It was a great line for a newspaper. Some guy goes around the house, meeting people for the first time in a black robe gloriously declaring to the world, I am “Master Eric”, and he’s serious? That’s sure going to get readers!
Such a story was also great viral food for the internet. In no time complete strangers were all too happy to savagely feed off of the instant-iconic image. Seriously, if that were true, the South Park episode had practically written itself! Who would be that arrogant and full of themselves?
For sure there are people like that out there… but there was one problem for the accuser who made up the story (at first then he changed it), the police who told the paper, (at first then they changed that too), and the paper who printed it (but never retracted it despite EVERYONE testifying it was made up)… it wasn’t true.
Not long after the paper ran the sensational tib-bit about Eric Pepin Detective Smith found himself in court saying it was the reporter who got it wrong. “When the newspaper article came out I felt that what happened was that she wrote down two separate sections of our conversation and put them together. Like it was one continuous quote when, in fact, it wasn’t. I wasn’t happy about the way she put that together.” Detective Mike Smith said.
Defense attorney Stephen Houze asked detective Smith if he felt the reporter misquoted him. He replied, “Yes sir.”
Detective Smith went on even reversing his earlier assertion Higher Balance was a cult. He agreed that he could not say the company was anything like a cult. He told the court, “I don’t know exactly, how do you define a cult?”
The accuser also changed his story – completely – telling the court it was a “fuzzy, brown cotton robe.” When asked if he was certain Eric Pepin was wearing a fuzzy, brown robe he confirmed that was what he told police.
Of course the original officer who interviewed the accuser maintained that was NOT what he said. Officer Matthew Groshong, a 10 year veteran of the force, testified that was not what he was told. Groshong conducted the first interview with the accuser in January 2006. The interview was done at the office of the man’s civil attorney, which he obtained before filing charges. Groshong’s report detailed a different version of events than what the man would later told other officers and what he also said in court.
Why would such a strong, striking image be so hard to remember? How could he get it so wrong? I mean a black robe with “Master Eric” on it is pretty dramatic – that kind of soap opera is hard to forget. How could it become a plain old brown robe instead? Even the brown robe ended up being disputed by 11 witnesses… so now it ends up there wasn’t even a robe at all.
The District Attorney threw the 10 year veteran of the force, Groshong, under the bus. Claiming the 10 year veteran officer had gotten the account wrong because his version no longer matched the one the accuser gave to the court. So did Detective Smith – the version he was told was different too! OF COURSE the accuser didn’t get his story wrong, the officers were incorrect or lying about it. He had said brown robe the whole time…
Why was District Attorney Andy Erwin working SO HARD to defend every change in the accusers testimony? Maybe… just maybe… because the case was as important to him and his future, as it was to the man making it hoping to cash in on Eric Pepin’s money.
One thing is for sure… the black/brown/green robe/pajamas/shorts story weren’t helping them hang an innocent man. So they abandoned it along with the idea Higher Balance was a cult and kicked the hard working police officers who were really doing their jobs, and protecting the innocent, to the curb.
Tell us what you think below…