June 06, 2007 What makes a global news story? Surely not 4-H Club happenings, unless apparently one of the clubs has a 'queen' who's been charged with animal abuse.
Kate Mills, 20, is one of four Mills' family members who were charged in March after police and Lapeer County Animal Control officers found animal carcasses on their Imlay Township farm.
Parents Ellen and Mark Mills, their daughter Kate and 18-year-old son Andrew were each charged because, according to prosecutors, none of them were cooperative during the investigation. They must argue their case in court.
None of the Mills have been bound over for trial. A preliminary exam where a judge determines whether there's sufficient evidence to do so is currently underway. But that doesn't seem to matter to a lot of folks who have honed in on Kate and are ready to hang her out to dry.
Ironically, local media outlets are the only ones who ever cover 4-H activities, but couple the term with 'animal abuse' and apparently it's global news. The story remained a local one that for two months failed to incite the current level of attention until Kate's Oakland County 4-H club suspended her queen's reign pending the outcome of the case against her.
Animal rights activists have gone so far as to post a map of the Mills' farm on the Internet. Righteous declarations about what the pre-veterinary student's punishment should be are the subject of blogs and opinion pieces on the World Wide Web though she's been convicted of nothing. Unbelievably, she's even been stoned by strangers who threw rocks at her when she returned home for a visit.
Though it was mentioned in the first phase of the preliminary examination, Kate's attorney—who is also representing the other family members—it was sparsely reported that he intended to seek that she be dropped from the case as she was away at school during the time the alleged abuse took place. He says he has documented evidence that she wasn't even living on the family farm when the animals died, and this Monday, the judge will hear oral arguments regarding the attorney's request.
Sadly, though, what has happened or will happen in court doesn't seem to matter to those who have singled out and already judged Kate Mills, the only 4-H queen who's gotten global attention these days.