The Denver Post, June 17, 1999

Abuse conviction won't keep Enyart off TV
By Karen E. Crummy Special to The Denver Post

June 17 - JEFFERSON COUNTY - Former radio talk-show host Bob Enyart - recently convicted of misdemeanor abuse of his stepson - won the right Wednesday to appear on a Father's Day edition of "Politically Incorrect.''

Jefferson County Judge Charles Hoppin ruled that Enyart has a First Amendment right to air his views on the television show provided he does not disclose the name and address of his stepson. Enyart is on probation after being convicted of child abuse for hitting his stepson with a belt. His probation officer filed a motion with the court to keep Enyart from appearing on the show, which will air Friday night.

"This isn't exactly a victory,'' said Enyart, a well-known critic of the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office and the judicial system. "It is merely a random event in a mindless system.''

Enyart's lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union - his usual foe - argued that the motion to prohibit Enyart from speaking on the talk show violated his freedom of speech. The probation officer believed Enyart's appearance could be detrimental to his court-mandated therapy because he may receive national support for his views on disciplining children.

But the judge agreed with Enyart, saying that his conservative parenting and child-rearing opinions could be stifled only if they presented a clear and present danger of inciting a riot or disorder. In this case, they did not, the judge said.

"The court's ruling was correct and an important issue of constitutional magnitude for the citizens of Colorado and the citizens of the United States,'' said Patrick Mulligan, one of Enyart's attorneys. And though the hearing was about free speech, the issue afterward out in the hallway reverted to Enyart's childabuse conviction.

Friends and family came to Enyart's defense as they caught up with Deputy District Attorney George Brauchler outside the courtroom. Enyart's supporters criticized Brauchler for not seeing the event as a simple spanking issue.

"Bob spanked his stepson out of love,'' friend Mark Sutherland said. "Just because the court says it was child abuse doesn't make it so.''

But the evidence at trial indicated at least three welts on the boy's backside, Brauchler said.

"Enyart used the defense of reasonable discipline at trial and the juries rejected it,'' Brauchler said.

Enyart said he hasn't changed the way he disciplines his five children.

"Childhood nowadays is in a state of meltdown, and the parents' hands are tied,'' Enyart said. "The thought police and mind controllers have taken away children's respect for their parents and for themselves.''

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