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JAILED MISSIONARY TELLS HIS STORY
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 25, 2011) — On December 30, 2010, Mr. George Raudenbush was arrested in Tellico Plains, a small town in Monroe County, TN, on several charges. Raudenbush is a mission coordinator who oversees adult and youth mission groups arriving in east Tennessee to perform mission work. Mr. Raudenbush also is a member of Christian Citizens Against Corruption, an educational group which distributes press releases to residents of Tennessee with the purpose of informing them about local government corruption.
The charges against Raudenbush include aggravated assault, driving uninsured; speeding; failure to signal turn; evading arrest; driving left of center; resisting stop, frisk, halt; driving on a suspended license; failure to wear a seat belt; and driving an unregistered vehicle.
In June 2010, a trailer containing approximately $100,000-worth of construction tools used by teenagers involved with the Appalachian Youth Missions summer program was confiscated by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department for the alleged collection of a debt owed by Mr. Raudenbush. However, the spokesman for the Missions group stated that the trailer had never belonged to Raudenbush and was therefore confiscated unlawfully. The church group filed a criminal complaint with the Knoxville office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has reportedly contacted Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens. Mr. Raudenbush believes that his arrest occurred in “retaliation” for the incident with the trailer and the fact that the church group contacted the FBI for assistance.
MRS. RONDEAU: Hi, George, how are you?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Well, I’m doing good. I just wanted to let you know that the conditions here are probably even more pronounced than what CDR Fitzpatrick reported. They are worse now. I’d say that 80-90% of the state requirements are not being met. I’m in a compartment that is state-certified to hold 16 men, and there are 39 in this compartment. The drains are backed up, and it is just horrendous.
However, I’m in good spirits and doing OK.
MRS. RONDEAU: I’m glad you reported that, because the TCI went in and reportedly gave the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department 30 days to clean up their act, literally, and I was told that that occurred on December 7. So the 30 days has more than expired.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Right. I’m here and providing a first-person account as a Christian journalist verifying that the conditions are terrible.
I wanted to tell you that the sheriff has been in direct retaliation for the incident with the tool trailer. The FBI did contact him on behalf of our Council, and he has agreed to return $100,000-worth of tools and the tractor-trailer that his department confiscated. It was only two days later that I was stopped and pulled over by sheriff’s deputies and a Tellico Plains police officer.
MRS. RONDEAU: I received the charge sheets from the court.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: We know that there are people here working on it. They know the sheriff’s department is in direct retaliation from the FBI having gotten involved.
MRS. RONDEAU: When they first pulled you over, do you think they knew who you were?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: I believe that they did. I think they were waiting for me. I didn’t think that at first. However, as I’ve had time to look back over that event and all the different factors involved, my perspective now is that they did have their eye out for me. I’ve had more information brought to my attention since then as opposed to limited information at that time.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you dispute all of the charges?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Yes, I do dispute every one of them. We have evidence that we tried to present at the preliminary hearing, and the judge was not impartial and did not allow most of the evidence to be admitted. So we did not get a fair preliminary hearing. We are attempting to go before the grand jury with this evidence that clearly tells, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there was no assault using the church vehicle on the officers. They even said I was driving with a suspended or revoked license, which I wasn’t. I was driving on an international government license, and they claimed it was a non-governmental license.
MRS. RONDEAU: Was the license up-to-date?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Absolutely. Everything was current: my insurance; everything was current. I was in the process of giving the insurance over to the officer when he asked; I was in full compliance. At no time did I resist the officer at all, and at no time was I ever uncooperative. The word that they used was “uncooperative.” During that time of cooperation was when I was assaulted by the officers, and they did use excessive force. This particular officer has a history of police brutality.
In addition to that, I had filed a complaint with the agency which gives the certification to this officer to remove his certification from the state because of a prior incident when he used excessive force that was over a year ago and shows motive on the part of the officer.
MRS. RONDEAU: Did that prior incident involve you?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Yes, and also another individual in the vehicle with me. That actually occurred a year before this incident. From the report that we have, there was motive for the officer to do what he did. In addition to that, the other officer, Travis Jones, who works with the sheriff’s department, and Brian Millsaps, who works in the Tellico Plains Police Department, both have a history of using excessive force and making false and exaggerated reports. We have numerous witnesses here ready to testify against those officers for misconduct in the past and at present. When we were giving out press releases and flyers in Monroe County, Travis Jones was the individual who actually stopped, detained and threatened us. We were on private property and with in our rights to be there.
MRS. RONDEAU: I remember that story.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: We did an actual press release on it. He was the officer who claimed that he had been assaulted. There is no evidence of any damage to his vehicle, although he’s claiming it, and we have pictures of the church vehicle showing no scratch or damage whatsoever.
Editor’s Note: An individual who inspected the vehicle at the impound yard reported:
Sharon, I went to visit George yesterday. I found out that the big bad charges that the Tellico Plains Police have on George, is for aggravated assault. The Chief at Tellico told me that George had assaulted a Tellico Police several times by running into the police car, By hitting the cruiser with the side of the 80s model ford escort he had assaulted the police officer. Well I went to the yard where the Little assault vehicle is being held. I inspected it to see what the conditions would be,for transporting it, after impound could be paid. Guess what ! There is not even the smallest scratch or dent in the car. Pretty tough little escort to do such aggression and come out with not a scratch, or someone for whatever their reason is bogus in putting such charges on George.
MRS. RONDEAU: And you were driving that church vehicle when the arrest occurred on December 30?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Yes. I was on official church business, and under international law, I had my passport, my driver’s license, my registration; everything was current, and the embassy can verify that.
MRS. RONDEAU: What kind of international license do you have? Does it look different from a Tennessee license?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: It’s completely different. Under international law, individuals in the United States can drive on international licenses. If there is also another government or a nation – let’s say the United Arab Emirates – it’s just like being in the military. If you’re from the United States and you go to another country, even if your license has expired, in the military, you can drive in other countries on that license. It’s the same thing here when you have a treaty involved; if you’re with another government or a nation. The Embassy of Heaven is actually a church government, and as a missionary, I actually registered for and applied for international tags, an international passport, and an international license. My license is completely up-to-date, and that information can be verified at www.embassyofheaven.org. You can actually call Brother Paul and verify that information.
MRS. RONDEAU: How are you doing physically? I know you were fasting after you were arrested.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: I fasted for 12 days without any food, just straight water, and the last two or three days I was drinking eight ounces of Kool-Aid a day. But I felt really good; I was actually fasting for the officers who were involved. I wasn’t fasting as a protest, and I did it very quietly so the only people who knew about it were those in here. Then I felt as if the Lord released me from that fast after 12 days. After breaking that fast, we saw a huge difference inside our compartment.
I actually see being here as an opportunity from the Lord. Sometimes tensions get a little high because of the conditions, but overall, the guys are great.
I’m not looking to pay any bond money to get out of here; I’m not going to give them any money. They can take care of me until my trial. I’m going to use this opportunity to its fullest.
Editor’s Note: A person who has been in contact with Mr. Raudenbush reported the following in a recent email to The Post & Email:
The present condition of George’s stay at Monroe County Jail is, Two toilets for 40 inmates in one cell, also 24 beds in one cell 16 sleep on the floor, temp. is 60 F
Another email from the same source reported on last week’s hearing:
I just got back from George’s hearing. The bond has been reduced from 56k to 25k. The three assault charges; the best I understand have been reduced to 1 assault charge. The next court date is Feb. 14th.
Mr. Raudenbush also reported to us that he requested a hearing in front of the grand jury following his court appearance last week, but his request was denied.
The Post & Email was told by Ms. Peggy Sawyer at the Tennessee Corrections Institute that the Monroe County jail would be inspected for the alleged code violations reported by inmates last fall. While it appeared that an inspection and subsequent improvements had occurred, The Post & Email will be following up with Ms. Sawyer in the coming days.