What’s with these teachers and coaches?!

Scott Zeigler, Oregon coach charged with sex crimes

I don’t get it.

For the umpteenth time in my 12 years as a reporter, I’ve covered another coach/teacher/teacher’s aide arrested and accused of having sex with an underage student. For 12 years, it’s been different people, same story line. Man in a supervisory role with access to kids abuses that trust and commits sex abuse. Sometimes, it’s a woman. Sometimes, it’s a church. Nearly every time, it is an adult parents have placed their confidence in who winds up violating a sacred boundary.

As reporters, it’s easy to use the word “relationship” to describe these crimes, especially when the timeline of what’s taken place spans one, two, or three years. But isn’t it important to remember what these incidents really are? Neil Goldschmidt taught us that. A grown man doesn’t have a sexual relationship with a minor. He abuses that minor. It’s sex abuse. Let’s not romanticize it.

Arrests like this remind us that the vast majority of molestation doesn’t happen when a stranger grabs your kid off the street. Chances are, you know the abuser. Your kid knows the abuser. The abuser has access to your kid.

The vast majority of teachers, coaches and educators are hard-working, ethical people for whom boundaries aren’t an issue. Sadly, abusers of this trust give other mentors who share their title a bad name.

Let’s celebrate those among us who are the champions of children.

Let’s keep our eyes peeled, our ears tuned to the signs of abuse.

Kids are our most precious investment.

Let’s protect them as such.

Crash

Maybe you’ve seen the movie.

I saw the reality of it today, as I sat in Dean Pace’s home. With his wife of just eight months by his side, he showed me the ten-inch long purple scar down torso, accentuated with the dots where the staples once punctured his skin.

I watched as he got winded just standing, and lamented his inability now to rough house with his 5-year old stepson, Roman.

I observed as a man who has every reason to be angry and bitter toward the 14-year old police say hit him in a stolen van, instead, extolled the virtues of positive thinking.

Dean realizes he has many reasons to be grateful.

He’s alive, out of the hospital, and loved by his family who painstakingly cared for him.

He wonders still about the stranger — a man, he thinks — who came up to the window of his SUV shortly after impact, and asked if he was okay.

But he can’t help think about what was lost. “All of February,” he says. And Valentine’s day. And Roman’s fifth birthday. All transpired while Dean fought for his life in the hospital, with the help of doctors and nurses at OHSU.

The teenager who hit Dean Pace faces felony hit and run charges. See, after the crash, police say he fled from the scene on foot. Investigators say a post on social media led to his arrest the next day, at Sam Barlow High School, where the kid’s a student. The boy’s dad tells me his son’s never been in trouble before. Also, that the family’s had to move because of this.

He says they pray every day for Dean Pace and his recovery.

When I tell him Dean is out of the hospital and mending, a relieved sigh comes through the receiver.

Two families. One fateful afternoon.

Dean Pace shared with me text messages he and his wife, Olga, exchanged that day as he left work. (Olga is freshly emigrated from Russia. They were married just six months when the crash occurred.)

Dean: I’m coming home. I love you!

Olga: I wait you. I love you too.

Olga: Bad traffik?

Olga: I worry. You ok?

Olga: I worry.

Olga: I worry.

Olga: I worry.

Olga: I worry.

By then, Dean was en route to the hospital, via LifeFlight.

Deadly Force

This is a report I filed for K-2 examining the training for Oregon State Police troopers when it comes to deadly force, and the criteria they use for deciding when to use it. It followed a man’s 2006 attack on an officer with a knife in La Pine that resulted in the man’s death at the hands of Deschutes County law enforcement. It was also shortly after traffic stop turned shoot-out in Albany between a trooper and a driver he’d pulled over.

It came to mind as I covered the Aaron Campbell shooting settlement, and his family’s cry for change with how police are trained.

Nick Teixeira Wants Out of the State Hospital

The man who, as a teenager, shot Clackamas County sergeant Damon Coates is requesting to be moved from the Oregon State Hospital to a residental treatment facility. In a hearing he requested before the Psychiatric Review Board, the burden of proof is on Nick Teixeira, who’s 24, to show such a transfer won’t pose a risk to the public.

Coates was severely and permanently disabled when Teixeira shot him in the face on January 9, 2003 while he was responding to a call from Teixeira’s parents expressing concern about their son’s behavior. Teixeira was 15.

Two psychiatrists for the state hospital are testifying on behalf of Teixeira, supporting this “next step” in his treatment plan. They say he is not exhibiting signs of mental illness, hasn’t taken prescription medication since 2007 and doesn’t need to. One even said Teixeira’s in “remission” from mental illness.

In the hearing room are the wife and daughter of Damon Coates. Tammy Coates tells me her husband isn’t doing well, that a half-hour long seizure six months ago put in him in the hospital and set back the progress he’s made in speaking and writing.

Sitting directly behind Tammy Coates is Teixeira’s mother, Dawn Gentry. She’s been a staunch advocate of her son, relaying to me the permission he was given to leave the hospital and give a speech at Portland State University as part of his growth and maturation.

Teixeira’s therapist, Dr. Carlene Shultz, cross-examined by the Department of Justice prosecutor Thomas Castle:

Castle: “Has Mr. Teixera told you why he shot Damon Coates in the face?

Shultz: “Perhaps, no.”

Castle: “Do you think that’s important?”

Shultz: Long pause. “He has told me…he has talked about his mental state at the time.”

Castle: “…do you think that’s important?”

Shultz: “Yes. I’m not sure how to answer that.”

Victim statements are allowed in a hearing like this. The first came from Tammy Coates, who looked directly at Teixeira as she said: (paraphrased)

“I still forgive what you did. We don’t live with some horrible hatred or bitterness toward you. It’s been much more difficult since May …Damon hasn’t been able to speak or walk at all. His level of care is now 10 times what it was. Regarding the 20 year sentence, if you didn’t deserve it, they shouldn’t have given it to you. It’s not going to be easy for you…I know it’s going to be difficult for you for years to come. Just to hear you’re able to share your story…is encouraging. Obviously it looks good…in the back of my mind, I wonder if you’re doing it for that reason…but I would never judge your heart on that. You can’t undo that day…as much I’m sure you wish…(not as much as Damon) for that day to be undone.”

Jerry Coates, Damon Coates father told the board:

“You know it’s good that he’s doing good and making progress but in a controlled environment and under supervision, you don’t have to be very smart to know that if you do or say all the right things…you can get out sooner…or get different treatment. Somewhere along the line here we need to discuss justice. Damon was deliberately shot in the face…with every intention of killing him. Somewhere in all of this, there’s supposed to be some justice. My son is as good as dead and our lives are ruined.”

The board deliberated for 15 minutes then announced their approval for Nick Teixeira to receive an evaluation on whether he can go to a secure residential treatment facility in Pendleton.

His attorney promptly congratulated him. The psychiatrists/therapists who testified on his behalf gave each other thumbs up signs.

And Damon Coates’ father asked me outside, “Where is the justice here? They should see my son laying there. I don’t get it.”

Is Anna Canzano pregnant

According to the statistics for my blog, that’s the number one search phrase in Google that brings you to this page: “is Anna Canzano pregnant.”

Kinda freaky.

It makes my stomach turn.

Not because I hate children or the idea of becoming a mother. Not at all. I love my stepdaughter and nephews and nieces. I like them better than most adults.

I’ve just always been deathly afraid of pregnancy. And by that I mean, everything in the 260 days between conception and birth.

It’s been that way since I first understood how babies come into the world. And when you really think about it, why wouldn’t I be terrified?

Once you get past the magical stork-myths of early childhood, movies and tv shows portray pregnancy and childbirth in some simile of one of the following:

1) woman throwing up due to morning sickness
2) waddling woman with sore back and arms bent behind her trying to provide self lumbar support
3) madwoman with tousled hair screaming bloody murder and cutting off circulation to husband’s hand during child bearing

Of course, there’s also the helpful “mother dies during childbirth” story arc or “husband faints in birthing room” comic relief.

It ain’t pretty.

My job doesn’t help. I did a story a few months ago about midwives and at-home births. As a concept, the idea of having your baby at home sounds amazing. Familiar surroundings. Nurturing, experienced women talking you through labor. A kiddie pool inside your home!

While there are numerous births like this that go off without a hitch, the woman I interviewed had what can only be described as a nightmare experience

She was in labor at home for eight days. Eight days. Her son was so overdue, he’d had his first bowel movement inside of her, effectively poisoning himself. The few pictures she had of him revealed tiny baby fingers discolored by the toxicity in the womb.

Devastating for her. Haunting for me.

(Not lost on me is the irony that I’m contributing to the negative media images of childbirth that scarred my own developing mind.)

So what am I supposed to believe?

Maybe my perception should rely more on the Surrogate Mom who “so loved being pregnant” she’d acted as a surrogate four times. Four. Times. She’s had ten children. Three of her own, then twins, triplets and two single babies for other people! A true baby making machine.

I found her delight in pregnancy puzzling. It’s confusing to me whenever I hear women extol the virtues of it. I’m at best, skeptical that the improved complexion, healthy hair and overall hormonal nirvana are for real. And I look at those women with those serene expressions, searching their faces for the truth.

Babies are on the mind, of course. In a newsroom, like most any workplace, any recently married woman is subject to “bump watch.” Unlike other workplaces, newsroom women sometimes factor in sweeps months as they plan pregnancies — the four months of the year that are an especially big deal for ratings. They’re all hands on deck months. No vacations allowed. Longer hours expected. And you know, if you could manage to take your maternity leave between those months, that might be helpful….

Being pregnant on television! That’s not even something I’ve actively cogitated. People would get to watch me…slowly…get…huge over the span of 40 weeks.

Again, freaky.

Pausing a moment here to bite my lip in apprehension as every part of me that is insecure and petty has a small panic attack.

…………..deep breathing…………..

Okay.

I will find a way to get past that.

But how do I grit my teeth through the countless horror stories I’ve heard from friends and relatives, including the ones that make their way into, of all places, baby shower conversations? Maybe you’ve been there?! That precious moment when women are gathered around an expectant mother who’s cooing as she opens another delicate onesie — and (insert name) launches into a detailed description of the child birth that came “this close” to killing her. Which prompts someone else to share a story that one-ups her. And so on and so on.

That scene is more like war veterans sitting around at the American Legion, swapping stories about the rocket-propelled grenades that tore their leg off, or the IED that exploded their Humvee and left them with a traumatic brain injury.

Leave the pastel colored gift bags at home. Cigarettes and smokies would be more appropriate.

I get it. It’s a big deal. It’s arguably the biggest deal a woman can experience in her life. I am deliriously happy for my friends and co-workers and family members who’ve been blessed with kids or who are excitedly preparing baby rooms right now. I have classmates from high school who have two, three, four, even five kids! Their Facebook photos are proof to me it can be done.

So, what advice can you offer me? Tell me what’s worked for you? I can’t be the only 34-year old woman who’s ever ruminated on these unknowns. What can you offer this feeble mind that will help me proceed with confidence toward something that has gripped me with fear for so long?

I welcome your thoughts.

Maybe someday the number one search term will instead be “Anna Canzano baby”.

Wouldn’t that be something.

Brandon Roy Explainer

If you’re like me, you’re not exactly an expert on NBA salary caps, amnesty clauses and collective bargaining agreements. So maybe this will help.

Given the news on Brandon Roy’s sudden retirement, I sat down this morning with Tom Penn, former Portland Trail Blazers vice-president of basketball operations and assistant general manager. He’s now a commentator for ESPN.

Anna: What does this mean for the Blazers?

Tom Penn: If Brandon chooses to retire, and the medical director for the NBA says it’s a career ending injury — that it qualifies — then a year from his last game, in all likelihood, his salary would completely come off the books. Brandon still gets his money but the salary comes off the salary cap and the luxury tax but that doesn’t happen for a full year.

AC: So that’s relief for the Blazers down the line?

TP: Down the line it does, but it doesn’t give the financial relief that choosing to amnestize him…if they amnesty Brandon and take him off the books, they get luxury tax relief right away for this season. It’s unlikely they get that for this season. It depends on when he comes off the books. If the Blazers still choose to use the amnesty clause, they can remove his salary effective immediately, so it gets them below the luxury tax immediately, and they can spend more money on a free agent right now. If he retires because of medical, they have to wait for that year to run its course and he won’t come off the books until then, so they get more flexibility right now. The advantage of not using the amnesty is they could still use that in a future year on another current player. So they could wait for Brandon’s salary to come off in a year, then they could still amnestize someone else and get more cap space.

AC: Would it be likely for them to do that?

TP: Sure, if they get to a mode where they want to rebuild this team using a lot of cap space. Let Brandon’s money cycle off, choose to eliminate another big salary on the books, go get a glamour free agent.

AC: He’s due 64 million right?

TC: He’ll get every nickel he’s due. He’ll get that whether he’s cut via amnesty or whether he retired medically. The difference is…if he was cut via amnesty other teams had the opportunity to pick him up off waiver and he wouldn’t get to pick which team he goes to, so that might not have been too appealing to Brandon as an alternative.

AC: After this year is up, it’s not that Brandon Roy will never ever play again in the NBA:

TP: That’s an interesting question. Yes, he could always play again. Whether he’s cut via amnesty or whether he retired medically because you can’t ever sign an agreement that prevents the players from coming back for sure, anytime in the future. One of the issues with knees is that you never really know how the knee’s going to react. It’s feasible Brandon could come back for another team in the future.

AC: Final thoughts:

TP: What Brandon’s meant to this franchise, to this city, is really what needs to be celebrated. It’s sad that he’s having to retire early, but what he did for Rip City, reviving it, bringing it back, we owe him gratitude for that. This franchise is in really good shape going forward, but it is sad to see Brandon leave.

Occupy Portland Damage to Parks

As I reported today on the growing costs of Occupy Portland, I learned from City Commissioner Nick Fish that the best estimate for damage done to Chapman and Lownsdale parks is still $19,000 – but that was an assessment done three weeks ago.

Fish says after this weekend’s expected removal of the Occupiers, it will take a week to fully clear the parks of their property, assess damage, and make plans for restoration. He says it could take many months to repair what’s been harmed, and some work can’t be done until the spring.

He says he’s also hearing from the public and local businesses who want to help in that effort — people who support the Occupy Movement with individuals pledging amounts like $15 and $40. Tomorrow, look for a push from the city to donate money for park restoration through the Portland Parks Foundation.

Question: will you or your business put forth cash to help repair the damage to the downtown parks?

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