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Kat’s Blog: Accusations

A recent story out of Logan, Utah got me thinking about how those who are wrongly accused, whether a registrant or not a registrant, are treated so vastly different in the eyes of the world.

On April 23, 62 yr. old Michael Fife (not a registrant) was killed after being accused of a sexual assault aboard a Cache Valley Transit District bus.  A 16 yr. old female called her 17 yr. old brother and told him that she had been sexually assault by Fife.  A few minutes later, the brother met Fife’s bus as Fife exited at his bus stop. Fife exited the bus and was “linebacker-charged” by the 17 yr. old, knocked to the ground, hitting his head on the sidewalk and sustaining what would turn out to be fatal injuries.  Michael Fife died at the hospital on April 27 from his injuries. A GoFundMe page was set up to help cover expenses.

 The suspect left the scene while Michael Fife lay on the ground.

Once investigators reviewed surveillance video from the bus, it showed Fife walking past the girl but no sexual assault taking place.

Because the two young people involved, one the accuser and the other the instigator of the assault, are juveniles, their names have not been released and there is no mention of the type of charges either might be facing.  According to the police,” even if the girl’s story were true, it’s never an excuse for something like this.”

Mr. Fife‘s son, Michael Fife Jr. said he had no idea why this happened but was glad that the accusation isn’t hanging over his father’s name.  “I don’t even know why he was being hit, he said. Something definitely needs to be done because this stuff can’t happen.  I mean, especially over an allegation.”

But this stuff does happen.  It happens to registrants all the time. Allegations, accusations, are made all the time.

Imagine if the accused had been a registrant.  The news story would have been written a lot differently.

The news media would have had a field day with the headlines, “sex offender, sexual predator, re-offender, child molester”, even though the registrant was innocent.

Police and John Q. Public would immediately assume that a sexual assault had taken place because after all, it’s a registrant and the only information about registrants that the public has heard over and over is from Supreme Court Justices who still believe that registrants are “highly likely” to re-offend.

 The video from the transit bus would have “accidently on purpose” been lost or somehow irretrievable, making it impossible to prove the registrant innocent of the accusation.

And when the accusation was finally determined to have been false, would anyone care that the registrant’s “good name” had been cleared? Alive or dead, does a registrant ever get their “good name” back?  

How likely is it that anyone would have started a GoFundMe page for a dead or dying registrant?

If a registrant had been accused, people reading the article would most likely assume there was more to the story than meets the eye, some might even say “he got what he deserved”.

What would a 16 yr. old accuse a stranger of a sexual assault that never happened? Why would anyone at any age make any accusation like that? Do we blame it on age, call it a prank that went too far?  Accusations like this come from all different age levels, no rhyme or reason for them, just people being stupid, vindictive or malicious.

In this case, accusations with no basis led to the death of an innocent human being who was not a registrant, a man who was minding his own business taking the bus. A man doing nothing more than trying to live his life was murdered because of an accusation.

 It happens to registrants every day.

 

Join the discussion

  1. Harry

    “…but was glad that the accusation isn’t hanging over his father’s name.” It was ONLY because this bus did have video system, as many do not, Mr. Fife would have been presumed guilty and the killing would have been justified. It most likely this little “sweet child” will be believed by many, including the police and the DA, in split of the video, because “children do not lie about this stuff”.

  2. Dustin

    This circumstance isn’t all that unusual; the only real difference is that the falsely accused was killed. Betting the bus video only surfaced because of the murder investigation. If Fife hadn’t died, more than likely he would have been convicted for some kind of sexual assault and subsequently registered, as Kat set forth above. The politics of the moment have dictated that no sexual assault investigation is taken seriously unless the accusation is accepted as fact right from the start.

    The problem is that when the result is already determined, investigation is both faulty and pointless. The accused is now in the position of having to prove the negative, an already difficult if not impossible task. Anything suggesting or even outright establishing innocence is disbelieved, overlooked, or hidden.

    The solution is ridiculously simple. Just require some kind of corroboration to the accusation, as with any other type of crime. It should stand to reason that whether or not a non-witnessing third party believes the accuser is not corroboration.

    The false accuser in this case should be an exception to the laws precluding the public release of her name. It’s entirely possible that this was the first time she had ever falsely accused. However, if she expected her brother to do something in response, I would presume this wasn’t the first time. Personally, I think the names of repeat false accusers should be publicized.

    Not registered, mind you. Registration would require her to check in periodically, update her information, and all the other nonsense we as registrants have to endure. But I do think there should be something available showing false accusation history or pattern.

  3. TS

    Actually, Michael Fife was registered according to his son (along with court records) and was not far from being removed from it. There are several sites (regional news and other) that still show him as a registrant along with news articles that don’t mention it.

    Homeless veteran who died after assault remembered for art, complex life

    https://www.hjnews.com/news/crime_courts/man-who-died-after-alleged-assault-remembered-for-art-complex/article_a7ed1ac4-ba18-5954-b78b-121ce9f131a8.html

  4. kat

    TS-
    Thanks for the news about M. Fife actually being a registrant. The article I used to write this blog made no mention of that. How strange.

    • Q

      Would not be good to point out the registry has other uses that essentially paint a target on a registrant. Poor reporting often involves those who fail to do fact finding.

    • TS (@kat & @Q)

      @Kat,

      No problem. The registrant fact is not relevant to the story overall, IMO, UNLESS the complainant used that as her basis or part of her basis for accusing the deceased victim because she knew he would ride that bus or was popular in Logan as it is noted. If this was sadistic vigilante justice because her brother was involved in his manner and she was the bait, then this needs to be known. A FOIA request of her & his interviews and the police report would be helpful to possibly understand her & his motive(s). They may not grant this currently as they decide what to do with her and him, but in the end, one could get them and they will become known in court if that is the route taken. Following up needs to happen on this story.

      @Q,

      Poor reporting by whom? Your premise is correct, but there could be use of data that is actually pertinent to the story and those that are click bait inducing details which don’t add to the story. Unless we know the reasons by the journalists who used the details or not, it will be speculation.

      The other uses are already well known in their painting tactics as illustrated by history of vigilante justice against those impacted by the registry, as Janice highlighted last weekend with her commentary. I will take this a step further to say it does not need to be a registry entry for the painting to happen, but merely an article or word of mouth for it to happen with possible negative impacts.

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