Editor’s note: This editorial contains inaccurate information, and as a result we owe an apology to former Jerome County Prosecutor John Horgan. Horgan is no longer handling the case. He was replaced by prosecutor Mike Seib. We deeply regret the error and apologize to him and our readers for presenting inaccurate information.
‘Better to remain silent and be thought a fool,” Abraham Lincoln famously said, “than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
We’re not sure whether Jerome County Prosecutor John Horgan is taking the president’s advice or whether he simply doesn’t understand the responsibilities of public servants.
Either way, Horgan isn’t saying. In fact, he never says.
The prosecutor has a policy of not speaking with the media, which is in essence a policy against speaking to his voters, his bosses.
The most recent example is his decision to drop all charges against the main suspect in the White Pine Elementary case, where several schoolgirls accused a man of trying to kidnap them from the playground at the Burley school. Because of a conflict of interest with the Cassia County prosecutor, Horgan’s office took on the case.
The incident shocked the Magic Valley. Several schools stepped up security protocols in the fallout. Parents worried about the safety of their children. Were there, in fact, predators lurking around the school trying to snatch children?
The public is still no closer to the answer.
Horgan’s office dropped the remaining charges against 51-year-old Vadian Dougal on Wednesday, March 29, without any explanation.
Was there really no case to be had against Dougal? Where the witnesses lying when they said he grabbed them or tried to lure them away? Was there ever really a threat, or is there still one?
And that’s the most troubling part of Horgan’s silence. Parents, teachers and the public at large are simply left to guess.
We’ve been critical of Horgan’s silence in the past, for all the same reasons. When a 2-year-old boy was struck by a car and killed in a Jerome subdivision in 2014, Horgan’s office said nothing about its pursuit of justice, or lack thereof. Even though the driver turned himself in the next day, Horgan’s office eventually dismissed charges against him, leaving the boy’s family and others in the close-knit neighborhood of mostly Latino families wondering why. Some even accused Horgan of failing to pursue the case because of a prejudice against Hispanics.
We doubt that’s why Horgan never prosecuted anyone in the boy’s death, but the accusation goes a long way toward proving our point. When Horgan doesn’t explain his decisions, people are left to wonder.
And that’s simply poor public service.