December 17, 2010 By Nanci K. Murdock Leave a Comment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (December 16, 2010)–Materials Management Relief Corps (MMRC), a nonprofit corporation that provides humanitarian aid to the people of Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake, is urging Americans to contact US government officials demanding the release from jail of Paul Waggoner, co-founder of MMRC.
Waggoner is being held at the notoriously dangerous National Penitentiary, accused of kidnapping an infant last February. The child in question died at Haitian Community Hospital in Petionville late February while Waggoner was organizing supplies at the hospital. Waggoner did not administer any medical care to the infant. Despite the fact that a board-certified, US physician has signed an affidavit stating that the child in question was deceased and the father viewed the body, the father has accused Waggoner of kidnapping the child. The doctor’s affidavit also acknowledges that the father declined to take the child’s body as he did not have the resources to bury it, instead allowing the hospital to dispose of the body.
Since Waggoner’s arrest Dec. 12, 2010, it has come to light that he has dealt with legal troubles in the past, including a misdemeanor of assault and battery against a convicted sex offender in 2007. According to Waggoner’s attorney in the former case, Waggoner’s sentence was suspended and he served two years probation.
“We acknowledge that Paul Waggoner has dealt with legal issues in the past. However, we stand firmly committed to his innocence in this case,” MMRC spokesperson Nanci Murdock said. “When looking at the facts of this current situation, there is no bearing for these accusations. We have a signed affidavit from a US doctor proving that the child in question was, in fact, deceased and that Paul showed tremendous care and sympathy toward the child’s grieving father. Since racing to Haiti in the wake of devastation caused by the January 2010 earthquake, Paul has worked selflessly to save thousands of lives.”
Orphaned himself at a young age, and left with the responsibility to raise his younger sister, Waggoner is well known and well respected in Haitian circles for his humanitarian work in local orphanages and hospitals. He also has assisted in the re-building of various structures within Haiti.
MMRC Global, members of the Waggoner family, various non-government organizations within Haiti, and friends from around the globe stand in solidarity behind Waggoner and are working tirelessly towards his release and exoneration from these false accusations.
American businessman Jack Aronson, founder of Michigan-based Garden Fresh Gourmet, a $90-million company specializing in fresh salsa, recently worked alongside Waggoner in Haiti. Aronson staunchly stands by Waggoner and the admirable work he has done in the still-ravaged country. “Since arriving in Haiti, Paul’s work has been phenomenal. I spent time working beside him and personally witnessed his extraordinary care for this country’s children,” Aronson said. “I saw how dedicated and altruistic this man is. He risks life and limb to rescue Haitian orphans.”
To help secure Waggoner’s release, people may contact their government officials; contact information may be found at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm. People may also contact Suzanne Grantham at the State Department (202-647-4956 or Overseas Citizens Services (202-647-5225).
Another article by MSNBC... scary stat that over 80% of people in prison there are still awaiting trial while spending many years in jail.