Letters to the Editor

Justice not done

May 13, 2009


To the editor:

I would like to express my extreme disappointment with the way the district attorney chose to prosecute, or rather to not prosecute, the animal cruelty case of Cem Basoflas. I don’t know all the details of Mr. Basoflas’ crimes, because many of them were not released to the general public, but based on what was reported and reading between the lines, I am inclined to believe that what Mr. Basoflas did is exactly the sort of deliberate and sadistic behavior for which the felony animal cruelty statute was created.

I appreciate the fact that our DA does not want to waste taxpayer dollars, but I heartily disagree that public safety is best served by whichever punishment is cheapest. One of the reasons for having a justice system at all is to see that justice is served, and in this case I feel strongly that justice demanded a much stronger punishment. Giving Mr. Basoflas what amounts to a slap on the wrist and deporting him, despite the fact that the legal framework exists to impose a real punishment, sends the message that this sort of thing is taken seriously in theory, but not in actual practice.

This is not the message that I, or many other members of the community, feel should be sent about deliberate and pointless animal cruelty. I hope the DA’s office never has to deal with one of these cases again, but if they do, I hope they reconsider which is more important: money or justice.


bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

Very well written Sarah, I agree 100%.

he's ordered to pay restitution too, but being deported. that money won't be paid back.

I fully agree that felony animal cruelty is intended for a case like this one. The D.A.'s decision does not reflect the values of our community.

shipping him off doesn't necessarily mean we're done with him either. given our porous borders, he could sneak back here to torture again, and maybe not animals next time.

I join with Sarah in hoping that if, God forbid, there's a "next time," the D.A. will make better choices.

BalkansHawk 6 years, 6 months ago

Speaking of thugs, I witnessed an act of thuggery as I was leaving Holcomb Park last night. Seven to eight teenage youth harassing another young man. By harassing I mean, one punches him upside the head while he is standing there talking on a cell phone all the while dropping "N" bombs left and right (which I suppose was fine because he and all his buddies were black). Then another one steps up wanting to get a piece of the action, also dropping "N" bombs like they were free. Eventually, the outnumbered and much smaller recipient of the punch, jumps the center field fence on Holcomb Blue and is pursued by one and possibly two of these thugs. The pursuit goes half way across the outfield grass toward the infield, where there just happened to be a girls softball game going on (girls that were 10-12?). Three or four of the other youth in the group/gang were cheering them on while hanging over the outfield fence.

They finally all come back together in the Holcomb parking lot, and with basketballs carried by a few of them, proceed into the Holcomb Rec Center. Just a couple of weeks earlier I witnessed another cuss filled verbal skirmish take place inside the rec center as two individuals were leaving the building (one male and one female) while I was there for a coaches meeting. There seems to be more and more young individuals that are up to no good hanging out at the Holcomb Rec Center. I hope that someone can police this activity up soon or we will probably see an increase in the number and severity of the criminal activities taking place there.

kansastruthteller 6 years, 6 months ago

So you witnessed a young man being struck, but did you intervene to assist him or call the police?

If not shame on you for allowing a young man to be bullied, harrassed and terroized without so much as calling the police.

John Kyle 6 years, 6 months ago

BalkansHawk You did the right thing by reporting this to the Journal World comment section! I agree with kansastruthteller. Why didn't you do anything?

Chris Ogle 6 years, 6 months ago

The police were close by. They protect Downtown Lawrence which is five minutes away... if only someone had called them.

ksdivakat 6 years, 6 months ago

I hear Midge from the humane society say regarding the cat, that it had 9 broken ribs, fractured collar bone and its lung had been punchured, and that sounds bad enough, imagine what this dirt bag did to the poor dog he was accused of sodimizing! To bad this guy wasnt in jail long enough for the inmates to take care of him!

ebyrdstarr 6 years, 6 months ago

The defendant in this case was convicted of felony animal cruelty. The punishment for felony animal cruelty is a mandatory minimum 30 days up to one year. Those sentences could have been run consecutively, so he could have served up to 2 years. The defendant was going to be deported, at taxpayer expense, at the end of his sentence, no matter what his sentence was. So rather than waste our tax dollars incarcerating him for 2 years and then paying to deport him, our DA just opted to deport him sooner rather than later.

I don't have any problem with the DA's decision here.

BalkansHawk 6 years, 6 months ago

I hollered at them to cut it out. Then I saw that one of the Holcomb staff was on the edge of the sidewalk next to the parking lot and I pulled my car over and got out and talked with him telling him what I saw transpire. He was hollering at the boys and seemed to be on top of the situation. The thought of calling the police did cross my mind initially, but when I saw that he (staff member) was engaged with the situation, I figured he knew what protocol to follow from there. From their reaction to him, he appeared to know who they were and they were responding to his directions.

BalkansHawk 6 years, 6 months ago

One more thing, it initially appeared to be just some kids goofing off. The kid who was struck didn't seem to too concerned and just continued to stand there and talk on the phone. But when the second guy started toward him, he started to walk away and it appeared to be over. As I started to pull away, I saw the kids legs as he was going over the top of the fence and another set of legs of the kid in pursuit. After pulling over, I saw that they had made it half way across the outfield grass. I don't know if any more punches were thrown because I didn't see what happened in between. I am sure that there were plenty of parents dialing the police as there were quite a few spectators watching the softball game.

grammaddy 6 years, 6 months ago

Too many of us count on someone else doing the right thing in situations like this. Grow a pair. Imagine the kid being victimized is someone close to you. Grow a pair.

ksdivakat 6 years, 6 months ago

Does she have to be an attorney to have an opinion??

Brent Garner 6 years, 6 months ago

For those who have not realized it yet, we do not have a justice system in the United States. What we have is a legal system passing itself off as a justice system. An attorney friend of mine was careful to point this out one time when I was rather worked up over what I considered to be a miscarriage of justice. So, don't expect justice. All you can expect is some sort of convenient legalism.

jonas_opines 6 years, 6 months ago

"So, don't expect justice. All you can expect is some sort of convenient legalism."

That probably has something to do with justice being a completely subjective concept.

BalkansHawk 6 years, 6 months ago


I just came off a year long deployment overseas last July in an "all voluntary" Army. I don't think growing a pair is the issue here. The issue is the safety of community when they are trying to enjoy a little recreation. I would like to see something proactive being done to keep places like Holcomb from having people with less than honerable intentions be allowed to linger around the property.

BrianR 6 years, 6 months ago

Esq2eB (Anonymous) says… "Where did you get your law degree from and how many years prosecutorial experience do you have?"

Way to get right to the meat of the problem. So what you're really saying is....nothing at all.

BrianR 6 years, 6 months ago

Sarah, Unfortunately, the law and justice aren't the same thing. It's not about justice, it's about the law. I know, that is vague...

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago


The argument that jail sentences cost taxpayer money could be used to argue against all jail time!

Why not make this guy serve some time rather than just sending him home?

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 6 months ago

Dear Brent, My husband; who is an on again, off again prelaw student (i.e. an armchair lawyer), said exactly the same thing several months ago. Although the US has what's called a "Justice" Department justice does not exist as a legal concept. What we have is a system of laws and punishments when those laws are broken. Although we have an over riding system of federal law, laws change from state to state and from municipality to municipality. Despite the confusion this can and often does create, "ignorance of the law" is never considered a valid defense. So the next time you walk down the streets of Dodge City make sure it's ok to spit on the sidewalk before you do it.

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago


Prisons are certainly overcrowded and expensive.

If we stopped incarcerating people for victimless and property crimes, we could free up plenty of space and save lots of money.

And, this guy didn't just kill an animal, he tortured and sodomized them. It seems to me that warrants incarceration.

As far as humans being at the top of the food chain, we're also supposed to be a bit smarter and more evolved than animals - let's demonstrate that as well.

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

And, according to another post, he could have been sentenced to 2 years.

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

And, bunny rabbits aren't "vermin" - they're harmless and adorable.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

rabits weren't the victims here.

indeed the point of the felony animal cruelty statute is that behavior likd that of Basoflas gets a higher degree of punishment.

TheYetiSpeaks 6 years, 6 months ago

powershopper says: "While what he did was disturbing, it was just a pea brained rabbit."

You think just like the culprit. He probably started with vermin and pea brained rabbits. Then he moved on to cats and then dogs...because there is a little more personality there...more emotion when he was torturing them. But pretty soon that wont be enough either and perhaps he will move on to children. I would of said maybe your or my children but now it will be the children of Turkey.
Thank you for so clearly displaying the exact kind of thinking that scum like this use to justify their actions....It's only a rabbit. It's only a cat. It's only a dog. It's only ONE kid....and so on. Keep on justifying...us vermin-loving Sallies will continue to push for prosecution on monsters like this.

meggers 6 years, 6 months ago

Very well said, Sarah. You speak for many of us who are disgusted with the trivial manner in which this case was handled.

Dayle Hodges 6 years, 6 months ago

A pea brained rabbit??? Yeti is absolutly right about this guys thinking, and apparently yours too, powershopper. People who purposefully hurt animals frequently move on to even more heinous crimes.....I hope no small animals or children live around you.........

MeAndFannieLou 6 years, 6 months ago

Any news on if and when Matthew Jaeger is going to stand trial?

TheYetiSpeaks 6 years, 6 months ago

I hate to quantify evil, but if left to his own devices, Basoflas will do things that might even turn Jaeger's stomach.

Shane Garrett 6 years, 6 months ago

Have you ever heard a rabbit scream. It is something I will always remember.

Dayle Hodges 6 years, 6 months ago

Oh, powershopper, I am so hurt---you called me a moron. I will never be able to lift my head again:( ..........boo hoo...

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago


So simply sodomizing a rabbit would be ok with you.


yellowhouse 6 years, 6 months ago

I have a lot of respect for this DA's Office.

I happen to know that he sends his assistant DA's out on search warrants to report back. This DA goes the extra mile to assure fairness in the courts, and to assure he is not taking on cases that have no merit.

The Yellow House has never been harassed or charged by this DA. .

yellowhouse 6 years, 6 months ago

Although perhaps a harsher sentence would have made everyone happy, it is always better to error on the side of justice.

Its better to allow a guilty man to go free, than to send an innocent man to jail.

Charles L Bloss Jr 6 years, 6 months ago

I think he made the right call. Why waste our money putting that scum in prison, where we pay for his food, medical care, and lodging. Then deport him? He deported him first and saved the money. If you think being kicked out of the best country on earth isn't adequate punishment, you're stupid. Thank you, Lynn

loriefoltz 6 years, 6 months ago

After all these years it is so sad to know little to nothing is being done with animal cruelty cases. We raised our Children in Lawrence and have seen these cases over and over. I can't remember the year and it was not this DA, I took some papers the the DA's office that were written by Robert Resler from the FBI's behavioral dept. It was the direct correlation between animal abuse to human abuse and still no one is listening.

Lorie Lasseter-Foltz Toledo Bend Lake, Louisiana

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago


Then why put anyone in prison? It always costs taxpayers to do so.

And, I'm not sure America is the best country on earth.

Finally, I don't believe deportation is sufficient in this case.

You're welcome.

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