In response to the letter to the editor “Response to clergy abuse has been lame” that appeared on Sept. 14, Mark Belenchia flippantly suggests that as fitness review officer for the Catholic Diocese, I lied about reporting the alleged child abuse in 1998 involving Raphael Love and that the acknowledgement of my report by the Greenwood Police Department is my fabrication. His justification for this accusation is the report does not contain a case number.
The acknowledgment from the Greenwood Police Department I have in my possession was faxed on Oct. 18, 1998, from the Greenwood Police Department fax number as reflected by the fax information at the top of the transmittal. The acknowledgement is on the Greenwood Police Department’s letterhead and personally signed by detective Lt. Melvin Andrews, whom I believe later retired as Captain Andrews in 2016. It was faxed to my then fax number as circuit judge. I left that position in 2009 and have not had access to that number since.
The report attached is a computer printout styled “Offense/Incident Report, Greenwood Police Department.” It lists the primary reporting officer and investigating officer as Lester Martin, along with the facts I reported. The boxes of whether the report was accepted or denied are blank, as is the approving supervisor’s signature. This may explain why it was never assigned a number. The Greenwood Police Department may have never accepted the report as credible.
To support his accusation, Mr. Belenchia makes much of the fact the present police chief, Ray Moore, could not find any record of the 1998 investigation. In fact, TWO reports were made: one by me for the diocese and the other by the Department of Human Services after I reported the alleged abuse to it.
The two reports could have been lost after 20 years, but more likely, they were expunged by law. The law provides that the court shall expunge all public records where there was no disposition (Mississippi Code Section 99-19-71). Paul West was never prosecuted, indicted, tried or convicted, nor did any civil authority make a determination of abuse. Paul West had a right to have the records expunged and the proceedings sealed and no longer public. This could be ample reason no public records were found and a background check from Wisconsin revealed nothing.
To make such serious and defamatory accusations on such unreliable assumptions indicates Mr. Belenchia is not interested in presenting the truth.