Monday, May 5, 2008

How Long is Long Enough?

This week we're discussing predators. I'm sure you're wondering what could possibly be controversial about predators. After all, we're all agreed that they're bad, right? I have a slightly different slant on that. What about a youthful mistake? How long do you make a man pay for that?

Recently, there was in the news the story of a young man charged with rape by a teenage girl who later recanted. Her Father even went to court to ask the judge to drop the charges. No deal.

In my family there is a similar story. As a young man, X went to the wrong party. There were underage young ladies, pot, and booze--never a good mix. He was eighteen. The inevitable young lady was sixteen. She cried rape. Her granddaddy was the district attorney. He went to prison. Two year later, she had an attack of conscience and recanted in court. Nothing happened. He served seven years in prison plus thirteen years of parole.

All of that would be bad enough, but because she was underage, he was charged with having sex with a minor, which classifies him as a child rapist. He's married with a family, but can't move without notifying the authorities of his new address. In some states, he must put a sign in his yard. He can't live within a certain distance of a school. His children have been picked on because someone found out about his record.

So my question is... how long is long enough?

Anny Cook


  1. I'm one of those people who sits back and listens to the debate on a subject before I form an opinion. I've seen stories like this before, though.

    If there were a way to look at the intent of the crime, individually, I think it would bring us closer to an answer. There is a huge difference between a deviant youth who sets out to rape someone and a youth who makes bad choices when under the influence.

    Regardless there is a victim. In the case of recanting you'd then have to determine if she recanted from fear or because she lied? Because she married him after all? What are her motivations and how far does the state go to protect them if she doesn't want them?

    And then there is the dubious label of child predator. A man labeled as a child predator may have slept with a consenting 17.5 year old or he may have attacked a four year old. It's rarely specified but again, HUGE difference in my opinion.

    Some states make legal age as young as 12 and 13. While others are strict on 18. Considering the amount of development going on there between those years, how was this age decided upon and why does it make it "okay" in one state but not another?

    Worthy discussion Anny. Thank you for posting.

  2. There are certainly flaws in our system. And one of them seems to be that we need everything in black and white, and can't seem to take things on an individual basis. Thanks for giving us another point of view, Anny.

  3. This is an important post, Anny. My husband has been practicing law for 25 yrs and has represented soooo many young men who've had their lives ruined because of bad judgment. These kids aren't rapists, usually just looking for a good time at a party, and it's sad to see what happens when they have a lapse in judgment. Have you gotten a look at some of the teen girls out there??? They will readily goop make up on their faces, dress skantily and then say...umm, yeah, I'm 18. They all want to look and act older and come on to the guys.

    I realize it's the law. That's the way it works. From the time our son reached puberty we've talked with him about being careful and about how serious the pitfalls are when dealing with girls at parties where alcohol and other substances are available. Very scary, trecherous ground. We scared him with what could happen if he's not careful.

    If you have an underage son, my advice is to have that nauseum. This is a terrible thing to happen to anyone.

  4. Here in Australia rapists get off with a slap on the wrist far too often. There was a major case a couple of months back of a 10-year-old girl gang raped by 6 young men most 16-19 years but one was 26. They all got off with a warning because she "consented". I would be surprised if even the most sexually aware 10-year-old knew what she was consenting to in that situation.

  5. My daughter is eleven. She would be destroyed and so would I... after I castrated them, fed them their parts, smacked them over the heads with their penises and then disemboweled them with my teeth.


  6. Excellent post, Anny. Our legal system is definitely in need of reform. Lumping all "sex crimes" together is simply ludicrous. There was a story in the local news just a couple of months ago. A young man was dating a younger woman. He turned 18 while his girlfriend was still sixteen (if memory serves she would be turning 17 a month or so later). She tells family she’s pregnant in the interim. Girls family gets him arrested for having sex with a minor. He goes to jail, when he gets out he marries the girl, but he will forever be labeled a sexual predator with all the trimmings. Can’t live near schools, has to register, the whole nine yards… There are clearly exceptions to every rule.

  7. The vast majority of state in the US declare that the legal age of consent it eighteen. Therefore, any teens engaging in sex who are under the legal age of consent automatically make their partners sex offenders. It seems to me that there must be a different category for them. If all of them were locked up, there would be no room for any other criminals!

  8. Thank you for this post. My family has been victimized by a situation like this - my sister's husband and the father of their child had an affair. It was during an awful period in their marriage when my sister was also involved with someone else. Tragically and unknown to my brother in law, the woman he became involved with was mentally ill. He had no idea that she had already accused another man of sexually assaulting her and that gentleman had been arrested. One day, the police came to my brother in law's office and arrested him for rape. She had saved her panties from their most recent night together in her freezer and a week later, called the police to tell them she "suspected" she had been raped but couldn't remember. She claimed she must have been given a date rape drug. She did this because my brother in law had made a decision to stop seeing her and try to save his marriage. My brother in law spent three days in jail. He lost his job. It was her word against his and because he and my sister were terrified that he'd be labeled a rapist, they decided against all legal advice to plea bargain to a lesser misdemeanor charge of sexual battery. The other gentleman she accused spent his life savings to fight the charges because he was a single father and didn't want to risk losing his son to foster care. That man won his case and was declared innocent. We all felt my brother in law should have done the same thing, but his family simply didn't have the money and my sister especially was too scared to go to court. Frankly, she was afraid that her extra-marital history would come out in public. Now my brother in law, who is and always has been a law abiding citizen and is not a predator, has been labeled a sex-offender and has to register wherever they go. It's a horrible thing. I'm in complete agreement with registering true sexual predators, but as far as my brother in law was concerned this was a consensual affair. He thought he loved the woman and she loved him. He had no idea that she had a five year history of accusing men of sexually assaulting her. Over the years, she perfected her techniques. By the time my brother in law and this other gentleman came along ( neither of them knew she was sleeping with them both at the same time), she'd figured it out. The District Attorney, despite knowing her history, pursued the cases anyway. What a never ending nightmare!


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