue to rely on both current and retired district judges to cover Stoker’s duties.

“It’s always sad when you lose somebody that young,” Minnich said. “He was very committed to service, both as a lawyer and as a judge.”