Justice fails 209A-abuse victim

Ray Saulnier convicted on one count in Fall River

Charged with two counts of violating a 209A abuse protection order, Ray Saulnier was acquitted on one but convicted on the other. In Fall River 2nd District Court on March 9, a jury of six determined that Ray did see and call out to his 11-year-old step-son Chris, but that his 9-year-old biological daughter was either mistaken or lying when she claimed to have also seen and heard Ray on a separate occasion. For a history of Ray's 209A case, refer to last issue ("209A reform sparks reprisal in Fall River," January).

The let's-split-the-difference verdict was surprising given that the prosecution, in their closing statement, argued that if the charges were in fact trumped-up and manufactured by Ray's ex, Susan Saulnier, as the defense asserted, it was unlikely that there would be two sightings. In effect, their argument was that one sighting could be either a fabrication or true, but two sightings from two separate people on two separate occasions were less likely to be fabricated. A conspiracy of three is more difficult to pull off than a conspiracy of two.

That someone could be prosecuted and faced with jail for having been seen and possibly heard by his children was not questioned. The only arguments allowed were those that dealt with the truth or falsity of the sightings themselves. FIJA (Fully Informed Jury Association), where are you when we really need you?

Ray was sentenced to two years probation and to pay a nominal court fine. The prosecution requested 59 days to serve of a one-year sentence, and to require Ray to enter a batterers program.

Now that Ray is on probation, any allegation of a violation by Susan will send Ray to jail immediately where he can be held up to 60 days pending an arraignment on the charge.

An intolerable situation, Ray and Karen have since moved out of Fall River.

That someone could be prosecuted and faced with jail for having been seen and possibly heard by his children was not questioned. The only arguments allowed were those that dealt with the truth or falsity of the sightings themselves.

Ray's defense attorney Robert Simonian planned to expose Susan's posing as a women in fear of a violent ex-husband by revealing that she intentionally moved two blocks away from Ray's home after the allegations were made. However, since Susan would not admit on the stand that she knew where Ray lived, Ray's attorney was not able to inform the jury. Why Susan was not simply asked to look at the 209A order and read Ray's address from it is something for speculation.

Judge Turcotte was ruthless in his refusal to let in evidence. Early in the trial, he refused to allow presentation of the police record that contained an account of the time of the sighting that differed from that given by one of the children. "Irrelevant," he intoned.

Ray's trial occurred amidst a backdrop of publicity generated by his supporters in the Fatherhood Coalition. The trial originally scheduled for February 19 was postponed after a courthouse protest resulted in Chief Justice Aguiar dismissing the entire jury pool and setting a continuance date of March 9.

On both dates, Coalition protesters were outside with picket signs. The events were covered by local press: newspaper, AM talk radio, and Media One television, and was the hot topic for the three weeks between the dates.

According to Ray, "I've been told that 'whoever presents the best lies, WINS.' This had proven to be true. We were armed with the TRUTH and were not believed!"

"The truth did not prevail."

Ray and Karen have been forced to move again because of this woman who stalks Ray with a 209A. He and Karen know they are now supremely vulnerable, and live in fear waiting for that call or visit by the police that means Susan has decided to play her trump card.

- Mark Charalambous

 

News and Commentary from the New Guard of the Father's Rights Movement

Volume 2, Issue 1
September, 1998

PO Box 1146 Leominster, MA 01453
www.ziplink.net/~brontis/FFhome

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