453 How should this be handled?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

According to the AP, Deidre Romine is a mentally challenged woman who lives in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Out of work, with the rent coming up on her small apartment, and with four cats to "raise and ... feed" so she says, she spotted some coins lying in the water of the fountain outside the Logan County Courthouse.

"The money didn't belong to anybody," she says, "so I just took it out of there."

Then along came a policeman who asked her what she was doing. "Soon as the cop asked me what I was doing," Deidre says, "I was afraid to tell him."

The policeman searched her, found $2.87 in change in her pocket, charged her with petty theft, and gave her a summons for a court appearance. Her trial date is November 25. The city of Bellefontaine is listed as the victim in the case.

"I might go to jail," Deidre says.

Yes, Deidre, in today's world you just might.

How do you feel this should have been handled?

And what should happen now?


Pat Randall 3 years, 3 months ago

The officer should have reached in his pocket and gave her $10.00. Then went on his way.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

Pat, Bernice. Doggone right!

Or he at least could have just told the poor woman that people weren't allowed to take the change out of the fountain and asked her not to do it again. Anything other than arresting her, for crying out loud! That's just a mindless application of the letter of the law instead of using common sense.

If there even is such a law. Who says who that money belongs to? People threw those coins in there, probably mostly kids. If you toss a nickel into a fountain is it no longer yours? Does it belong to anyone except the person who sees it an picks it back out?

Plus which, where was the authority to search her? How about the 4th amendment? And three bucks? Are you kidding? Plus which, since she is mentally challenged I;d like to now how any statement he got out of her could be used in court. What a fiasco!

As I said, this story was from the AP. I'm trying to track down what the local media are saying about it. I always do that with AP press releases that I find. It's the only way to get the "rest of the story." Sometimes can't get that, but it's always worth a try.

Haven't quite had time to do much about it so far (been sick with flu), but I'll track it down. I'm feeling better. It may take a day or two, though; I'm just recovering after about two weeks and there's always the possibility of a relapse. Truth is, the only reason I have kept up with the forum is because working is better than just lying around in pain with a fever and diarrhea; keeps your mind off yourself.

Soon as I find something I'll let you know.

In the meantime, I'd be curious to know how you think the city will handle it.

I've at least found out something about Bellefontaine, Ohio (you figure that means "beautiful fountain?). It's the county seat of Logan County. It only has 11,300 people. And I managed to dig up a pic of the Logan County Courthouse and the fountain where the poor woman got into trouble. (Never mind the question. My Mac has a language translator; "belle fontaine" means beautiful fountain all right.)

Take a look at the "crime scene" and ask yourself whether or not it looks like a place where anyone would care what someone was doing as long as she wasn't doing something loud or obviously harmful. Lolly and I sat on the edge of a fountain almost identical to that one in Kansas City, Kansas one time back in 1967 or 1968 while our two kids splashed their hands in the water and oooed and oohed at the change people had tossed into it. We gave then some to toss in. It was fun for them, and for us too, and we had seen some obviously poor person picking up coins we'd have no doubt said that it was a nice thing to see. We sure as hell wouldn't have called a cop.

Here's the link:


Looks like a real den of iniquity, doesn't it? What do you think the town will do?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

I am SO happy to be able to report this to you!

Read this a,b,c.

a. As of today, Deidre, who is helped by a state agency, but has had trouble keeping a job, now has a brand new job. Doug Creek, who runs Club 151 in Bellefontaine, offered Deidre a job doing general cleaning, one she happily accepted. "Everyone deserves a second chance," Doug says, "and we try and do what we can for the community."

b. Deidre is also now the possessor of more than $10,000 in donations.

c. Local attorney Zach Swisher has agreed to handle Deidre's case pro bono.

And a D! Because Deidre is mentally challenged and is losing her apartment, part of the donated money will be used to buy a trailer for her and her cats; the plan is to put the rest into a trust fund that someone will help Deidre with to make sure it is well spent.

But how could all that happen in such a short time?

WBNS-TV, Channel 10 in Ohio took up Deidre Romine's case, broadcast her story, and has done what only the press can do. When WBNS-TV 10's Shelby Croft reported the story, and did it the right way — with compassion — donations came pouring in, along with offers of help.

The media has the power to drag something out of the shadows and hold it up to the light of reason. The action of Channel 10 says, as clearly as it can be said: "Laws are good, laws are necessary, laws must be obeyed, but they can never be allowed to stand above the people they were written to serve." And that goes not only for those of us who can make our way through life on our own, but also for those who need a helping hand now and then.

Freedom of the Press is a cherished part of our freedom. Some think it is the keystone of American liberty. It is beyond doubt a voice which we must never allow to be silenced. Only the media has the power to protect us from the hidden abuses which creep into society when power is misused or used without common sense.

According to Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish philosopher, writer, historian, and teacher during the Victorian era, Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament, on the opening day of press reporting in the House of Commons in 1887, stood up and spoke in reference to the traditional three estates of Parliament: The Lords Spiritual, the Lords Temporal, and the Commons, and said there were Three Estates in Parliament, but "in the Reporters' Gallery yonder" there sat a Fourth Estate "more important far than they all."

He was right!

Channel 10, I am proud of you, and I am proud to be a tiny part of that Fourth Estate of which Edmund Burke spoke, and of which you, and other television stations like you which use that power as it should be used, are the very essence.

At the moment, by the way, the town of Bellefontaine is saying that it believes the matter of Deidre's summons will soon be cleared up. I'll follow up for you.

Be honest, folks; how often do you see that kind of justice?

And how else could it happen?

Or in what other country?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

I just wondered how many of you took note of this phrase "which you, and other television stations like you which use that power as it should be used..."

Can you tell me what I meant by it?


Jane Wilcox 3 years, 3 months ago

So glad I popped in today, Tom. This is humanity at it's lowest and finest. Thanks for the post. Triumph by the generous, compassionate people of this great country.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

You're welcome, Jane.

We complain a lot about television news media because some stations tend to lean too much to one side in their reporting, and that's not really what news should be (although editorial comment is fine), but we usually miss out on the times when a station takes something that we would never know about, airs it, embarrasses someone who is abusing his or her power, and suddenly backtracks when caught at it.

I'm betting that the city drops the case. There should never have been a case in the firt place.

Come to think of it, you coined a nice phrase there "humanity at it's lowest and finest." Nice going!


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