Ohio.com - Vigilante injustice

That doesn't make neighborhood vigilantism any more defensible. Michael Harig molested three boys. Full Story
James Cody

Erie, PA

#1 Jul 31, 2007
Want to hear both sides on the story, read this. My answers are in several parts because the posting size is limited, but it is worth reading.

Part One
I have typed in my responses below to this one-sided picture in (bold). You tell me, does this demand a retraction by the Akron Beacon Journal?

Neighbors go out of way to keep molester at bay
Springfield police officer says sexually oriented offender being harassed
By Phil Trexler
Beacon Journal staff writer
SPRINGFIELD TWP.- Michael Harig is a child molester. The two large signs on his neighbor's lawn tell you so in bright bold, red letters.(So you can see it what good would it be if it were small)
So does a third sign, equally imposing and written in the same red paint, placed on a lawn two doors down.(She was also concerned about the slack Police work and her son)
And just in case Harig is feeling lonely in his Gregory Drive home, his neighbor put a ``Welcome Home Child Molester'' sign on their adjoining backyard fence.(Side yard fence, Harig had been gone a couple weeks. It was important that Harig understood, we were not going to let him slide this one by like in his past) Continued on Part 2
James Cody

Erie, PA

#2 Jul 31, 2007
Part Two Of James Cody Response
But it isn't Harig who concerns Springfield police. To officers, he's a victim.(Let’s remember, the children are the victims here. The Springfield Township Police turned their heads for weeks and can’t defend their lack of action in this case. Summit County Sexual Predator Unit had to go to the Springfield Police to find out why they had not acted on such a serious complaint and told them it was their responsibility and their jurisdiction, get on it, months have passed before they made any attempt to investigate at all)
It is his neighbor, 50-year-old James Cody, who officers say is harassing Harig, not only with the imposing signs, but also with threats and his unfounded claims of more sexual abuse.(No one is harassing Harig, if the Springfield Police would have done their job my signs and determination would not be necessary. The child could have been taken to the hospital and tested that day and the evidence could have been found to prosecute the child molester. Instead of this, it was months before they did anything and only then because of Summit County Sheriff’s office and my continual calls to the sexual predator unit)
It wasn't always this way between Cody and Harig, who moved in after his release from prison just more than three years ago. But ever since Cody saw a 16-year-old boy alone with Harig, the one-sided feud hasn't stopped boiling.(There are two sides to this story, if the Police would have acted when this happened instead of months later this would be reading a different kind of headline, in my opinion, Michael Harig, caught again. Harig’s relationship with this boy was not a one time event. It was over several months that we know of from speaking with the boy’s mother)
Continued on Part Three
James Cody

Erie, PA

#3 Jul 31, 2007
Part Three of James Cody’s Response`
`I just wish there was more we could do for Mr. Harig because he's being harassed and he's in fear for his life, there's no doubt about that,'' said police Sgt. Denise Johnstonbaugh.``The fact is, he did his time and he should be able to go on with his life.''(Probably afraid they will get sued, I hope this is not the same officer that told Michael Harig when he first moved here, in his driveway, while sitting in their police car that,“we don’t want your kind in our community and we will do all we can to run you out of here”)
That isn't how Cody sees it.
In an interview Friday, Cody said he's known about his neighbor's past ever since Harig moved in. It was in 2004, just after Harig was released from prison after nearly a year of a four-year sentence for fondling three boys, ages 12, 13 and 14.(Harig was in jail for well under a year, 6 months to be exact, 9/12/03 to 3/12/04 for gross sexual imposition is more than fondling).
Two rules for neighborCody, who also served a brief prison stint in 1981 on weapons charges, told his new neighbor that he would be watching his every move. He and his wife, Sharon Hall, also conducted their own research into Harig's crimes.(I see you didn’t bother to gather all the facts, or check out what you wrote. When Harig moved in here, all the neighbors on the street wanted to take action to get him moved. I am the only one who stood up for him and told them to give him a chance. Yes, we educated ourselves about his crimes, we had helped many types of different people, addicts, criminals, but had never dealt with a child molester before. We needed to learn all we could to try and help this man be a better person)
``I said we'll wipe the slate clean and hopefully you'll be a better person for this. I was real nice to this man, even though I didn't want to be,'' Cody said.``I just told him: Mike, never lock your doors and never have a youngster over there.(Hope you can prove your quotes, quotes used in part do not tell the whole truth) Continued on Part 4
James Cody

Erie, PA

#4 Jul 31, 2007
Part Four of Cody’s Response
``I said if you don't break those two rules, we'll be fine. But if I catch you doing something wrong, I'll be your worst (expletive) enemy.''(Wrong, I have been the best neighbor to this man, I mowed his lawn, fixed his cars for free, helped him any time I could. I spent hours talking to him trying to help him understand what someone had done to him to make him this way and that now that he was an adult, he had the choice to stop the cycle of abuse he had suffered from. Even after all this, if he admitted his wrong and got help, I would support him)
Cody said he spent the next several months watching Harig's home and his visitors. Always, the young children would be accompanied by an adult.(This makes me sound like a stalker, I hope you readers can see the one sided story this reporter wrote. Yes, I kept an eye out for children in his yard; I would hope that anyone would do the same to help keep them safe. If the reporter would have written anything from my 45 minute interview with him he would have told you all the things I described to try to help Harig when nobody else would Harig knew he had issues, he specifically asked me to keep an eye on him because he was afraid he would re-offend. He was going through a stressful time being sued from his previous victims, his parents were not helping him, and he had no friends. He talked about suicide; I talked him out of it. I did what he asked me to do and more to keep him from hurting more children). Continued on Part Five
James Cody

Erie, PA

#5 Jul 31, 2007
Part Five of Cody’s response
But this past spring, a 16-year-old boy visited the home to do yard work. Harig says the boy is someone he met through his church, someone he was counseling.(Harig has said that this was the first time he was alone with this boy and it was all a mistake that others were supposed to be there too. But this is not true; I have spoken with the boy’s older brother who specifically asked Harig if he could come along too to split wood that day. But, Harig told him no. This was not the first time Harig would not let the older boy come along. I have also learned that Harig had been seeing this young boy for months, in conversations with the boy’s mother I learned that Harig had taken him on overnight campouts (described to the mother as Boy-Scout camping) had taken him to Tangiers and I was told that Harig dropped off and picked up this boy from school for several months. Think about it, why would the church would ask a convicted child molester to council a young boy, I would like to hear the church back that claim up. Or is this just another lie from Mr. Harig?)
He now admits that was a mistake, simply because of the appearance of a teen boy at his home. It was through church and scouting that Harig met his victims.(Wrong, not just because of the appearance of the boy being at his home, but because of all the things that went on that day that me, Harig and that young boy know happened that day. And what about the triggers for a man like Harig, he is a sex offender, he knows situations like this are way out of line for him)
Continued on Part Six
James Cody

Erie, PA

#6 Jul 31, 2007
Part Six of Cody’s Response
Harig, 45, swears nothing occurred with the boy and that he is cured of his demons through God. The boy also told police and Children Services workers the same thing: nothing happened.(The police never told us that they had talked to the boy. The last time the police communicated with us about this boy was 7/10/07. We were told that they could not find the boy and the investigation was closed. The only time we hear from the police is when we call them. In fact, as of 7/30/07 Detective Rudd of the Summit County Sexual Predator unit has verified that they never found the boy and never spoke to him and he believes that Springfield Township has not ever spoken with the boy either. So what did the reporter do, take Mr. Harig’s word for it? Hope you readers can read between the lines the police response to a concerned citizen is poor and their lack of diligence in this case leaves the door wide open for Mr. Harig to come out smelling like a rose. Harig and those connected with him knew where the boy and his father had gone, but to my knowledge never told the police.
Threats increase
That finding by police has only fueled the feud.(There was no feud, don’t be fooled by this reporter twisting words, trying to sell papers to you all, there was no feud)
Harig says that in the past several weeks, he's been physically threatened; his neighbors have pointed spotlights in his bedroom window, written his parents and contacted his victim's family.(the letter written to his parents was a plea for help with their son who they had neglected all this time till this came up and again threatened their good name (given by us to the reporter/obviously not used in context). Sure glad they are not my parents. As for the light, Mr. Harig had installed cameras on the corner of his house and had them facing our windows, side yard and driveway. We called the police to make him redirect them; they refused, so we turned on the light to block the camera from looking into our home. We never had camera put up watching him) Continued on Part 7
James Cody

Erie, PA

#7 Jul 31, 2007
Part Seven of James Cody’s Response
`I'm not proud of my past,'' Harig said.``I'm proud of the change God has made in my life. All I want to do is live in a peaceful neighborhood.''(It was a peaceful neighborhood, I have been the best neighbor to this man, I mowed his lawn, fixed his cars for free, helped him any time I could. I spent hours talking to him trying to help him understand what someone had done to him to make him this way and that now that he was an adult, he had the choice to stop the cycle of abuse he had suffered from)
Cody and Hall believe police have neglected their job. And they feel it is their duty to police Harig.(Yes they did and it is provable. It is not my duty to police anyone, but the police failed to do so. So I am doing the best I can to deal with the burden left to me to make sure Harig doesn’t get the chance to molest any more children)
``The minute he brought a minor into the neighborhood, the gloves were off,'' said Hall, just after she burst inside Harig's house Friday and confronted him during his interview with the Beacon Journal.(Nobody burst in. Sharon knocked on the door and was invited in by Mr. John Harig, Michael’s father. Mr. Trexel was there and knows this is a misrepresentation. Here again, a quote out of the context of what was said)
When Cody saw the boy inside Harig's house that day, he rushed inside. He told police that Harig and the boy were looking at adult-themed movie listings on a computer. Police found no such evidence after taking Harig's computer.(I never rushed in, I called out to Michael and he said come on in Jim. Michael has several computers. It was two months after the fact that Michael surrendered his computer to the Springfield Township Police. Do you think he was dumb enough to give them the right computer, I don’t? Date of the event with the minor was 3/30/07; Harig surrendered a computer to Springfield Township on 6/27/07) Continued on Part 8
James Cody

Erie, PA

#8 Jul 31, 2007
Part Eight of James Cody’s Response
And although he didn't tell police then, Cody now believes he saw Harig molesting the boy.(I did tell the police, they had deaf ears do you see a pattern here of this reporter yet?)
Since that day, the 8-foot-by-10-foot signs went up in Cody's yard, telling neighbors Harig's name, address and crimes. The signs say he is a legally defined habitual sexual offender. However, a judge this week lowered the label to a sexually oriented offender. Wherever Harig goes, he must register his address with authorities until 2014.(The signs are 4 x 8 I didn’t know what else to do. I am still looking into the lowering of his classification 4 years after his sentencing. I am working with the court now)
Harig's parole ended last year, and there are no other restrictions against him.(Harig got off his parole 1 year early for good cause. I would like to hear what that good cause was. His probation officer had never been inside Harig’s home in all the time he was on probation, he told me so. He didn’t have a clue)
Neighbor Chriss Murphy, the mother of a 6-year-old boy, also has a sign in her yard, alerting anyone who passes of Harig's crimes and his address. She said the neighbors on the secluded street tolerated Harig -- until the teenager visited.
Now, she said it's time for Harig to move.
``I'm sorry it had to come to this,'' she said.``But if it stops a child from being harmed, it's worth that ugly sign.'' Continued on Part Nine
James Cody

Erie, PA

#9 Jul 31, 2007
Part Nine of James Cody’s Response
Police hoped to have the signs removed, saying they disturb the tranquility of the neighborhood and frighten children who play along the street. But the signs don't violate any township zoning laws, and they don't appear to be coming down soon.
And although police have urged him to file criminal charges against Cody, Harig has declined. For now, Harig is sleeping away from his home, but he hasn't decided on his future.
``I screwed up, but I learned what the triggers are. I've stayed accountable and I've learned the limits and I know I won't cross them,'' Harig said.``I just want people to know that God heals and restores lives.''(In response to this, read another posting by Sexual Offender Counselor, it is clear that Harig may know the triggers but hardly thinks he is accountable to them, he needs help. The terms of his probation stated no involvement with anyone under 18 yet Harig attended church functions with children, had children over to his home, and even drove the church bus for Sunday school until someone reported it. He needs help)
The editor is refusing a retraction; if you think a retraction is needed, please contact the editor.

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