Letter: Prosecuted for Protecting

One year ago, on this date, I was acquitted on 6 counts of violating a visitation order and 6 additional counts of child deprivation/concealment. The jury found me NOT GUILTY on all 12 counts. This all came about from a local law enforcement agency(which will remain nameless, due to a civil action) and the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, for protecting my child from further abuse.

In July of 2012, as a police officer(mandated reporter) and mother, I reported my child’s abuse to a local law enforcement agency, which handled the cases “inappropriately”, to say the least. Instead, I became the focus of the investigation for not allowing my child visitation with his abuser, until it could get investigated. I was refused protection for my child, so my only option was to keep him safe to avoid further abuse. If I had sent my child to the abuser, I could have been charged with failing to protect/child endangerment.

Having served as a law enforcement officer and a detective in the County of Tulare, for nearly 15 years, I was in complete and utter shock at what this was turning into and my child that became invisible to the District Attorney’s Office, under the D.A. Tim Ward. I did not expect preferential treatment. The only thing I expected was fairness and justice for my child.

My case was not sent out to another county, like we’ve heard started recently. My case was not “rejected” outright, like we’ve heard of recently. My case was prosecuted, I feel, maliciously. I was held to a very high standard during my career and took my duties to serve and protect seriously. I was given the authority to protect the children in our community, but was not allowed the same right as any other citizen in my position under Marsy’s Law Victim’s Rights…protection for my child. In fact, I was punished for it. When I was initially charged with the 6 counts of violating a visitation order I thought, under the circumstances, the case would’ve been rejected because I had attempted several times to get an emergency protection order and/or a temporary restraining order. To my surprise, I found out through my attorney the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office doubled-down on my initial charges by adding 6 child deprivation/concealment charges. I had never heard of that happening in the 15 years as a police officer or as a detective, unless a parent or family member fled to an undisclosed location with the child and concealed the child’s whereabouts. I realized quickly what was going on and it was very ugly. (Due to civil action against a local government agency, I cannot disclose further).

Once I was found not guilty and acquitted on all 12 counts, and quite frankly put through a parent’s living hell, I contacted D.A. Tim Ward himself. I pleaded for him to review my child’s abuse cases and use the abuser’s own testimony and evidence to prosecute him. I was telephoned later by Ward’s “messenger” advising me they didn’t think or believe they could get a conviction. I was appalled. I was disappointed. I was disgusted.

My little boy did not get the protection or the justice he so deserved. I not only speak out for my child, but for others. THIS IS NOT JUSTICE. This is just wrong, on so many levels. THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENS BEHIND THE SCENES.

How would you feel if it were your child or the child of a loved one?

Jennifer Salmon

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