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6-year-old to sleep in prison?

Jewish World Review
Dec. 20, 2001 / 5 Teves, 5762

Neither father nor 6-year-old will be jailed
by Bob Greene -- THE Nebraska father who resisted
sending his 6-year-old son to prison for sleepovers with a double murderer
will not be going to jail himself.

Bruce Faust -- who faced a jail sentence if he did not come up with $3,800
to pay the contempt of court fine levied against him by Otoe County, Neb.,
Judge Randall Rehmeier -- will not be incarcerated, because the fine has
been paid. The Omaha World-Herald, the Lincoln Journal Star and the
Associated Press all reported last week that readers of this column had
sent money to the Otoe County courthouse, and that the money met and then
exceeded the amount of the fine Judge Rehmeier ordered against Faust.

Teresa White, an employee of the Otoe County District Court, told us late
last week that all money in excess of the contempt fine -- which she said
represented court costs and legal fees for Faust and his former wife,
convicted double murderer Kimberly Faust -- is being returned to the
people who sent it.

This would seem to bring to an end the troubling story of the 6-year-old
child who was on the verge of being ordered by a court to sleep twice a
month in a state prison with his mother, who is serving two life sentences
for two brutal murders. After we began reporting on the case, and Nebraska
Gov. Mike Johanns stepped in to change prison regulations that allowed
violent criminals to have children delivered to prisons for overnight
visits, the matter seemed to have been resolved. But then Judge
Rehmeier -- who had originally threatened to hold the father, who could
not afford to hire an attorney, in contempt if he did not deliver the boy
to prison at Kimberly Faust's request -- went ahead with the contempt
action anyway, even though the governor had spared the child from the visits.

This case never was -- or at least never should have been -- about the
adults, although the crimes committed by Kimberly Faust were especially
vicious. On April 25, 2000, she lured a woman named Shannon Bluhm to a
rural area in Otoe County. She believed Bluhm was having a relationship
with Bruce Faust, from whom Kimberly Faust was estranged. In a car,
Kimberly Faust repeatedly stabbed Bluhm on her face, hands and chest.
As Bluhm lay bleeding in the car, Kimberly Faust set the car on fire and left.

In his nearby home, a man named Robert Parminter, 45, who lived with his
wife and three children, saw there was a car on fire outside, and hurried
to offer help. He saw Shannon Bluhm -- who by this time was in flames --
in the car, and tried to pull her out. Kimberly Faust returned. She shot
Parminter in the left eye, the left side of his mouth, and -- after he was
on the ground -- under his chin, killing him and leaving his family without a
husband and father. She then shot Shannon Bluhm in the back of her head.

She might have seemed an unlikely candidate for having children sleep in
her company inside a state prison -- at her murder trial, her own
attorneys, in seeking a lighter sentence for her, had told the court that
she suffered from psychological conditions that caused her to handle
stress poorly, and that she was not always able to appreciate the
consequences of her actions.

After we began writing about the case, Gov. Johanns, saying he was
troubled by the entire situation, ordered that prison regulations be
revised. The boy would not have to sleep in prison. But Judge Rehmeieir
found Bruce Faust in contempt anyway.

The judge seemed to have lost sight of the notion that the paramount issue
in this case was whether the state has any right to order a 6-year-old
child, who has been accused or convicted of no crime, to be locked
overnight in a prison. Whatever Bruce and Kimberly Faust may have worked
out in their divorce settlement, the State of Nebraska was not a party in
that divorce -- and the State of Nebraska was not required to order any
child into a prison. Gov. Johanns certainly understood that.

We wrote last month: "If the judge believes that levying the contempt fine
is the proper thing to do, perhaps some citizens will, as a symbolic gesture,
choose to pitch in to help pay the fine, to send the message that in this
country a person should not be punished for standing up for what is right."

The message was sent; the fine has been paid. The case is closed.

JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist.
Email addresses:

2001, Tribune Media Services
JWR Home:
Related articles:

Johanns right to change prison policy
by Editor -- The Independent [NE], 07 Sep 01

Double murderer wants 6-year-old to sleep in prison
by Bob Greene -- JWR, 30 Aug 01

Will Nebraska's governor stop this insanity?
by Bob Greene -- Chicago Tribune, 27 Aug 01

Faust Wants Son To Spend Night In Prison
Father Objects To Visit
by Carol Kloss -- The Omaha Channel, 03 Aug 01

Overnight Visitation in Jail
by [unknown] -- DivorceHQ, Aug 01



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