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Acquittal and Conscience

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It’s only right that Tom Welch and Dave Johnson were acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing in their efforts to secure the 2002 Olympic Winter Games for Utah.

The government’s case was flimsy and an abuse of prosecutorial power!

The case never should have come to trial! As Judge David Sam bluntly said, he’s “never seen a criminal case brought to trial that was so devoid of . . . criminal intent or evil purpose.”

In acquitting Welch and Johnson of criminal charges, though, let’s not overlook what was required to secure the Games. Let’s not forget that decisions were made by a variety of prominent Utahns in a number of powerful positions to do whatever was necessary to win the bid. They chose to play the game.

The scandal led to a shakeup of the International Olympic Committee. Significant reforms occurred in the Olympic movement. Utah, of course, went on to host the best games ever.

Still unanswered, though, are questions of who locally knew what and when, especially among those who once stood by Welch and Johnson, but left them hanging out to dry when the scandal hit.

Now, Welch and Johnson have the benefit of a legal acquittal. Everyone else will have to live with a personal conscience and the knowledge of how they chose to deal with the scandal and its aftermath.

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