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Weekly Ministry Focus
Recorder returned, but will theft go unpunished?
Bakersfield police returned a digital voice recorder to Terri Palmquist on Tuesday April 11, 2006, 22 days after it was stolen from her by a BPD officer, Sgt. Brad Roark. When Roark forcibily took the recorder from Palmquist as she ministered to pregnant women on the public sidewalk outside Bakersfield's "Family Planning Associates" abortion chamber, he said that the District Attorney would be filing criminal charges against her. News broadcasts that evening quoted BPD representatives as stating that Palmquist would soon be arrested.
This voice recorder has now been returned to Terri Palmquist.
No BPD representatives have yet informed Palmquist that the District Attorney's office decided not to file charges, but a media representative Tuesday showed Palmquist a BPD press release dated April 11 which stated that on April 7 "the District Attorney's office decided not to file criminal charges against Mrs. Palmquist."
"I knew all along that I didn't do anything wrong," Terri explained, "but in the past I have gone through months of court hearings before the police and DA admitted I was innocent, so I wouldn't have been surprised if false charges had been filed against me again." Although BPD officials refused to allow Terri to file a crime report for theft and battery against Roark, Terri did file a complaint against Roark with the BPD Internal Affairs Department.
"Even though he was wearing a uniform, it seems obvious to us that Roark committed a crime and that he should be held accountable for his actions," Tim Palmquist asserted. "Now that the recording of the incident has been returned to us, we have clear evidence that Roark had no legitimate reason to seize Terri's recorder." Tim met with BPD Chief Bill Rector and Assistant Chief Brian Lynn a few days after the incident.
No apology has yet been received from the Bakersfield Police Department. "In fact, they haven't even given us the courtesy of informing us of the DA's decision not to file charges," Tim said. "We only know about this because of the BPD press release, which was sent to the media but not to us."
The BPD press release directs questions about the case to Deputy District Attorney Mike Vendrasco, but Vendrasko's outgoing voice mail message asks callers not to leave messages, explaining that he will be gone until April 18.
The Bakersfield Californian reported on the incident in their
April 12 "Around the county" column, quoting a BPD statement which claims that
"it is illegal to record parties without their consent."
"If recording anybody without consent were illegal, news reporters break the law every day," Tim noted.
But in fact, under California Penal Code Section 632, recordings are not
illegal unless there is a reasonable expectation of privacy (and conversations
on public sidewalks are assumed not to be private).
Tammy Brown of KUZZ radio (Buck Owens Broadcasting) was the only reporter on the
scene on the day of the incident. Brown was also the only reporter present when police returned
the recorder to Terri, playing an excerpt from the controversial
recording on KUZZ news.
"We appreciate attorney Catherine Short of Life Legal Defense Foundation for
the key help she has provided to us throughout these recent incidents," Tim and
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