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Trespass forgiveness assailed

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Trespass forgiveness assailed

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Local residents sound off on charges being dropped for trespassing legend-trippers and overwhelmingly expressing that the youth should be held accountable. Not saying that the armed watchmen were justified in how they handled the trespassers, but that dropping charges for trespassers sent a bad message to juveniles who then think they can break the law and get away with it.
Trespass forgiveness assailed
By Michael R. Weibel
Staff writer

Most people who responded to a Herald Journal telephone survey Monday night said trespassing charges should have been filed against a group of teen-agers who were caught at St. Anne’s Retreat on Oct. 10.

The newspaper’s voice mail system was so overwhelmed by the volume of calls that many people who wanted to respond to the non-scientific poll were cut off and couldn’t leave a message

Cache County Attorney Scott Wyatt announced Friday that charges would not be filed against 38 youths who were caught trespassing in two separate incidents at the Logan Canyon retreat. On the same day, Wyatt filed assault charges against the retreat’s caretaker, John Jeppson, and two assistants for their alleged actions while detaining the youths.

Of the 50 or so comments that did get recorded in The Herald Journal survey, most people said a bad message is being sent to local youths-that they can get away with breaking the law.

Micala Jensen of Providence, for example, said, “I was appalled to see that the charges were dropped against the students, the young adults who were there. I think that tells the rest of the kids that they don’t have to respect other people’s property, and it sends a message out to everyone else that you can get off, that those laws are made to be broken.”

Cindy Jackman of North Logan said she’s not sure the caretakers’ actions were appropriate or whether they should be prosecuted. But “I do know that the teen-agers trespassed, and that’s against the law. It was posted, it was an obvious thing that they were trespassing with barbed wire and everything there. And the teen-agers have been not charged. I think that’s very wrong. That sends a message that if teen-agers just want to go have fun…it’s OK to break the law.”

Gary Denton of Lewiston said, “I think the charges against the teen-agers should not have been dropped. I think they need to be accountable for their actions. … I think teen-agers nowadays get away with way too much. They get their hands slapped for doing what adults would be fined or put in jail for.

“I think it’s time they own up to their wrongdoings,” he said.

Some respondents said they appreciated the commentary by Jeppson’s brother, adding that they believe the newspaper has not balanced its coverage with Jeppson’s side of the story.

Cindy Miller of Providence, for example, said, “I feel what has taken place has been poorly represented by the media. I feel that Mr. Jeppson’s point of view has not been given fair time.”

Herald Journal reporters have tried unsuccessfully to contact Jejppson for his comments.

Nate Steele had a personal perspective on the incident.

“I was up there Friday night. I was probably the second person in the gate. I would just like to say, under no circumstances should this man be looked upon as a hero. What he did was wrong. He crossed the line. In fact, he drove about 10 miles past the line.”

The trespassers accused the three watchmen of tying them together by their necks, handcuffing them and holding them at gunpoint in a swimming pool in two separate episodes Oct. 10. The mostly teen-aged victims said their lives were threatened, shotguns were fired near them, and one female said Jeppson felt her up.

“I don’t understand why people are trying to justify what he did,” Steele said. “The only way I can see why is because they weren’t up there. They don’t know exactly what happened. I think the only people that can make an educated decision on what happened and have an educated opinion on what happened would be the people who were up there. We are the only ones that know exactly what happened.

“I don’t think this man was a hero,” he added. “I have trouble looking at this man and saying he is human. He was given an ounce of power, an ounce of authority, and took it from that ounce and made it into something much more than it was. He crossed the line and people need to see that.”

But Jeff Hansen of Logan said he knows what Jeppson was facing.

“I own a piece of property up Logan Canyon and my place gets vandalized at least once a year,” he said. “And I feel I have the right to protect my property, and I think it’s just a bad deal to let those ids off. I eel if you let those kids off, the young adults, we should let the guards off on the charges that were filed against them. What’s fair is fair.

“I think the kids that were involved in that should be prosecuted for trespassing,” Hansen said. “I always felt that trespassing was a serious offense, not a mild offense. If they hadn’t been there, nobody would have been able to rough them up. I don’t feel the guards have done anything wrong. I feel they had every right to protect that piece of property. Every right…those young adults were totally in the wrong.”


Comment sampler

Kathy Edwards, North Logan
I think the teens’ accusations, if they are true, that that man who was up there is not a hero, but maybe some sort of overzealous man wielding a gun that was trying to injure children. And they are minors. He has no business doing that. And if that’s what he wanted to do, he’s no better than any of those guys who go out and shoot people in the post offices and anywhere else. Also, the charges against the teen-agers that have been dropped, probably a very smart thing to do in terms of what can happen to the county in regards to lawsuits and whatever else the families could do. He had no right to do what he did, and I would surely hope that cache county people do not honor him as a hero.

Tami Johnson, Benson
I feel the young adults, not children, gave up their rights as soon as they knowingly and willingly crossed the no-trespassing property line. They chose to break the law, setting in motion the consequences they received. If they had chosen to obey the law, nothing would have happened to them. There would be no “overboard,” your word, treatment. I feel that the trespassing was seriously under-stressed in the media coverage. The young adults were the criminals, not the victims. Stop and think, pretend you live in a high crime area. Trespassing and vandalism are crimes. It’s late at night, its [it’s] around midnight, suddenly a large group of people break in. I mean what are you supposed to do? Welcome them with open arms and who them the best places to vandalize?

No matter how the young adults were treated, they were the guilty party. They were the catalyst. The charges against them should not have been dropped.

Cindy Hamilton, Smithfield
After seeing these kids on TV and in the paper, they all seem to be smiling and happy and thinking what they did was pretty neat. They got all this attention. But they seemed to have forgotten they trespassed. They went through gates that were barbed wired and chained and had no-trespassing signs. And they did something wrong. Also, the guards went overboard, but the kids don’t seem to have any comprehension that they also were at fault and should not have been up there. I hope that since their charges were dropped their parents will help them realize the part they played in it. If they hadn’t been up there, nothing would have happened to them.

Jeff Watkins, Newton
All of those ten-agers caught trespassing on that land should not have the charges dropped against them. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Had nobody bene there, there’s a very likely probability that those teen-agers would have continued on the vandalism that’s been going on. The three officers who protected the property perhaps engaged in some extreme activities and they could be charged for some of the things they do, but they should not be charged for everything. They were trying to protect property against vandalism.

Larry Winborg
I think that he, if these allegations against these three men are true, then they went way overboard. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In no way are they heroes to treat people, any people, like that, especially young impressionable people. If their purpose was to keep them out of there, then they should have just said, “I’m sorry but you can’t come in here.” They should have called the sheriff at that point if they didn’t’ leave. But to take them in there and hold them captive and do all the things that they did to them, and abuse them both verbally and physically was absolutely wrong.

Steve Brown
Supposedly he was hired as a maintenance man, not as a security guard. I have no problem that he felt like he was doing the right thing. But when someone does a job that they’re not trained for, there’s bound to be problems. The teens were trespassing and should not have been there. But trespassing is not punishable by torture or death.

For the man that thinks the teens should have lost all their rights when they were trespassing, I hope for your sake the next time you’re speeding on the freeway the person next to you with a loaded gun doesn’t have the same views as you.

…We don’t need to take the law into our own hands. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Jean Kennedy, Smithfield
The fact that the charges against the teen-agers have been dropped is further evidence of how we are absolving our young people of responsibility. I think it’s wrong to absolve those tee-agers of any responsibility. And if the property owners don’t press charges, the county should. These kids were willfully disobeying the law, and in a very large group. What would any homeowner think if their property were descended upon en mass by a group of teens in the middle of the night. The Herald Journal does the community a disservice by constant labeling the adults as watchmen, a derogatory term, and a group of trespassers as kids. I believe the adults in this story may have been a bit overzealous in their actions. But the fact is they were within their rights, and the trespassers were not. Keep in mind also that no one was hurt in this scenario and the men immediately report it to the proper authorities. Supposedly, those kids went there to get scared, and when they did, they ended up whining to ma and pa. I think The Herald Journal reporting in this matter has been extremely biased, and I think the only reason these kids are being absolved of guilt is that they are white. Image your change of heart if the watchmen had reported a bunch of Hispanic or Tongan youths. Suddenly those watchmen would be heroes in your eyes and the kids would be a gang, wouldn’t they? Wake up, Herald Journal, you’re too entrenched to see beyond the end of your noses.

Ken Daniel, Smithfield
The charges against the teen-agers should not have been dropped, and I think Joe Blow citizen has to take a stand against vandalism regardless of where it is. If we don’t do that, it will only get worse.

Walt Appel
It seems to me that there’d be no problem if the kids hadn’t trespassed. The whole incident was started by kids breaking the law. And they whole be held responsible for it and charged for it. That’s part of being responsible. What have we taught them as a society if we don’t hold them responsible for their actions-that they can do anything and get away with it?

Another point, Jeppson is being charged with going overboard. However, take a look at it from his point of view. He was outnumbered and he was attacked by one of the kids. Didn’t he have a right to defend himself? Didn’t he have a right to do what he did thinking that there wasn’t any help around?

Another thing, the kids were looking for a thrill. Boy, they sure got it, didn’t they? Perhaps, if they had gone to a park and paid for it, they would have appreciated that s care more. There’s people in this world that pay a lot of money to get that kind of adrenalin rush.

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Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives, FOLK COLL 32

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Reproduction for publication, exhibition, web display or commercial use is only permissible with the consent of the USU Libraries Special Collections and Archives, phone (435) 797-2663.

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Utah State University Folklore in the news collection, 1973-2012, FOLK COLL 32
http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv04849
St. Anne's Retreat

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http://digital.lib.usu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p16944coll20/id/24
SCAFOLK032Bx003Fd07Item0015.pdf

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Trespass forgiveness assailed
By Michael R. Weibel
Staff writer

Most people who responded to a Herald Journal telephone survey Monday night said trespassing charges should have been filed against a group of teen-agers who were caught at St. Anne’s Retreat on Oct. 10.

The newspaper’s voice mail system was so overwhelmed by the volume of calls that many people who wanted to respond to the non-scientific poll were cut off and couldn’t leave a message

Cache County Attorney Scott Wyatt announced Friday that charges would not be filed against 38 youths who were caught trespassing in two separate incidents at the Logan Canyon retreat. On the same day, Wyatt filed assault charges against the retreat’s caretaker, John Jeppson, and two assistants for their alleged actions while detaining the youths.

Of the 50 or so comments that did get recorded in The Herald Journal survey, most people said a bad message is being sent to local youths—that they can get away with breaking the law.

Micala Jensen of Providence, for example, said, “I was appalled to see that the charges were dropped against the students, the young adults who were there. I think that tells the rest of the kids that they don’t have to respect other people’s property, and it sends a message out to everyone else that you can get off, that those laws are made to be broken.”

Cindy Jackman of North Logan said she’s not sure the caretakers’ actions were appropriate or whether they should be prosecuted. But “I do know that the teen-agers trespassed, and that’s against the law. It was posted, it was an obvious thing that they were trespassing with barbed wire and everything there. And the teen-agers have been not charged. I think that’s very wrong. That sends a message that if teen-agers just want to go have fun…it’s OK to break the law.”

Gary Denton of Lewiston said, “I think the charges against the teen-agers should not have been dropped. I think they need to be accountable for their actions. … I think teen-agers nowadays get away with way too much. They get their hands slapped for doing what adults would be fined or put in jail for.

“I think it’s time they own up to their wrongdoings,” he said.

Some respondents said they appreciated the commentary by Jeppson’s brother, adding that they believe the newspaper has not balanced its coverage with Jeppson’s side of the story.

Cindy Miller of Providence, for example, said, “I feel what has taken place has been poorly represented by the media. I feel that Mr. Jeppson’s point of view has not been given fair time.”

Herald Journal reporters have tried unsuccessfully to contact Jejppson for his comments.

Nate Steele had a personal perspective on the incident.

“I was up there Friday night. I was probably the second person in the gate. I would just like to say, under no circumstances should this man be looked upon as a hero. What he did was wrong. He crossed the line. In fact, he drove about 10 miles past the line.”

The trespassers accused the three watchmen of tying them together by their necks, handcuffing them and holding them at gunpoint in a swimming pool in two separate episodes Oct. 10. The mostly teen-aged victims said their lives were threatened, shotguns were fired near them, and one female said Jeppson felt her up.

“I don’t understand why people are trying to justify what he did,” Steele said. “The only way I can see why is because they weren’t up there. They don’t know exactly what happened. I think the only people that can make an educated decision on what happened and have an educated opinion on what happened would be the people who were up there. We are the only ones that know exactly what happened.

“I don’t think this man was a hero,” he added. “I have trouble looking at this man and saying he is human. He was given an ounce of power, an ounce of authority, and took it from that ounce and made it into something much more than it was. He crossed the line and people need to see that.”

But Jeff Hansen of Logan said he knows what Jeppson was facing.

“I own a piece of property up Logan Canyon and my place gets vandalized at least once a year,” he said. “And I feel I have the right to protect my property, and I think it’s just a bad deal to let those ids off. I eel if you let those kids off, the young adults, we should let the guards off on the charges that were filed against them. What’s fair is fair.

“I think the kids that were involved in that should be prosecuted for trespassing,” Hansen said. “I always felt that trespassing was a serious offense, not a mild offense. If they hadn’t been there, nobody would have been able to rough them up. I don’t feel the guards have done anything wrong. I feel they had every right to protect that piece of property. Every right…those young adults were totally in the wrong.”


Comment sampler

Kathy Edwards, North Logan
I think the teens’ accusations, if they are true, that that man who was up there is not a hero, but maybe some sort of overzealous man wielding a gun that was trying to injure children. And they are minors. He has no business doing that. And if that’s what he wanted to do, he’s no better than any of those guys who go out and shoot people in the post offices and anywhere else. Also, the charges against the teen-agers that have been dropped, probably a very smart thing to do in terms of what can happen to the county in regards to lawsuits and whatever else the families could do. He had no right to do what he did, and I would surely hope that cache county people do not honor him as a hero.

Tami Johnson, Benson
I feel the young adults, not children, gave up their rights as soon as they knowingly and willingly crossed the no-trespassing property line. They chose to break the law, setting in motion the consequences they received. If they had chosen to obey the law, nothing would have happened to them. There would be no “overboard,” your word, treatment. I feel that the trespassing was seriously under-stressed in the media coverage. The young adults were the criminals, not the victims. Stop and think, pretend you live in a high crime area. Trespassing and vandalism are crimes. It’s late at night, its [it’s] around midnight, suddenly a large group of people break in. I mean what are you supposed to do? Welcome them with open arms and who them the best places to vandalize?

No matter how the young adults were treated, they were the guilty party. They were the catalyst. The charges against them should not have been dropped.

Cindy Hamilton, Smithfield
After seeing these kids on TV and in the paper, they all seem to be smiling and happy and thinking what they did was pretty neat. They got all this attention. But they seemed to have forgotten they trespassed. They went through gates that were barbed wired and chained and had no-trespassing signs. And they did something wrong. Also, the guards went overboard, but the kids don’t seem to have any comprehension that they also were at fault and should not have been up there. I hope that since their charges were dropped their parents will help them realize the part they played in it. If they hadn’t been up there, nothing would have happened to them.

Jeff Watkins, Newton
All of those ten-agers caught trespassing on that land should not have the charges dropped against them. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Had nobody bene there, there’s a very likely probability that those teen-agers would have continued on the vandalism that’s been going on. The three officers who protected the property perhaps engaged in some extreme activities and they could be charged for some of the things they do, but they should not be charged for everything. They were trying to protect property against vandalism.

Larry Winborg
I think that he, if these allegations against these three men are true, then they went way overboard. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In no way are they heroes to treat people, any people, like that, especially young impressionable people. If their purpose was to keep them out of there, then they should have just said, “I’m sorry but you can’t come in here.” They should have called the sheriff at that point if they didn’t’ leave. But to take them in there and hold them captive and do all the things that they did to them, and abuse them both verbally and physically was absolutely wrong.

Steve Brown
Supposedly he was hired as a maintenance man, not as a security guard. I have no problem that he felt like he was doing the right thing. But when someone does a job that they’re not trained for, there’s bound to be problems. The teens were trespassing and should not have been there. But trespassing is not punishable by torture or death.

For the man that thinks the teens should have lost all their rights when they were trespassing, I hope for your sake the next time you’re speeding on the freeway the person next to you with a loaded gun doesn’t have the same views as you.

…We don’t need to take the law into our own hands. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Jean Kennedy, Smithfield
The fact that the charges against the teen-agers have been dropped is further evidence of how we are absolving our young people of responsibility. I think it’s wrong to absolve those tee-agers of any responsibility. And if the property owners don’t press charges, the county should. These kids were willfully disobeying the law, and in a very large group. What would any homeowner think if their property were descended upon en mass by a group of teens in the middle of the night. The Herald Journal does the community a disservice by constant labeling the adults as watchmen, a derogatory term, and a group of trespassers as kids. I believe the adults in this story may have been a bit overzealous in their actions. But the fact is they were within their rights, and the trespassers were not. Keep in mind also that no one was hurt in this scenario and the men immediately report it to the proper authorities. Supposedly, those kids went there to get scared, and when they did, they ended up whining to ma and pa. I think The Herald Journal reporting in this matter has been extremely biased, and I think the only reason these kids are being absolved of guilt is that they are white. Image your change of heart if the watchmen had reported a bunch of Hispanic or Tongan youths. Suddenly those watchmen would be heroes in your eyes and the kids would be a gang, wouldn’t they? Wake up, Herald Journal, you’re too entrenched to see beyond the end of your noses.

Ken Daniel, Smithfield
The charges against the teen-agers should not have been dropped, and I think Joe Blow citizen has to take a stand against vandalism regardless of where it is. If we don’t do that, it will only get worse.

Walt Appel
It seems to me that there’d be no problem if the kids hadn’t trespassed. The whole incident was started by kids breaking the law. And they whole be held responsible for it and charged for it. That’s part of being responsible. What have we taught them as a society if we don’t hold them responsible for their actions—that they can do anything and get away with it?

Another point, Jeppson is being charged with going overboard. However, take a look at it from his point of view. He was outnumbered and he was attacked by one of the kids. Didn’t he have a right to defend himself? Didn’t he have a right to do what he did thinking that there wasn’t any help around?

Another thing, the kids were looking for a thrill. Boy, they sure got it, didn’t they? Perhaps, if they had gone to a park and paid for it, they would have appreciated that s care more. There’s people in this world that pay a lot of money to get that kind of adrenalin rush.

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