|From a Chamber of Commerce site - link|
The paper's coverage of the Andrew West situation is, in my opinion, commendable. A local newspaper should make the affairs of such persons available to the public. Photos, plus information about where this individual plans to live, is very important information. It is also something everyone needs to be made aware of, and the Mountain Views News has been doing just that. At least lately.
However, what isn't quite so good is the inconsistency of this paper's coverage about these matters. We are talking in particular about the case of the once upon a time well-connected Sierra Madre society bon vivant and political activist, Robert "Bob" Matheson. Arrested, convicted and imprisoned in Canada for the possession of child porn, Mr. Matheson later managed to escape being registered here as a sex offender.
It is perhaps the only instance in this city's checkered history where a person convicted of trafficking in child pornography ever was let of the hook in that way. Why this happened remains quite a mystery, even to this day.
In February of 2012 the following article ran in The Mountain Views News. It was the last time this story was ever covered in our city's adjudicated taxpayer supported newspaper.
Two notable passages stand out. The first being Sierra Madre Police Chief Larry Giannone's claim that he could not discuss the matter because an investigation of some sort was still going down. The other statement comes from MVN Publisher Susan Henderson. She also talks about a continuing investigation, and again that nothing may be said. This despite her acknowledgement that many residents in Sierra Madre were upset by this City's apparent refusal to register Mr. Matheson as a sex offender, even after his conviction and imprisonment for possessing child pornography.
There was an earlier Mountain Views News article on the Matheson case, which ran in December of 2011. In it Susan Henderson lamented that so much of the media coverage being given to this story was focused upon Matheson's local political and social connections, and not about the victims themselves. Which makes sense since most of the people being linked to Matheson in the press were close political associates of Susan at that time.
It must also be noted that the topic of child victims in the Matheson case, oddly enough, was never discussed by Susan, either. At least not in any real depth. Apparently her concerns lay elsewhere.
That article was titled "Reports On The Arrest Of Child Pornographer Fail To Focus On Victims," and can still be linked to here.
So here are some elephant in the room types of questions. The most recent of the two MVN stories cited here is now more than two and a half years old. Certainly that official investigation should have turned up some useful information by now, right? Isn't it time these findings were shared with the public? Yet we have never heard anything more on this matter, either from city authorities or Susan's paper.
Nor has Bob Matheson, convicted and jailed for some of the same things as Andrew West, ever been registered as a sex offender. He has apparently received some kind of a pass, both from the City of Sierra Madre and the Mountain Views News. At last report he still lives up on Liliano Drive, and remains free to go wherever he likes.
Why is this? Why did Matheson get let off, yet the likes of Andrew West did not? As longtime Tattler readers can attest, I have been mulling this issue over for a while. And in the absence of any additional information from the law enforcement agency in town (and for more than two and half years, let me remind you), I have been forced to come up with theories of my own. The Tattler abhors a vacuum, as you know.
I have two of them, and if true they might also be linked.
Theory # 1) Matheson's influential social and political connections worked behind the scenes to get him off the hook. At that time his erstwhile allies held 4 out of the 5 seats on the City Council. Their argument could have been that, as an already imprisoned convict, he had suffered enough and, given his years of volunteer work and social popularity in Sierra Madre, deserved a break. So they quietly gave him one. Accompanied by a lot of marginally effective spin and damage control, of course.
Theory #2) The socially vibrant Bob Matheson was not the only person in Sierra Madre who enjoyed viewing child pornography. It could be that a few others, perhaps notable, were also in on the action. Bob let it be known to certain persons that, should he ever be forced to register as a sex offender by Sierra Madre's authorities, he just might decide to talk in public about certain things. Those with something to hide made certain Bob was never registered.
There is another theory. That Bob made a deal with the Feds and has turned in some of his compatriots. But I am not certain there is much of a reason to buy into that one.
If you have any others, I'd love to hear about them. Since this matter continues to be covered up by the local authorities, theories are pretty much all we have.
So how well-connected was Bob Matheson in Sierra Madre? Both socially and politically? Any cursory exploration of "Google Images" should give you that answer. Just insert his name along with "Sierra Madre" and dig in. He was a guy who loved to have his picture taken, and a lot of folks were glad to join him in the fun.
This is not to say these people had anything to do with his failings, and it is likely none did. But what it does show is that without a doubt Bob Matheson had connections with what were (at least at that time), some of this city's most elite residents. Or at least they liked to think of themselves that way. Certainly they controlled our local government, and happily lorded it over the townies with their pretentious social outings. These people had juice.
Here are some of the photos that I found.
At the beginning of this article I said that we should speculate about why Sierra Madre seems to attract registered sex offenders. My guess is this town has developed a reputation for being soft on such behavior. One reason being the treatment Bob Matheson received when he returned from prison in Canada.
That someone convicted of the kinds of crimes Matheson was jailed for had been let off scot-free when he returned here was pretty much unprecedented at that time. I am certain some people noticed.
And that Sierra Madre officials, along with our in part taxpayer funded adjudicated weekly newspaper, should continue to remain silent about this particular case, to the point of possibly withholding information, would seem to indicate that such tolerance is still very much in effect.
Among other things.