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Owen Is Paroled; Served 4 1/2 Years The woman linked to the Franklin Credit Union sexual abuse investigation wants to be a "normal person" - Sep 22, 2000 - Omaha World-Herald

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Owen Is Paroled; Served 4 1/2 Years The woman linked to the Franklin Credit Union sexual abuse investigation wants to be a "normal person"; [Metro Edition]

 

Full Text (739 words)

(Copyright 2000 Omaha World-Herald Company)

The B&W photo ran 09/22/00.

 

Alisha Owen, who set off a whirlwind of gossip in Omaha a decade ago when she told elaborate tales of sexual abuse, was given her freedom on Thursday.

 

The Nebraska Parole Board voted 5-0 to grant her parole.

 

Owen, 32, told the board that she is a goal-oriented person and that she intends to complete her college education. "I just want to be a normal person," she said.

 

Two grand juries and one trial jury said Owen lied under oath in accusing prominent men of sexually abusing her when she was a teen- ager. She has never publicly wavered from her allegations.

 

She was released immediately and left the Omaha Correctional Center hand-in-hand with her husband, Eric Bystrom.

 

As Owen left the parole hearing, she was greeted by hugs and kisses from her parents and about 30 other family members and friends.

 

Parole board members praised Owen, who now goes by Owen-Bystrom, for entering college under an educational-release program and for earning academic honors. She has been on the dean's list all of her four semesters at the College of St. Mary.

 

"School is a priority," she said.

 

She also works part time at an airport gift shop. Her employer has promised her a management job if she continues her work toward a college degree, she said. She intends to eventually earn a master's degree, she said.

 

Owen also attended Metro Community College. She met her husband when both were students there.

 

Parole Board Member Bob Boozer said that in his nearly four years on the board he had never seen any inmate with a better record of accomplishment than Owen.

 

No one appeared at Thursday's hearing to oppose her parole.

 

State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha recited Owen's educational accomplishments in a letter supporting her request for parole. She has been a tutor for inmates studying for their high school equivalency diploma, and she was a mentor for nontraditional students at the College of St. Mary, Chambers said.(6, 09/22/00)

 

Chambers for a time was a member of the Nebraska Legislature's special committee that investigated the collapse of the Franklin Credit Union of Omaha and related matters, including Owen's accusations.(6, 09/22/00)

 

During the hearing at the Correctional Center there was no mention of the scandal surrounding her sexual-abuse allegations.

 

As Owen left the correctional center, she didn't make any response to reporters who asked for comment.

 

Owen has served 4 1/2 years of a nine-to-15-year sentence for perjury. She was convicted in 1991 but remained free until her court appeals were exhausted in 1996.

 

Her allegations of sexual abuse surfaced after she told her tale in 1989 to a private detective working for a state legislative committee that was investigating the financial collapse of Franklin Credit Union in Omaha. The legislative investigation began with a financial scandal and eventually included sexual-abuse allegations, claims of a supposed pedophile ring and rumors of satanic activity.

 

Three young men told the legislative investigator that they too had been sexually abused by prominent Omaha men when they were minors. One backed away from his claims. A second vacillated between two completely different stories. The third was called "pathetic" by a Douglas County grand jury because of his multiple personalities.

 

The Douglas County grand jury said the accusations amounted to a giant hoax.

 

Owen asked the State Board of Pardons in 1997 to commute her sentence. The board rejected her request for a hearing.

 

She also filed a motion asking for her conviction to be set aside or for a new trial because, she said, she had been represented by ineffective lawyers. In April a judge rejected her request, saying there was no evidence that her lawyers had performed below normal standards.

 

Without parole, she would have been released on Sept. 2, 2003. **Owen also was convicted of two bad-check charges, and the paroleapples to those two convictions as well as the perjury conviction.(6, 9/22/2000).

 

Owen's release leaves just one person still serving a Franklin- related sentence. Lawrence E. King Jr., the credit union's former manager, began serving a 15-year federal term in 1991 for embezzlement and other financial crimes. He will become eligible for parole in April.

 


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