flesl.net paired story 2-8a (Eric Nordmark)

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Eric Nordmark

In May 2003, Eric Nordmark arrived in Anaheim, a town about fifty kilometers south of Los Angeles, California. Eric had been in the US Army. He had gone to college, but he had dropped out before finishing. He was a drifter—a person who has never taken a steady job or settled down in one place. He was passing through Anaheim on his way north to Seattle. He had left Seattle two years earlier and moved south because he wanted to escape the cold northern winters. He was hoping to find some work in Anaheim so he could earn enough money to pay for a bus ticket.

On May 14, he was arrested for being drunk in public . He spent the night in the Anaheim jail and was released in the morning. The following day, on May 16, he was in the neighbouring town of Garden Grove. In the late afternoon, he was looking for cigarette butts on the sidewalk. Suddenly two police officers approached him, handcuffed him, took off his glasses, and made him sit on the curb. Eric asked the police if they were arresting him. They said, No, they were only “detaining” him because he matched the description of someone they were looking for. They kept him sitting on the curb for a few minutes. Then they told him that they wanted him to come to the police station so they could take some photographs—“mug shots.” They also said that, if he didn’t cooperate with them, they would arrest him on suspicion of being drunk in public. Eric agreed. He went to the station; the mug shots were taken, and he was released.

That evening, Eric found work setting up rides at a carnival site, but he had to wait in Garden Grove for five days before doing the job. On May 20, Eric worked for thirteen hours setting up the rides. When he was finished work, he went to buy some beer and cigarettes. Just after he left the store, he heard someone call his name. He turned around and was immediately handcuffed by two policemen. They told him he was under arrest for assault. They refused to tell him anything more, so, until he was taken to court five days later, he didn’t know why he was in trouble. That day he found out he had been charged with child molestation. Eric spent the next 250 days in jail, waiting for his trial.

The first time they stopped him, the police had told Eric to sit on the curb because they wanted to bring two young girls by in a police car. They wanted to see if the girls would identify Eric as the man who had attacked them. On May 15, the day before the police photographed Eric, the two girls, Yolanda and Catili, along with a third girl, Aurora, got home late from school. Yolanda and Catili were eleven at the time and Aurora was twelve.

The girls told their mothers that they were late because they had been attacked on the way home. As they were walking across a park, they said, they passed a man. Just as they were leaving the park, he came up behind them and grabbed Yolanda. He threw her on the ground, the girls said, and pulled her hair from side to side. Catili tried to pull Yolanda away from the attacker, but he grabbed her and began to attack her. Then Aurora came running up and kicked the man in the groin. This gave them a chance to escape.