How one day made the difference for Rodney

This writer chuckled as Rodney complained in his alleged Youtube video recant of being put up in a Hastings bed and breakfast after he allegedly told prosecutors he was being followed. Some wondered how he could complain. A sojourn in a B&B is great, right? Rodney, rather bizarrely, it was wrong for taxpayers to pay the bill to put him up in the B&B.

I wondered how anyone thinks a 19 year old is going to be happy cooped up anywhere, especially a staid bed and breakfast in Hastings! Talk about gilded house arrest.

February 10, 2012 marked a stunning change for position Rodney the recanting witness holds in the criminal case against Michael Terpening.

The original allegations involving Rodney are not Criminal Sexual Conduct in the first degree. These charges, while they may put Terpening behind bars for a few years, are minor compared to the latest charges involving a then 10 year old foster child of Terpening's aunt; Criminal Sexual Conduct, first degree, two counts.

The State of Michigan, in prosecuting Mr. Terpening, believes they caught a man who began abusing children more than 10 years ago. Terpening then sets up an agency, ostensibly, to victimize male wards of the state.  If one believes Terpening was abusing state wards ten years ago, is it a surprise to anyone the state believes he set up the organization to procure vulnerable young men ? We note, while there are currently five victims in the criminal case, as well as  two more alleged victims of Terpening's foster home which did not result in criminal charges going back about ten years.

Having worked in child welfare this writer can share something most people won't realize. You pick your kids. Kids are not just randomly sent by courts to places like Earth Services, The House Next Door. Michael Terpening would have met with and talked to the kids who came into his program. These  kids are in tough places looking to get out and move on. Michael Terpening would have been their ticket. Those interviews are rarely selling the kids on your program, it is usually the kid selling himself on to you telling you just what a great match he would be for you. If Michael Terpening was into buying vulnerable young men, they walked into The House Next Door indebted to Michael Terpening.

We really have no law to fit Terpening's crime, if he used wards of the state  to satisfy himself. The State of Michigan beleives it has a prolific predator going after some of the most vulnerable members of our society, kids not likely to share what he's done, and only two of the fourteen charges put this alleged monster off the streets for any significant period of time.

Enter the Terpening Followers and Rodney's recant...If the recant is genuine, smart, lawyerly, handling of Rodney's recant would have made news, it would have brought the entire case into question, and it would have forced the prosecutor to have to address some serious questions in its case. Terpening's lawyer would have contacted the prosecutor, they would have deposed Rodney under oath, and in all likelihood, a couple of charges would have been dropped as Rodney left the case. Rodney would then appear as a defense witness to talk about his allegations about the prosecutor's handling of the case; a  bombshell going off, court room drama at its best hitting the news. In the words of the late Johnny Chochran referring to the glove found at the murder scene the prosecutor forced Simpson to try on in court, "If it does not fit, you must acquit."

A smart, lawyerly exquisite play by a skilled member of the defense bar.

With the Barry County Prosecutor stepping aside, Rodney can no longer claim he is being used by the prosecutor to lie about Michael Terpening. The Attorney General can choose to take Rodney out of the case by dropping a couple of relatively minor charges. Rodney can still appear for the defense to say he made it up with another resident of the program, but the allegations of evil, "doings" by the prosecutor are moot. We got a taste from the February 12, 2012 hearing what may not be moot; the questions of witness tampering brought up by the Attorney General in stating she was concerned about the allegations as she addressed the court.

If Rodney was manipulated by Terpening and his Followers, Rodney will get to explain those facts to the Attorney General's office. How did Follower and recant videographer, Jen, now the former Terpening Followers, come to be in the car as Rodney recanted? What was Jamie Moore Bell doing in the car, a co-defendant of Michael Terpening for the allegations of insurance fraud? Were promises made to Rodney? Were promises delivered? Who were the alleged representatives of this 19 year old, approaching local media, the Village Thinker says was practically homeless?

More importantly, if Rodney requires protection from Michael Terpening and the Followers, the Michigan Attorney General has the resources and experience to protect witnesses from perpetrators. In other words, Rodney, can escape whatever bargain he may have made with the devil if the devil came calling; and it will not take the form of a gilded cage in Hastings.

If Terpening and the Followers tampered with Rodney, more charges will be coming.  What Rodney tells the Attorney General can add years to any sentence for daring to interfere with justice.

What Rodney says may also add defendants. Jen, now the former Terpening Followers, spilled her life story to this writer, when she called, in little more than a fifteen minute conversation. Is it likely she holds her tongue when this two time drunk driver, who fancies herself a sexual abuse victim advocate, faces charges of obstruction of justice, witness tampering or other charges? Will Jamie Moore Bell trumpet her support for Michael if she stands to go to prison for far more than insurance fraud? What will Mike and Linda Timmons tell the Attorney General about how they came to appear on video with Rodney?

Michael Terpening had a tough case before Friday's hearing. Rodney was a possible player in a not guilty verdict. It was a long shot because his recant brought up more questions tending to point at guilt and nefarious interference with the legal progress than innocence. The prosecutor stepping down in favor of the Attorney General's office was a bombshell going off in the defense case. Rodney is well positioned to add more charges while testifying about  allegations of sexual abuse, as he did in the Preliminary Hearing, against Terpening. Rodney may also testify to what must be an incredible insider story of the Terpening Followers and their leader.


Final thought