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Protesters' photos may be clue in rape case - "Arkansas Rapist Caught!"

 By Shane Graber

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

11/17/2006

GRANITE CITY The Arkansas cop admits he was just taking a chance when he called the couple that protests at the abortion clinic here.

Turns out, it might have paid off

Detective Jimmy Long, an investigator in Bryant , Ark. , was building a case on a man suspected of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl. Long had a tip that the man got her pregnant and brought her to the Hope Clinic for Women here for an abortion.

That happens to be where Daniel and Angela Michael have camped out for years photographing just about every car that comes in the parking lot. As founders of Small Victories Ministries, they oppose abortion.

This week, Long stumbled across the couple while doing an Internet search on the clinic.

"When I called them, I thought my chances were slim to none," Long said in a telephone interview. "But I called anyway. And it turns out they had them."

What the couple had, police and Daniel Michael said, were three pictures that could prove to be critical.

Last month, Bryant police responded to a disturbance at the home of Jeffery Cheshier, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. A girl told police that Cheshier, 41, had sexually abused her for a year.

The teen told police he got her pregnant and took her to a St. Louis-area abortion clinic in March, the affidavit said. At Long's request, the Michaels searched thousands of photographs to see if they had a picture of the vehicle the detective was looking for.

"Every day they're open, we're there," Daniel Michael, 48, said. "We try to talk the girls out of abortion."

They didn't talk to the man police were looking for, Michael said.

"Not everybody wants to talk," he said.

Michael said he and his wife photograph the vehicles in case anything illegal happens at the clinic. They keep every picture. As it turned out, they had three pictures of what Long said is Cheshier's car.

Hope Clinic Executive Director Sally Burgess could not comment on the rape allegations because of patient confidentiality laws. But the clinic has safeguards to protect teenagers, she said.

"If a teenager lets on to us that something of this nature is occurring, we're absolutely going to notify the authorities," she said.

The clinic asks a patient three times if the pregnancy is the result of rape. If it is, clinic officials respond, Burgess said.

Cheshier is now in Arkansas ' Saline County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bail. A neighboring county has $50,000 bail on him.

Police from the two counties are filing rape cases to the prosecuting attorney's office. Long expects the photographs will play a big part.

"I feel good about it," he said.

sgraber@post-dispatch.com | 618-659-3639

To support and encourage Daniel and Angela please contact them - 
smallvictories@juno.com (email), 618-654-5800 (phone), 
or write them; Small Victories P.O. Box 143 Highland, IL 62249.