Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sex crimes dissonance

Sometimes child rapists in America go free while masturbators go to prison. Of course, the same is true with murderers and pot smokers. Law in America, especially criminal law, is arbitrary, capricious, irrational, and unpredictable.

Nowhere in the criminal law is this dissonance more apparent than in matters of human sexuality, where the distinction between predator and non-predator is almost non-existent, and the “crimes” often have more to do with what the accused was thinking than what he was doing.

Sex “crimes” don’t always involve “victims,” and many “sex crime victims” are willing participants involved in normal harmless human behavior. On the other hand, there are sexual predators out there that do devastating harm to others. Those are the ones who should be in prison. A true sexual predator uses force on unwilling victims.

Few would argue that sexual predators should go free. Yet that is exactly what happened in Utah this week when a convicted child sex predator was freed from a state mental hospital, deemed incompetent for trial, but no danger to society.

In 2006, this same guy was convicted of raping a teenage girl; sent to prison for less than a year; and by 2007 was facing multiple new charges of aggravated child rape and sexual abuse; all first-degree felonies carrying life sentences.

But in Utah, a criminal defendant is incompetent to stand trial if he suffers from mental illness, can’t understand the charges against him, or is unable to participate in his own defense. A trial judge found him incompetent under this standard in 2008 because of a “cognitive disorder,” and institutionalized him at a state mental hospital.

Miraculously, today this legally “incompetent” serial predator of kids is “no longer considered any danger to society,” according to his Utah State Hospital shrinks, so the state, under that standard, had to let him loose. He’s still considered not guilty under the law for all his new offenses, and he won’t be facing trial anytime soon, if ever.

I must say in somewhat grudging admiration: if this child sex monster can manage all of that, being mentally incompetent, just imagine how well he could do when he’s competent.

Seriously though, we don’t ask whether a rabid dog is mentally competent enough for society to decide whether it bit someone. Why should we do so with human predators? Competent or not, they are always dangerous.

I’ve said this many times before: Insanity and incompetence have no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether a crime was committed and who committed it. Those are ancillary issues, which, in a more fair and logical justice system, would be considered for sentencing and disposition after the trial. (See: Reliable Justice: Must it Cost Us a Fortune?)

Contrast that legal nonsense with this:

A typical 18 year old kid in the American heartland is caught enjoying sex with his 17 year old girlfriend; found guilty of felony statutory rape; sentenced to hard time in prison; and required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Who is the victim here? Where is the damage? How is the cause of justice the better with this?

A silly 15 year old girl sends a nude picture of herself in a text to her boyfriend; she’s charged with felony “distribution” of child porn; and her boyfriend with felony “possession.” There’s another gross overreaction here; and two bright young innocent lives ruined over a victimless “crime.”

Innocent women are prosecuted with the “crime” of prostitution for voluntarily selling sex, and innocent men for the “crime” of voluntarily paying. These are not predators. We’re talking about imaginary “crimes” here – not crimes against victims, but “crimes” involving normal and natural human behavior.

A Michigan man, who admitted to masturbating a few times inside his van near a day care center, is charged with aggravated indecent exposure, punishable by up to two years in prison, even though no one saw him do it, much less one of the kids.

The harmless dupe admitted to doing it to himself there more than once so he’s also charged as a sexual delinquent, placing him in jeopardy of serving from one day all the way up to life in prison. A conviction of sexual delinquency allows the Michigan Department of Corrections to hold a convict as long as they like for “treatment.”

Another Michigan man, a talented and much loved physician and family practitioner, was devastated after his wife was involved in a car accident that left her in a wheelchair and functioning at the level of a child. Rather than leave her, he turned to porn on the Internet; first adult porn, but later children. Now he’s serving 46 months in prison for “possessing” child pornography on his computer.

No one disputes that this Dr. always provided excellent professional care in his medical practice without any complaint or hint of impropriety. That doesn’t matter. His personal and professional life is ruined because he looked at some pictures of naked kids on his computer.

At the risk of punching a political hot button and offending the national sex police, I have to say that this kind of ‘justice’ is grossly out of proportion to the wrong. These guys didn’t rape, molest, take indecent liberties with, or otherwise exploit any child. They are not predators -- obsessed with thoughts of kinky unnatural prohibited sex maybe -- but not predators. They’re guilty of no more than private “thought crimes.”

If things ever come to a point in America where our deepest and most private thoughts may be discovered and revealed by the law, I swear, we’ll all have to go to prison.

Original report here

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