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Your honor, I was only delivering The Truth

Thu., July 31, 2008, midnight

Inflammatory?

Meee?

Imagine my shock to hear that a Superior Court judge had singled out yours truly in her ruling on South Hill rapist Kevin Coe’s change-of-venue request for his upcoming civil commitment trial.

Judge Kathleen O’Connor, thank goodness, rejected Coe’s whining about how pretrial publicity might derail his chances for a fair hearing.

If your name is Kevin Coe, I think your reputation is already at the bottom of the septic tank.

O’Connor decided the media coverage about Coe had mostly been “factual and associated with what has occurred in court.”

But I learned in reporter Karen Dorn Steele’s newspaper story that the judge noted one exception: “a June 1 column by Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clark.”

In it I referred to Coe as a “dirtbag” and called for society to lock him up and swallow the key.

“Clark’s column is ‘inflammatory,’” O’Connor said, “but it doesn’t represent a majority of the reporting on Coe.”

Say what?

I’ll be honest. Those words were exceedingly painful to read.

That’s because I was on vacation. I couldn’t fire up the old laptop and start kicking judicial booty.

Sorry. I meant help educate Judge O’Connor on the nuances of journalism.

(Vacation was great by the way. The only drawback is always that awkward, uncomfortable period when I shuffle back into the newsroom and re-establish contact with the editors. “What, you still work here?” gasped one of them.)

I don’t mind being singled out as the bad boy.

I’ve pretty much made a career out of it.

Plus it’s kind of exciting to be part of a court decision.

As long as no handcuffs are involved, that is.

But let’s get something straight. Calling Kevin Coe a dirtbag is NOT inflammatory.

It’s like saying rotting garbage stinks.

Or that a flesh-eating virus is putrid.

Or that Pam Anderson has made some dubious relationship choices.

Sure, looking back, I do have some misgivings about my verbiage.

Frankly, I was way too warm and squishy.

The term dirtbag should be used more for someone like Darin Earl Wanless, the former federal security guard who pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony voyeurism.

Wanless (“Wanlust” if you want to be accurate) used the mega-lens of a spy camera atop the U.S. Courthouse complex to gaze at unclad women in a downtown condo and a hotel.

“We’ve got boobies,” Wanless was heard to excitedly utter during one of his Homeland Impurity missions.

Yep. Definitely a dirtbag.

Coe is a creature far darker.

He’s a serial rapist who should never – ever – walk away from confinement.

That’s what Coe’s Sept. 15 civil commitment trial will decide, of course. Although he has done his time for the one rape that ultimately stuck, the state wants to keep him locked up as the dangerous sexual menace to women we all know he is.

That’s my opinion, of course.

Judge O’Connor needs to learn the difference between journalists who base their reporting on objective facts and someone like me who gets paid to deliver The Truth.

I don’t want to be too hard on the judge.

In an earlier decision, she wisely ruled that “21 women on a state list of uncharged rape and indecent liberties can be included in the trial …”

And now she has said no to Coe’s attempt to have the court case moved from Spokane.

Good for her. I’ve already marked my calendar. I plan on being there to watch the state succeed in its effort to keep this predatory piece of filth away from the rest of us.

Oops. I’m sorry. Was that inflammatory?

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at dougc@spokesman.com.


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