Abuse Accounts Still Credible, Schmit Testifies - June 13, 1991 - Omaha World-Herald
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June 13, 1991 Abuse Accounts Still Credible, Schmit Testifies; [Sunrise Edition] Leslie Boellstorff Robert Dorr. Omaha World - Herald. Omaha, Neb. pg. 1
Full Text (1271 words)
(Copyright 1991 Omaha World-Herald Company)
State Sen. Loran Schmit of Bellwood testified Wednesday that he still finds credible the sexual-abuse allegations made by three young people to legislative investigator Gary Caradori in late 1989.
"It would be very difficult for them, in my opinion, to make up those stories," Schmit testified in the Douglas County District Court perjury trial of Alisha Owen.
During his work for the Legislature's special committee investigating the collapse of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union in Omaha, Caradori produced more than 21 hours of videotaped statements by Miss Owen, Troy Boner and James Daniel "Danny" King.Recanted
Schmit, who was committee chairman, was called Wednesday as a defense witness in the trial of Miss Owen, 22, who was indicted on eight counts of lying under oath last year to a Douglas County grand jury.
Boner, 24, and King, 21, testified last week that they fabricated the sexual-abuse allegations to Caradori as a scam to make money. Both young men recanted the stories in their grand jury testimony last year.
Miss Owen stuck with her story and told the grand jury, among other things, that she allegedly had a sexual relationship with then-Omaha Police Chief Robert Wadman when she was a minor.
Schmit's testimony appeared to be another phase in defense lawyer Henry Rosenthal Jr.'s effort to discredit Boner's testimony that Miss Owen, King and he concocted the story of sexual abuse.
Schmit said there was no doubt in his mind that Boner wanted to recant his recantation when Boner came to Schmit's office after Caradori was killed in a plane crash on July 11, 1990.
Schmit said Boner, whom he described as visibly shaken by Caradori's death, told him he'd been to the FBI. "He said, 'They laughed at me. If I change my story again, no one will believe me,' " Schmit recounted.
Caradori's widow, Sandra, testified earlier Wednesday that Boner called her at about 11 p.m. the day of Caradori's death, and said: "Gary's telling the truth. I've been pressured to change (my story). I shouldn't have changed."
She also said Boner told her the FBI laughed at him when he sought to return to his original story.
Two FBI agents testified previously that Boner never told them he wanted to withdraw his recantation.
Boner himself testified that he felt pressured by Schmit and Mrs. Caradori.
Boner said: "How do you tell somebody (who has just lost a husband and son) it's all a lie?"
Caradori and the couple's son, Andrew, were killed when the plane piloted by Caradori crashed into an Illinois cornfield.
In his earlier testimony at the perjury trial, Boner, now 24, had a different recollection of his call to Mrs. Caradori. He said he told Mrs. Caradori how sad he was about Caradori's death. He said Mrs. Caradori then told him that now was the time "to come forward with the truth."
Mrs. Caradori testified that she made notes about Boner's phone call immediately after it ended. She said she had said to Boner: "Troy, this is Sandi. What do you want?"
She said this was Boner's response: "I'm really sorry. This shouldn't have happened."
Mrs. Caradori said Boner then made his comment that Caradori was telling the truth. She said Boner told her he shouldn't have changed his story.
She said she told him: "You should tell someone what you're telling me."
She said Boner responded: "I'm really scared."
Caradori's death and Boner's call to Mrs. Caradori occurred after Boner had appeared before the grand jury and recanted his story.
Schmit, in answer to questions Wednesday by both Rosenthal and prosecutor Gerald Moran, explained and defended his actions and the actions of the legislative committee he headed.
He denied leaking the Caradori videotapes to the news media and said he was not the source of the names of five prominent men listed by John DeCamp in a January 1990 memo that described the five as "central figures" in an investigation into child abuse and drug abuse.
Schmit acknowledged giving a talk at a meeting where literature from the extremist Lyndon LaRouche group was distributed, but he denied being a "LaRouchite."
"That does not make me a LaRouchite. I wanted to make it clear. You seem to be intent on making me a LaRouchite, and I am not," he told Moran.
Earlier, Moran asked Schmit about his business and personal relationship with DeCamp and asked him about Gary Caradori's grand jury testimony that he once saw DeCamp looking at the papers on Schmit's desk while using the telephone in Schmit's office in the Capitol. DeCamp is a former state senator who now works as a lobbyist.
'He (DeCamp) would not be indiscreet in my office. He would not read my mail," Schmit responded.
Schmit said he did not recall telling Miss Owen that he would try to get her a pardon in return for her cooperation with the legislative committee. Miss Owen is serving a three- to four-year prison sentence for bad checks. Schmit acknowledged discussing the possibility of an early-release program when he met with Miss Owen.
Moran cited specific discrepancies between the videotaped statements of Miss Owen, Boner and King and asked Schmit why he publicly stated the allegations were credible.Alleged Meeting
For example, Moran cited Miss Owen's testimony that she met Wadman for the first time in August 1983, allegedly at a party at the Twin Towers apartments, 30th and Farnam Streets. In her videotaped statement, Miss Owen alleged that the Twin Towers building was the site of many sex and drug parties.
In Boner's videotape, he said he introduced Miss Owen to Wadman in October 1985 at a party at the Woodmen Tower, 17th and Farnam Streets.
In King's videotape, he makes his first reference to Wadman when he said he was at Miss Owen's house in late spring or early fall 1986 and a guy named "Bob" came to pick Miss Owen up. He said Miss Owen told him the man was a policeman.
"When the statements were years apart, why were you and the rest of the committee so quick to say these people's testimony was credible?" Moran asked.
Schmit responded that while there were discrepancies in the 21 hours of tapes, there also were many similarities, including several out-of-state trips described by the young people.V
Moran asked Schmit whether the reason he was "so quick" to believe the allegations involving retired World-Herald Publisher Harold W. Andersen - whom Miss Owen alleged she saw fondling a 12-year-old boy at a party - related to antipathy between Schmit and the newspaper over video slot gambling. The World-Herald published editorials opposing video slot gambling in Nebraska. Schmit, who had invested in video slot equipment, said he lost "a lot of money" when the gambling devices were outlawed in 1985.
Schmit, however, said he was reluctant to believe the videotaped allegations about Andersen.
Moran asked Schmit about a letter written by legislative committee counsel John Stevens Berry warning that the committee members could be held liable for publicly stating that the allegations were credible when they had not been corroborated.
Schmit said he did not recall the letter, but he added that Caradori produced Boner and King's tapes after the committee asked for corroboration of Miss Owen's allegations.
He also said Nebraska law does not require corroboration of a child's testimony that he or she has been sexually abused.
"There are people in the 'pen' today based on less evidence than we delivered to law enforcement," Schmit said. State Sen. Loren Schmit and Sandra Caradori . . . Both testified Wednesday in Alisha Owen's trial.