Conviction vs. voluntary compliance.
I'm going to start out by saying that I've gotten accustomed, in my historic dealings with Bit of Earth people (in particular, Amy, Abbey, and Cherie) to a rather vehement denial of the facts. I hope anyone who has followed this story, here or in the book, can recognize that Amy Player told a lot of lies, and when she got caught in them, she backpedaled with tremendous effort. Even to the point of writing up fake legal documents (and sending them to the entire cast of the LOTR films) in which she not only denied the truth, she made up additional lies in an effort to deflect blame onto me.
Given that I was dealing with someone who would compose arguments made of frank lies, there were times, quite a few, even, when I took verbal shortcuts. Not in order to be deceptive, but because the full legally qualified 100% correct statement was too long and cumbersome. I've learned a lot of things about the justice system, and one of them is that there are a surprising number of nuances around the concept of guilt and innocence. Way more than you'd think, by watching TV.
Now those shortcuts are coming to bite me on the butt, because even though they were essentially correct, they weren't absolutely correct. So, on to the crow eating:
In the past, even so recently as on Abbey's blog, I've stated that she and Amy were convicted of operating a fraudulent charity. That was shorthand, and in the strictest legal sense it wasn't correct.
Abbey and Amy were issued a document by the Oregon Dept. of Justice. This document was called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance. In the document, the DOJ listed things that were done by and for the "charity," Bit of Earth, things which were illegal. The document further required them to pay a fine AND to agree, in writing, never to solicit funds for any charity ever again in the State of Oregon.
Finally the document gave Abbey and Amy two choices:
1) They could sign this document, pay the fine, and walk away.
2) They could claim to be innocent of the deeds listed in the document, at which time the DOJ would take them to court and let a judge rule on whether they were guilty or not.
Amy and Abbey signed the document and paid the fine.
Were they convicted of a crime? No. To be convicted, you have to go to court and a judge and jury look at the evidence and decide whether you're guilty. Abbey and Amy chose to avoid the courtroom by voluntarily accepting the conditions set by the DOJ.
Were they innocent? No. Again, the matter of guilt and innocence, in the legal sense, has to be determined in a courtroom. Because the courtroom was avoided, they were neither convicted nor exonerated of committing crimes.
Were they busted? Fuck yeah! The DOJ gave them a chance to either explain themselves or accept punishment, and they accepted punishment. If that's not busted, I don't know what is.
To put another way: if you've ever had a speeding ticket, you probably noticed how the ticket itself says that you can plead guilty (and pay the fine and be done), innocent (and go to court to contest the ticket), or nolo contendre (in which you also pay the fine and be done BUT you are not admitting guilt). I think the Assurance was issued with the same sort of spirit as a Nolo Contendre option. It avoids the time and expense of a trial, and the "black mark" of a guilty verdict--but you're still busted for speeding.
On Abbey's blog, I left a post about her "conviction" by the DOJ. Because both Abbey and Amy have denied any wrongdoing in the past, I expected more of the same, so I felt justified in taking shortcuts. If there was going to be denial, it might as well be denial of the Abridged Version. I mean, come on, if I'd said, "you were issued an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance from the DOJ, which you signed," well, first of all most people would have no earthly idea what that meant, and 2nd of all, I'm not even sure which verb to put the "Didn't" in front of, to turn that statement into a denial!
Not to mention that, "You were convicted, In Yer FACE!" just plain sounds better than "You were issued an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance from the DOJ, which you signed, In Yer FACE!"
Given that I expected to hear "I never did anything wrong, you evil persecuting meanie," it was more efficient all around to just sum it up with "convicted."
However, Abbey surprised me--and pleasantly so--by not denying anything. She 'fessed up to receiving that document from the DOJ. Furthermore, Abbey correctly pointed out that they were never convicted.
So, I want to apologize for using the wrong language in describing the outcome from the Dept. of Justice. Busted, but not convicted. Thanks for understanding.