Thursday, May 05, 2005

More abuse of rape laws

Reading the story from Florida brought to mind a California rape case that made it to the Supreme Court in that state a couple of years ago. You won't believe this one.

It seems that a few years ago, a man and his girlfriend were doing something they'd done many times before. They were making love. During the course of their afternoon delight the man did something that angered his girlfriend. It made her so mad that she wanted to end their delight right then. He, thinking she's over-reacting, didn't stop right away. However, after a minute or two he did catch on that she meant it so he did stop.

Get this, the next day she files rape charges against him with the police. He must have really made her mad.

Pretty bad don't you think? It gets worse. The prosecutors decided to pursue the charge. The man was convicted and sentenced to prison.

He appealed his conviction on the grounds that failure to stop engaging in sex after consent has been granted cannot, by definition, be rape. The court however, disagreed and this man remains in prison. There was one dissenter among the justices. Ironically, it was the only woman on the court, Janice Rogers Brown.

Justice Brown agreed with his argument, stating that even charging this man with rape makes a mockery of justice.

Justice Brown was spot on. Real rapes are terrible crimes and the perpertrators should be punished severely. This case wasn't rape, it was a lovers quarrel. If there was any crime committed here, it was by this man's partner, falsely accusing him of a crime. Disgusting. And the prosecuter that brought these charges should be disbarred.

I know of at least one innocent man falsely imprisoned.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

And they (used to) call it puppy love....

Here's a story I came across on the other day. It's from the Naples Daily News (see link below):

Mother's pursuit for justice catches man with girl

The woman's quest for justice began three years ago when she learned an 18-year-old high school senior was having sex with her 15-year-old daughter, a sophomore.

The woman and her husband first decided to keep that man, William Young, away from their daughter. They called the high school, Barron Collier, and the authorities. A criminal charge against Young followed. Then a no-contest plea.

The case ended in an outrage, in the view of the mother, with a judge letting Young off with minimal punishment while blaming state legislators for underage sexual conduct.

The judge sentenced Young, now 20, to a year in jail — six fewer years behind bars than the minimum allowable under state law for the charge, lewd battery.

"We were very astonished and let down by the justice system. We followed all the laws and put our faith in the justice system to protect our daughter, and it let our daughter down," the woman said.

Neither her name nor that of her daughter will be published because of the nature of the charge.

The sentencing was almost a year ago. Young got out of jail in December, and he didn't stay out long.

The mother, whose family lives in North Naples, hired a private investigation agency to get a bodyguard for her daughter, now 17, if Young threatened her. The agency suggested they follow Young instead.

And within two weeks, the woman would give the court its second chance at Young.

After his yearlong jail stint, he began three years on sex offender probation. The terms prevent unsupervised contact with a non-family member under 18.

But soon after he left jail, Young repeatedly was caught on videotape by the private investigator. Young was alone with his girlfriend.

She's 16.

He started dating her when she was 14. She was writing him love letters several times a day while he was in jail for the lewd battery. The prosecutor has copies of them.

So with the violation of probation charge, Young is back in jail, back on the hook for the sentence he avoided in July 2004 — a minimum of just over seven years in prison, and up to 15 years.

The matter is back before Collier Circuit Judge Lawrence D. Martin, in whose court the mother felt the greatest sting of frustration and anger since all this began, she said.

In sentencing Young so far below the state guidelines, Martin not only minimized the crime but blamed the state Legislature for contributing to it, transcripts of the hearing show.

"I understand the Legislature has a perfect right to set these guidelines. But I cannot see how the same Legislature that goes along with handing out birth control and giving sex education on the one hand and is basically an aider and abettor of these types of offenses can then turn around and say the perpetrator deserves 98.8 months," Martin said.

Martin then added that there would be "several of our good members of the Legislature who would wave goodbye to their sons as they go off to prison if we really enforced this law."

Martin said Young accepted responsibility for his actions by pleading to his charge. And he was relatively young at the time of the offense. So that merited the lesser sentence.

Assistant State Attorney Steve Maresca, who prosecuted the case, appealed. Maresca noted Young was sentenced not only on the lewd battery charge but two other pending felonies, grand theft and burglary.

Young pleaded no contest to breaking into a car and stealing $350 cash. He committed those while on bond for his arrest in the sex case, court records show.

Maresca won part of the appeal Friday, with a higher court reversing Young's sentence for the burglary and grand theft counts.

So in addition to the violation of probation charge, Young will face resentencing on those two charges and could face up to 5 years in prison on each.

The story continues in the Naples Daily News (registration required - try for a login).

Where to begin? First off, let me say that I support laws that punish rape. As to statutory rape laws, I'm not so sure. That's not to say that there aren't men of less than honorable intentions out there who are willing to use there charms on women, young or old, merely to satisfy their sexual appetites. But are statutory rape laws the best way to protect young girls? Perhaps they are, especially for pre-teen girls.

On the other hand, perhaps statutory rape laws lead to a false sense of security for parents with regards to the safety of their daughter's virginity.

Before you start swearing at me, go back and re-read the last sentence above and mull it around a little bit. Didn't work, hey? Let me explain. With statutory rape laws on the books, some parents might delay explaining to their daughters the facts of life because they believe fear of the law will prevent members of the opposite from trying to engage in sexual congress with their daughters. They believe they can then let their daughters spend all sorts of unsupervised time with members of the opposite sex believing they are safe. They delay in getting down to the nitty gritty about boys until their daughters reach the legal age for sexual consent. This leaves their daughters unprepared when responding to the sexual advances that older men or even boys their age might make, resulting in more sexual consentual sexual activity, not less. And when I say the facts of life or nitty gritty, I'm not just talking about where babies come from. I'm talking about judging the intentions of men here. You know, the old fashioned things like honor, commitment, family, honesty, decency, etc.

To look at this another way, ask yourself how would parents protect their daughters from lotharios, young and old if statutory rape laws did not exist? What can they do? There are several things. Here's a list:

1. At the right age, explain to them that some boys will have honorable intentions and others won't. Explain why it is important to know the difference
2. Don't allow unchaperoned dates until a certain age and until you've met and know the boy
3. Monitor your daughter's apparal - don't let her dress like a tramp
4. Insist on meeting the boys she's interested in - get to know them
5. Attend church in order to instill good values
6. Limit phone time with boys, and girls for that matter
7. Don't let them spend time together alone and unsupervised
8. Monitor your daughter's reading a listening materials

To put all this another way, let me just say this. Risk is a virtue. That's right, risk is a virtue. What does that mean? When exposed to risk, people will normally act in ways to minimize the chances of the risk becoming reality. They are forced to become proactive. When people don't perceive the risk or they think the law will protect them from it, they are likely to be less proactive. All the things above are proactive things a parent can do.

But many parents don't do those things because they think the risk is much lower. Why do they think that?

One factor is that they think the sex education courses in our schools teach sexual morality. Nothing could be further from the truth.

They think statutory rape laws will protect their daughters sexually. Of course if they don't learn about the intercourse, then charges can't be filed.

In short, they are hoping their own children will act wisely while counting on the law to force other people's children act legally.

So what about this case? Looks like the two became an item when she was 14 and he was 17 or so, her a freshman and he a junior. The article tells they had sex when she was 15 and a sophomore and he was 18 and a senior. We also know that she corresponded secretly with him after his conviction while he was serving time. I imagine both have had sex ed courses.

Let me cut to the chase here. It seems to me that in this case the mother is using the law to get the boy out of the way because she couldn't stop her own daughter from seeing him. And she's afraid she will want to see him again in the future.

I'm not saying that the mother is wrong to be concerned about her daughter's behavior. However, if her goal was to keep her daughter from having sex with him couldn't other things have been done to accomplish this without filing charges? Perhaps Jane's parents could have talked with the two of them to express their concerns and set boundaries for Jane and William. Perhaps they could have included his parents as part of this, too. The parents could have told Jane and William that they could see each other away from school as long as they were chaperoned by them or William's parents. In other words, they could have given William a chance to prove his intentions toward Jane going forward.

While not shown above, the article goes on to say that William does have a juvenile record, but doesn't say what they were. While that might explain her urgency to end the relationship, it still doesn't change the fact that Jane continued to chase after William even after his no contest plea. Is it right to punish William for sexual offenses, even if he's a bum, if Jane chooses him for her own? We know he did break into a car and steal some cash, so that does tell us something about him, but the mother was on his case before this ever happened.

I would be interested to know what the mother thought of William before she learned that he and Jane were sexually intimate. Did she like him? Did she not know that Jane and he were seeing one another? What did she teach Jane regarding boys, sex, and intentions? Even if the mother did everything right with Jane's upbringing, should William be punished for sexual crimes because Jane rejected or ignored her mother's teachings and wishes?

Let me also add that the judge's comments were spot on regarding this case. Kids today are bombarded with sexual messages from a variety of sources and from a very early age. They are taught values-neutral sex education in our schools. Some folks champion free condom givaways to high school students to prevent pregnancies and STD's. Much of our popular culture (movies, tv, pop music) champions sexual intercourse as the only true way to express one's love for your signigficant other. You can't even watch TV without being bombarded with ads hawking drugs to treat erectile dysfunction. To many adults and teens, sex is love and love is sex. Love as a series of behaviors that elevate both the man and the woman in the relationship is foreign to a sizable number of people these days. It's all about the sex to them. No wonder there are so many sexually active teens these days.

Nope, statutory rape laws did nothing to protect Jane because Jane didn't want to be protected. Jane acted unwisely and now Jane's mother is using the statutory rape laws to punish William for acting illegally, as if Jane had no part to play in all of this. How sad for all.