Woodrow Woody Williams stared out at the snow accumulating on the sidewalk in front of Kennedy High School. Monday again. How many more Mondays till retirement? Too many! He finished the last sip of coffee and tossed the Dunkin’ Donuts cup across the room, off the wall and into the wastebasket. He smiled at his small victory.
As an African American male, he thought that would give him an edge in dealing with inner city students. It didn’t. Kids today didn’t respect anybody, even each other, he thought. Black, white, blue, whatever color the person was wouldn’t help you in this job. Being a mean son of a bitch got a better response, certainly got their attention.
A knock on his office door Mrs. Ray, his head secretary, walked in saying,”There are four teachers out today and we have three substitute teachers. But you need to talk to Miss Collins. She’s demanding to see you.”
“Thanks Mrs. Ray. Send her in.” Miss Collins, a first year teacher, had the nickname Flame because of her temper and her tendency to blush when angry. A cute little blonde straight out of college, she should be teaching in the suburbs, not the city, he reflected. If he had any hair left, he would have pulled it out over her demands. No wonder the students called him Bald Eagle behind his back.
Miss Collins entered wearing a navy pantsuit with her hair pulled back into a ponytail. She carried a stack of books and dumped them on top of Williams’ desk. “I QUIT! You can have my grade book, lesson plan book and all my teacher’s editions. I don’t need them anymore!”
“Please sit down. Let’s not make a rash decision.”
“I can’t do another day in this hellhole!” She paced back and forth.
“Maybe you should talk to your union rep Jackie Majors.” He didn’t know what else to say to her. “Take the day off and get some rest. Things will look better tomorrow.”
“I QUIT!” Miss Collins stormed out of his office slamming the door. Could this day get any worse?
Mr. Williams walked through the office and into the front hallway. The halls were crowded. Several groups of students stood in conversation making no effort to head for first period classes. Until his booming, gruff voice yelled,”Let’s clear the halls and get to class!” Reluctantly, the groups divided disappearing into classrooms.
Suddenly two police officers appeared from an adjoining hallway followed by a mother, daughter and a female detective. The detective spoke first,”Principal Williams we need to talk to you.”
“Follow me to my office.” Yes, this day could get worse! “What’s this about?” He asked as he closed his office door behind them.
“We are here to arrest one of your teachers for the statutory rape of a student,” the detective revealed.
Mr. Bradley Remer glanced in the mirror by the classroom door. His straw-colored hair grew long and he usually had that “need a haircut” look. But his morning runs before school kept his body long and lean. A fact he was proud of and a brag point with his fellow teachers. Remer stood outside his classroom waiting for the arrival of his senior English students. Mr. Williams expected all the teachers at their doors greeting students. The real reason to provide extra hall security, more eyes looked for potential problems. Morning coffee had forced him awake to face another week of school.
Here comes trouble, he thought, as ReRe ran into his classroom. He watched her hop on his desk kicking her brown legs in her short denim skirt and red Jordans. The bell rang. Mr. Remer called out,”ReRe go to your class. That’s the bell.”
“Get outta here bitch!” Sissy screamed from the back of the classroom. “Leave my teacher alone.”
ReRe jumped down. “I’m not running from you! Bring your ugly ass up here!”
Mr. Remer grabbed ReRe by the arm and led her in the direction of the door. “I’ll talk to you later. I don’t want any confrontations in my room. Go to class ReRe.”
“Yes Bradley,” she laughed. ReRe hugged a security guard who escorted her down the hall.
“It’s Mr. Remer,” he spoke to an empty hallway.
Closing the door, he turned to face his students. “Okay, back to Othello. Who remembers what we read last week?”
Sissy’s hand rose. “Why did you let her in your room?”
“Let’s get back to Iago and the handkerchief.”
“Me and the sisters can tune her up for you,” Sissy added. Remer knew Sissy didn’t need help from anyone else.
“Enough Sissy.” Remer tried to remain calm. “Now how does Iago acquire the strawberry handkerchief?”
Two police officers entered the room with one officer reaching for his handcuffs. “Mr. Bradley Remer we are placing you under arrest.” He cuffed the surprised teacher.
“Hey! What’s going on here?” Remer pleaded. The classroom exploded in cell phone pictures, texts, and loud laughter.
“You’re coming with us. You have the right to remain silent.” As the policemen continued his Miranda rights into the hallway, students left their seats. Then Mr. Williams walked in and the students scrambled back to their desks.
“Mr. Williams why did they arrest our teacher?” A quiet boy in the front asked.
“Son, I’m sure the media will be all over this story. They love to say bad things about Kennedy High.” Oh lord, he thought, will this day ever end? And it was only 8:12 a.m.
Detective Emily Rodgers sat down at the principal’s desk and stared at Makia Davis. A little girl of fifteen shouldn’t have to endure sexual advances from a man more than twice her age. Emily recalled losing her virginity at a college frat party. Even nineteen seemed young to her now. But fifteen was too soon. This poor girl had no idea of the media attention a trial would bring to her and her family.
Makia wore her school uniform of a red polo shirt and navy denim skirt. Her long black hair was pulled back into a silver clip. Makia wiped away her tears and gripped her mother’s hand tightly. “I’m ready for your questions,” her shaking voice said.
Emily smiled trying to relax the young student. “Call me Emily, Makia. Let’s review some of the details from your statement.”
“Is this necessary?” Mrs. Davis interrupted.
“Yes, I’m afraid so. This is a serious charge.” Turning to Makia, she continued,”When and where did this incident occur?”
“Friday. On my way home from school it rained real hard. Mr. Remer stopped and offered me a ride home.”
“But he didn’t take you straight home.”
“No. We drove to Memorial Park. He parked away from the road.”
“You had sexual intercourse with Mr. Remer?”
“Yes.” Makia searched her mother’s face. “I’m sorry momma. It’s true.”
“Is this the only time you had sexual relations with Mr. Remer?”
“No. There were two other times.”
“In his car too?”
“Yes. He kept a red plaid blanket on the back seat.”
Detective Rodgers reviewed her notes. “Okay. All the details are exactly the same as the statement you made last night. I have two more questions then your mother can take you home.”
Makia nodded fighting back more tears.
“How did this relationship begin with Mr. Remer?”
“He’s my English teacher. Sometimes I would stay after class and help him grade papers or decorate the classroom. He bought me McDonalds a few times and I would eat lunch in his room. He said I was special. He touched me, hugged me. One time we went for a ride after school.”
“Why didn’t you report Mr. Remer when it happened the first time?”
Even Makia’s tissue couldn’t stop the tears. “He said he loved me. Nobody ever said that to me not even you momma.”
Mrs. Davis pulled her from the chair and headed for the door. Detective Rodgers spoke to them,”I’ll call you.” But they were gone. Emily Rodgers shook her head. Why were parents always the last to know, she wondered. Picking up her purse, she walked out of the office.
Quinton Lancaster laughed every time he saw the framed picture of Ron Burgundy on his desk. That helped somewhat with the resentment everyone in the newsroom had for him. He dealt with being the office smart ass as well as the eldest son of legendary ABC news anchor Jerry Lancaster. Connections from his father got him his job and everyone knew it.
But the trial would change everything. A small story about a fifteen year old girl raped by her teacher had caught fire across the country with the media fanning the flames. A career making story had fallen into his lap that no one else wanted at first. Quinn’s report with a national audience would elevate him perhaps to that NBC weekend news anchor position? At least he might get a date with Maryann, the hot anchor who all the guys drooled over when she walked by. Maryann knew it and wore tight sweaters and short skirts to drive the men mad.
“Are you preparing for your update on the six o’clock news?” The deep voice of Russ Thomas, his station chief, brought him out of his daydream of Maryann.
“Yes sir. Ready to go.”
“You have ten minutes till sound check. Straighten your tie. The whole country’s watching. CNN might even rebroadcast your report.”
Quinn remembered selecting the exact shirt, tie, and suit for this moment, his biggest moment until the trial started next week and he would be the only reporter working live with True Trial TV. He rechecked the teleprompter and took a deep breath, advice his father had shared with him. Even though he partied his way through his university days, father would get him a position with one phone call, two at the most. Friends with better voices and far more talent still searched for that first broadcasting job while he began his fifth year at station KYC.
Maryann gave her best smile saying,”Let’s get an update from Quinn Lancaster on the trial of Ohio teacher Bradley Remer.”
For a brief second he stared at Maryann’s beautiful face and auburn hair. Then he turned to the camera and the waiting teleprompter. “Good evening. Monday begins the trial of Bradley Remer for the alleged rape of his fifteen year old student. Reports tell me that Bradley’s wife Vicki has moved back home with her husband to present a united front for the trial. True Trial TV has signed releases from Bradley Remer and Mrs. Davis, the mother of the rape victim. Therefore, the trial will be on live tv. I will report everything to you as we watch the trial together Monday 9:00 a.m. on True Trial TV.”
“I’m speaking to you from outside the doors of the Franklin County Courthouse in Columbus, Ohio. Just a few moments until the trial that all of America is waiting to see. Let’s have a brief comment from the parties involved. Quinn Lancaster, KYC News, Mr. Remer, what are your thoughts before the trial begins?”
“I’ve waited three months to clear my name. This has been very hard on myself and my wife Vicki. I want to be back in the classroom with my students. The truth will be heard today for the first time.” An emotional Bradley Remer walked through the doors with his attorney.
Mrs. Davis stood in front of her daughter. “I got something to say too.”
“Mrs. Davis tell America your feelings about your daughter and Mr. Remer.”
“That devil needs to be locked up! He violated my Makia and robbed her of her innocence. That son of a bitch!” She stomped past the news crew dragging her daughter by the hand.
“True Trial TV reminds the audience that both the Davis and Remer families are being paid for allowing us to broadcast their trial to you. Whatever the verdict of Judge Tolliver, even if it involves a prison sentence, will be carried out like any courtroom trial. Let’s go inside and watch today’s True Trial.”
With the cameras in position, Quinn sat down in the final row of seats. The bailiff announced,”Everyone please rise for the Honorable Judge Spencer Tolliver.” A silver-haired man in a black robe entered.
He hammered his gavel. “Please be seated.” Judge Tolliver looked around at the crowded courtroom and the cameras, the damn cameras! “Before we begin today’s proceedings, let me speak off the record about True Trial TV. I personally don’t believe that the trial of a fifteen year old girl should be broadcast to the public. That being said, both Mr. Remer and Mrs. Davis signed legal documents allowing for this to happen. Mr. Dent for the prosecution please proceed with your opening remarks.”
A veteran of True Trial TV, Dent smiled for the cameras and spoke to the judge,”Your honor, this is a horrible case of the rape of an innocent fifteen year old girl, Makia Davis. Mr. Remer violated the public trust of a teacher working daily with our sons and daughters. He is a rapist and needs to be sent to prison.”
The judge faced the defense table. “And your opening remarks Mr. Turner.”
Jake Turner, the college roommate and lifelong friend of Bradley Remer, stood in front of the judge. “Your honor, the good name of Bradley Remer has been damaged by the media for months. It ends today. You will see that we are dealing with a school girl’s crush on her English teacher, a fantasy romance that is all in this little girl’s imagination.”
Dent announced,”I call Detective Rodgers to the stand.”
“Bailiff, please swear her in.”
Emily Rodgers felt the eyes of every male in the room watch her walk. Great, she thought, with all the cameras too she’ll probably attract a stalker or two.
“Detective Rodgers when did you meet Makia Davis?” Dent began.
“On Sunday after the incident on Friday, Mrs. Davis brought her daughter to the police station.”
“And what happened?”
“I took Makia’s statement about being raped by Mr. Remer.”
“Did you believe her story?”
“Of course! The next morning the three of us met at Kennedy High and reviewed her statement. Word for word everything was the same.”
“Thank you detective. Your witness Mr. Turner.”
Turner checked his notes as he approached Detective Rodgers. “Good morning detective. Just a few questions for you. You had a search warrant for my client’s Buick. What did you find?”
“We were looking for a blanket that Makia described. It wasn’t there.”
“What else detective?”
“There were no hair fibers, DNA, nothing we could present in court.”
“Thank you detective. You can return to your seat.”
Dent stood frowning. “Makia Davis, please take the stand.”
Makai wore her Sunday best blue dress with navy ribbons tying back her hair. She gripped several tissues in her right hand.
“Makia, you are a sophomore at Kennedy High School. How did you meet Mr. Remer?”
“He’s my English teacher.”
“Okay Makia, let’s focus on the Friday incident. Please tell us what happened in your own words.”
She hesitated searching for her mother’s face in the crowd. Her mother smiled at her. Then Makia spoke,”I was walking home from school. It was raining. Mr. Remer stopped his car and offered me a ride home. I got in his car. We drove to Memorial Park and that’s where we did it.”
“You had sexual intercourse with Mr. Remer?”
“Yes, but I wanted to like the other times.”
“We did it twice before that. I love Mr. Remer and he loves me. I didn’t wanna go to the police. That was momma’s idea.”
Vicki Remer erupted in tears rushing out of the courtroom.
“No further questions. Mr. Turner?”
Turner asked,”One question Makia. Were you a virgin when this alleged affair began?”
“Objection your honor!” Dent said jumping to his feet.
Judge Tolliver responded,”I’ll allow it. We have signed releases to include everything. Makia, answer the question.”
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she admitted,”No, I lost my virginity to Franklin, a older boy lives on Decker, when momma was at work.”
“No further questions.” Turner returned to the defense table giving Bradley a thumbs up.
Dent said from his chair. “The prosecution rests.”
Turner announced,”I call Principal Williams for the defense.”
Williams checked his watch. Homeroom would be starting in a few minutes for his Kennedy’s students.
“Principal Williams, tell us about Bradley Remer.”
“I’ve known Mr. Remer for the past six years as an English teacher at Kennedy High. He seems to be well liked by the staff and students. Several teachers are in the courtroom today. His classroom is organized and he never misses school, a model teacher.”
“Thank you Principal Williams. Mr. Dent?”
“I call Bradley Remer to the stand.”
The courtroom seemed to come alive with renewed interest in the trial. Remer sat down waiting for his attorney’s questions.
“Mr. Remer, let’s return to the Friday in question. Tell us in your own words what happened.”
“I was driving home and saw my student, Makia Davis, walking in the pouring rain. I stopped my car and gave her a ride home.”
“That’s all that happened?”
“Why do you believe Makia Davis would make up this story of rape?”
Bradley Remer looked past his attorney to the little girl seated next to Prosecutor Dent. “Students have crushes on their teachers. It happens all the time. In Makia’s case she loves to write fantasy stories. I guess she wanted a relationship, wanted attention.”
“Thank you. Mr. Dent?”
Dent’s face grew angry. “Why did you rape a fifteen year old girl?”
“It never happened, only in her imagination. I’m happily married Mr. Dent.”
“Closing remarks,” Judge Tolliver instructed. Remer passed Dent as he returned to the defense table.
“Your honor, this man is a rapist and needs to be in prison. You heard Makia Davis. She was caught up in his lies, trading a promise of love for statutory rape. Send him to prison your honor.”
Turner approached the judge. “There is no evidence, no witnesses. You have the words of a young girl with a vivid imagination versus a family man, a teacher. Let’s end this nonsense and return Mr. Remer to his classroom.”
Judge Tolliver stared into the camera. “I know True Trial TV has time restraints but I am ready to rule. I find Mr. Remer innocent of all charges. Court dismissed.” He hammered down the gavel for the final time.
“THIS ISN’T JUSTICE!” Mrs Davis screamed. “MY DAUGHTER WAS RAPED!” The bailiff ran to her and escorted her out of the courtroom.
Within minutes, only Bradley Remer and his attorney remained. “That was too close Jake. Guess I better be more careful with the next girl. I got my new candidate already, her name’s ReRe.”
“I don’t want to know Brad,” Turner interrupted closing his attache case. “You’re lucky the last girl took cash to keep her mouth shut.”
“You know what they say, once you go black . . .”
“Brad, I’ll call you. Maybe have lunch on the weekend. Watch yourself. Next time I won’t be able to keep you outta prison.”
“This is Quinn Lancaster reporting from outside the courthouse. Thanks for tuning into True Trial TV.”