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Coverage leads to rumors, innuendos
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Editor, On July 8, 2007, the Coastal Courier chose to publish an article entitled “Man alleges county worker, city candidate used gun to intimidate during argument.”
I maintained the charge was absurd; or more precisely, “poppycock.” I have owned only two firearms in my life (this of course does not include the ones issued me while in the U.S. Army). One was a shotgun, which I gave to my son for his 18th birthday, and the other was a German luger my dad brought back from World War II.
On the day after the alleged incident, I was interrogated by a police sergeant with incident report in hand. I was listed as the offender; not alleged offender and my accuser was listed as victim.
I believe in the American system of jurisprudence. For more than a quarter of a century, I taught at Bradwell and in both my U.S. history and American government classes I tried to inculcate into my students a respect for the law and to trust the legal process.
My accuser had availed himself of his right to remain silent after having intimated my two female staffers. When I said, “Do not interfere with my staff, is that clear, yes or no?” he said nothing. Perhaps I should have said nothing the next day when the sergeant showed up but I was extremely upset that such an allegation could be given any weight. Perhaps this is the reason my accuser never pressed charges.
I still believe I own that German luger even though I haven’t had possession of it since it was taken from my home in a burglary in October 2006.
My accuser, who until recently lived two doors down from me, said in the incident report we had a bad history. We had no history at all. I did not identify him as a person of interest for the police to consider. They chose to do that when a week after my home was invaded, my accuser had a warrant issued for his arrest for credit card fraud after taking his working mother’s card, going shopping, and then disposing of the items by pawning them.
Why an able-bodied man living with his mom who provided him with room, board, clothes, etc. had to resort to this criminal behavior, I know not.
At the time of the alleged incident, my accuser was on probation and living once again with his loving mother after turning himself in after a period of time — whereabouts unknown.
On Sept. 24, 2007, he appeared before a judge again for having taken his mom’s credit card without authorization and using it to make a purchase. The judge revoked his probation and gave him more than nine years to serve in prison. I am sorry for my neighbor. I know she works hard and follows the line that one can abhor the sin but love the sinner.
The thing is, I was tried in the press. People who do not know me have seen me convicted in the court of public opinion. It made no sense to sue in civil court for he is what is law school is called “sue-proof.” And now that he is in prison he shan’t be bringing charges against me.
Would that I could have my good name back! Would that you would publish this on the front page. Would that you had seen fit not to crucify me in 1,767 copies of your paper so rumors and innuendoes could begin to fly.

Sampie W. Smith
Public servant since 1969
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