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Investigation into Abuse of Four-Year Old Oregon Boy ContinuesTim King Salem-News.com
A long list of readers have contacted our newsroom asking if we know whether the mother will be charged. This report contains the latest information and also reveals the odd legal wranglings of an attorney in the case.
(MCMINNVILLE, OR) - The story of a four-year old boy who was beaten nearly to death in Sheridan is a tragic one. Many questions remain and the case is far from over. The suspect, Michael Abo, was fired from his job as a Yamhill County deputy, before becoming a reserve police officer with the city of Yamill. He is in jail facing two Measure 11 charges. The story was released by McMinnville Police days after Salem-News.com began asking questions.
In the days leading up to the arrest of Abo, the family of the boy and community members, expressed concern that the suspect, Michael Abo, was still a free man in the days following the reported abuse and boy's hospitalization. The boy's injuries came to light on the first of January, Abo was arrested on the 4th of January, charged with two counts of first-degree Assault and two counts of first-degree Criminal Mistreatment.
The boy's injuries included seven broken ribs, a ruptured bowel, severe brain injuries and he was reportedly covered from head to toe with rug burns. It is not clear if officials followed Oregon's mandatory child abuse reporting procedure. Abo remained free after the boy was transported from the scene and ultimately Lifeflighted in a helicopter to a Portland trauma center. One newspaper reported that the boy's injuries were the result of two particular abuse incidents. According to what we have learned, there is no clear evidence at this point to reach that conclusion.
A source close to the boy said the abuse likely took place over a 30-day period, there was no count on how many different abusive incidents or contacts took place. The boy was in the daily care of unemployed Abo, whose role as a reserve officer was voluntary and involved approximately 20 hours per week. It was reported that Abo was no longer with Yamhill Police at the time of the reported crimes, but the city's Website clearly stated that Abo was part of their department for days following the arrest. We also learned that Abo was still in possession of his city police equipment, so it appears he had not fully parted ties with Yamhill Police.
Our newsroom has received credible information that the mother of the four-year old boy was essentially present throughout the period of abuse, yet failed to take measures to report or stop the reported aggression against the boy. Abo reportedly told ambulance drivers that the boy fell down the stairs. InfoWars, reports the boy’s mother claiming she never noticed the injuries because Abo wouldn’t let her dress or bathe him. It was revealed during a recent court hearing that Abo was a steroid user.
I spoke with the Chief of McMinnville's police department in recent days. I asked Ron Noble what the status of the investigation was, and he assured me that it was "an active investigation" and ongoing.
One person close to the case said, "This woman's 'show' of dedication to her son at this time is nothing more than self preservation." The individual explains that the boy's mother, "was indeed well aware that the boy was being physically and emotionally abused and chose to continue the relationship with Abo." At this point, character and material witnesses are abundant. Numerous readers have written to our newsroom saying the police need to charge the boy's mother with child endangerment and failure to protect.
Good Old Boy Network
Another person who knows the mother of the child, says the way police handle the case will send a clear message about the protection of children in Oregon. It seems there was a reluctance to charge Abo, and that reluctance continues with regard to the boy's mother.
Many in Yamhill County who wrote to our newsroom over the story say there is a "good old boy" network alive and well in their area. The spirit of cooperation in that network leads to extensive legal manipulation. One person who is familiar with the case, wrote, "As a Yamhill County resident I wanted to take the time to thank you for your article on M. Abo. You shined a bright light into the workings of our local law enforcement that our local news should have done. Living in Yamhill County I understand them shying away from this story, they live in and drive around this county and I doubt reprisals are out of bounds for our law enforcement."
One person who has shared information about the alleged abuse of the boy, says the mother may have had reasons for hesitating to report, based on Abo's status as a law enforcement officer in Oregon. "I am not assuming that the mother of this boy is not guilty of failing to protect this child or of participating in the child abuse, but I can say from experience that if she had tried to report the abuse or get help, she was probably prevented from doing so for one of two reasons: The police officer was criminally dissuading her from reporting it, or she tried to report it and the police refused to assist her."
Without question, many situations involving severe injuries to a child would involve immediate arrests, there is no doubt about it. Police are generally very quick taking such actions, and in some cases, law enforcement officers go out of their way to apprehend suspected child abusers. A four-year old child is completely helpless in an abusive situation.
The primary agency that responded to the Abo home the night the child's injuries were discovered, is the Sheridan Fire District. The West Valley Fire Dept. responded as back up. It is not clear whether or not police were present. Salem-News.com has contacted the Sheridan Fire Deputy Chief, Bill Alguire, in an effort to get to the bottom of what happened that night, the first of January 2014. He had not returned our call at press time. We will add his comments to the story when they become available.
According to ORS 419B-010-005 (Published here: http://www.sos.state.or.us/archives/pages/rules/oars_400/oar_411/411_350.html)
Enter the Dragon: Oregon Attorney Circumnavigates First Amendment
The attention on this story in Salem shifted because Salem-News.com published a photo of the boy that his mother had uploaded to her public Facebook page. Attorney Meghan Bishop wrote to our newsroom, demanding that we pull the photograph of the boy down, calling it a violation of his privacy. The First Amendment protects our right to publish the picture, and we did it so that this boy would be more than just a name in a passing news report.
I find it curious that lawyer Meghan Bishop, who has been practicing law for less than five years, attempted to make herself the center of this story. She claims to be a lawyer for the child. We were able to confirm this information, however her motivations are not so clear.
A woman who sounds almost exactly like Bishop, claiming to be a Washington DC attorney, called KYKN Radio and asked that the station's listeners contact our advertisers and urge them to pull their ads. As I said, she sounded just like Ms. Bishop. This could be a coincidence but I don't think so. The radio host, apparently flattered by the attention of the attorney, joined in the slander, which was sickening. Salem-News.com writers are some of the most recognized journalists in the world. This radio hack with his limited audience personifies the media irresponsibility he purported to attack.
My Name is F*ck You
I was extremely disturbed by the slanderous statements on the Salem radio station. Shortly after that, Bishop had an attorney friend contact me in an effort to "smooth things over." This attorney, who claimed to be a friend of Bishop's, suggested that both Bishop and I had "lost sight of our respective roles". The conversation eventually grew hostile and the attorney, "Glen", terminated the call abruptly after spewing a burst of profanity. I called back to clarify this individual's actual full name and spelling, and my question was returned with, "My Name is F*ck You," and another hang up.
I have referenced Bishop being a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) attorney which, as it turns out, is not the case. Bishop is part of a child advocacy group that, from the best we can determine, goes by CACA and it isn't pronounced with a hard "c", even if perhaps in Bishop's case, it should be. The way she represented herself was very unclear. I vetted the information with the regional coordinator with CASA, who confirmed that she was not a CASA attorney. At any rate, Bishop stopped communicating with Salem-News.com after the phone call mentioned above.
The following excerpt is from Salem-News.com's registered complaint against Bishop with the Oregon State Bar.
The following letter was dispatched from our newsroom to the attorney in question, to help find a reasonable answer after she retaliated by adding the injured boy's grandparents to list barring them from visiting their own grandchild.
I know this is an unconventional report, but that is how it goes sometimes. Salem-News.com is a ground breaking international news agency from the Pacific NW; yet as frequently as we report needless crime and violence, it is no easy job covering tragic news like this. I never imagined that the story would change from being about a little boy who a system collectively failed, to a story about a photograph being published in a free country. Moreover, I did not anticipate a reprisal from an attorney, targeted toward some of the injured boy's closest living relatives, the boy's grandparents.
Our previous coverage:
Articles for January 21, 2014 | Articles for January 22, 2014 | Articles for January 23, 2014