The fascinating case of Richard William Hamlin in the Superior Court of California, El Dorado County, will go to trial soon. (Click. Richard William Hamlin on trial) Richard Hamlin, former Sacramento County deputy district attorney and prominent criminal defense lawyer, has been held in jail without bail since his arrest on February 28, 2004. He was charged with nine serious felony criminal complaints:
(1) causing cruelty and pain and suffering with great bodily injury to Susan Hamlin, (2) two counts of corporal injury to a spouse/cohabitant/former cohabitant/child's parent, (3) willful and unlawful discharge of a firearm in a grossly negligent manner which could result in injury and death of a person, (4) willfully and unlawfully threatening to commit a crime which would result in death and great bodily injury of Susan Hamlin, with the specific intent that the statement be taken as a threat, (5) terrorist threats - threaten to commit a crime which would result in death and great bodily injury to Susan Hamlin with the specific intent that the statement be taken as a threat, and (6) three counts of child abuse and endangerment under circumstances likely to produce great bodily harm and death, (he) did cause and permit a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering to be placed in such situation that his/her person and health may be endangered.
The El Dorado County District Attorney is asking for a sentence of 25 years to life.
On April 15, 2005 the Grand Jury of El Dorado County, increased the number of felonies charged, when it brought in an indictment accusing Richard W. Hamlin of eighteen felonies covering a period from the 1st day of June 2003 until the 28th day of February 2004. Special allegations of "great bodily injury" to his wife, Susan Hamlin, are specified in count 10 as assault with a deadly weapon, by means likely to produce great bodily injury through use of a sword and in count 11 for criminal threats "as to convey to the victim (Susan Hamlin) a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution." Additional special allegations for basically the same offenses cite the use of a firearm, specifically a Derringer. Three of the Hamlin children are named as victims identified only by their initials in the Grand Jury indictment.
On Tuesday, May 17, 2005 the historic courtroom of Judge Eddie Keller will play host to the principals in one of the most fascinating domestic violence trials in California history. Two brilliant attorneys, who are still married, will lay bare their private lives for the world to examine. A man and a woman who have shared each others' lives for twenty-one years and whose love has produced four beautiful children will lay waste the fabric of their family and seek to destroy each other in open court. The husband could go to prison for 25 years to life based on the testimony of his wife, Susan Siemer Hamlin. (Click. Would you convict Richard Hamlin on Susan Hamlin's word?)
The publicity surrounding this couple's tragic circumstances has been enhanced by Richard Hamlin's request to introduce long time CIA asset Michael Riconosciuto as a defense witness. This mysterious man, known as "danger man" or "Magic Mike" would allegedly testify that he knew Susan Hamlin's father, Dr. Sid Siemer, as a member of a Satanic Cult and as a scientist who participated in research and business proposals to promote biological warfare weaponry.
Such intrigue has generated interest from major network television programs such as 48 Hours.
Mr. and Mrs. Hamlin did not always maintain such a high profile although the couple had always enjoyed the good life. When Richard Hamlin was a successful defense attorney the attractive couple were often seen at Sacramento's most exclusive restaurants and the capital city's popular nightclubs. They were known to host expensive parties that catered to judges, politicians and United States attorneys. They maintained the image of a well-heeled, professional couple who were politically connected to powerful people.
Then, in 1999, the image began to crumble as Susan Hamlin's facade as the perfect wife and mother began to fall apart. Susan was cited on April 9, 1999 for misdemeanor child neglect and endangerment in Sacramento County. But Richard Hamlin quickly came to his wife's defense and the charges were dismissed on April 13, 1999. Susan appeared to be suffering from depression following this event and she sought psychiatric care and she was put on medication. But in October 2002 Susan suffered a severe panic attack. Shortly thereafter Susan began telling her husband about her horrific childhood during which she believed she had been the victim of incest by her father, Dr. Sid Siemer.
On April 22, 2003 Susan wrote her dad a compassionate, pleading letter that exposed her very soul. The daughter cried out for understanding from the father she felt so distant from and she spoke of her mother's suicide attempt and her own frequent thoughts of suicide. She tells her father of her self loathing and she asks him if he had sexually molested her as a child. She speaks of her husband's anger and about his feelings as a protective husband. Finally Susan concludes the letter to her father by saying, "I am a wreck and, at this point, just trying to survive." She signs the letter "Your baby, Susan".
In typical male fashion Richard Hamlin decided to confront Sid Siemer over the physical and sexual abuse Susan was alleging her father had inflicted upon her and the Hamlin children. Words were exchanged between the Hamlin and Siemer family members and things became more vitriolic. Finally on or about June 16, 2003 Richard Hamlin took matters into his own hands and took the fight to Fresno, California where Sid Siemer had lived and maintained his business since 1979. There, in Dr. Siemer's own community, Hamlin passed out a one page flyer with a picture of Siemer identifying his father-in-law as a child molester. Then Rick and Susan Hamlin addressed a letter to Sid Siemer and "all Siemer family members" on June 16, 2003. The subject matter was "repressed memories retrieved". It was a detailed, graphic and devastating document. (Click)
Shortly thereafter Sid Siemer hired the Fresno law firm of Gromis & Aguirre. Attorney L. Kim Aguirre wrote a letter to Richard Hamlin on June 26, 2003 that said in part :
Dr. Sidney Siemer has retained this office in reference to the accusations you and Susan Hamlin have made concerning Dr. Siemer's alleged past behavior.
Before responding to the accusations, Dr. Siemer sought expert, professional advice on the best method of responding. While he strongly denies the accusations, he is deeply troubled by the underlying cause of the complaints and did not want to take any step that would adversely affect Susan . We hoped to learn more about why Susan is experiencing these false "memories." We needed to know whether a truthful denial would have adverse psychological affects on Susan. Is the best approach simply to ignore the allegations? All of these questions needed to be addressed before responding and professional help was utilized to determine the best manner in which to respond.
Your recent conduct has made it impossible for Dr. Siemer to ignore the allegations. Your recent letters, fax communications, telephone calls and threats have placed the Siemers in an untenable position. While Dr. Siemer does not want to take any action that will have an adverse effect on Susan, he also does not want the allegations to go unanswered. He also wants to remain safe. Your statements on Father's Day to Denise Kliewer that you "want to go up and just kill the son of a bitch," are truly frightening. Dr. Siemer believes that you may take action to harm him. Consequently, he has asked me to request a court order enjoining you and Susan from contacting him and the members of his household. I have submitted the appropriate application for such an order and will provide you with copies once it has been processed.
After consultation with professionals we have determined that it is best to address the allegations directly. To that end, Dr. Siemer has asked me to inform you that the accusations made as a result of Susan's "repressed memories" are false. The incidents described simply did not occur.
Dr. Siemer hopes that Susan recovers and recognizes that these "memories" are imagined. We suggest that she receive prompt psychiatric and/or psychological care. If necessary, and if recommended by Susan's treating psychiatrist/psychologist, Dr. Siemer will participate in appropriate therapy with Susan. His decision to do this is solely out of his concern and love for his daughter. Dr. Siemer knows that the events described by Susan did not occur and he will work, with her therapists, to help her discover that the memories are indeed imagined.
Until such time as Susan receives proper psychiatric/psychological care and further contact is advised by treating professionals, request is made that both you and Susan refrain from contacting Dr. Siemer or any member of his household. When a psychiatrist/psychologist recommends contact, please have him/her arrange it through my office.
This letter was followed up on July 3, 2003 by Dr. Siemer filing a Petition for Injunction Prohibiting Harassment. In his petition to the court Dr. Siemer also sought protection for his wife, 60-year-old Judy Ann Siemer and his 83-year-old mother-in-law Elsie J. Layson who lived with the couple. This petition also documents that "on June 16, 2003 at 1:45 A.M. Richard W. Hamlin sent a fax to me and my employee, Scott Hicks, claiming that my daughter had suddenly remembered that I had raped her over 35 years ago. This allegation is false and was made, I believe to cause me and my family emotional harm. By sending this to my employee, Richard W. Hamlin also intends to disrupt my work environment". The petition was taken off court calendar when no appearances were made by either party on July 31, 2003.
The four page Response to the Petition for Injunction Prohibiting Harassment was filed August 12, 2003 and the papers indicate that Susan R. Hamlin was the attorney for her husband Richard W. Hamlin. The papers list the "justification or excuse" for Richard Hamlin's prior actions as the following:
The legitimate purposes served by mailing letters and making telephone calls in this case were 1) to confront Plaintiff (Sidney Siemer with the truth of his abuse, which is a necessary step toward the victims' healing, and 2) to warn of potential danger, both past and future, to their children and 3) investigation to determine whether legal action is appropriate. The document also states that Richard Hamlin's acts were constitutionally protected. The papers declare that the "plaintiff has not alleged any specific emotional distress other than being 72-years of age" and that "being told of one's own prior volitional acts, without more, does not constitute distress". Additionally it is stated that "any emotional distress Plaintiff may be suffering is a result of his own actions" and "embarrassment and anger that his secret has been exposed is a result of his own actions".
The most interesting part of the Response prepared by Susan Hamlin is the wording in the Attachment (other defenses). (Click.) Read carefully -- it is difficult to conclude who wrote the attachment. Is it the product of defense attorney Susan Hamlin or did defendant Richard Hamlin write this document? Ultimately a determination about who composed this addition to the response might indicate the mind set of Susan Siemer Hamlin in August of 2003.
The temporary restraining order was dissolved on August 13, 2003. The heated emotions appeared to have been brought under control by an agreement reached by the Hamlins and Sid Siemer. Dr. Siemer's attorney Aguirre documented this agreement in a letter to Richard Hamlin dated September 2, 2003. It read in part:
This will confirm our agreement:
Neither you nor Susan Hamlin shall contact Sidney Siemer for any purpose. There will be no telephone calls, no written correspondence, no electronic communication and no fax communication to Mr. Siemer or his immediate family members, including Judy Siemer.
This will also confirm that Sidney Siemer has read the entire letter you submitted to me by facsimile on August 12, 2003 (dated August 10, 2003). I personally witnessed the reading.
Sidney Siemer will not contact you, Susan Hamlin or your children by any means or for any purpose. There will be no telephone calls, no written correspondence, no electronic communication and no fax communication to you or Susan Hamlin.
It is understood that this is a "gentlemen's agreement" entered into in good faith. If either party fails to comply with the terms of this agreement, the other party may, if he/she desires, institute appropriate legal action. If, however, the parties comply with the terms of this agreement neither party shall take any legal action.
At this point in time it would appear to the average individual that a compromise had been agreed upon by people involved in a difficult, long running, self-destructive battle of wills. Three obviously intelligent individuals had arrived at a reasonable conclusion and the family, while certainly not intact, might survive to reestablish some semblance of normality. It was not to be.
The following last two letters exchanged in the Fresno case, Siemer vs. Hamlin, rekindled the fire that would ultimately destroy many lives and leave four children in limbo.
On November 19, 2003 attorney Aguirre once again wrote to Richard Hamlin as follows:
Sidney Siemer has delivered to my office copies of the numerous written communications you have sent to a variety of parties. Much of that "correspondence" is in direct violation of the gentlemen's agreement you and I reached.
Frankly, I do not understand your goal. Dr. Siemer has specifically denied the allegations made. He has also proposed to participate with your wife in therapy -- if recommended by her psychologist. That proposal was neither accepted nor seriously considered. You are obviously more concerned with attempting to inflict pain than you are in seeking resolution or therapy.
Your activity must stop. If it does not I have been instructed to take all action necessary to compel you to do so and to investigate what other steps may be taken to prevent you from engaging in your ongoing scheme of defamation.
Please note that I have reviewed most, if not all, of the alleged evidence you have presented and find it to be completely without merit. Further, much of the communication sent is so immature that I find it difficult to believe that a rational, reasonable adult could be sending it. The instances of such behavior are numerous. To cite just one example, you have childishly addressed Dr. Siemer in the United States Mail as "Sid Molester Siemer." I would not expect that behavior from a 14-year-old. You have included alleged "evidence" that is completely devoid of any relevant meaning whatsoever.
If you do not stop this irrational, libelous conduct we will ask the courts to compel you to do so. And this time, I will not be interested in resolving the matter by agreement.
The firmness of this letter only produced a more challenging letter from Richard Hamlin to attorney Aguirre dated December 3, 2003. He copied his father-in-law Sidney Siemer. The entire letter reads as follows:
I am writing in response to your 11/19/03 letter, received by my office on 12/02/03. I have previously informed you of my new address, please be organized enough to properly record it so prompt responses may be forthcoming. I begin by placing you on notice that all communications shall be engaged in writing only.
In response to your false accusation claim that "I" violated our gentleman's agreement, I would suggest you engage in a more open and honest dialogue with your client. As a professional, I am giving you the benefit of the doubt in assuming you are unaware of your client's actions. If you may recall, I explained that the genesis of my family's actions was our deep concern that your client, the child rapist, have no contact with any of my four children. In particular, I recounted my concern about sidney's (sic) attempts to get close to my oldest daughter, _____. If you recall, you seemed shocked that I would "tell"" my kids about their grandfather being a child rapist. Within days of our agreement my daughter, _____, received a birthday gift and card from "Grandma". The problem of course was two fold; one, our agreement was for the immediate households not to contact each other in any way and two, the package was sent from your client's office. To think, I would actually believe that "gentleman" and sidney (sic), the child rapist, could be included in the same sentence, was misplaced on my part.
As such, I retaliated with TRUTHFUL correspondence. Your client doesn't learn well, but I am more than willing to be his "instructor".
In response to your "offer" of my wife and her rapist getting together for "group" counseling, your suggestion is offensive and displays your absolute ignorance about this field. You may recall making the unfortunate statement that you "didn't have the background about the affects of molestation"; this is a clear indication that you are over your head in representing your client in this case. In fact, given the truthful allegations that my wife and others are making about your client, psychologist' have been adamant that such a suggestion is simply sidney's (sic) latest attempt to intimidate and control someone he has raped since she was a toddler. My wife's position on this is equally adamant, as you should know by the letter that was read in your presence, that she wants nothing to with this sick degenerate.
Additionally, your convenient reliance on sidney's (sic) denial should be done with caution. This case appears headed for formal proceedings which will demand your client's testimony under oath. Suborning perjury is a felony. Further, you have an ethical duty to investigate the evidence that stands before you. Hopefully, you will begin to learn this area of the law so as to make an "intelligent" comment on the state of the evidence.
As to your demand that my activity "must stop", my answer is NO. In fact be advised it will continue with even greater vigor because of you and your client's latest actions.
Lastly, be advised and put on notice, that I believe you need to make your client aware that you may have committed malpractice. By allowing sidney (sic) to attach the letters you filed with the court in your first failed restraining order case, you have blown any claim for "libel" or defamation". I believe that sidney (sic) actually may have a cause of action against you for financial damages.
I have prepared a demand letter requesting $300,000.00 in lieu of proceeding with a filing of a complaint that will allege his child rape and molest of his daughter. If you will be his attorney in that matter please contact me, so that I may direct all correspondence to you. For your information, the number of victims known has moved into double digits.
These last two letters between adversaries set the stage for the months to come. At this point no one knows what went on in the Hamlin household in the next three months except those who lived there. Because of Judge Eddie Keller's desire to not unduly influence any potential jury all sheriff's reports and investigative reports remain sealed pending trial. This includes the pictures of the injuries inflicted upon Susan Siemer Hamlin either by some unknown attacker or by her husband, Richard Hamlin, depending upon which version of facts introduced by the El Dorado County investigator one believes.
What is known is that the battle between Susan Hamlin, her husband Richard Hamlin and her father, Dr. Sid Siemer, has decimated the finances and the ties that bound the Hamlin family together for 21 years. It is known that the battle that escalated between the two men was accelerated by the revelations of Susan Siemer Hamlin. The truth of the allegations made against Sid Siemer by his daughter are only known by father and daughter. Whether or not Susan was sexually molested by her father is only known in the mind of Susan Siemer Hamlin and the memories of Sid Siemer.
What is known is that Susan Siemer Hamlin ignited a firestorm that destroyed her marriage, might well imprison her husband for life, damaged the reputation of her 72-year-old father, and left her four children with the same questions she claimed she was trying to resolve in her own life.
Virginia McCullough © 5/6/05