I am Karen Ross mother of Sarah, Donna and Monica and stepmother to Matt and Christie. I married Jeff after knowing him for a good man and realizing that he did not shun the responsibility of children as he already had court custody of his son Matt, age 8 and was soon to have custody of his 9-year-old daughter, Christie. He had been fortunate to be raised in a loving, extended family of aunts, uncles, grandparents and his parents. Jeff knew that rules of behavior come with the territory of raising children.

My husband, Jeffery Scott Ross, was wrongfully convicted of several counts of rape, sodomy and child sex abuse of my daughter, his son and his daughter and sentenced to 85 years in prison with no chance of parole. The only proof was their word.

I met Jeff in February 1994 through my 15-yr. old daughter, Sarah. He met her through a mutual friend at an all night restaurant they all frequented. He was rough mannered and usually dirty. I soon learned that under the rough exterior was a warm, generous and compassionate heart. When Jeff realized that Sarah was a runaway and not a throwaway he visited me regularly with reports on her and made repeated attempts to get her back home. Matt resided with his grandmother in Corvallis while Jeff worked at a sawmill in Springfield.

In August 1994, I offered to shelter Matt when his grandmother said she couldn't continue to care for him. My son was moving out and I had a spare room. It caused a lot of hard feelings. The turmoil increased when Christie entered the household in January 1995. It became apparent that Christie was sexually aware and oriented. We intercepted a sex note to a neighborhood boy. We learned that she'd been molested when she was six.

Jeff and I married in April 1995. Our efforts to meld the two families together weren't having much success. Jeff's ideas and family values inherited from his grandparents were not well received by these 80's children. We started Ross' Unlimited, cutting and delivering firewood and expected the children to participate. When they realized how much work firewood entailed they balked creating more hard feelings. Christie ran away in May 1997, and accused Jeff of molestation. The charges were labeled unfounded, but she remained in state custody when the investigators determined that she had mental problems. After a month or so, Matt ran too, making accusations of sex abuse. Again, the police said it was unfounded. We suspected Christie ran because she was used to being the center of attention and that didn't happen in a large family. We think Matt ran because he missed his sister and wanted to join her

Donna was accepting Matt and Jeff. Although she chaffed at his dating rules she respected them. She listened to Jeff's stories and talked with him. She even asked his opinion on dresses--as a man and as a father. Inevitably, she chose the fathers opinion. She picked up his interests in wolves as well as some other values. Monica became even more argumentative and disobedient. I set the rules but Jeff got the blame. She'd turn the radio off saying we had no right to our jazz, classical or country music if she couldn't listen to her rap and heavy metal. She'd enter our bedroom without knocking to use the full-length mirror even if Jeff was sleeping or nude.

In August 2001, Monica went to the authorities with accusations of sexual molestation from Jeff. When Detective Altishin told her she was going to foster care I saw a startled look cross her face. It was obviously unexpected. I wanted to tell her she'd messed up and was no longer in control. Altishin interrupted me saying I was tampering with the witness and faced arrest if I didn't stop. That sentence was used in the trial and twisted to make me look vile. Jeff was arrested and indicted on multiple charges of child sex abuse, sodomy and rape. He was held in Benton County Jail until his trial in June 2001. Donna, Sarah, her children and I visited him there. Donna went in after the prom to show him her attire and hair and share the experience. Jeff had a nervous breakdown and made a couple of suicide attempts. His mother died in February 2001. He was taken to her when she lay in a coma, but was not permitted to attend the funeral.

During the ten months of investigation, Monica told authorities that both Donna and Sarah were probably having sex with Jeff. Despite pressure from the detectives both girls denied all charges. A detective read a complaint against Jeff that Sarah supposedly filed. Sarah said it was a false report containing errors. Sarah said she had such confidence in Jeff that she would trust him with her children. Matt too denied everything. We see all children denying that any molestation or sexual contact had ever occurred except for Monica. Steven Black was assigned as Jeff's public defender. In the months prior to the trial there was very little contact between Jeff and Mr. Black. Mr. Black did not respond to phone calls or questions. His few visits were very brief--less than 5 minutes and uninformative. Frustrated, Jeff tried to fire him twice before the trial. Judge Gardner denied the request on the prosecutor's recommendation. Jeff tried again, but didn't get a hearing until just before the trial. Judge Gardner told him that the public defenders were all very good, it was too close to the trial date to change and a new attorney wouldn't have time to prepare. He could appoint a new attorney under those conditions or he could ask another public defender to look at the file and make an assessment. We chose the assessment expecting to be able to talk with someone.

We were wrong. Karen Zorn was assigned the task. She made a judgment without ever interviewing Jeff, Donna, Sarah or me. Jeff's sister asked another attorney to look at things. Mr. Halpren checked records, interviewed Jeff and met with Mr. Black in his office. His conclusion was that the entire investigation and trial was "very sloppy" and that Mr. Black was unprofessional, unorganized and that the entire trial was wrong. During the sentencing phase of the trial, Mr. Halpren was permitted to take the case as co-council. Mr. Black was uncooperative. He sat in the back of the courtroom and laughed

On the first day of the trial Mr. Black told Jeff he was ready to fight and would win. In her opening arguments Ms. Carle said that three different children would tell identical stories. Both were false statements. During the trial Monica's testimony lasted several hours and the interview tape played several times. She testified she went with Jeff to get firewood near Sisters. While there Jeff was hit in the groin when the chain came off the running saw. She said he made her apply hand pressure to the injury and that it was hard. Then he laid her on the seat of Blackie and raped her while he stood on the ground. She said there was some pain, but it didn't last long. She said it was only that one time and she never saw Jeff with anyone else. She also indicated that she called 911 on a child abuse complaint telling them that Jeff threatened to kill the dog and that she thought Donna was having sex with Jeff.

Christie testified that Jeff would lock the door, close the curtains and then play spin the bottle with the kids. He would make them take turns having sexual contact with each other while he watched. Then he would take them in Blackie to a popular fishing area for more sex games in an open field. She said he would stand outside her room and reach through the window to fondle her breast. At times he would place her on her dresser so he could do oral sex on her. She said he had sex with her and Monica on four different occasions alternating between the two and climaxing each time. Finally, she said he took her and Matt to Sisters in Blackie. First she said the trip was in the summer. Then she said he pulled her and Matt out of school and there was snow on the ground. At that time he had sex with her in the truck while Matt watched. Afterwards he took her into the woods for more sex while Matt slept in the truck.

Ms. Carle called an officer to introduce a report that Sarah allegedly filed expressing her concerns for the safety of her sisters. The officer said she remembered taking the report from Sarah even though it had been a couple years previous. The report was unsigned because it was taken over the phone. How many reports did the officer take over the intervening time? How can she accurately recall details of a specific report? How can she be sure it was Sarah that called in the report when she never saw Sarah? Sarah denies the report and said it contained errors. She waited three days to testify yet Black didn't call her.

An expert witness testified on Matt's emotional status and possible denial of abuse. For several years Matt had been on an IEP and had a history of behavioral issues at school. The witness admitted he had never met Matt nor interviewed him. He based his conclusion on school records and the IEP. Matt denied all charges when he was on the stand. Ms. Carle simply brushed his testimony aside as denial. She used the girl's statements to support the charge that Jeff “caused” Matt to rape his sister. How can someone “cause” another person to rape? How can a 9-year-old boy rape?

When Ms. Carle was questioning a caseworker from the child protective services, Officer Laurie Godfrey was caught prompting the witness with hand signals. There was a conference at the judge's stand, but no action was taken other than a frown and order to stop. The jury never knew and the testimony was allowed to stand. How many other witnesses had been prompted before she got caught? Godfrey was the investigator for Jeff's case. At the time of the trial she was under investigation herself by internal affairs for mishandling investigations and evidence. Mr. Black did attempt to question her, but it was not allowed. Jeff had been told that evidence collected from our home (photos of house, family photos, measurements) couldn't be found. Apparently Godfrey took them home, misplaced them, found them again and turned them in. Godfrey is no longer with the department.

At one point Ms. Carle attempted an improper line of questioning. The judge stopped her, but she ignored the rebuke. She persisted several more times until threatened with contempt. Another time she swore out loud and then apologized. When the verdict came in she gave out a jubilant yes.” Mr. Black put on a brief defense. Most of the questions were along the line of “what's your relationship with this man?” and “How long have you known him?” Major Garren knew my children when they were very small. We had been neighbors. If my kids weren't at her house hers were at mine. She had a degree in psychology with a focus in child abuse. Her testimony of Monica's personality and her experiences with the girls was suppressed as “bad acts.” How can a toddler and preschooler be guilty of bad acts? How can you explain a very small child's character and personality without looking at their words and actions? Major Garren had been a witness in several trials as part of her work with the DEA. This was the first time she'd seen witnesses who were not briefed, not told what to expect and not told what their role was.

Myron and Margaret Ross, Jeff's uncle and aunt, had ample opportunity to observe Jeff as boy, teen and adult. Myron was a logger and could testify to the force and damage a chain can do when it comes off a running saw. Margaret provided childcare services in her home. Neither one ever observed any unnatural or deviant tendencies in Jeff. In fact they seemed to consider him one of the best of the clan. Mr. Black did not ask anything regarding Jeff's background, family relationships or character.

Perdita Humphrey, 78 years old, drove approximately 478 miles from her home in Idaho to testify on Jeff's behalf. Jeff spent much time with her and helped out with chores when he lived in Idaho. She cared for Matt when Jeff was working. They lived with her for about a month one winter when the pipes froze at his home. She was horrified to learn of his arrest and considered these charges totally out of character. She had with her an affidavit from the sheriff who also knew him well. The affidavits were not presented.

Steve and Laura Kochise, Jeff's sister and brother-in-law, were prepared to testify on Jeff's relationship with their

children and his character. They were not allowed to testify on that. Steve did make some remarks to the judge, but he was cut off.

Steve and Laura witnessed a very interesting, revealing conversation. They were sitting near Mr. Black, who at this point had not yet met them. Mr. Black was laughing and joking with Ms. Carle. Contrary to what he told Jeff earlier, he was telling Carle that the case was open and shut, a waste of his time, and that he knew Jeff was guilty. When Steve objected and identified himself, Black was clearly uncomfortable and awkward. He and Carle went out to the hall to continue their conversation. What did they discuss? What happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” Could Mr. Black's apparent lack of integrity and prejudicial attitude lead to a de facto lack of defense?

The case went to the jury on a Friday before a holiday. Jeff remembers the judge telling the jury after the verdict to “have a happy holiday.” I am certain jurors were under pressure to get it done and get out to avoid sequestering during the sentencing, Gardner, frustrated by Jeff's refusal to admit guilt or show remorse said, “he would make sure Jeff would spend the rest of his life in prison and never get parole.” All the children had the opportunity to speak out. Matt said his father did not belong in prison and should come home. At a post sentencing hearing, Judge Gardner heard some arguments for a mistrial. He turned to Ms. Carle and told her she should have settled out of court, that Jeff would win on appeal.

Monica said she was raped in Blackie with Jeff standing on the ground shortly after Jeff was hit in groin. This happened at Sisters. Blackie was a 1958 GMC 9-ton dual axle flatbed truck. The seat was chest high on Jeff. How can any man have an erection and rape immediately after a hard blow to the groin that caused profuse bleeding? Sisters is in Deschutes County, not Benton County, where Monica said she made the 911 call. In fact, she was having a fit, threatened Jeff with a ball bat, kicked me in the chest and was screaming “child abuse.” Jeff called her bluff by dialing 911 and handing her the phone. Monica was charged with menacing. She said Jeff threatened to kill the dog. Shadow was a large dog that had twice bitten neighborhood kids. Jeff was trying to prepare kids for the possibility that Shadow might be dangerous and uncontrollable. On the tape she said Donna was having sex with Jeff. Donna was prepared to testify in Jeff's defense, but never got the chance. Does going to the jail to share her prom experience with Jeff sound like something an abused girl would do? The judge told the jury to disregard references to Sisters, but how is that humanly possibly after hearing references a dozen times or more and the alleged rape took place there? Can there really be minimal pain and no bleeding or injury during penetration of a small girl by a well-built adult male? Why weren't the 911 tapes and related records revealed? Mr. Black only spoke briefly of the chain-saw accident, but failed to bring any of facts of the children's denials, the 911 call and the trust the courts had placed on Jeff by granting him custody of his children in cross-examination or in his final remarks.

Christie testified to several sexual contacts with Monica and Matt present. This is contrary to both Monica's and Matt's testimony. She said Jeff pulled them out of school. Why weren't attendance records checked? Notice the contradictions; pulled out of school, summer trip, winter trip? Christie went once in August before school. Matt never went to Sisters. Jeff never took a winter trip because Hwy. 20 is too steep and twisty (The state played down all denials of the children). Surprised jurors could not see what was happening)? Jeff was held responsible for Christies excessive sexual awareness and activity even though she came to us that way. Christie's testimony and the tape of her interview for this investigation did not match the May 1977 interview when she ran away. Mr. Black did not call for that tape even when Jeff pointed out the discrepancy.

Ms. Carle called an expert witness to testify on Matt's emotional status and possible denial of abuse. For several years Matt had been on an IEP and had a history of behavioral issues at school. The witness admitted he had never met Matt nor interviewed him. He based his conclusion on school records.

If the judge knew that something was wrong why didn't he declare a mistrial then? An appeal has been filed however, sufficient funds couldn't be raised and Mr. Halpren dropped the case. Jeff is now represented by a state appointed attorney. The process takes year. Even though he is only 39 when convicted Jeff does not have many years left. Since his conviction in 2000 he has aged rapidly. He experiences severe anxiety and panic attacks. He has back problems and has had several falls when his legs failed to function. He's had a heart attack and uses nitro for frequent chest pains. His blood pressure has gone from very low to extremely high. He was given blood pressure medicine that sometimes is taken away. He has migraines and intermittent periods of blindness. He has been diagnosed with hemochromatosis. He is having seizures. On 3/17 he had one that nearly claimed his life. The doctor said his heart may be slowing down and depriving his brain of oxygen. Depressed and without hope Jeff sees no reason to prolong his life and refuses treatment except for pain. His liver works overtime trying to process increasing levels of iron. At some point his liver or some other major organ will fail and he will die. If freed he would accept the phlebotomy and diet needed to control the disease but he is running out of time.

The family has been harmed by his conviction. The financial burden is draining. Sarah's children are missing their beloved grandpa. I grieve for our lost daughters. I worry about the others. The future appears bleak as I miss my husband, grieve for all we've lost and face his impending death.

You can write Jeffrey S. Ross at:
Jeffrey S. Ross #6995871
82911 Beach Access Rd.
Umatilla, OR 97882