Count among the few things that have cheered me recently, this excellent article in Newsweek on the Troopergate scandal. Despite the fact that I have been following every aspect of this sordid tale available in the Anchorage media, there were a couple things I didn’t know.
Court documents show that Judge Suddock was disturbed by the alleged attacks by Palin and her family members on Wooten’s behavior and character. “Disparaging will not be tolerated—it is a form of child abuse,” the judge told a settlement hearing in October 2005, according to typed notes of the proceedings. The judge added: “Relatives cannot disparage either. If occurs [sic] the parent needs to set boundaries for their relatives.”
and later in the article
As the divorce case dragged on, the judge’s concern about family “disparagement” appeared to deepen. In an order signed Jan. 31, 2006, which granted Palin’s sister and Wooten a final divorce decree, Judge Suddock continued to express concern about attacks by Palin’s family on Wooten. The judge even threatened to curb Palin’s sister’s child custody rights if family criticism of Wooten continued.
In monitoring how a joint-custody arrangement worked out, the judge said in his order that he would pay particular attention to problems noted by a “custody investigator,” specifically “the disparagement of the father [Wooten] by the mother [Molly Hackett, Sarah Palin’s sister] and her family members.”
“It is the mother’s [Hackett’s] responsibility to set boundaries for her relatives and insure [sic] they respect them, and the disparagement by either parent, or their surrogates is emotional child abuse,” Judge Suddock wrote. He added that: “If the court finds it is necessary due to disparagement in the Mat-Su Valley [the area north of Anchorage where Palin and her extended family live], for the children’s best interests, it [the court] will not hesitate to order custody to the father and a move into Anchorage.”
Judges and custody investigators don’t threaten things like that lightly.
It’s fascinating as stories begin to emerge from the national media. Alaskans are gasping a bit. They’re not used to the national attention, and they’re not used to what it sounds like to get an objective opinion. As an Anchorage resident, I can tell you it’s hard to be objective in a town with only 94,000 households. Everyone knows everyone, or knows someone who knows them.
There were a couple things, though, that the story didn’t say. One has to do with the infamous tasering incident in which Trooper Wooten is accused of ‘tasering his 11-year old son’. When you hear about someone tasering an 11-year old, or even ‘allegedly’ tasering an 11-year old, it’s pretty hard to give them the benefit of the doubt. That’s why I was glad that the head of the Public Safety Employees Association, John Cyr, was interviewed two days ago on KUDO radio, and explained the seemingly unforgivable tasering event.
First, the incident happened when the boy asked to see what it felt like, and prove to his friends that he wasn’t a “Mama’s Boy”. Wooten agreed to do it. According to Cyr, Wooten was a taser instructor, and used a training cartridge on the lightest setting and used alligator clips on the boys shirt, rather than the usual skin contacts. The burst was less than one second. Wooten’s wife was in the room at the time, and the entire family knew of the incident. It became an issue ONLY when divorce papers were filed. Wooten acknowledged bad judgment and was disciplined.
Another accusation that gets mentioned frequently is that Wooten was drinking beer in his squad car. This charge was investigated by an independent investigator who found the charge to be “unsustained”. However, Colonel Julia Grimes, who reviewed the investigation, decided to change the finding of the report to “sustained”. She changed the report on her own and gave no reason. When John Cyr, who, in 30 years, had never seen a member of the command staff change the report asked her why she did it. She replied, “Are you willing to call Sarah Palin a liar?” He said, “yes”. She didn’t respond, and the report stayed changed.
It’s interesting to note that Grimes had received a two page typed email from Palin in 2005, calling Wooten a ‘loose canon’ and a ‘ticking timebomb’, discussing his marital infidelity and a host of accusations which have since been investigated. All allegations were settled in 2006 after a thorough investigation. The investigation resulted in a misdemeanor game violation, and improper use of state equipment. No charges or complaints have ever been filed against Wooten by any member of the public, other than the Palin family and friends, according to Cyr.
Read the email Palin sent to Col. Julia Grimes – HERE.