Friday, October 31, 2008

D.A. Seeks More Info In VPS Vandalism

Oct. 3 incident not being investigated as hate crime

By Sondra Murphy
As of Oct. 31, the vandalism incident that occurred on the Villanova Preparatory School campus Oct. 3 is still under investigation.
“The DA’s office has asked for more follow-up investigation and we’re hoping to have it wrapped up in a couple of weeks,” said Ojai Police Department Administrative Sgt. Maureen Hookstra. “We had a meeting with Villanova and the representative from the DA’s office reviewing the case. The school is being apprised of our status and so is Nordhoff.”
Villanova’s football field, pool and marble statue of St. Thomas of Villanova were reportedly vandalized with blue and gold paint, manure, salt and bleach. Slogans were also reported to have been painted on various surfaces, but details will not be released until the investigation is complete.
Villanova staff was able to clean up most of the mess quickly, with the exception of the statue. The marble proved very absorbent and Villanova is contacting specialty companies for help in removing the residual blue tint.
Seven Nordhoff students were subsequently suspended in connection with the incident, but names have not been released pending police investigation out of concern that it could compromise the case. Not all suspected vandals are Nordhoff students.
As reported in the Oct. 8 issue of the Ojai Valley News, Sheriff’s Detective Mark Burgess said that, contrary to rumors circulating throughout the community, the vandalism is not considered to be a hate crime. No further specifics have been given by investigators regarding the issue, but according to California Penal Code 422.7, hate crimes are defined as criminal acts against an individual or group because of actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability.
Under felonies, P.C. 422.7 lists a hate crime to be the “commission of a crime for the purpose of interfering with another’s exercise of civil rights.” P.C. 594.3 specifies, “Vandalism of place of worship based on racial or religious bias.” P.C. 11412 reads, “Threats obstructing exercise of religion.”
Based on the information OVN has received to this point about the vandalism, religion was not the motivating factor in the incident, but misplaced school rivalry.
The OVN will run updates as information about the case is released.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Misplaced school rivalry? You can misplace your car keys, misplace a school book, misplace your newspaper, but to dimiss this egregious vandalism as anything less than a hate crime is a mistake. The graffiti was pointedly aim at religion and a religious statue. It did not say something innocent like "Go Rangers". It was graphic and hateful. "F**K Jesus".
There is some history of Nordhoff students having problems respecting other christian schools, remember the Oaks Christian locker room vandalism, and a school board member has in the past written letters to the editor in The Star about un-christian behavior. This shows a pattern of intolerance for religious institutions. Misplaced ballyhoo? No this was a serious crime and these kids need to be held accountable.

hugh G. Caulk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Good to see a student posting, such fine grammar and spelling. You may want to use the anonymous title so people can not back track the server and have your e-mail available.

demand civility and respect said...

Lenny, please delete #2 for infraction of comment policy.

Anonymous said...

I agree with "misplaced school rivalry" ... and it seems to me from my research that this qualifies as a "hate crime" for purposes of state and federal law. I am not an expert but would like to read an intelligent well researched article applying ALL the facts of what was done at Villanova (and this is the problem -- our paper has not fully reported all the things that were done -- nor have they done anything but simply announce in their wisdom and with all their legal expertise (yes this is sarcastic) that it simply is not a hate crime. Not very convincing.

Anonymous said...

motivation can be gleaned from the acts committed school rivalry is one thing and generally does not involve religious desecration etc wake up folks the motive can be gleaned from the acts.

Sondra Murphy said...

"Slogans were also reported to have been painted on various surfaces, but details will not be released until the investigation is complete."
May I request that all of you who know exactly what was written at Villanova please contact the police department with your firsthand knowledge?

"…the vandalism is not considered to be a hate crime. No further specifics have been given by investigators regarding the issue…"
While you're at it, please take your legal research to the DAs office and advise them on what constitutes hate crimes.

Anonymous said...

sondra -- who wrote the quote "the acts do not appear to be hate crime" your words or the police or who???

Anonymous said...

Oh, for goodness sakes. It was a prank gone wrong. Who are all these people who want to turn it into an FBI investigation? Punish them with community service, make them write an apology, and let's be done with it. It's not a' hate crime.

Anonymous said...

and your analysis is based on knowledge of the law, of the exact facts of this case or what?? just a feeling of wanting it to all go away??? ....... just stating it is not a hate crime does not make it so, need to apply the applicable laws to the facts of the case --as a community we seem to have little knowledge of either the facts of the case or the laws re hate crimes etc
Isn't police report a matter of public record?? Why cant OVN get an accurate list of what was done at Villanova??
(much of which has been listed on this blog) and get somebody smart to OBJECTIVELY (not an easy task in Ojai) analyze the laws re hate crimes and how they apply to this case. Its not rocket science folks. Its called intellectually sound objective analysis.

Anonymous said...

Definition
prank (prangk) n. A mischievous trick: pratical joke.
If this is anyone's idea of a prank then 90% of crimes could be argued away as simply pranks gone wrong. We are a society of laws. You break the law you get punished. It should not matter if you are the son of someone prominent in public life. The police and district attorney need to do there jobs without undue influence.

Sondra Murphy said...

In the original Oct. 8 report we cited:

"Sheriff's Detective Mark Burgess said Monday that, contrary to rumors circulating throughout the community, the FBI is not involved in the investigation and it is not considered to be a hate crime. As many as eight suspects have been identified as participants in the vandalism and will be interviewed later this week. Details were not released pending inquiry."

The statement came from a law enforcement press release. Please reread the text to see that nowhere do I state this is not a hate crime. I merely related the information we had to date from quotable sources and later paraphrased in updates. I do not appreciate being held accountable for the investigative timeline, as I have no influence over it.

Regarding the matter of public record, detectives are concerned that by releasing details, the investigation could be compromised. OVN understands and respects that. Sorry if you do not.

If you are not satisfied with the OVN's ability to get the vandalism specifics, police reports or crime scene photos, feel free to call the police department and district attorney's office to see if you have better luck obtaining such items.

Bloggers may be able to offer their intellectually sound objective analysis as fact, but OVN needs credible sources and, in this case, someone with law enforcement standing. If you truly believe all the blog statements about what was written at Villanova to be accurate representations, there will never be anything I can say, write or quote that will change your mind.

Might I remind you that there were many people involved. Best we can tell, law enforcement is not focusing their investigation based on any suspect's parentage.

Meanwhile, may I remind all that patience is a virtue? (I read that in a Book somewhere...)

P.S.
"misplaced"
Adjective
1. (of an emotion or action) directed towards a person or thing that does not deserve it: misplaced optimism

Trust, efforts, confidence and modifiers may, too, be misplaced.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate Sondra Murphy's remarks and answering many of the blithely stated blogger ideas about reality.
There have been other previous controversies in this town whereby the readership smells a rat even if there isn't one, and it happens precisely in the same way as it is unfolding here. A similar thing happened with the school district lawsuit by a parent against a teacher who introduced an "inappropriate" book about bullying into the class. The thing went on for about two years with very little news in between. Same reason quoted for lack of coverage: It will harm the proceedings since it's a court case. So what happens when the local media can't or won't report: the rumor mill begins. So instead of good reporting in a free press there's backbiting, anger, innuendo.
It's like, there's a beginning and an end but no middle. Having lived in San Francisco for years I can't believe the same thing could happen there because the local press would ere on the side of reporting the truth to the readership--protocol and the needs of the police be damned. Many will say, but this is Ojai a small town, go back to SF you moron etc.(I can't, I was born here--this is my hometown).
Anyway, Sondra if my perceptions are faulty, set me
straight...but many don't take your paper seriously because the paper hasn't always done a good job with continuity in reporting on issues like this one.

Sondra Murphy said...

I think this would barely be a blip on the radar in San Francisco or any other city where there are daily violent crimes, weekly graffiti or vandalism incidents and annual school hazings. What urban paper would be breathing down the necks of the DAs office for specifics about which the staff and students at the victimized school have been so graciously patient?

To summarize the comments here:
• It's my fault the investigation is proceeding at an unpopular rate.
• I'm an idiot for not being an instant expert on the legal analysis of hate crimes. (But I've had a whole month!)
• I'm responsible for the local "rumor mill."
• Lazy, part-time reporters like me are the reason OVN is not taken seriously.

At this rate, I will eventually be told I am the cause of the vandalism in the first place.

The OVN updates were run so that readers would know that we were not ignoring this, but waiting for the investigation to release new details. Big mistake, apparently. Perhaps all of you chomping at the bit should turn to the Post or Star for continuity on this event. (But wait, the last time we heard about this from those sources was Oct. 5.)

I am so grateful to live in a valley where this is the worst thing to happen in months.

Anonymous said...

Why dont we let the police work on real crimes like the gang problems in town,all the illegal lottering at local businesses,(oh Im sorry does that bother you) and quit making a big deal out this. Make the kids parents pay to fix the damage ,make the kids keep Villanova clean for a while and forget about it.As far as bashing the religions........Please get a frekin clue.

Anonymous said...

It is absolutely ludicrous to not report the details of a crime in the newspaper. Just because something may go to court does not prohibit a newspaper from printing the details of the crime. Get a copy of the police report, or get the info from the Villanova folks. The OVN did not report on that stupid book to protect the school dist. lawsuit was over the top, but the book was horrific especially giving it to a bunch of 10 year old girls -- OVN protects the officials and government and powers that be in Ojai. If Villanova had done this to Nordhoff, the reporting would have been much more forthcoming. Its political- PERIOD. and because of that -- its a lousy paper.

Anonymous said...

If it is so easy to find out all the facts from the police, why don't all of you who are complaining go and do that? I for one, am glad that the OVN is reporting other things besides this, week in and week out. Let the police do their job and quit acting like it is the newspaper's responsiblity to investigate, charge and convict these kids. And if it is such a lousy paper, quit reading it and blogging on their site.

Anonymous said...

The OVN is not involved in investigative journalism. (Please read the New York Times for investigative journalism). The investigation is now in the hands of the police and district attorney's office. They will move very slowly and carefully because of the delicate nature of small town Ojai. On the other hand,it is ironic that in today's Star newspaper there is a story of 3 hispanics arrested and charged with felony vandalism for spraying graffti on a storm drain! Go figure. Equal justice for all is a myth.

i live here too said...

sondra, thank you to you and the ovn for all of your hard work

Anonymous said...

I am trying to understand why it is taking the DA's office so long to either make arrests and file charges or to just dismiss the case and be done with it. This case seems straight forward enough and not that difficult to make a decision. What is slowing it down?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the number of suspects coupled with the fact that there are other cases to be investigated might account for the "slow" progress?

Anonymous said...

the OVN is a crappy newspaper that makes excuses for not reporting the news with all the facts. Its a bunch of hookey that they are not "investigative journalists" For heavens sake, whats the point of the paper if they cannot or will not report on crime in our community??? they are either lazy, incompetent or fearful of the powers that be in Ojai ... anyway you cut it, we deserve better.

demand civility and respect said...

the ovn has explained several times what they are able to report. if you think you can do better, go for it. otherwise, please do your part to elevate discourse in a more civilized, intelligent manner.