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PROFANE YOUNG SUITOR IS REJECTED BY MOM, JUSTICES “This case,” began the Third District Court of Appeal opinion, “is a parent’s nightmare come true.” And indeed it was. Beverly Brekke’s problems started when her 16-year-old daughter Danielle began dating a 15-year-old boy. Danielle started behaving badly at home and skipping classes at school, according to the Third District ruling. Her grades plunged. Worried that her daughter might be using drugs, Beverly Brekke searched her room. She found “disturbing” letters from the boy, Dean Wills, suggesting ways Danielle could retaliate against her parents for restrictions they imposed on her. Danielle’s parents, who live in El Dorado County, decided that Danielle should stop seeing Wills. But he refused to move on. Knowing Danielle’s parents would search her room, Wills wrote three obscenity-laden letters to the girl. In one, he discussed provoking her parents into physically attacking him so he could sue them and use the settlement money “to be together” with Danielle when she turned 18. Wills encouraged Danielle in another letter to think about killing her parents. He outlined a scenario in which they would be “tied to a tree surrounded by starving, rabid dogs” while Wills and Danielle flew over in a plane and dropped “bloody meat on them.” The dogs would then be released to attack the Brekkes. After that, the boy promised Danielle, “we’ll go hang out.” The Brekkes took Wills to court to obtain a restraining order. But, “apparently coddled rather than castigated by his parents,” Third District Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland wrote, the boy fought back, showing up in court with an attorney. After hearing the evidence, the trial judge ordered Wills not to contact the Brekkes and to stay at least 100 yards away from them and 20 feet away from Danielle at school. Wills appealed, saying his letters were a “joke” and not threatening. He further argued that the injunction violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. Writing for a three-judge panel, Scotland rejected Wills’ claims as “utterly without merit.” His communications with Danielle were between private parties, the justice ruled, and not subject to constitutional protection. “We categorically reject the absurd suggestion that defendant’s freedom of association trumps a parent’s right to direct and control the activities of a minor child,” Scotland wrote. He noted that Wills’ actions had “seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed” Beverly Brekke, and therefore the trial judge was justified in issuing an injunction. Wills’ letters did not rise to the level of a criminal offense, Scotland wrote. But he added that “in our post-Columbine High School world, fantastical threats that once were taken lightly as fancies of immature youth now cause reasonable persons to pause and even to become fearful.” Wills’ father had argued against the restraining order, saying it would create “a Romeo and Juliet situation.” But Scotland noted that the trial judge had rejected that comparison, observing tartly that “at least Romeo was respectful to Mrs. Capulet.” The justice wrote that Dean Wills had taunted Mrs. Brekke, saying that “he had a ‘good lawyer’ and plaintiff could not get a restraining order because the ‘judge will laugh at her.’” “Well, the trial court did not laugh, nor do we,” Scotland concluded, affirming the injunction as “appropriate and necessary.” Justices Harry Hull and Ronald Robie concurred. — Justin M. Norton BATTLING HATE, S.F.-STYLE A group of russian law enforcement authorities was in San Francisco last week to learn about how this famously tolerant city fights hate crimes. The 17-person delegation, most of whose members come from Russia’s Novgorod region, toured the Hall of Justice, talking to local prosecutors and public defenders. “In Russia, ethnic and religious hatred � are real threats to the stability of society,” said Pnina Levermore, the American director of the Climate of Trust exchange program, under whose auspices the Russians came to the Bay Area. Funded primarily by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the exchanges were started five years ago by the Bay Area Council for Jewish Rescue and Renewal. After the Soviet Union collapsed and split into several countries, Levermore said, people in some ethnic enclaves who used to share a national identity with their neighbors became “foreigners in their own land.” Massive migration into Russia has added to the tension, she said. Alla Gerber, head of Russia’s Holocaust Foundation, told The Associated Press recently that Russian law enforcement agencies often fail to properly investigate hate crimes. She also noted the presence of 70,000 skinheads in Russia. At a memorial last week marking the 60th anniversary of Soviet troops’ liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was “ashamed” of recent manifestations of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in his country. To combat ethnic and religious intolerance, Climate of Trust targets a different community in Russia each year. Delegates from that area are culled from a two-day seminar attended by about five dozen Russian prosecutors, police, judges, government officials, educators and representatives of ethnic and religious groups, Levermore said. The Russians are brought to San Francisco, while an American delegation later reciprocates with a trip to Russia. San Francisco was chosen as the U.S. site because the police department here was among the first in the country to start a hate crimes unit and because the city hosts one of the country’s five Russian consulates, Levermore said. This year was the first time the San Francisco public defender’s office took part, although the district attorney’s office has been participating since the first visits in 2000. Linda Klee, the DA’s chief of administration, has traveled overseas with the program at least once a year since the beginning. Now the veteran prosecutor places it among the most rewarding experiences of her career. “Five years ago, in 2000, there was no word for ‘hate crime’ in Russia,” said Klee. “To be able to change a whole country’s attitude — it’s actually easier to do in Russia than it might be in some of our states.” — Pam Smith

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