2017-10-26 / Front Page

National men’s group asking for investigation in Cox case


A national organization is asking the Mariposa County District Attorney to open a criminal investigation into a woman who accused a local man of sexual misconduct in a case that was eventually dismissed.

The National Coalition for Men (NCFM) sent a letter to Mariposa County District Attorney Thomas E. Cooke in late September, outlining various reasons they feel the case should be pursued.

The case involves local resident Jerry Cox, 48, who has been embroiled in two controversial court cases. One is an ongoing receivership case involving his ranch. The state of California has seized the ranch, which is currently in receivership.

That means the state has control of the property. That came after the Mariposa County Superior Court ruled there were more than 100 health and safety violations at the ranch. The case is ongoing and has been appealed to the California 5th District Court of Appeals.

The other case involving Cox began in November 2015 and centered around an accusation from Ashley K. Harris, who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Cox.

Cox was eventually arrested and charged with 14 felonies and could have faced decades in prison.

However, the Mariposa County District Attorney’s Office dropped all of the charges in August of this year.

“I dismissed it because I didn’t feel I could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Cooke at the time the case was dismissed.

In its letter, the NCFM claims Cooke, in a “recent” reelection campaign speech “explained that your department made serious mistakes in the case.”

The letter goes on to say that during the investigation, “it was brought to your attention by the defense counsel that your agency was aware for nearly a year and a half that Harris’ claims had no basis in fact; albeit, were false. It appears, this discovery may have been, in part, because the sheriff’s department failed to immediately seize, analyze and protect the contents (evidence) of Ms. Harris’ cellular phone in a proper manner.”

The letter further states that “when the sheriff’s department and your office learned that evidence existed of Mr. Cox’s innocence, the information was not timely given to his defense counsel in violation of legal and ethical obligations.”

“Therefore,” wrote Harry Crouch, president of the NCFM, “we respectfully request that your office open a criminal investigation of Harris. Most of the information needed is already contained in your public record file.”

Cooke would only say about the letter that he has “no comment at this time.”

The letter goes on to accuse Harris of lying to authorities and says “she was even seen outside Mr. Cox’s ranch during the time she claimed she was kidnapped, confined and unable to leave a guest cabin.”

It also says that phone records “refute her claims” about not being able to call for help and that “virtually every facet of Harris’ claims were quickly refuted by factual evidence.”

But, says the letter, “It appears your office knew of Harris’s deceit and utterly false claims long before requesting a dismissal of the case against Mr. Cox.”

It accuses Harris of committing “serious crimes” which deprived “Mr. Cox of his liberty and property for crimes that never happened.”

It goes on to list a myriad of alleged criminal violations, including obstructing a law enforcement officer, falsely reporting a felony, perjury, forgery, obstruction of justice, fraud and more.

The letter also brings up the fact that “while the case was pending, the County of Mariposa put Mr. Cox’s ranch and property into receivership for alleged building and safety code violations, which strongly suggests collusion and wrongful acts between County of Mariposa agencies, personnel and perhaps, even elected officials. In our opinion, sufficient evidence exists for your office to conduct investigations of illegal acts committed by Harris and others that may have colluded to strip Mr. Cox of his freedom, property, personal and private.”

It concludes by asking the County to initiate a “joint inquiry with the California Attorney General to investigate” Harris for violations of the California False Claims Act.

The NCFM was established in 1977 as an advocacy group for “the removal of gender-based stereotypes, especially as they adversely impact boys, men, their families, and the women who love them, including but not limited to issues involving the criminal justice and family court systems.”

Its headquarters is in San Diego. More information can be found at ncfm.org.

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