When I was homeschooling my kids while they were growing up, we often traveled around the United States, using real-life experiences as learning opportunities. In October 2006, I took my kids to visit Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, FL, and met both Kent and Eric Hovind on that trip. They both spent quite a bit of time with our family and I remember being most impressed with how much they seemed to love the Lord and love people. It was a very happy experience in every way.
After Kent's trial just a few weeks later, which my son was very interested in at that time, I decided to take my 13-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter to his sentencing trial in January 2007. Although the courtroom was packed, I remember being surprised at the time that I was the only person in the audience taking notes. I had no idea that tiny fact would be so important eight years later. I have written about the details of the trial that day in great detail, having gone straight from the courtroom to relaying the details to a friend on the phone and then putting everything into a blog post that same day.
In that blog post, I mentioned how hard and cold the judge seemed that day, and gave a few examples of things that she said, but I did not hear her say that Kent Hovind was worse than a rapist. If I had heard her say such a thing, I would definitely have written about it. I did reiterate how much I could see that Kent loves the Lord and prayed that God would show him mercy.
I do remember that there was a recess or two where all the audience members were outside the courtroom, possibly in the hallway, and I could see groups of people talking to one another about the trial. I knew who most of the family members were (by sight) and many employees, since we had been there so recently, and they were all speaking with one another during the recess. I also noticed that there were other people who stood alone or just with one or two others, and they seemed to be less intimately involved, as were we. It appeared that the larger groups of people who knew one another were mostly local folks, while most of the individuals on the sidelines were likely from out of town. I also remember running into Jo Hovind in the bathroom that day, hugging her and telling her that I was praying for her and Kent.
While I could clearly hear all the conversations taking place both during the recesses and after the sentencing, at no time did I hear anyone bring up the alleged statement that Judge Rodgers called Kent Hovind "worse than a rapist."
Jo's sentencing was then postponed until June 2007, and since my children and I were once again in Pensacola (for a different purpose), we also went to her sentencing trial. It was a very similar situation where the courtroom was very crowded, I was the only person taking notes, and I immediately relayed what happened to my friend before writing it all down into a blog article that evening.
My 11-year-old daughter, at the time, was wearing large, green hearing protection (like headphones, but the kind for hunting). She is severely disabled and that may be a memorable bit for anyone who is trying to place me in either of the sentencing trials.
Although my son and I prayed for Kent Hovind regularly and read his blogs regularly at first, my own life circumstances soon took me far, far away from that whole world and I did not follow anything that happened with Kent and his family for many years. When I was approached a few months ago and asked to speak to the subject of whether or not Judge Casey Rodgers called Kent "worse than a rapist," I immediately thought, "That didn't happen!" but then was drawn into looking at more details. I then called my son, who has a near-photographic memory about things like this, and he said that the judge absolutely did not say that about Kent. I also called my friend who is intimately acquainted with this whole case, the one with whom I spoke on the phone immediately after each trial, and he also said that the judge did not say such a thing. He is a real stickler for details and he would have immediately made a big deal out of it if she had said such a thing.
I was then told that there accusations in the air that Judge Casey Rodgers, and/or possibly her court reporter, had altered the court transcripts, so I went through Kent's sentencing transcript line by line, remembering the trial vividly as I did. I looked for any possible missing lines in the transcript. There were none. I looked for any possible date/time stamp alterations. There were none. I looked for any possible places where the wording was changed, especially in regard to Kent Hovind being called "worse than a rapist." I could find none of those either. And I looked for any place where it looked like any words or sentences would just be missing. As an editor, I know that if you strike out a paragraph or sentence, it often makes the surrounding text suddenly seem out of context. I found nothing that was out of context or looked like it could possibly be altered in any way whatsoever. Moreover, as I found myself remembering quite clearly the words as I read through the transcript, having taken such detailed notes previously, there was nothing that stood out to me as being out of place at all.
As I read through all my blog articles and the transcript, this is what I found:
“Eric Hovind, her son, then reminded the judge that it had been his honor to speak on his father’s behalf at his trial, but that he considered this occasion to speak on behalf of his mother to be ten times that honor. “Justice has to be blind,” Eric stated, as he agreed with the judge sentencing his father to a sentence worse than that of a rapist. He said that this whole trial was really meant for Kent to be made an example of and that Jo didn’t need to be used in that same way.”
So, the truth is that Judge Rodgers was responding to letters from people in the courtroom who expressed concern to the judge that "sometimes those convicted of heinous crimes are subject to less time than Mr. Hovind (was) facing." If Judge Casey Rodgers was going to say that Kent Hovind was "worse than a rapist," this would have been the place to say it, but notice that nothing seems to be out of order in that paragraph I quoted. There is no room for that statement there.
Fast forward to Jo Hovind's sentencing trial several months later (I apologize for saying it was the next day in the video). And notice that Eric Hovind, Kent and Jo's son, now picks up on the same subject matter. Eric has now had several months to think about what the judge said. If the judge had truly said that Eric's father was "worse than a rapist," wouldn't this be Eric's big chance to make a fuss about it? I would certainly think so! But notice that Eric does not say anything about that. Rather, his words are right in line with what the judge said in the transcript, that the judge was speaking about the sentencing being worse than that of a rapist.
There is a huge difference between comparing a person to a rapist or comparing a sentencing to that of a rapist. Just missing that one key word -- sentencing -- can make all the difference in the world. And apparently missing that key word is being capitalized on even today.
Notice further that Eric is the only one who said anything about "rapist." Eric is the one who said that the judge sentenced Kent Hovind to a sentence worse than that of a rapist. Those were Eric's words, not the judge's words.
I understand that there were several affidavits signed in April, 2008, 15 months after the sentencing trial, as I have recently been informed. Fifteen months is a long time to remember those kind of details, and apparently there are several people who also conveniently forgot that magic word -- "sentencing."
Let's look at how good their memories are:
Theresa Schneider: "I heard Judge Casey Rodgers state that what Kent Hovind had done was as bad or worse than a rapist."
John Gusti: Judge Rodgers: "You are worse than a rapist."
Kent Andrew Hovind (son): On Judge Rodgers: "I also remember her saying the crimes you are convicted of are 'worse than that of a rapist.'"
Katie Rudolph: [Judge Casey Rodgers] "stated her sentencing was harsh because the tax-related crimes he committed were worse than committing violent crimes such as murder or rape."
Jo Hovind: [Judge Rodgers] "said that she had received letters from some saying that surely she did not consider Dr. Hovind's crime as offensive as such heinous crimes as murder and rape. I distinctly remember when Judge Rogers said, 'Mr. Hovind, I do consider what you have done to be worse than rape!'"
Greg Dixon: "I personally heard Judge Casey [Rodgers] say that the crime of which Dr. Hovind had been convicted, though only a misdemeanor, was worse than 'rape.'"
So which is it?
Did Judge Rodgers say that what Kent Hovind had done was worse than a rapist?
Or that Kent Hovind himself was worse than a rapist?
Or that the crimes he was convicted of were worse than that of a rapist?
Or that his tax-related crimes were worse than committing violent crimes such as murder or rape?
Or that she considered what he had done to be worse than rape?
Or that his misdemeanor was worse than rape?
Which story is the correct story? Which words are the correct words? Which story is the truth? Do you see what happens when you play the "telephone" game fifteen months after the fact? Words seem to get quite twisted around, don't they?
At least Jo Hovind was close when she mentioned Judge Rodgers speaking about the letters she had received, and Katie Rudolph remembered the "sentencing" word. But there is something not quite right in each of these statements, and that is that they do not have the memory of what the court reporter accurately recorded on that day.
Where is the outrage that should have taken place that very day, if those words were true? This is simply something that is being blown way out of proportion, simply because everyone forgot the magic word -- "sentencing."
However, I wrote letters to both Kent and Eric Hovind regarding this matter and told them what I recalled, and what was in writing from that day and from the transcripts. Both of them wrote back.
Kent Hovind's answer was that he wanted to have a Congressional trial and have everyone testify under oath. If it ever comes down to that, I will be glad to testify, but I would much rather see those who are promoting this falsehood to put a stop to it now, repent from making a legitimate mistake in their passions for Kent Hovind, and to move forward in life. If Kent Hovind truly wants the truth to be known, as he said in his letter to me, then let this article stand as the truth, please.
If this were to go to trial in any way, and it was found that sworn statements were made that were not true, those people could be held in contempt of court, and judges don't tend to look lightly on that. Just looking at the statements I posted above, we see that each person has a different recollection of what happened. Obviously, they can't all be right.
Eric Hovind also replied to my letter to him, and I will quote, in part, what he said. I did not want to make this public unless I absolutely had to, but since this is still being pushed, I feel it is time:
"My dad has asked me to write an affidavit stating that I remember the judge calling his crimes 'worse than rape.' However, I do not recall that. I recall what you wrote, saying that he committed 'heinous crimes.' I realize he is still putting that out there. Most of that came from a young lady who said she remembered hearing that take place in the courtroom. I am not trying to help spread anything negative. I am frustrated that this miscommunication is out there as well."
Bravo, Eric Hovind! The truth is more important! I am sorry to put you in the middle of this, but I pray that this will be the straw that breaks this falsehood from continuing to be spread.
To Kent Hovind and Rudy Davis and all those who are continuing this lie: I understand that you may have been deceived by a certain young lady who was very passionate about this, but she was wrong. I realize that she may have missed hearing the word "sentencing," but she was still wrong. I realize that you have all found yourselves caught up in the drama of this whole scene, but you are playing with the reputation of a federal judge, and that is wrong. You are now propagating a lie and slandering a federal judge. That is wrong on every level. Please repent.
It is time to leave the past behind and move forward to a bright, new future! Kent, the choice is yours -- the past or the future? Where do you think God wants you now?
P.S. To Rudy Davis, in response to your video about me. I tried to answer most of your questions in the article above. Here is the rest.
Saying that I am a paid disinformation agent is pure slander. Please get your facts straight first next time.
First, I still love Kent Hovind and his family. I have no reason to say what I have said here except that I only want the truth to be made known.
Second, if anyone ever paid me to lie, no money would be enough for me to lie about anyone.
Third, if I was being paid, I'm afraid I didn't do a very good job!
You want proof I was in court those days? Just read the details I provided in my blog articles and notice the dates. How do you think I was able to pull that off without actually being there?
You want a sworn affidavit from me? At this point, what good would that do? If I thought it would actually do some good, I would do so. And I reserve the right to do so if needed in the future. Do yourself a favor, though, and don't let that ever become necessary.
In the video, I was speaking about the church we attended at the time we visited DAL. Since the entire interview was off the cuff, and I had no idea what Jonathan Schwarz was going to be asking me, I could only answer according to my memory at the moment. I said that we were attending Boerne Christian Assembly in the San Antonio, TX area, which was true, but we were no longer attending at that actual time. I apologize for getting my dates mixed up. However, if you would like to see my real 15 minutes of fame, you can see my church membership (and bogus excommunication) for yourself here. I know well how to stand up for the truth when I need to!
As for the "highly edited video," we were filming in a hotel on the beach. There were often noises in the background and so we had to film that section over again. There was nothing left out of the interview except the interruptions.
I love your passion for your friend, Kent Hovind, but Rudy, you've got to help him let go of the past and live in the new life God has for him now!