What a wild ride it has been… obviously, it was a ride that I would have preferred to avoid… but I rode…and now the question is: Now what?
I have now served both, on a Bryan County jury and, as many of you may have read, in a Bryan County jail… I can now cross that off of my "bucket list."
Please allow me to begin by saying that it’s not all bad… no big deal… life continues on.
I’m happily married to a beautiful, exceptionally kind and caring woman who is my best friend.
We are blessed to have four incredibly healthy, happy, beautiful and gifted children. Our new, blended family lives in the wonderful community of Richmond Hill.
Our children have grown up and become involved in everything from ballet to baseball… from business to basketball.
We have all laughed here, we’ve cried here. We’ve found success, we’ve experienced difficult challenges. We’ve been involved, and occasionally, as we grow tired and weary we’ve attempted to remain low key here. We have found happiness, and we have experienced incredible sadness. Often, we’ve accepted unfounded blame, and often we’ve assumed unwarranted liability. We’ve begun many business ventures. We have sacrificed. I have recently declared personal bankruptcy and yet we will continue to be here.
We’ve given our hearts and souls here.
My heart has always gone out for my boys. My number one concern and priority has always been and always will be my children… That has never changed and never will. Now my life partner and best friend… my wife and her beautiful daughter have entered into my soul, become part of that priority and will accompany us through life’s journey.
What we haven’t done here is run… hide… quit… pass blame or judgment… speak out… or defend ourselves. As of today, we will.
We will defend ourselves. We will defend our family, friends and partners. We will speak of what is right and what is wrong.
As many of you know, I am divorced… the fact of the matter is that 90 percent of you currently reading this don’t care… and that’s good… that’s the way it should be. Unfortunately, the other 10 percent appear to have made it your life’s mission to discuss, argue and debate and express your opinion on my divorce based on the ridiculous rumors swirling around Richmond Hill. Where’s the fascination? What’s the big deal? What does it matter? To be perfectly honest I don’t understand why our personal life is such a concern.
I am only writing this today in response to that wonderful mug shot and accompanying article of my latest chapter in my book.Bryan County News had published a front page story on the April 4th edition of their newspaper "Dr. Bill Trout Jailed for Contempt" and again a "Reaction to the Trout Story" on the following Wednesday edition of April 8th. In that edition, they defended their right to publish the initial article based on their opinion that I was a "public figure" and "like public officials, are subject to more press scrutiny than private citizens – and when someone in the public eye is arrested it is newsworthy" and that "reporting an arrest is not making a value judgment."
Thanks for the clarification.
Before I start, I would like to thank the editor and publisher of the Bryan County News for allowing me to express my "Reaction to the Trout Story."
First of all, I am not a public official. I am not the mayor. I am not a county commissioner. I am not an elected or appointed member of any government agency. I am not a teacher nor on the school board. I am not a pastor, preacher nor a saint. I am not a celebrity. I am not a famous musician nor a movie star. I do not seek and never have pursued personal public attention. I do not enjoy it, do not want it and never will.
I am a "private citizen"… an extremely private citizen… and herein lies the probable fascination?
Within the article, it stated that I was arrested due to charges stemming from my 2008 divorce… All I wanted was a divorce… a divorce from a marriage gone bad… I am not blaming anything on anyone. I didn’t dessert my boys nor my family… my boys have always been my world. My boys don’t deserve this yet they also didn’t deserve to be part of a destructive, cold and unloving marriage.
I am not looking for and do not want sympathy. All I want is change… a change in the way personal lives can be destroyed within the hands of attorneys and an unchecked judicial system.
The sad truth is that my boys, along with my wife and her beautiful daughter are the innocent victims of all of this.
The magnitude of problems arise from the rest of the article and the way it was presented thereby allowing many to pass "judgment" based on misrepresented and obscure comments, numbers, facts and other "half truths."
Obviously, the media can bring incredible press, good and bad, based on its presentation of "the facts." In this case, its intent was successful -- to create something "newsworthy" and continue to fuel what is a ridiculous and bizarre at times comical situation and prolong the rampant rumors swirling around the Hill.
For those of you that are interested, please consider the following in regards to the article written:
Comment: "Trout failed to meet financial terms in the divorce decree or convince the judge he was financially able to do so".
My response: Immediate perception forces an opinion that it is either Alimony or Child Support related… IT IS NOT. I have paid and always will pay 100 percent of my obligations related to both Alimony and Child Support. What I was financially unable to do and therefore failed to do so, was pay for all other debts as ordered.
The problems stem from the facts when considering 2 areas:
1) Upon the jury’s Final Judgment and Decree, I was ordered to pay 97 percent of my gross income… You find that impossible to believe, look it up… its public record… Who in RH can live off of 3 percent of their gross income?
I am not faulting the jury for this. I lay 100 percent of the blame on the gross misrepresentation, manipulation and twisting of the personal and financial facts as presented by the opposing attorney. Her case presentation was full of lies, intimidated witnesses, and pathetically concocted stories in an attempt to discredit me and paint an unrealistic picture of a distraught and rejected spouse.
For obvious reasons, following the jury’s verdict, my financial picture began to unravel and could not continue to pay all other court ordered obligations. I have no "off shore accounts." I have no "hidden companies." I have no "tins cans" of cash. I no longer have the ability to personally borrow. I cannot get a credit card. I cannot personally secure a loan to handle my personal and court ordered ex-marital obligations.
2) I failed to "convince the judge" that I was capable to doing so… This is a HUGE problem. When we attempted to present all supportive financial documents demonstrating my financial situation, they were never considered… Opinions and the judge’s subsequent order was based entirely on the twisted and the gross, inaccurate version as presented by the opposing attorney. The sad fact of this matter is that the opposing attorney knew the facts yet presented her case of lies to the ones that make the decision and they were accepted as truth. Perception and emotional reality of the situation overrode facts, hard evidence and the available testimony of valid witnesses. None of my witnesses were allowed to testify… my accountant, banking representatives, business and personal associates… all of whom could have shed light and the truth on the situation. Judicial and public perception is not reality, yet I have been presumed guilty until proven innocent.
Comment: "Bill Trout was required to pay his ex-wife $50,000 and refinance or pay the former couple’s marital home…"
My Response: As presented in the article, the amount was inaccurate. The second expense noted (ex-marital residence) was actually a second mortgage and that amount due was approximately $75,000 bringing the total ordered to pay up to $125,000. Not only was I ordered to pay $125,000, following multiple hearings, false
presentations and subsequent acceptance of the opposing attorney’s deceptive accounts, I was now ordered to pay additional monthly sums that now total an absurd 150 percent of my then determined income. I use the phrase "then determined income" only to clarify and state the obvious… my income, as well of many readers that own small businesses within this country have been affected by the downturn in the economy. Therefore, the truth of the matter is that now, based on my true, accurate and current income, I was ordered not only to pay $125,000 within a matter of days but now I was under court order obligation to pay in excess of 220 percent of my current gross income! Who can do that? What happened was that I was now forced into a situation that I would be in a never ending viscous circle of contempt orders with no way out. All of this is public record.
Comment: "The court also said that though Trout claims that he could not afford to meet the terms of his divorce, he bought a $5,000 ring for his new wife, Brandy Williams, leased a 2008 Cadillac Escalade and paid more than $13,000 in Ford Plantation Club dues."
My Response: "Half Truths" lead to misperception and false judgment on the financial situation.
$ 5,000 ring for my new wife: Yes, I did purchase a $5,000 engagement ring for my new wife… who cares? The article failed to mention that my ex-wife bought herself a $64,000 "divorce ring." In addition, the engagement ring was purchased in August of 2008 and was purchased using net proceeds from a piece of property that was sold that same month. The net proceeds totaled approximately $12,000… half of which was ordered to be given to my ex-wife ($6,000.) My ex received a lot of money from me during that month… and if I chose to spend my half of the proceeds from the sale of MY property (of which I owned and was rewarded 100 percent of in our divorce) on whatever I wanted… then that is my business. In addition to all other court ordered payments in the month of August…if you add in her $6,000 profit from the sale of MY property… that brings her total amount paid or due to be paid to an amount exceeding 100 percent of my total gross income for the month of August… its all public record.
2008 Cadillac Escalade: Yes, I am driving a 2008 Escalade… who cares? The article failed to mention that my financial credit was devastated and that this was a vehicle that was purchased by my partner at our dental office. The reason for the purchase again was based on economics and what can be done financially to ease the financial burden that existed. My vehicle at the time was a 2008 GMC Yukon XL… virtually the same vehicle with comparable values. The benefit arrives in the fact that I was paying 10.5 percent on my Yukon and the new Escalade had an interest rate of 0.00 percent.
Ford Plantation Dues: Yes, I did pay the dues at the time. The ownership of this membership was given to me within our divorce decree… so I was given an equitable membership that I must upkeep financially until I am able to sell it… or else I lose it. The dues were paid from the last remaining loan proceeds from an existing business loan that I had. The article failed to mention that the membership at Ford is an equitable membership, meaning it had value (approximately $100,000) and that my membership had been suspended and was due to be terminated that day if the past due amount was not paid that day. In addition, if my membership was terminated, I would automatically lose all equitable value (basically the same as a foreclosure) and there would be no chance of selling that membership back to Ford. My attempts to salvage that membership were directly related to my need to sell that membership and raise money that was court ordered to be paid according to the Final Judgment and Decree. Unfortunately, what I have come to realize since is that the by-laws and rules stated within the Ford membership are written in such a way that may require a period of several years to pass before the membership is repurchased by The Ford Plantation.
Comment: "Trout offered then-business partner Rick Wissmach $250,000 in an attempt to buy him out of the Station Xchange project.
My Response: $250,000 figure was correct… everything else was a gross misrepresentation of that figure. Wissmach was never a business partner of The Station Xchange. He was a 1/3rd partner, along with the contractor in those two buildings. Those two buildings have sat idle over the past 18 months and were dead in the water because of the dysfunctional situation that existed within those partnerships. The two buildings noted had a negative cash flow in excess of $20,000/ month and neither of the two other partners were willing to contribute a dime and left that massive financial obligation up to me to figure out… great partnership. In addition, when subs were hired by the contractor and no more funds were available to pay those outstanding invoices due, my name along with my now wife’s name and personal phone number were provided to those subs and they were all led to believe that the balance due was 100 percent my financial responsibility and I was to take care of it… that was nice… created a lot of good will there.
Most importantly was the fact that the article failed to mention that the $250,000 noted above was to come from new partners… not me… yet it was myself that was presented in court as the one who had the $250,000 to buy out partners… manipulative lies as presented by an attorney.
The need to create a change in partnership had been an ongoing saga for almost 2 years and the transition has finally occurred. Its all public record.
Comment: "at least one local contractor also has claimed Trout owes him thousands of dollars related to the Station Xchange".
My Response: At the time that the article was composed…the "contractor" interviewed IS owed "thousands of dollars"… not by me but by the contractor within our partnership and partnerships that hired the contractor noted above… he is not owed by The Station Xchange… not by William H. Trout, Jr., the dentist… not Dr. Bill Trout the developer. I was, at the time of the article, a 1/3rd partner within the partnership that hired the contractor and the agreement between the contractors was an agreement amongst themselves yet I was left "holding the bag" and carrying the blame? The debt ultimately was 1/3rd my responsibility and I have never backed away from that when discussing debt with that contractor. In addition, when the agreement was reached to phase out existing partners and bring the new ones in, we also agreed to assume all financial and faulty construction issues that may exist and release departing partners of all past joint liability that was remaining… that’s the right thing to do.
Comment: "contractor Chuck Morse stood up and asked the council to look into Trout’s business practices".
My Response: Simply re-read the paragraph above… I was 1/3rd partner of the partnership that hired the contractor that hired the subcontractor noted… its all public record. I have always been honest and upfront with any and all business ventures, either individually or within a partnership. My books have always been open and I have always been willing to share information requested, ordered or simply in many attempts to help others succeed in whatever they may be attempting to do. I have treated all people with respect. Whether they were weekly rentals in Savannah, long term professional tenants in Richmond Hill, past business associates and partners, even in times when they were doing all they could do to undermine and manipulate the situation for their personal gain and self serving manner. I have dealt with crooks, cons, lying attorneys, thieves, bad partners, drug dealers, rats, roaches and prostitutes in the same manner. Treat them with respect and dignity and I expect the same in return… that’s the way it should be.
Needless to say, I am extremely aggravated, frustrated and disappointed in the way the article and "facts" were presented. The article, although deemed justified by Editor because I am a "public figure" has created a back lash of press… both good and bad and undoubtedly will bring yet more challenges my way in addition to that of my partner at the dental office, my partners at The Station Xchange, and to our families. These challenges can lead to severe harm, emotionally, physically and financially… to others that are merely innocent bystanders.
What is a bigger point of concern and disappointment is the manner in which my case and many others have been handled legally… not by that of my attorney and his wonderful staff but by that of other attorneys that have been given unlimited, unrestrained and unrestricted ability to lie and intimidate their way into their self serving and destructive methods in order to "win" their case.
What that caliber of unchecked attorney and system leads to is a disabled judicial system that will continue to bring devastation to the daily lives of many families, innocent children, friends and partners.
There has to be a way to change this. There has to be a method created in order to change the way "facts" (Half Truths and lies) are presented, initially in court by self serving manipulative attorneys and the way the judicial system subsequently determines their ruling based on the emotional and unfounded perception created and then the final portrayal by the media.
Dr. Bill Trout
Editor's note: The bulk of the information used for the story which Dr. Trout is referring to was based on a court order signed by a Superior Court judge. Attempts to get comment from attorneys for both Trout and his ex-wife prior to the story's publication were unsuccessful.
Dr. Trout is not a public official, as he correctly asserts in his letter, but he is a public figure due to his role as developer of a high profile project in downtown Richmond Hill. We stand by the story.