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From April 1949 to October 1949, Ed Guthman wrote a series of articles that exonerated a University of Washington professor of charges of Communist activities. This story is representative of his work.

Inquiry Clearing Rader Prompted by N.Y. Court Ruling
Ed Guthman
A decision by a New York judge, that left the hotly disputed Rader-Hewitt case hopelessly unsettled, prompted an investigation which resulted in Prof. Melvin Rader's being cleared today of charges of Communist activity.

The judge, Aaron J. Levy of the Supreme Court of Bronx County, last May refused to order the extradition of George Hewitt, Negro former Communist who accused Rader of attending a secret Communist school in New York State in the summer of 1938.

Accusation Dramatic

Hewitt made the accusation before the Legislature's un-American activities committee in Seattle July 22, 1948. It was the most dramatic incident of the committee's tense, controversial investigation of Communism at the University of Washington.

Rader denied the charge and said he was at Canyon Creek Lodge near Granite Falls, Snohomish County, at the time Hewitt said he was at the school.

Almost three weeks later, Superior Judge Lloyd Shorett, then prosecutor, filed a charge of second-degree perjury against Hewitt. That began a long unsuccessful fight by Shorett and his successor, Charles O. Carroll, to bring Hewitt back to Seattle for trial.

In refusing to order Hewitt's return, Judy Levy stated that he believed Rader, not Hewitt, should have been charged with perjury, and inferred that Washington courts might be Communist-controlled.

To 'Eventual Slaughter'

Judge Levy said that if he ordered Hewitt to return to Washington, he would be sending him to "eventual slaughter."

"I am wondering, really genuinely wondering," declared Judge Levy, "what the civilization of that area (Washington) is..."

Because there seemed little prospect the issue ever would be resolved, and curious about Judge Levy's intemperate remarks, The Times began an investigation five months ago to try to learn who was telling the truth.

As the investigation proceeded, it seemed that the Legislature's un-American activities committee, headed by former Representative Albert F. Canwell of Spokane, had jumped to a conclusion after an inadequate investigation, or had deliberately withheld vital evidence.

Only Hewitt's Side Given

A study of the transcript of the extradition proceedings disclosed that Judge Levy had been given only Hewitt's side of the case.

This was because neither the State of Washington, King County, nor Rader had money to send witnesses to New York, and because New York authorities accepted, without question, the Canwell committee's assumption that Rader had lied.

The transcript revealed that four misstatements of fact were made which were damaging to Rader. These were:

1. A small typewritten card taken from Canyon Creek Lodge was interpreted erroneously to show Rader had not been at the resort before 1940.

2. A statement by United States Attorney Samuel J. Foley of the Bronx that Hewitt remained in Seattle three or four days after he made the charge against Rader. The truth was that Hewitt was spirited out of town the next day by the committee.

3. A statement by Foley that Rader did not teach summer school at the University of Washington in 1938 as Rader had contended. University payroll records show that Rader taught summer school until July 20, 1938.

4. A statement by Foley that the perjury charge against Hewitt should not be given much weight because it had not been returned by a grand jury. Under New York's system, the use of grand juries in criminal cases is routine. Grand juries are used rarely in Washington State; prosecutors file informations or complaints direct in Superior and Justice Courts.

Evidence Collected by Committee

The evidence submitted by Judge Levy had been collected by the Canwell committee and sent to New York.

Before reaching his decision, the judge also heard brief testimony from Hewitt and two other Negro former Communists, who stated that they had seen Rader at the Communist school. An impassioned plea was made by Foley.

The Times checked Rader's story and found it could be corroborated by documentary evidence and testimony of reputable citizens.

Dr. Carl Jensen, a prominent Seattle eye specialist, had tested Rader's eyes and given him a prescription for new glasses on August 15, 1938.

Rader said he had broken his glasses while at Canyon Creek and had gone to Seattle to get new ones. The record of his treatment was in Dr. Jensen's files.

Election Records Cited

Rader voted in the primary election of September 13, 1938, city records disclosed.

The two dates, plus University records showing that Rader taught summer school until July 20, and had signed for a book at the University Library July 29, made it highly improbable that Rader travelled to New York that summer.

The Communist school was reported to have lasted six weeks. Hewitt definitely established that it was in the summer of 1938 that he assertedly saw Rader at the Communist school.

Rader said he and Mrs. Rader and their daughter went to Canyon Creek July 30 or 31, and stayed until about September 5.

Card Most Damaging

Weighing most heavily against Rader was the small typewritten card which Canwell committee investigators took from the files of Canyon Creek Lodge two days after Hewitt testified before the committee.

The card bore Mrs. Rader's name and listed her address as 6017 30th Av. N.E. A date "8-16-40" and "(40)" had been penned on the card plus the notation "prof at U. of Washington, guest for 1 month."

The Canwell committee assumed that the card meant the Raders had been at Canyon Creek in 1940, not 1939. The address was the tip-off that the committee was wrong.

Home Address Changed

An examination of 1938, '39 and '40 telephone books and city directories showed that the Raders lived at the address on the card in 1938 and had moved to 1402 E. 63rd St. by 1940.

Mrs. Quincy Mueller, elderly former owner of the Canyon Creek resort, told this reporter that the card did not indicated when the Raders stayed at the lodge, but was from an index she had used for correspondence purposes.

Shown a photostatic copy of the card, Mrs. Mueller declared that the notation "8-16-40" referred to the date when she last wrote the Raders. At that time, she recalled she offered to sell them a lot near the resort.

Further indicators that the Raders had been at the lodge in 1938 came from Mrs. Ida Kirby, who had been housekeeper at Canyon Creek.

Mrs. Kirby remembered that after the Rader's vacation was over, she drove them to their home in Seattle. It was on 30th Avenue — their 1938 address.

Mrs. Mueller and Mrs. Kirby, who both still live near the lodge, had given affidavits to the committee investigators. On that occasion they remembered the Raders, but were uncertain of the date the Raders had been at the lodge, because neither woman had had occasion to think about the Raders' visit during the intervening years.

1938 Date Remembered

Later, after recalling incidents of the Raders' visit, both women were certain it was in the summer of 1938.

The main lodge building burned in February 1938, and Mrs. Mueller remembered showing Mrs. Rader the charred wreckage. The ruins were removed later in 1938 or the next spring, Mrs. Mueller said.

Both women believed that Rader or Mrs. Rader had signed the lodge's loose-leaf register. According to Thomas J. Grant, present owner of the lodge, pages from the register were given to the Canwell committee's investigators.

The committee never has disclosed whether Rader's signature was or was not on the register.

Old Records Sought

Mrs. Kirby said she accompanied the committee investigators to the lodge to help them find old records which Mrs. Mueller left when she sold the lodge to Grant in 1942.

"We found pages from the register," Mrs. Kirby declared. "As one of the men ran his finger over the pages, I overheard him say: 'There it is — Rader — '38.'"

Efforts by The Times to find the register have been unsuccessful. Canwell declined to give any information about the register other than that he believed it had been returned to Grant.

Grant stated about last August 29 that the register had not been returned to Canyon Creek. Yesterday he refused to state whether the register still was in the Canwell committee's possession. Grant had said previously that he did not want the register returned.

Meanwhile, Rader's account was strengthened by additional information. Coupled with Canwell's willingness to explain the questions which had been raised, the evidence added up to positive indication that Rader had told the truth.


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