Details have begun to emerge in the case of homeschoolers Richard and Margie Cressy, who were arrested for child endangerment by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office because they didn’t submit the proper paperwork.
Two stories have piqued my interest. The first is by Trina Darling who paraphrased the conversation of Richard Cressy when he called and spoke with local talk-show host Al Roney. Darling has done a good job of covering this story from the beginning. The second is a letter to the editor written by the sheriff of Montgomery County, Michael Amato, who felt compelled, like Fonda-Fultonville Central School Superintendent Hoffman, to “clarify” misconceptions about this story since it’s gone national.
As these two versions of events appear to be in conflict with one another, I’m taking quotes from each story and re-arranging them to highlight the differences. Those headed “Richard Cressy” are from the Trina Darling paraphrase. Those headed “Sheriff Amato” are from his letter to the editor. I have also interspersed my own comments because … it’s my blog and I can.
These arrests were made for not meeting the responsibilities required by the state of New York for home schooling and for the protection of minor children.
Cressy said that when they moved to the town of Glen, they did not register with the Fonda-Fultonville School district. His reason was because when they lived in the Gloversville School district, the GSD didn’t really get involved with them, or seem to care much about it.
Everyone, including the Cressy’s, acknowledge that they had not submitted paperwork, which could be stretched to fit Amato’s “not meeting the responsibilities required by the state of New York for home schooling.” The “protection of minor children” and the child endangerment charges themselves, however, have not been justified. Amato’s own letter confirmed that the children were not removed from the home, which would have happened if they had been in any danger. In fact, from the same Darling article, Cressy stated that when they were arrested, they had already satisfied all the requirements of the school, and CPS was satisfied. The sherriff’s department would not let it go.
It is alleged that the Cressys … could not provide adequate proof that the education of their children had taken place.
Cressy was especially upset that the investigator [Gilston] reported to the media (Schenectady Gazette) that he had seen very little sign of schooling at the Cressy home, because when Gilston was at their home, they tried to show him their home school materials, and started getting out books and supplies, and he responded to them that he didn’t need to look at it, and then turned around and reported that he had seen very little evidence.
People usually see what they want to see, as any good investigator who has interviewed witnesses will confirm.
The Cressys were simply issued appearance tickets to appear in court for violating a law
Richard and Margie met with the FFSD and got everything set for “now on”. In spite of that, Investigator Gilston told them that it was quite possible that the sheriff’s department would make an example out of them, and this way, it won’t happen in the future. Cressy said that Gilston made this statement a few days before their arrest. He also stated that the sheriff’s department had wanted to arrest them right before Christmas, but that Montgomery County CPS had talked them out of it, so they had waited until after Christmas. Cressy continued by saying that CPS had been very helpful to his family, helping them to get back on track, legal with the school board and the state, but that the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department just wouldn’t seem to let it pass, or let it go.
“Simply issued appearance tickets” sounds so innocuous. In fact, they were fingerprinted, their mugshots were sent with a press release to several local news outlets, and Investigator Gilston was giving interviews – all to make a point. The Cressy’s now have an arrest record, they have lost their privacy, and their lives have been completely disrupted – not to mention the effect this all has had on their children.
The sheriff and staff of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office are required to enforce the law. It is the sworn duty to investigate reported violations and make arrests when that law is violated. The goal of enforcement is to hold those in violation accountable for their actions and attempt to prevent it from occurring in the future.
Quite frankly, this is a load of hogwash. Every sheriff’s officer has the discretion to arrest, to warn, or to ignore. In addition, there are multiple laws on the books that are rarely, if ever, enforced – including adultery. If they decide to enforce that one, then half the sheriff’s department will probably wind up in jail.
It’s worth noting that this is the same Sheriff’s office, with the same Sheriff, who cost Montgomery County millions in a class-action lawsuit over their policy of strip searching everybody they could get their hands on.
A class action lawsuit was filed against the county on behalf of people who were strip searched in jail while facing only minor charges. U.S. District Judge David Hurd issued a permanent injunction barring the Montgomery County Jail from routinely requiring inmates charged with minor crimes to strip and shower in front of a guard. Montgomery County agreed to put $2 million into a fund to pay claims from people strip searched between April 29, 2000 and March 25, 2005. Inmates jailed on misdemeanors, violations, traffic infractions, probation or parole violations or other minor crimes and civil matters are eligible to make claims. (Aug-23-06) [NEWSDAY]
Shame on you, Mike Amato. Shame on you, Bill Gilston. Go find some real criminals and leave the Cressy’s alone.