Reishus jailed, released

Former Craig nurse charged with 'committing a mischievous act'

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Former Craig nurse Donna Reishus was released from police custody in Punta Gorda, Belize, Thursday night following 48 hours of incarceration.

Reishus posted a personal recognizance bond after being charged with "committing a mischievous act."

A news station in Belize reported that police confiscated Reishus' passport pending the outcome of her case. A police spokesman could not verify that police took the passport. Reishus is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 23.

Police in Punta Gorda arrested Reishus Tuesday on the suspicion that she was "tampering with witnesses" in a case that investigated three Americans, including Reishus' boyfriend. The case charged two of the men with counts related to child pornography.

Lee Jones, Reishus' boyfriend, who is an internationally recognized ornithologist, has not been formally charged, but police in Belize say they believe he will be charged if he reenters the country.

Reishus has been working as a volunteer nurse in Belize for three years. She has written the Craig Daily Press numerous times to update residents about her life and work in Belize. She fled Belize Oct. 26, fearing for her safety, after police in Punta Gorda interrogated her in connection with the alleged crimes.

After a brief stay in Craig, Reishus returned "home" to Belize. But before she did, she told the Craig Daily Press about alleged injustices, including police threatening to beat a young girl unless she made accusations against the Americans.

Reishus emailed the Craig Daily Press after she arrived back in Belize, saying, "All my Belizean friends and acquaintances have welcomed me home with open arms and incredible support! The women who attend my clinic are happy to have me back, and life goes on."

In the events that led to her arrest Tuesday, Reishus had invited a television station in Belize to interview the alleged victims who apparently were prepared to change their testimony in the child pornography case, according to G. Michael Reid, a spokesperson for police in Belize.

"We have information she (Reishus) may have been tampering with witnesses," Reid said.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Reid said Reishus could be held for 48 hours without being formally charged. The 48-hour deadline was up Thursday at 6 p.m. in Belize. Officials in Belize filed formal charges against Reishus three hours before the deadline, and she was released on bond.

A Belize television station ran a story Wednesday that called Reishus' arrest a "witch hunt." But Reid said Reishus' efforts to bring together the media and the alleged victims was criminal.

"It's illegal to tamper with witnesses in a matter before the courts," Reid said.

Reid said there is "something unethical and also criminal" in Reishus' attempt to contact the media and "coerce" the children to recant their testimony against the suspects, given her relationship to one of the suspects.

Reid denied allegations of misconduct by police in Belize, especially allegations that police forced the young witnesses to falsify accusations against the American suspects. He said the children's parents were present during all interrogation sessions, and he said the children's parents initiated the allegations of "abuse" by the Americans.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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