In 'he said, she said,' DA gets in a word
This is a discussion on In 'he said, she said,' DA gets in a word within the Discrimination & Sexist Double Standards anti misandry forums, part of the Why We're Here category; Woman, who said ex-husband violated PFA, charged with lying. By Gil Smart Sunday News Published: May 09, 2006 1:28 PM ...
- 14th-May-2006 #1
In 'he said, she said,' DA gets in a word
Woman, who said ex-husband violated PFA, charged with lying.
By Gil Smart
Published: May 09, 2006 1:28 PM EST
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - A child custody case that has landed in county court, county commissioners' meetings and has ensnared one of the largest churches in the county took a new twist late last month.The Lancaster County District Attorney's office accused two people of making false statements to police and with criminal conspiracy after they made allegations that were contradicted by several witnesses - as well as two different videotapes.
Wendy Flanders of Leola and Theodore P. Yoder, also of Leola, were each charged April 28 with making false reports to law enforcement, unsworn falsification to authorities and criminal conspiracy to commit unsworm falsification as the result of an investigation into their claims that Bennett J. Vonderheide had violated a protection-from-abuse order and behaved in a threatening, abusive manner toward them.
Flanders and Vonderheide are embroiled in a custody case involving their 7-year-old son. Yoder is described in the affidavit as a friend of Flanders.
In 2004, Flanders sought a PFA against Vonderheide. That petition was granted and ultimately amended to remain in effect through April 20 of this year; as part of the order, Vonderheide was constrained from "threatening, harassing, abusing or striking his former girlfriend.
In a case that caught the attention of several fathers' rights groups, Vonderheide has claimed that Flanders sought the PFA specifically to punish him as the result of an acrimonious breakup.
Neither Flanders nor Yoder returned messages seeking comment for this article.
According to the affidavit, filed by the District Attorney's office in the case, on Jan. 13 Flanders and Vonderheide were at the Lancaster County Courthouse relative to the custody issue when Flanders and Yoder say Vonderheide violated the terms of the PFA by following and verbally harassing her, calling her a profane name, coming within three to four feet of her and telling Flanders "she was not going to get her way, or similar words."�
Flanders and Yoder went to the county sheriff's office and less than a week later, Jan. 19, Flanders signed a four-page statement detailing the allegations. Feb. 1, Yoder told county detectives that Vonderheide blocked Flanders' path as she came down the stairs in the courthouse, and even demonstrated "the relative positions and movements he alleges occurred."�
But in his affidavit, Det. Jan Walters of the county district attorney's office noted that deputy sheriffs witnessed the incident, and that it was caught on tape by surveillance cameras mounted in the county courthouse. That tape shows that at no time was Vonderheide closer than 15 to 20 feet of Flanders and Yoder.
No expletive heard
Vonderheide also videotaped the encounter; his tape, which he said county officials reviewed, captured sound. In it, he is heard to say "Good morning, Mr. Yoder,"� but not the expletive Flanders said he directed at her.
In the affidavit, Walters concluded that "Mr. Yoder's account is consistent with that of Mrs. Flanders, but is contrary to the deputies' accounts and the video recording to such a great extent that it cannot be reconciled ... this investigation has determined both Wendy Flanders and Theodore Yoder fabricated their stories in an attempt to have Bennett Vonderheide falsely arrested for violating a Protection from Abuse Order."�
Vonderheide said he felt vindicated, and that this situation was exactly the reason he has begun taping all his interactions with his child's mother.
"Since I got my camera out, I've been exonerated of every charge against me, by my own camera,"� Vonderheide said.
The custody case is the subject of a lawsuit in Lancaster County Court, in which Vonderheide accuses Flanders, as well as her church - Calvary Church in Manheim Township, one of the largest in the county - of conspiring to alienate him from his son and enable Flanders to maintain custody of the child.
Theodore Yoder is the husband of Kathy Yoder, a former counselor at the church who worked with Flanders; both are among 36 defendants named in the suit.
Vonderheide is seeking $700,000. The church and its attorneys have denied the allegations. The Sunday News reported last December that several prominent members have left the church as a result of the lawsuit.
In November, Vonderheide confronted a church member - Lancaster County Commissioner Dick Shellenberger - during a commissioners' meeting, demanding to know whether Shellenberger had used his position to intervene in the case. Shellenberger denied that anyone named in Vonderheide's lawsuit against the church had contacted him about the custody issue.
Shellenberger is not named in the lawsuit.
The case also has drawn the attention of 5thEstate.com editor Ron Harper Jr., who has written about it on his Web site and who was cited by city police for harassment in October as he attempted to act as an intermediary in the exchange of Flanders' and Vonderheide's child. Harper said Flanders called city police and accused Harper of harassing her; as police arrived, Harper switched on his ubiquitous video camera and caught the event on tape. Though police initially cited Harper for harassment, they withdrew the charge a few days later.
Lancaster County District Attorney Donald Totaro said it is uncommon for charges of making false reports to police, unsworn falsification and criminal conspiracy to commit unsworn falsification to be filed in a custody dispute.
The maximum penalty for each charge is up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Vonderheide said the charges were so rare, that they were the subject of an April 29 conference call involving 14 different "fathers' rights"� groups from around the country.
"I have a lot of gratitude for [District Attorney] Totaro and [Det.] Walters,"� Vonderheide said. "What they have done is hugely courageous."�
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PO Box 1328, Lancaster PA 17608, (717) 291-8811
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