Carpinteria Man Sentenced to Three Years for Molesting Granddaughter

Michael Norris Will Also Have to Register as a Sex Offender

Friday, February 28, 2014
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Michael Norris, a 69-year-old man who pleaded guilty last month to molesting his granddaughter in Carpinteria, was sentenced Thursday to three years in state prison per a plea agreement that will require him to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Ladinig, who handled the case, said the deal stemmed from the fact that Norris could have received only probation, given his age, his poor health — he wore a neck brace in court on Thursday — and his lack of a criminal history.

Michael Norris
Click to enlarge photo


Michael Norris

The District Attorney’s Office, with input from the victim’s parents, also wished to spare her from a trial, Ladinig said. The girl, who was between 6 and 8 years old at the time of the incidents and is now 15, is a “straight-A student” who is doing well “with her studies and her life right now,” Ladinig added.

Ladinig said that the girl told her father in 2012 about what Norris had done years prior. The Sheriff’s Office investigated the allegations and issued an arrest warrant in late 2012 for Norris, who had moved to Costa Rica many years earlier. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Norris agreed to surrender once he learned of the warrant. He was arrested when his flight from Costa Rica landed in Los Angeles in February 2013.

Norris initially faced charges of child molestation, continuous sexual abuse of a child, exhibiting pornographic material to a child, and attempted aggravated sexual assault of a child, the last of which Ladinig said presented some accuracy issues. Norris initially pleaded not guilty to the charges but agreed to the deal in January. Once he is released from prison — he will be required to serve 85 percent of his sentence — he will be subject to “strict monitoring” as part of his sex offender registration, Ladinig said.

Robert Landheer, Norris’s attorney, issued a statement after the sentencing, saying that a year’s worth of investigations led to a “very fair” outcome. “Mr. Norris is an elderly man suffering from numerous health problems, who voluntarily surrendered himself and returned from Costa Rica to deal with the charges he was facing,” Landheer said. “Considering his age and his cooperation, we feel that the sentencing Mr. Norris received was the best all around for himself and for his family.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

absolutely despicable.

StockiestCastle (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 9:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Cry me a River. An elderly man with health problems, he is just a poor victim of all this?

When is Society going to treat these MONSTERS for what they are.

Saying the victim is a straight A student does not address the psychological issues that she has and will face her entire life.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 9:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ugly old fart put his hands on his own grandaugther he should be grateful I'm not the judge because I'd break out the meat cleaver..

Byrd (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 10:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Put the pig in his sty and there let him die.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 11:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

His age, his poor health, lack of a criminal history? Really guys! I got an idea. label him a sexual offender CHILD MOLESTER, put him in GenPop for a LONG time, definitely MORE than 3 years. Have him receive what he gave: ABUSE! Criminal scumbag monster.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 11:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Only 3 years is a crime. They should make him put his thing in a meat grinder.

newsbiz (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 12:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Michael Johnson Norris, was an Elder in the Carpinteria Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses when these crimes were committed. Jehovah's Witnesses have a "two witness" policy in cases of sexual abuse that are brought to their attention. If the abuser denies the allegations and there is no "second witness" observing the abuse take place, the Elders will not contact law enforcement and they will not support parents in their efforts or decision to contact law enforcement either. Michael Johnson Norris will be free to reintegrate with a Jehovah's Witness Congregation upon his release from prison. Further policy of the religion dictates that Norris "offender status" will not be made known to the congregation members. Norris will also be permitted to come knocking on your door, an activity all Jehovah's Witnesses perform. For more information on these horrific policies protecting pedophiles please visit AAWA.Co

Persecutor (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 12:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

His granddaughter???!!! Whoa!!! This is not to say that any such felony isn't serious. But his granddaughter? Whoa!!!

salsipuedes (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 12:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What I don't understand is why this article doesn't say that this guy was a Jehovah's Witness when he did this. It seems to be all over the web that he did a runner to Costa Rica and attended their Church there.

3 years for abusing your grand daughter. If he has been in custody for a while he probably will not serve a year? Lets hope he never has access to children again. Sad for the family. Glad she is doing well, by why write something that sounds like he is a poor old sick man? Come on.......

honest123 (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 12:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You can guar-effen-tee it...he WILL molest more children.
And Jehovah's witness'are not the only churches that harbor these criminal reprobates...not by a long shot, as most people know.

newsbiz (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 5:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I would like to commend this young women for the courage it took to come forward and tell her story, although this article states as one consideration given Mr. Norris for his short jail term as the lack of criminal history it is obvious that committing continued acts of child rape on this victim is more then enough reason to find that Mr. Norris indeed had a criminal history. We hope that the girls family will continue to try to hold the Jehovah's Witnesses church Elders and the hierarchy at the Watchtower Organization responsible for their part in hiding these devastating crimes against children.

kathleenconti (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 5:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)


AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 9:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When this sex offender gets out of prison he will be monitored. He is now a sex offender and always will be on a sex offender list. He should never be allowed to go door-to-door selling anything in any community.

It is interesting to note that Jehovah's Witnesses will not be allowed to visit the door of a sex offender but have no problem taking one to everyone else's door. THIS MUST STOP NOW.

The people I work with at Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses will do our best to make sure he will not be afforded that "privilege".

If you know of a convicted sex offender who is one of Jehovah's Witnesses and who participates in the preaching work please notify the district DA to stop this abhorrent practice. We might not be able to affect what goes on in a Kingdom Hall (their church) but we can all have an impact on what these offenders do outside of one.

LeeMarsh (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2014 at 10:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Just saw this - comes to something when SNAP - asks what are Jehovahs's Witnesses doing about the sexual abuse of children -
They say about a case that was dropped yesterday -
And we're appalled by the apparent silence of the Oklahoma Jehovah's Witness community. Church officials should be using their resources to aggressively seek out others who saw, suspected or suffered Lawrence's crimes. They should be begging anyone with information or suspicions of his wrongdoing to call police and prosecutors. They should be pledging to pay for therapy and medical expenses for others he has hurt. They should be reminding church staff, volunteers and members that calling law enforcement about known or suspected child sex crimes is crucial. They should be doing an internal investigation to see if other Jehovah's Witnesses knew of or suspected his crimes and kept silent or concealed the crimes.

Makes you wonder if the JW's in Santa Barbara are asking similar questions or doing anything?

honest123 (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2014 at 7:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is NOT just an old man with failing health. This is a sexual predator thats bad enough but he was an elder in the congregation of Jehovahs Witnesses. A spiritual leader a man who should have been safe with children. Being in a privileged position makes it even worse. What is so shocking is this was his own granddaughter someone who he should have loved cherished and protected. Instead this MONSTER chose to sexualy abuse this poor innocent child. Tried to cover it up... This poor gril has been given a life sentence of pain. being a victim of sexual abuse by family members myself I well know what she is going through. The sentence does not reflect this despicable crime. I am incensed at the injustice...

buzz1966 (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2014 at 9:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Life as a registered sex offender? How about life in prison instead? Or better yet life without medical care.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2014 at 3:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The cynic in me makes me wonder if this lenient sentence isn't a ploy to say "We don't have enough prison space to house him so we need to cough up more money to build prisons".

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2014 at 4:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@ bill- I wouldn't doubt it. @lee marsh, honest 123, and buzz 1966- Us Catholics had to learn the hard way and so will the Jehovah Witnesses, but I doubt that either group support pedophiles.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2014 at 10:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Legally this man will serve his time and get out of prison. We live in a society that has penalties for various crimes. if we don't like the kinds of sentences that are handed down by the courts then we need to do what we can to change the laws.

The Witnesses are not learning. Not a thing except the continue to brush sexual abuse of child under the carpet. Most sexual offenders on congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses will never be addresses legally.

In my case it was swept away and the police was never notified. He never went on a sex offender registry (although to be fair they didn't exist 50 years ago) My abuser had molester his 3 daughters in his 1st marriage. my 13 yr. old aunt who was living with us (who committed suicide shortly after it came to light), myself who was 12, and later my 4 yr old sister (who also committed suicide many years later) and then went to the US and married a woman and together they ran a foster home for girls.

The first 3 of his daughters was not connected to the Witnesses. If he had been reported when the abuse of my aunt was discovered maybe she would not have committed suicide. Same for my sister. Maybe they would be alive today. Maybe they would have gotten some help. Maybe he would have gone to jail. Maybe he never would have been allowed to go to the States to find more victims. At least he is dead now but how many victims could have been prevented if he had been reported? How many of his victims would not have suffered like I did or would still be alive today?

The Watchtower Society considers sexual abuse a sin not a crime. They believe their laws of requiring two credible (meaning adult JWs in good standing in the congregation) eye-witnesses stand above the laws of the land. They believe that their need to protect an organizations' reputation comes before any laws of the land so they will lie and provide half-truths. They will orders elders (leaders in the congregation) to call Watchtower headquarters to ask if they are legally required to report sexual abuse and then will only do that if they absolutely can't evade it because the abuse has become widely known.

In reality they will only encourage the elders to report the abuse if the accused is not associated with the Witnesses. If it is an outsider then they see no reflection on their reputation and will report the abuse. But victims within the congregations who are abused by other Witnesses or even those associated (some one studying or someone who was never baptized but still goes to meetings and lives like a Witness have no chance for justice. In our cases we are told to "Wait on Jehovah God for justice". I've been waiting 50 years now.

LeeMarsh (anonymous profile)
March 2, 2014 at 8:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Did you try reporting it to the police? Like I said, Catholics had to learn the hard way and are still going through the repercussions. Usually, law enforcement does not put aside reports of pedophilia, even though the court system for some reason are lenient on them. Why? I have no idea, and it makes no sense.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
March 2, 2014 at 4:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

SNAP responds to this case:

Persecutor (anonymous profile)
March 3, 2014 at 11:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What I do not understand is why SNAP responds and JW's do not? Are they going to change their policy that hides abusers in their Kingdom Halls? Has the Santa Barbara congregation made an apology to this guy's daughter? Also if SNAP can send a press release saying this guy was a JW why can't this newspaper reveal that fact so that people in Santa Barbara know what was covered up in their town? Just wondering? There are photos on the internet of this guy with other elders. It just seems bizarre to me, that JW's do not come out of the woodwork and at least say sorry that this happened. Is the organisation's name (which looks to me pretty soiled) more important than a child's healing?

honest123 (anonymous profile)
March 3, 2014 at 11:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, I guess Solomon was right after all. There really isn't anything new under the sun! And to think, the church!!

salsipuedes (anonymous profile)
March 3, 2014 at 1:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Norris will be paroled in only a matter of months if he survives his prison stay. While he will be registered as a sex offender it should be noted that he is married to a Costa Rican National and he also owns property in Costa Rica. Under the terms of his parole he may be allowed to return to Costa Rica and only if Costa Rican officials allow him to. Costa Rica will not be protected under the umbrella of Meghan's Law or Norris' GPS tracking device. Whether Norris stays in the United States or makes his way back to Costa Rica one thing is absolutely certain: Norris will try to reintegrate with the Jehovah's Witnesses where his sex offender "status" will not be made known to congregants. Norris will also be allowed to go door to door as JWs do. These are internal policies held by the Witnesses and they will not see Norris as a "convicted sex offender" because he accepted a plea bargain. His guilt still is not established within the religion because there was not a "second witness" to the abuse he perpetrated. Jehovah's Witnesses and Communities beware. This is a pedophile that will use his knowledge and the avenue of the Jehovah's Witness religion with their egregious policies to act out again. If anyone has suffered abuse by this offender, now is the time to come forward.

Persecutor (anonymous profile)
March 4, 2014 at 10:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"what's best for him and his family", who cares about him or his family? The true story needs to be reported, not this toned down fairy tale that eradicates "his family" and the Jehovah's Witnesses. "His family", wife, daughter, son-in-law (not victims father) son, elders from the Carp kingdom Hall, found out about the abuse and NEVER reported it. Are not all baptized Jehovah's Witnesses ordained ministers? Which last I checked are mandated reporters. The victims father when told by the victim, not "his family" but the victim, almost a year later after "his family" knew, called the police. What's best for him and "his family" is that they all get locked up together and longer then 3 years.

junec (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2014 at 4:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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