sports

Still waiting for justice in soccer sexual abuse cases

Juan Ramos is a former pro soccer player — once drafted by the Miami Fusion — who embarked on a youth soccer coaching career.

In 2016, he was arrested and pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault by a custodian (not in the parental sex) with a sexual battery victim over 12 and under 18. The allegations: In 2003, he started a sexual relationship with a player he was training, and that continued for four years. When the alleged relationship started, the girl was 13 years old.

That arrest was five years ago. So where do we stand now?

When I checked in a year ago, the prosecution had offered evidence that Ramos admitted to sexual activity. The defense had countered that the accuser can’t give specific dates and also stalked Ramos.

But even before COVID-19 took its toll on court dockets around the country, this case had been continued and continued.

Things took a twist in March, when Ramos’ lawyer, Kevin Kulik, moved to drop his client, citing irreconcilable differences. That filing didn’t seem to change anything. The defense got another continuance in April. On May 1, the court set a Zoom hearing date of July 15, with Kulik still listed as the attorney. And on July 15, the defense got another continuance.

The next court date: Oct. 14.

Could such delays be helping the prosecution? They’ve filed three supplemental discovery documents, each including nothing but a single name and address.

However, the Assistant State Attorney prosecuting the case is now on family leave until Jan. 10. (Congratulations!)

And yet …

The court date set for Oct. 14 went forward as planned. And Ramos didn’t show.

A warrant is out to bring him in.

Might we finally see some action on this case? Is Kulik still his lawyer? Will they stick with the “a teenager was stalking me” defense?

Meanwhile, Shelby Garigen, the soccer trainer who was arrested when she turned up to have sex with a player who was above the age of consent for having sex but apparently not for sending pics on Snapchat, is still in prison. She hired a new lawyer who smashed the prosecution case in his filings, painting a convincing case that the parents of the “victim” leaned rather heavily on their status as prosecutors to bend the rules. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Western New York responded by adding a lawyer to its team.

The case is scheduled for Jan. 17. We’ll see if she actually gets her day in court before her scheduled release in September 2023.

Yes, I’ve written about all this before. Still waiting for someone to explain to me how this isn’t a massive double-standard. Still waiting for someone in the media to ask a few questions about their local courts.

Note: I’m moving ALL my blogging, except as it relates to the X Marks the Pod podcast, here to Mostly Modern Media, which I’ve kept since the mid-aughts.

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Contrarian talk: The epic cease-and-desist response from West Orange, N.J.

The great law blog Above the Law has a funny exchange between a big bullying government employee and a private citizen’s pro bono attorney.

Or is the pro bono attorney the bully?

Here’s the original exchange, in which a town attorney asks a local citizen (and one-time town council candidate) Jake Freivald to stop using the domain name westorange.info because it could be confused with an official site. As blogger Staci Zaretsky points out, the attorney’s letter has the occasional typo and some mangled legalese.

So then one Stephen B. Kaplitt, a fancy New York lawyer, stepped up on behalf of Mr. Freivald with three pages of snark and ridicule. In the first two paragraphs alone, he faux-congratumalates the town rep on his “legal satire,” then immediately jumps into victim mode, dropping the words “bully” and “big meanie.”

Just when you start to think we don’t need to take Mr. Kaplitt seriously, he lists 14 sites that also use “westorange” in the domain name, of which maybe two sites (at most) could reasonably be confused with a government site. Reading comprehension may be a dying art, but I don’t think someone who goes to westorangemassagetherapy.com is expecting Town Council info.

Mr. Kaplitt continues with a remarkably weak First Amendment argument, begging the question of how Mr. Freivald’s constitutional rights would be trampled if he used the domain name westorangechat.com or westorangeantitaxers.org instead of westorange.info.

Then it’s typically snide stuff — a rip on the township lawyer’s choice of words, a reference to the bar exam, a shot at the ACLU, and a couple of off-topic jabs at the township government.

(Gee, you mean this guy is ultimately all about tax bleating? I’m shocked!)

I don’t mean to say the people involved have no sense of humor except at the expense of others. If you go to westorange.info now, you’ll see this:

  • No, this is not the official web site of West Orange, New Jersey.

  • Nor is it the official or unofficial web site of the West Oranges of FL, TX, or CA. Nothing against those guys — just not what I’m here for.

Good stuff. Then he starts whining that this issue was in the Huffington Post before it was in The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, a recent law grad has written the response letter that the township lawyer should have written but probably won’t. And he cites actual relevant case law instead of just smacking this poor dude around and beating his chest about the First Amendment.

So who’s the bully? I’m inclined to think it’s not Mr. Richard D. Trenk, who probably sent this out as a routine bit of legal business and had no idea he would end up as the legal equivalent of the news reporter who fell out off the platform while she was stomping grapes.

I for one salute Mr. Trenk, a guy just doing his job. And is probably right on the merits of the case. But he used the phrase “guided accordingly,” and for that, he must be punished. So sayeth the Web.

cynicism, web

Want to get famous? Sue The Oatmeal!

It’s an old story:

1. Lawyer reviews Aggregation Site, finds that Creative Site has complained about Aggregation Site’s copyright infringement.

2. Lawyer demands Creative Site send Aggregation Site $20,000, or else we’ll all to court.

3. Creative Site tells lawyer to stuff it, deciding instead that he’s going to raise $20,000 for charity. He ends up raising 10-11 times that much.

4. Lawyer sues Creative Site, not on behalf of Aggregation Site but on his own accord, claiming “cyber-vandalism.”

5. Entire Internet convulses with laughter.

6. Lawyer drops suit. (Ars Technica | TechCrunch)

7. Lawyer claims victory, saying he’s now famous. (By that standard, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton worked extremely hard to gain their places in the public eye.)

There was a hint of Lawyer Charles Carreon’s strategy in this Washington Post blog post June 18: “Carreon tells Comic Riffs one of his goals is to become the go-to attorney for people who feel they have been cyber-vandalized or similarly wronged on the Internet.”

As we’ve seen in the media, it doesn’t matter if 98% of the people who know your name think ill of you. As long as the other 2% give you money.

So should we mention that Carreon’s site includes a questionable framing of the Mercury News site?

comedy, creativity, web

The Oatmeal doesn’t take the law into his own hands – he takes it to charity

It’ll be difficult to sum up the case of FunnyJunk v The Oatmeal any better than The Oatmeal does. It’s your standard “cartoonist complains about work being stolen, accused content thief gets all huffy, cartoonist laughs a little and lets it go, accused content thief threatens defamation suit” story.

That post is a must-read, mostly because it contains The Oatmeal’s entire defense (in one word, truth, but that’s not as amusing, and The Oatmeal includes things like “evidence” and “rebuttals that show a basic understanding of how the Web works”). Instead of paying the $20,000 that the lawyer demands, The Oatmeal decides to hold a fund-raiser to get a bunch of money and split it between the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. Those two charities must be ecstatic today.

So how have the titans of new media responded? Let’s see who sides with The Oatmeal: Boing Boing, Uproxx, Gawker … and FunnyJunk commenters. That could hurt.

The second must-read in this case, though, is from the TODAY show’s Digital Life blog. They got comments not only from The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman) but FunnyJunk’s lawyer, Charles Carreon. (Shouldn’t the lawyer in this case be named Vulture rather than Carreon?) Mr. Carreon has carved out quite a career in Internet law, and yet he is stunned by the legions of people who have sent him nasty email.

(Even though, if you read the original Oatmeal summation of this case, you’ll find that FunnyJunk readers did exactly the same thing to Inman.)

Does this sort of legal reasoning, which seems peculiarly ignorant to those with an ounce of knowledge in this area, hold water in court? Don’t ask me — I covered the Borislow-WPS case.

(Please pardon the shoutout to The People’s Court in the headline. Yes, I know it’s a stretch.)