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E. T. v. Belete

Court of Appeals of Oregon

October 29, 2014

E. T., Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
TSIGE DENKEW BELETE, Respondent-Appellant

Argued and Submitted March 14, 2014

Multnomah County Circuit Court. 120506470. Jerome E. LaBarre, Judge.

Paul G. Dodds argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Cary R. Cadonau and Brownstein Rask.

Ken A. Kissir argued the cause and filed the brief for respondent.

Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Nakamoto, Judge, and Egan, Judge.

OPINION

Page 777

[266 Or.App. 651] EGAN, J.

Respondent appeals the trial court's entry of a stalking protective order (SPO) pursuant to ORS 30.866. Assigning error to the court's entry of the SPO, respondent argues that the evidence was legally insufficient. We disagree with respondent and, accordingly, affirm.

Respondent requests that we review the facts de novo. See ORS 19.415(3) (stating the Court of Appeals has discretion to review de novo in equitable actions). We exercise that de novo review sparingly and only in exceptional cases. ORAP 5.40(8)(c). This is not an exceptional case. Thus, we review the trial court's factual findings for any evidence and the legal conclusions based on those findings for errors of law. S.A.B. v. Roach, 249 Or.App. 579, 580, 277 P.3d 628 (2012). In light of that standard, the facts are as follows.

A schism developed within a small church, splitting the membership into two factions, one aligned with the priest and the other aligned in opposition. When the schism first became violent, petitioner had been the head priest for over 11 years and respondent had been a member of the church for over 20 years.

As head priest, petitioner lived in a residence located within the church building. The fact that petitioner resided in the church was a source of contention, and respondent, a member of the faction that opposed petitioner, told petitioner that he would have to leave his residence. Petitioner's residence is attached by a doorway to a kitchen. That kitchen, in turn, opens into a rectangular meeting hall where church members gather after services. The meeting hall, which is furnished with long tables and folding chairs, was the scene of a melee following services one afternoon when between 20 and 30 members of the church had gathered there, filling the meeting hall to near capacity.

Portions of the melee were captured on two separate video recordings taken from different sides of the meeting hall. Particular individuals engage in physical confrontations, while others stand against the walls avoiding confrontations, and still others attempt to intervene. The more [266 Or.App. 652] overtly physical confrontations come in waves, occurring among a group near the exit to the parking lot, and then occurring in the back

Page 778

corner of the meeting hall near the kitchen where petitioner stood protected by three to four church members. Petitioner did not engage in any physical confrontations.

Respondent was among a small group of people tussling with the church members protecting petitioner. Respondent and others among her group attempted to make physical contact with petitioner. During one attempt, respondent hit a member protecting petitioner with an object. Next, she picked up a small container of powdered creamer from a table and threw the container at petitioner's head, though the container did not hit petitioner or anyone else. The record does not disclose what material ...


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