Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Victim's children sue detective

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        FLORENCE — The children whose mother may have been killed 22 years ago trying to protect them from their father's molestation have filed suit against a Florence police officer and the city of Florence.

        They allege the city and officer failed to notify officials in two states that the children were in the custody of a convicted child molester.

        In the suit, the children, now adults, allege the lack of notification exposed them to years of repeated sexual abuse by their father, William Major, who is now charged with murdering their mother.

        City officials have less than two weeks to answer the complaint filed in Boone County Circuit Court.

LaLana Bramble, 26, and Donald Oakes, 30, filed a civil suit April 2 in Boone Circuit Court against the city of Florence and Detective Bruce Graham.

        Their father, William Major, 58, of Fairhaven, Mass., is charged with murdering Helen Marlene Major, 25, in 1980, decapitating her body and dumping the remains near their Verona home.

        He is scheduled for a hearing before Boone Circuit Judge Jay Bamberger at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Boone County Courthouse in Burlington to determine whether he is mentally capable of standing trial.

        Mr. Major is charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse. Detective Graham investigated the case.

        According to the civil complaint, Ms. Bramble and Mr. Oakes allege Detective Graham was provided with evidence but did nothing about a 1979 diary written by Mrs. Major, in which she decribes catching Mr. Major molesting Mr. Oakes, who was 7 at the time; Mr. Major's confession to doing this for several years already; and information regarding a 1976 sexual abuse conviction against Mr. Major in Campbell Circuit Court.

        “We've already met with the city attorney (Hugh O. Skees),” Police Chief Tom Kathman said Monday. “I'm sure he's preparing a response. I've known Bruce my entire career; he's an excellent police officer.”

        Ms. Bramble said she received the diary and court record from Campbell County from her grandmother, Lorraine Oakes, in 1985.

        “I didn't find out until a year ago we had grounds to file suit,” Ms. Bramble said Monday.


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