From the November 1999 Idaho Observer:
Latah county police brutalize mother of two
Indignant woman seeks to expose county's family court extortion scam
MOSCOW -- Not even the local press has been made aware of this story. Usually when local government officials have done something horrible, they enlist the help of the local media to trash and demonize the victim so that the public will be mislead into thinking that the person deserves whatever they got.
However, in the brutal beating and hog-tying of Collete Cohen, the actions of Latah County sheriff's deputies and emergency physician Gregory Miller are so horrible that the media was not called in to trash the Cohens. The local authorities wanted this case to go away as quietly as possible.
But the Cohens are intelligent people who have been married for 21 years. They are a middle class family who live in a middle class neighborhood and have two children, a dog with a dad that works every day and a mom that volunteers countless hours of her time to the public school her children attend. The Cohens are not going to let these people get away with what they have done.
The Cohens have uncovered what can best be described as a family court extortion scam that the county has been operating to capitalize upon the misery of families who mistakenly believe that the government is there to help them.
The story begins May 30, 1999, when a domestic dispute between Collette and Bob Cohen resulted in Bob calling the Latah County Sheriff's Department which arrived and threw Collette into jail with a "suicide watch." And thus began the county process to destroy the Cohen family for profit.
"Calling the police that night was the biggest mistake that I have ever made in my life," commented Bob.
Bob refused to file charges against his wife for assault, which was a toothpaste holder she threw but never hit him with. The Latah County Prosecutor's Office, led by Bill Thompson, the same prosecutor that has been persecuting Fred Leas (see page 5), did file charges against Collette for felony domestic battery.
Collette appeared before Judge Hamlett June 1. Hamlett reduced her bail to $500 at the request of Bob. However, Hamlett ordered that the Cohens were to have no contact with one another until June 15. "We were so distraught from the arrest and all that had happened that we just agreed with the judge -- anything to start putting our lives back together," remembers Collette.
The Cohens hired Mark Moorer as their attorney. According to the Cohens, Moorer told them that Bob would be required to testify against his wife and that the Cohens should accept the plea agreement offered by Assistant Prosecutor Michele Evans.
Already thousands of dollars into this nightmare, Collette refused to accept a plea. "Why should I plead guilty to something that I am not guilty of?" she asked.
An accepted plea means the state sets the penance (fines, court costs, classes, caseworkers -- free, uncontested money). Demand for a jury trial means the state starts spending money and has to justify its actions in court.
Collette would not plea. Evans would not drop charges and Hamlett would not dismiss and set a precedent because nobody has ever challenged the vagueness and validity of Idaho's felony domestic battery law -- everybody takes the plea.
So the judge sits on the case and Moorer keeps advising them to accept a plea.
For six weeks the Cohens felt they were being harassed and intimidated by the police to pressure her acceptance of a plea (strange visits from CPS, her quiet and usually unpatrolled neighborhood experiencing police presence all hours of the day and night). Collette, admittedly under the influence of three alcoholic beverages (consumed over four hours) and therapeutic levels of prescription medication she began taking after the state-induced trauma chapter began, drove into a ditch a few hundred yards from her home.
"As soon as she left the driveway, a cop in a Blazer was right on her," said Bob. Collette truly has no recollection of the events of that night.
For the next 25 minutes the entire neighborhood heard Collette screaming for her husband as police attempted to get her to blow a breathalyzer. At some point, the tape was stopped and there is no independent recollection of what happened to Collette between that time and when she was taken to the hospital handcuffed, waist-chained, leg-ironed, strapped and duct taped to a backboard with duct tape on her mouth. Police officers had not received a scratch during the incident. There is no evidence to indicate that the diminutive Collette needed to be restrained in such an excessive manner.
We think that the deputies trussed Collette and intended to throw her in jail but, en route to throwing her in a cell, dropped her on her face. Thinking, "Uh, oh," they took Collette to the hospital.
Dr. Miller denied having seen Collette (said a nurse had examined her and found her to be fine), then filed an after-the-fact-incident report to the contrary. The report, along with doctor/patient privileged medical records, was given to the prosecutor's office without a court order. Dr. Miller also admitted to putting the tape over Collette's mouth to stop the obviously traumatized woman from screaming. After Collette's Psychologist Dr. Rand Walker ordered a nurse to remove the duct tape from Collette's mouth, it took him over two hours to calm her down.
On October 29, Hamlett found Collette guilty of DUI and various charges of assaulting officers and resisting arrest. According to Collette, after the verdict had been announced Moorer, who had continually advised the Cohens to accept a plea to avoid a potential jail sentence and the wear and tear on the family, said, sheepishly, "I guess I misrepresented you, didn't I?"
Hamlett has yet to rule on the domestic battery charge. The Cohens have filed a tort claim against the Latah County Prosecutor's Office and the Latah County Sheriff's Department.
The Cohens have a good case. The entire trail of evidence is found in official records -- the records that exist, the records that do not exist but should, the records that were given to somebody who shouldn't have had them and the records that are now records but at one time were not records. Also, for men hired to serve and protect to have treated such an obviously distraught woman in such a violent, brutal and discompassionate way -- and then attempt to keep people from finding out -- is simply inexcusable. Documents from this case have been forwarded to one of the nation's top civil attorneys.
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