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by Sharon Rondeau

Sevier County was once inhabited mainly by Cherokee Indians and is named after John Sevier, the first governor of Tennessee

(Feb. 1, 2011) — The following letter was submitted to The Post & Email by the mother of the child who was shot by a neighbor in Sevier County, TN in 2009.  The neighbor was not prosecuted, and the child’s mother, who was expecting to be a witness in front of the grand jury, was never called to testify.  The grand jury did not issue an indictment in the case, and the mother claims that they were lied to:

I have an audio tape in my possession from the Sevier records management guy who says when he dispersed my records request in the sheriffs office, the detective, said my daughter was never touched…I have this on tape….now what did he (the detective) say to the grand jury? Detective is doing what Hoss Seals told him to do.

Ms. Gebhardt has stated that the District Attorney, Jimmy Dunn, is corrupt and has been “insulated” from prosecution by cronyism within the criminal justice system, both at the county and federal levels.  A report from August 14, 2009 states that Dunn cleared Seals of “ticket-fixing” after a former deputy accused Seals of “shielding a DUI suspect from prosecution and allowing the suspect to be taken away from the scene of the arrest by a third party” after Dunn had requested the assistance of the TBI in investigating the allegations.

The TBI has been contacted on many occasions about corruption in Tennessee but appears reluctant to investigate.

Although Sevier County Sheriff Ron Seals has stated that “Protecting the citizens of Sevier County is always our highest priority,” Ms. Gebhardt has reported that Seals is guilty of assaulting a resident of his county, an event which was captured on video, and that Seals’s son was stopped for driving under the influence (DUI) but that while the police report was being completed, Seals escorted his son “out the back door…and all of the paperwork has now disappeared.”

Seals has worked for the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department for almost 40 years.

Ms. Gebhardt’s claim that the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department is the target of many lawsuits appears to be substantiated.  A citizens’ watchdog group in Sevier County accuses the sheriff, mayor and county employees of controlling the county commissioners and functions to “investigate, report and expose the corruption and unlawful actions of government employees and office holders of Sevier County, Tennessee.”

January 31, 2011

Sent by Facsimile 615-741-1416
The Honorable Governor Bill Haslam
First Floor
State Capital Building
Nashville, TN, 37243

Dear Governor Haslam,

My name is Catherine Gebhardt. I reside in Sevier County Tennessee with my family.

The Post and Email Editor, Ms. Sharon Rondeau, recently contacted your office in writing, in regards to many issues of misconduct occurring in this state, which are adversely affecting many citizens. I am the mother of that minor child, she references in her letter to you, who was shot in the face and leg, in Sevier County.

I do sir, possess mounds of evidentiary material that blatantly proves the misconduct of both the Sevier County Sheriffs Office and the District Attorneys office of the 4th Judicial District, as well as their manipulation of the grand jury, which did not indict the parties, which shot my daughter, due to their elite political pull with the sheriffs office in the county. This sir also involves aggravated perjury of the only witness who was called to the grand jury, whom is a detective with the Sevier County sheriff’s office. I was not allowed to be at the proceedings, nor were the three 15-year-old girls, who were present when the shooting took place and are actual witnesses. Yet, on the unsealed presentment of the Grand Jury Proceedings, my name is listed as a witness. I know now, that these authorities wanted no one there at these proceedings that could literally attest to the fact, that this child was shot and injured.

I have taken an exorbitant amount of time in meeting with various officials over the last year, and have made grueling efforts to obtain the records from this closed case, closed by the district attorney, the day following the no true bill after it went to the grand jury in May 2010. I have been denied these records by both the prosecutor’s office and the sheriffs office, and have had to enlist the assistance of Ms. Elisha Hodge, JD, Head of the open records counsel, in Nashville, to obtain anything, and there are items I have requested that remain outstanding. This is a clear violation too, of the open records law in TN.

Even the state office of the TN Dept of Safety, referred this matter to the TN Bureau of Investigation, yet, the TBI indicates that they will not investigate any matter that does not have the request of the jurisdictionally related district attorney. This is ludicrous, as the DA here is indeed part of the malfeasance and the wrongdoing. I can prove this.

Furthermore, this is contrary to TN statute, as there can be investigations made into corrupt public officials, as it states upon the TBI’s own website. However it seems, that the TBI is ruled by the TN Attorney General Conference, of which the DA here in Sevier County, is on both the legislative and executive committees of that conference, which puts him in a position of power. Perhaps the head of the TBI, wishes to stay in a favorable light with the TN Attorney General Conference, in efforts to again be reappointed for another term, thus keeping his job? Could that be the inability or unwillingness of that office to act, in the face of this corruption, while people are being maimed, killed, and hurt in TN?

There is obviously no oversight of the DA’s office. I was even told by the state AG’s office, that they can do nothing about corrupt local officials and the only recourse one has, is to vote him or her out at the next election. How exactly sir, does that help the wrongdoing of the AG’s office, in relation to my daughter or her injuries? Does that absolve the state District attorney from acting at all?

Additionally, I possess in writing from former Gov. Bredesen’s office, that they can do “nothing” about corrupt officials, running me in a perpetual circle back to the TBI, and even suggested that I talk with our county mayor, who’s conduct is also questionable by citizenry here, as the wrongdoing in this region, is clearly out of hand, exhibited by the many lawsuits lodged here.

My daughter, who still bears the fragments of this gunshot in her head and leg, has been victimized, as has our entire family.

I have contacted many authorities about this matter as well as the media, and will seek to resolve this matter, as the malfeasance in this county, involving these officials, is very prevalent and common, however in this instance, these officials have been caught.

There too, was a piece televised about this matter on WATE in Knoxville in February of 2010.

Sir, we cannot allow this type of color of law violations to occur in this community, nor in any community, as to do nothing, will further condone further wrongdoing.

My daughter is victim of a crime; yet, the very officials who were supposed to protect and advocate for justice have victimized our entire family.

Sir, we cannot shoot children, and then cover it up.

I wish to meet with you by appointment to discuss this matter.

If that could be arranged, I would be very much appreciative and will make the effort to travel to Nashville.

I am hopeful that you really are looking to make a change for the better, for citizens of all ages, in Tennessee.

Thank you.


Catherine Gebhardt


Editor’s Note: The Post & Email’s letter to Gov. Bill Haslam was faxed to his office on January 26, 2011.  Our previous report on the case, written by Ms. Gebhardt, is here.

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  1. Child is victimized by the person who shot her and victimized by the system and the people who run it? A child?
    This is so wrong. Where is Nancy Grace?

  2. It is absurd that they lack so much concern for citizens and especially children whom we wish could find reason to grow up to be law abiding citizens! This certainly does not set a positive example!. Clean it up there.

  3. They shot a kid and would not indict the person doing the shooting, because the cop lied to the grand jury? That is awful. TN, with all its recent coverage on corrupt activities must be the cesspool of America. What is wrong with officials there? . If that were my daughter, I would be turning someone upside down and inside out!

    Do officials there have children?

    I will never go there again for tourism or any other reason. We will take family vacations elsewhere.

  4. Thank you for shedding light on this subject that affects us all in our community. The problem is no one really knows what is going on in our D.A. office. If you have a problem with the D.A. or a state’s witness, whom do you turn to? If you call the T.B.I. they will tell you that they won’t investigate unless the D.A. asks them to. I think everyone here knows that our D.A. has close ties to a prosecutor in the F.B.I. . We as citizens are between a rock and a hard place when seeking justice is on the shoulders of the individuals when the D.A. will not do their job.

  5. More and more we see the role of grand juries, who are citizens overseeing their communities. For criminals to be in power and say you have to wait until the next voting cycle is ludicrous. I hope there is a huge wave of resurgence of the grand jury power of the people across the country. The states are learning their role, and now the local communities have to wake up. Like the cells on the leaf of a plant, each cell has to seek optimal health for the entire plant to function well. God bless America!
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: Yes, yes, yes!! The people need to take back the grand juries!!