14 June 2012

Honor and Dishonor: How We Deal With Molesters

We are going to a dark place. Why? Because, children, the dark places are there.

Certainly one of the most heinous crimes is child molestation. No descriptions here – if you need them, get out and ask the people in your community who deal with them.

Certainly the first reaction I see among “civilians” when child molestation is mentioned is that it is a terribly “weird and ‘icky’” sort of crime.  That’s quite subjective but generally accepted as true.

There are other aspects of molestation which give us more objective reasons to react strongly:

  • The power disparity between offender and victim is anywhere from large to unimaginable. The offenders pick out the most vulnerable victims.  If a society does not protect those persons, it is not a society, it’s a bunch of dirt bags wearing clothes.

  • One of the little hush-hush secrets is that molestation frequently is permanently physically damaging.

  • That it is psychologically damaging is a no-brainer.

  • That molestation isolates and socially damages the victims commonly is denied. Which, of course, is about 50% crap, owing to the endless supply of idiots in our society.

  • The offense is irrational in that there is no logical gain.  Recidivism is through the roof because the preference for children is as strong as the normal preference for one gender or another. That’s rather difficult to alter.

The case going on right now in the headlines is that of Jerry Sandusky, a former coach at Penn State.

I’m not going to comment on what the verdict should be or anything of the sort. I’m not on the jury, it’s not my job, and I’m only reading accounts of the evidence, not hearing the evidence itself. The possibility exists that is all a lie. I have my opinion about the improbability of that, but the jury and only the jury has the right to make the call.

The title of this post includes the words “honor and dishonor.” Two other stories are in the news which lead me there.

The first comes from the Sandusky trial. One witness for the prosecution was a former assistant coach, one McQueary.  His testimony was that he heard the “slapping of flesh” consistent with sexual activity coming from the showers.  He testified that he looked in and saw Sandusky sodomizing a 10 to 12-year-old boy.  McQueary went back to his locker and slammed the door loudly so that Sandusky would know that he was there. He left.  The next day told supervisors.

Perhaps it’s good that McQueary came forward and is testifying now. But his actions covered him in dishonor.  If he were a member of either of two different organizations with which I am affiliated (the Boy Scouts and the Masons), he would be expelled permanently. I have shopped this one around and have yet to find any guy who is other than appalled that this adult did not intervene while a child was being molested. Shocked? Sure. Shocked to the point of turning his back? What the hell was he thinking? 

Would intervention have included physical violence? Quite possibly. That would have been the offender’s choice.

McQueary made himself a comtemptible character.

The other news came out of Texas.  A family was having a well attended barbecue. Dad went into the house where he discovered an acquaintance beginning to molest his four-year-old daughter. He attacked the acquaintance bare-handed and beat him to death. Later, he said that he did not specifically intended to kill the man.

The usual call-the-police-blog-nation is expressing the usual concerns that dad should be prosecuted.

Dad defended his child. The offender voluntarily put himself in a position of risk of great harm or death. If dad’s account is true, dad did not have sufficient time to reflect upon or plan an effective yet guaranteed non-lethal response. The offender denied dad that time.  You play, you pay.

This one, too, I have shopped around, including with current and past prosecutors. Uniformly, the opinion is to check out dad’s story and unless it appears that the whole thing was some sort of set up to a planned murder, close the case.  The police in Texas said they are referring the case to the grand jury. That really means they are referring it to the prosecuting attorney who will have the choice of closing the case or sending it to a grand jury.

Occasionally, prosecutors use a grand jury as the excuse to terminate a prosecution. If the prosecutor does not want an indictment (they want the grand jury to return a “not true bill”) they present the case in such a way that the grand jurors will have no doubt of the prosecutor’s opinion. The prosecutor with guts, however, will not go through that rigmarole. In the case of clear justifiable homicide, they will simply close the case.

When presented with an intolerable event requiring action, this Texas dad did the necessary and honorable thing. Had he not intervened, he would be unworthy to be in the company of honest citizens.

I continue to agree with my friend Justice Richard Neely that Americans have gotten too lazy and too scared to do anything about crime and criminals other than call the police. As long as the criminals are not that lazy and that scared, they are going to keep winning.

Someone must be willing to go into the dark places.  There are nowhere near enough police and besides, they are not our mommies and daddies.

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