NEWS- Girl crazy: Charges tossed in supremacist's trial
Certain inalienable rights were upheld last week in federal court in Charlottesville: the right to masturbate, the right to superimpose the heads of girls onto naked women's bodies, and the right to anonymously send flowers to the objection of one's affections– even if it's an 11-year-old girl.
On October 3, U.S. District Court Judge Norman Moon dismissed two felony charges against Kevin Strom, the founder of the Aryan-lovin' National Vanguard, who was charged with enticing a young girl to perform sexual acts as well as obstruction and intimidation of a witness: Strom's wife.
Shortly after the prosecution rested its case around 11:30am on the second day of the trial, the defense, which had successfully separated a trial on porn charges and kept information about Strom's neo-Nazi leanings from coming before the jury, moved for dismissal.
"I can't find a single enticement or direct communication between the defendant and the minor child that involved discussion about sex," defense attorney Fred Heblich pointed out.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Gould contended that Strom's sending lilies and roses anonymously to the girl on her 11th birthday showed sexual intent. Judge Norman Moon disagreed. "There must be more than preparation," he said.
Much of the prosecution's case hinged on the testimony of Strom's wife, Elisha, who came home unexpectedly to find him naked, aroused, and staring at pictures of young white nationalist-movement singers the couple both knew, superimposed onto a picture of nude and entwined women.
"She caught him masturbating, but that's not a crime," said Moon.
Nor did Moon believe that last year's contract between Kevin and Elisha Strom in which he promised to seek counseling until cured of pedophilia constituted sufficient evidence.
"I think the jury can find he was sexually attracted to this child," said the judge. But that alone is not illegal. And when Gould reminded Moon of Strom driving past the girl's house, Moon replied, "That's what these people do when they're obsessed."
"We're happy the charges were dismissed," said Heblich afterwards. "We're gratified the judge agreed the case wasn't sufficient to go to the jury."
Strom's interest in young white girls comes as no surprise to those who've followed his career, which has been dedicated to defending the rights of Caucasians and standing firm against multiculturalism. His website featured a section called "feminine beauty" and showed a particular fondness for the young Brooke Shields.
As for the Orange County girl, who was a classmate of Strom's stepdaughter at United Christian Academy, her family felt so uncomfortable with Strom's attentions and anonymous gifts– a sweater and a Tim McGraw CD for Christmas 2005 in a package from "Santa Claus" when she was 10, roses and white lilies on the girl's 11th birthday, and another 2006 Christmas package addressed to the family containing a Peter Pan DVD– that they removed her from the private school.
Police found photos of the girl on Strom's computer, directions to and a schedule of her new school, and poetry expressing his desire to marry her (to be sung to the tune of "Here We Come A Wassailing"). Yet, said Judge Moon, "It doesn't even reach the point of stalking."
The government's star witness, Elisha Strom, 32, has been described as a fiery white supremacist in her own right by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Despite her bold background (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org), Mrs. Strom spoke softly and haltingly as she told the jury how her husband had choked her when she caught him again looking at little-girl pix.
She recounted that after she bashed him in the head with a telephone, his parents took him to the hospital. The only time the weepy Mrs. Strom smiled was when she was asked which Strom had the worse temper.
"Me," she responded. Indeed, the jury also heard about her flinging eggs at her husband when he asked if his three children by another wife could visit for the 2002 Christmas holidays.
At times, the testimony sounded like evidence in a bad divorce case. Mrs. Strom testified she convened a meeting with her husband and his parents because she wanted him to give up custody of his children, who live in Minnesota.
What the prosecution characterized as intimidation by legal filings the defense said were Strom's attempts to get his property back after his July 2006 departure from the couple's home. Elisha Strom acknowledged she changed the locks on their Ruckersville home, held a rummage sale that September, and presided over a bonfire in which she burned a trove of racist books, his National Vanguard literature, and an antique spinning wheel.
"The filing of these suits is something the defendant is constitutionally entitled to do," Judge Moon said.
The trial of the nationally known and controversial Strom, who is the ideological disciple to William Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries– the book that reportedly inspired homegrown terrorist Timothy McVeigh– drew friends and foes from the radical right. American National Socialist Workers Party founder Bill White was there and, according to his website, eager to see Strom go down.
However, John Justice, who travelled from Tennessee to downtown Charlottesville to attend the trial, called Strom "a fine man." A Strom friend since 1994, Justice said they were both close friends of the late Revilo Oliver, an antiquities professor and major white supremacist who bequeathed his 4,000-volume library to Strom. The books were destroyed in the bonfire, according to Justice.
After the case was dismissed, Justice also solved the mystery of how Strom sent anonymous gifts to the little girl using the credit card of "J. Justice." Justice said it was his card and that Strom was allowed to charge $100 a month.
"He had a miserable marriage," said Justice. "He was so ashamed of being caught by his wife, she was able to force him to sign a quitclaim on his house."
Investigators reportedly found thousands of images on Strom's computers. He remains in custody and faces trial on five child porn charges in January.
"We never knew he was involved in child porn or liked looking at young girls," says Erich Gliebe, Strom's former boss at National Alliance headquarters in Hillsboro, West Virginia, who says he fired Strom in April 2005. "Most people view him as being guilty of something, but they don't know what."