Almost half of all Utahns believe Oliver North is guilty of violating the law in the Iran-Contra scandal, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
Pollster Dan Jones & Associates polled 614 Utahns by telephone Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, before the jury in the North trial returned three guilty verdicts Thursday afternoon. Accordingly, those responding didn't know the jury's verdict.Jones asked: "From what you know or have heard, do you feel Oliver North is guilty or not guilty?"
Forty-five percent said North is definitely or probably guilty, 38 percent said he is definitely or probably not guilty and 17 percent didn't know.
The federal jury, after deliberating 12 days, found North guilty on three counts, not guilty on nine counts.
North faces 10 years in prison for illegally changing and destroying documents (the famous paper-shredding party conducted by him and his secretary Fawn Hall), accepting an illegal gratuity (the $13,800 security fence he had erected around his house) and aiding and abetting in an obstruction of Congress (knowing and helping others lie to Congress).
North was a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, serving as an aide to the national security adviser when he helped funnel arms to Iran and took the profits from those sales and gave them to the contras fighting a guerrilla war against the Communist government of Nicaragua - an act many considered illegal since Congress had forbade U.S. aid to the contras.
North had found some sympathy among Utahns, so the high number of Utahns believing him guilty is a bit of a surprise.
Not too surprisingly, only 39 percent of Republicans believe North guilty, 42 percent said he was not guilty. While 54 percent of Democrats thought him guilty and 46 percent of independents said he was guilty, Jones found.
From what you know or have heard, do you feel Oliver North is guilty or not guilty?
Definitely guilty 16%
Probably guilty 29%
Probably not guilty 22%
Definitely not guilty 16%
Don't know 17%
sample size: 614; margin of error plus or minus 4%