Letters to the Editor

Buck's A&W story had multiple victims

I appreciated the in-depth follow up by the Independent’s Justine Frederiksen regarding Buck’s A&W (“A&W assault victim’s pain still lingers,” Jan. 16).

She did a good job telling the the victims’ point of view regarding James Border’s sexual misconduct. Even for the members of the jury who heard all the facts, there must be some elements of doubt as to exactly what happened.

As with such cases, there are usually no witnesses to the crime. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Border was the villain in this story and the young female employees were the victims.

I try to imagine what my reaction would have been if this had happened to my teenage daughter. I would be mad as hell.

My daughter, like Amanda Burton at the time, is a Running Start student at OCC. Perhaps with hindsight, both the young employees and Buck’s owners, the Gehrings, might have done some things differently to change the outcome.

But it’s easy to second guess, and those options have passed.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Tim Kosnoff refers to community reaction as “a virtual lynch mob” and says “these girls got tarred and feathered.”

Frankly, I don’t think he gets it. I spent considerable time talking to members of our community, including Mayor Cupola, Ron Boehme, state Sen. Derek Kilmer, area business people and fellow South Kitsap residents.

I interviewed for the Buck’s YouTube video dozens of folks demonstrating their support at Buck’s.

The consensus was that there were actually two sets of villains and victims. The secondary victims were the Gehrings and the secondary villains were the attorneys.

I am saddened that Amanda Burton no longer feels at home in Port Orchard, but proud that she has gone on to make something of her life.

I am equally proud of our community. Nowhere did I hear any words of blame or second-guessing regarding the former female employees at Bucks.

What I did find was a pervasive, righteous anger kindling in our community against a perceived greed and lack of accountability on the part of powerful Seattle law firms.

These attorneys apparently had no qualms about destroying a family business for their own enrichment. The biggest comment was, “How can the attorneys get almost 10 times the money awarded to the victims?”

The anger of our community was tempered by a respect for the law, and balanced with a loving concern to help a valued family business in distress.

There is a huge difference between mob violence and community activism, and the big-city lawyers grossly misjudged the mettle of our backwater hick town, Port Orchard.

There are so many beautiful lessons to be learned from this story. One is accountability, and I believe the Seattle attorneys are the students of that class.

The story is not over yet, though.

We’ve done a wonderful job to help restore Buck’s A&W. The next step is to heal the wounds of the primary victims — Amanda Burton and Jennifer Johnson.

We need to make it plain that the folks of Port Orchard and South Kitsap love and support them in pursuing a successful and blessed future.

Then the healing will be complete.



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