A Parker man was charged last summer with sexual conduct with his grandchild, who is now asking Parker Live why her grandfather is not in jail and why public records of the case are unavailable.
Harold Smith, 69, is a former reserve law enforcement officer in Parker and retired employee of the State of Arizona, according to the victim’s dad Micah, who is Smith’s son. Smith is accused of sexual conduct with a minor, child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor, reportedly in relation to child pornography.
Smith was arrested on August 28th, 2018 by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which had reportedly been investigating him since last May.
In an interview with Parker Live, the victim in the case, Smith’s granddaughter, who is now 20 years old, spoke at length about the case, accusing her grandfather of an extended period of abuse from the age of 9 until 15.
Although she gave us permission to use her name, we have made the editorial decision to keep her anonymous in this publication, because she was a minor at the time of the alleged incidents.
In addition to talking about the abuse and how the fallout has affected her family, she called it “ridiculous” that Smith is not in jail. He was released on his own recognizance, which means he didn’t have to pay any bail to be released from custody.
She says she kept quiet about the abuse for years.
“I eventually told my therapist about it last year,” she said. “My therapist encouraged me to tell other people, and then I told my dad.”
She says she was afraid she wouldn’t be believed up until then, which is common among victims of sexual abuse.
The revelation set off a chain reaction within the family, according to Micah.
“A lot of things clicked when I found out,” he said. “I wanted to kill him. I decided to sort of sleep on it for a few days, and then called DPS and turned him in.”
Micah said that a few years earlier, a family member had allegedly found child pornography on a computer Smith had used. Smith apparently denied that it was his.
According to Micah, Smith’s wife claimed not to know anything about the abuse when told about it, but Micah and the victim herself came to disbelieve her. Although Smith moved out of the house for 2 weeks after being confronted by Micah and some other family members, he reportedly moved back in and has been home since. Micah and the victim had been close with his parents, but they eventually cut off contact late last year.
“They sent 12 DPS officers and vehicles to arrest him,” Micah said. “They took like 32 boxes of evidence from the house and took him to La Paz County Jail.”
After Smith was arrested, the on-duty judge, Charlene Shontz-Weis, saw Smith at his first court appearance before the case was sent to the Superior Court. Weis decided to release him from custody on his own recognizance, meaning Smith would promise to show up to future court proceedings and would be released without bond.
“The judge used my mom’s first name in court, she obviously knew her,” Micah told Parker Live. “Weis just O.R.’d him. I’m thinking, are you f***ing kidding me? That means he’s out and free to do whatever he wants.”
The victim said she would sleep better at night if her grandfather were in jail.
“I’m definitely scared about that. The whole family is nervous,” she said.
Micah agreed, saying that he had been sleeping in his kids’ room.
“I truly believe he’s capable of anything,” he said.
La Paz County Attorney Tony Rogers, whose office first got the case when it went to Superior Court, says his office wanted Smith held on bond, but it was denied.
“The precedent in these cases is set very early on, when the defendant first shows up in court,” Rogers said. “In this case he was released on O.R. before my office was involved, and then that order was renewed by the Superior Court because he did show up to court when he said he would. The judge found that he wasn’t a flight risk.”
Smith and his wife have both attended his court dates since.
The victim has also been unable to see case updates via online public access.
“Why isn’t my dad listed on there like every other case?” Micah asked.
Parker Live confirmed that the case is not listed in the Arizona Supreme Court’s ‘Public Access to Court Information’ case search database, though it was listed previously.
Rogers said that when a case is prosecuted as a ‘Restricted Case, Confidential Victim’, it apparently removes records from the public database.
According to Rule 123 of the Arizona Revised Statutes Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, “The following documents shall not be accessible by remote electronic access to users registered under paragraph (g)(1)(D) due to the inability to protect sensitive data that is likely to be contained within these documents: […] all documents in criminal cases in which a defendant is charged with any offense listed in A.R.S. Title 13, chapters 14, 32, 35 or 35.1 or in which the victim was a juvenile at the time of the offense.”
However, the rule also states that electronic access can be restored by the court following a motion.
Although the Department of Public Safety did not respond to a request for information about the case, the many counts of sexual exploitation of a minor reportedly relate to possession of child pornography, while the charges of sexual conduct with a minor relate to the abuse of Smith’s granddaughter.
Smith pleaded not guilty in the case, which is in its pre-trial stages.