Press Release: Lonny Rae Meets the Thought Police
Immediate 5:00 p.m., July 27, 2001
by Edgar Steele
Contact: Edgar J. Steele, Attorney at Law
102 S. Fourth Ave., Suite C
Sandpoint, Idaho 83860
tel: (208) 265-4153
fax: (208) 265-5329
SANDPOINT, IDAHO - In a case likely to test the limits of Idaho's
infrequently-used "hate crime" statute, Sandpoint attorney Edgar J. Steele
has taken over defense of an Idaho man facing five years in prison for using
the word "nigger.
Lonny Rae, until recently a resident of Council, Idaho, is slated to stand
trial on October 1 in that small town, county seat for Adams County in
Rae was attending a high school football game last October with his wife
Kimberly, staff reporter/photographer for the local newspaper, the Adams
County Record. Admitted on her press pass and camera in hand, she had been
assigned to cover the game.
Bitterly contested, only the victor of the game would advance to the state
Assigned out of Boise as last-minute substitutes for the regular officials, the
three referees were accustomed to calling games for schools with much
larger student bodies and more highly-evolved football programs. Council
and its opponent, truth be told, had trouble putting enough boys in uniform
to field full teams.
The referees called the game as they usually would, resulting in an
extremely high number of fouls on both sides of the field. The crowd began
to boo the officials as the game wore on and, when the final whistle blew,
Council had lost by a touchdown. The hometown crowd was not pleased.
Knowing the real story of the game to be the officiating, Mrs. Rae started
toward the locker room building in hopes of getting a picture to go with her
story. As the referees jogged by, she asked to take their picture, getting
no response other than a chuckle as they entered to shower and change
clothes. Still hopeful, Mrs. Rae continued toward the building when the
referees came out again. She lifted her camera and snapped one shot before
the official in front told her not to. Shrugging, she turned and walked
toward the parking lot, where her husband waited, standing next to their
Suddenly, Kimberly Rae was seized from behind and dragged backward by one
of the men as he groped for the camera, demanding that she turn it over to
him. The strap on the camera denied him possession as it bit into her neck,
raising an angry red welt. Mrs. Rae cried out for help to her husband, who
looked up in horror to see his wife being mauled.
As Lonny Rae ran up, the referee, Kenneth Manley of Boise, Idaho, released
hold of Mrs. Rae, then grabbed her again as the camera enticingly swung
within his reach. Manley, a black male standing 6'3" and weighing upwards
of 250 pounds, towered over the 5'3" Kimberly Rae. Mr. Rae shoved Manley
back, swearing and shouting at him to leave his wife alone.
The referees trooped back into the building with a school official that had
just come on the scene and, after seeing that his wife was not grievously
injured, Lonny Rae marched up to the building's entrance, shouting out,
"Tell that nigger to get out here, 'cuz I'm a gonna kick his butt."
Getting no response, the Raes went to a nearby pay phone and dialed 911,
then waited for the police. They demanded that the black referee be charged
with criminal assault and battery.
Later, Rae took his wife to the hospital, where a doctor treated her
injuries and released her with prescriptions for several drugs.
A day or two afterwards, when Mrs. Rae was feeling better, they sought out
the city prosecutor, to ensure that her attacker was brought up on charges.
Several months later, the defendant answered the criminal complaint which
had been lodged against him: Not guilty, your honor.
Problem is, the defendant was Lonny Rae.
Not long after the altercation, the Idaho Athletic Association, which had
assigned the referees to the game, placed Council High School on a year's
probation. The reason given: the officials had suffered "fan abuse"
because the locker room wasn't unlocked when they first went into the
building to take a shower. Another incident and no more referees would be
provided, thereby effectively ending the school's football program until the
ban was lifted.
Then the local school board barred both the Raes from the school grounds
for a year, though their two daughters were then enrolled. Then Lonny Rae
was charged by the town prosecutor with violating Idaho's so-called "hate
crime" statute for "Malicious Harassment."
Media from the surrounding area converged on the town to cover the "hate
crime," and predictably sensationalized the event, painting Lonny Rae as a
racist and a bully.
After several angry editorials and letters to the editor, denouncing the
Raes for having put the town's football team in jeopardy, Kimberly learned
that the paper's advertisers were threatening to pull out if she remained on
staff. She was called in by her superior, who reluctantly let her go.
Lonny's contract work ended and, with winter setting in, he was unable to
land another job in the area, the economy of which was already suffering
from the closure of several nearby lumber mills.
Out one evening, a local ruffian reproached Kimberly for having gotten
their football team "in trouble." Lonny intervened, one thing led to
another and a fistfight ensued, with Lonny getting a broken ankle for his
trouble. The media again picked up the story and sensationalized it,
claiming that it was Rae who had broken the other man's foot! Lonny pled
out to a charge of disturbing the peace, the same as the other fellow who
broke Lonny's ankle.
The day before his criminal trial was to begin on the "hate crime" (in
another county due to the animosity generated by local media), Rae learned
that prosecution of his case had been handed over by the city to the Adams
County Prosecutor so that the charge against him could be elevated to a full
felony, with trial before a District Judge, rather than just a local
magistrate. Instead of a simple misdemeanor for what amounted to disturbing
the peace, Lonny Rae now faced the possibility of five years long hard time
in the penitentiary, and several months' more delay. The new judge revoked
the change of venue, deciding instead to merely delay the criminal trial a
few more months. Now Lonny would face a jury made up from the local
Denied work at every turn, the Raes and their daughters were evicted from
the trailer home they had been making payments on until their money ran out,
thereby losing the equity they had built up.
Unable to get work locally and with the entire region turning against them
for their "hate crime," the Raes packed their possessions and children and
applied for work elsewhere, both of them eventually securing low-paying jobs
in northern Idaho, where they settled with their daughters near Sandpoint,
just north of Coeur d' Alene, and not far from the recent McGuckin
children's so-called "standoff" with county authorities.
Among their new neighbors in Sagle was Edgar J. Steele, who agreed to take
Lonny Rae's case pro bono, meaning for no payment, because he thought it was
"an important case and the Raes good people who deserved far better than the
system had given them of late."
Said Steele: "This is another clear case of local government run amuck,
just as with so many other recent Idaho cases that have achieved national
profiles. Lonny Rae is being sacrificed on the altar of political
correctness, so that Idaho can be seen as the so-called 'Human Rights
State,' and to counter recent negative publicity garnered from the McGuckin,
Aryan Nations and Ruby Ridge affairs. Problem is, this is the gang that
couldn't shoot straight. They're just going to shoot themselves in their
own foot once again with this case."
Speaking specifically of the charge pending against Lonny Rae, Steele said,
"These hate crime statutes generally have been deemed not to violate the
First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. However, some actual criminal
act in conjunction with the hate speech is required before one can be
charged. We haven't yet reached the point of criminalizing mere speech or
thought. However, the Adams County Thought Police have applied Idaho's
little-used Malicious Harassment statute in such a way as to achieve that
very result in Lonny Rae's case. Thus, while the statute may be
constitutional, its usage today by the Adams County Thought Police is
clearly unconstitutional and an affront to all who value the right to speak
their mind without fear of government interference."
Steele went on to say, "What Lonny Rae said to Kenneth Manley that cold
night last October wasn't right, but it wasn't criminal. And, given what
Manley had just done to Mr. Rae's wife, one could understand his state of
mind. I'm not sure which is worse: the fact that Manley was never charged
with assault and battery or the fact that the Adams County Thought Police
want to put Lonny Rae in prison for five years for defending his wife."
Steele noted that, in addition to taking up Mr. Rae's case, he has filed a
civil lawsuit for assault and battery against Kenneth Manley for the
injuries inflicted upon Kimberly Rae. Trial of that matter in Boise is not
expected to take place until late in 2002.
Steele also set out a detailed pretrial plan of depositions whereby
county and state officials, in addition to the referees themselves, will be
questioned under oath well in advance of Mr. Rae's now-delayed trial.
If you don't know your rights you don't have any.