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DeCamp Says He'll Represent Bonacci - Aug 28, 1990 - Omaha World-Herald

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Aug 28, 1990 DeCamp Says He'll Represent Bonacci; [Sunrise Edition] Robert Dorr. Omaha World - Herald. Omaha, Neb. pg. 16

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(Copyright 1990 Omaha World-Herald Company)


John DeCamp said Monday that he would defend Paul A. Bonacci, who was indicted by Douglas County's Franklin grand jury on three charges of lying to the grand jury.

DeCamp, a Lincoln attorney, lobbyist and former state senator, said he decided to represent Bonacci because "I absolutely believe" he is telling the truth.

DeCamp, who was criticized by the grand jury for writing a memo that the jurors called a "smear campaign," noted that the grand jury said Bonacci's psychiatrist "doubts that he can tell the truth."

That statement, said DeCamp, is "absolutely false."

Bonacci's psychiatrist, Dr. Beverley Mead, told The World-Herald Monday that he believes DeCamp is correct in saying Dr. Mead never told the grand jury that Bonacci was unable to tell the truth.

It probably is correct, as the grand jury said, that Bonacci "has been diagnosed as having multiple personalities," Dr. Mead said.

He is professor of psychiatry in the combined department of psychiatry for the Creighton University and University of Nebraska medical schools.

Attempt to Corroborate

The grand jury indictments state that Bonacci's story to the grand jury apparently was an attempt to corroborate Alisha Owen's account and to elaborate on her story with additional details involving other men.

Bonacci told the grand jury that he had witnessed and suffered sexual abuse from some prominent men in Omaha. The jurors, in their report, described Bonacci as "perhaps the most pathetic witness" to appear before the grand jury.

The grand jury said in its report: "He (Bonacci) has told numerous stories, recanted the same and then told more on videotape to (Gary) Caradori (the Franklin legislative committee's investigator who died in a July plane crash).

"Even while testifying before us, he admitted that some of his grand jury testimony was untrue. He has been diagnosed as having multiple personalities, and his psychiatrist doubts that he can tell the truth.

"His many inconsistencies and contradictions render his testimony unbelievable and necessitate his indictment for perjury."

Miss Owen, 21, was indicted on eight counts of lying to the grand jury, which investigated child sexual-abuse allegations and other matters that surfaced after the 1988 failure of Omaha's Franklin Community Federal Credit Union.

Jury Cleared Wadman

The grand jury said Miss Owen lied when she alleged that former Omaha Police Chief Robert Wadman sexually abused her and fathered her child when she was in her midteens. The grand jury cleared Wadman of any wrongdoing.

Dr. Mead said he testified before the grand jury about Bonacci but doesn't have a clear memory of what he said because the testimony was some months ago.

After talking with Bonacci three or four hours, Dr. Mead said, he decided Bonacci had multiple personalities. Dr. Mead said he would be more secure in that diagnosis if he had spent more time interviewing Bonacci.

Having multiple personalities means that Bonacci might tell different stories at different times, Dr. Mead said.

He said Bonacci might speak as an individual with one personality when telling a certain story, then speak as a person with a different personality when telling about the same incident but with a different set of facts.

He gave this example:

If Bonacci met with someone and was asked later if he met with that person, Bonacci might say, "Yes, I did." That would be the truth, and it would indicate that Bonacci was functioning as the same personality when he both met the person and later was asked about that meeting.

On the other hand, if Bonacci had changed personalities after the meeting, he might deny having met that individual. That would indicate Bonacci had changed from one personality to another.

However, Dr. Mead said, he doesn't believe he would have said that he doubts Bonacci "can tell the truth."

He added: "It's possible that what I said was construed to mean that."

Not Identified

The grand jury didn't identify Bonacci's psychiatrist. Dr. Mead and DeCamp said they assume the person referred to is Dr. Mead.

Neither grand jury foreman Michael Flanagan nor special prosecutor Samuel Van Pelt could be reached for comment.

After Bonacci was indicted, Chief Deputy Public Defender Tom Riley was named to defend Bonacci.

DeCamp said Bonacci, 23, sought his legal services about two weeks ago. DeCamp said he would defend Bonacci against the perjury charges.

The three counts of perjury on which the grand jury indicted Bonacci are felonies, each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

'Smear Campaign'

DeCamp himself was criticized by the grand jury for writing a memo that the jurors said constituted a "smear campaign." In that memo, DeCamp named five prominent men who, he said, were rumored to be "central figures" in an investigation into child abuse and drug abuse.

DeCamp wasn't indicted on any criminal charges. He has sued the grand jury because, he said, its comments defamed him, held him up to public ridicule and placed him in a false light.

Bonacci was jailed last November on three charges of sexually molesting boys. He pleaded no contest to the fondling charges and is serving five years in prison.

Dr. Mead said his evaluation of Bonacci was ordered by the court after Bonacci's no contest plea. The purpose of Dr. Mead's evaluation was to assist in the sentencing.

After being jailed, Bonacci told Omaha police officers that as a child he was molested by two Omaha men who later were convicted of sexually abusing other children. Later, Bonacci began telling elaborate stories about having witnessed and suffered sexual abuse by prominent Omahans, police said.

'Didn't Start With Franklin'

"He didn't start with Franklin," Omaha Police Detective Michael Hoch said in an earlier interview. "But Franklin was breaking at that time. And there was quite a grapevine through the correctional system.

"All of a sudden we're starting to get information from him on that. But we weren't able to substantiate any of his allegations."

DeCamp also said Bonacci told "essentially the same story" about "the so-called Franklin personalities" in April 1986 as he told this year to the grand jury.

Bonacci told that story as a student at Northwest High School to school counselors, to the Omaha Police Department and to doctors at Nebraska Psychiatric Institute, DeCamp said.

DeCamp didn't give the names of persons that Bonacci talked to in 1986.

DeCamp said the grand jury indicated that a "carefully crafted hoax" involving alleged sexual abuse of children had been formulated in the fall of 1988. If Bonacci told the same story in 1986 that he later told the grand jury, it would cast doubt on the grand jury's theory of a hoax, DeCamp said.

Credit: World-Herald Staff Writer

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