In 2013, I worked as an investigative intern for a prosecutor’s office while attending college. My main job was to review cases and statutes to make sure the charges written by the police against the alleged perpetrators were valid. If it turned out those charges were bunk, the case would be dropped and the person would go free, even if he or she was actually guilty of a similar crime.
One time, I was handed a case to review which described a sex offense against a minor, perpetrated by her older step-brother. However, the charge in question was not against the child who allegedly committed the acts against his little sister; the charges were against her father, for false reporting. It took me several times of reviewing the document before I realized what had happened.
Although I cannot describe the details of the case due to privacy and ethical laws, the story goes like this: A little boy about age 5-7 was performing inappropriate acts in front of his younger sister, about age 2-3 or so. When her father discovered what his stepson was doing he first confronted the boy’s mother, then contacted the police.
As it turned out, the boy was not charged for anything due to his age; however, the little girl’s father was facing charges for false reporting and could have lost his daughter to the custody of her step-mother; the very same woman who held custody of the boy who was likely a danger to his sister. Yet, this was not a concern to the police who were attempting to press charges. The bigger issue was that the boy was not old enough to be charged for anything, so the father was, in their opinion, creating problems by reporting something that appeared to be a waste of their time.
Upon review of the probable cause report, I recommended that the false reporting charges be dropped against the girl’s father. It should have been obvious to anyone who read the report that the boy performed the inappropriate acts; the father was only trying to protect his child. He merely reported something that was not brought forward in court because, perhaps, it would have been too difficult to pursue (a bit like Hillary Clinton in that way.)
This case never sat well with me, but I was glad that I was the one to have it put in my hands because I believe justice was served in that case. Perhaps not against the boy who was likely disturbed, but at least the father was able to maintain protection of his child in that situation, and I was the one who helped them.
Today, I read about an Alaska lawmaker, Cathy Munoz, who recently wrote in support of a convicted child molester from a personal angle. She claimed that the person she knows, Jack, deserves a reduced sentence because he could be rehabilitated in other fashions. This person, her friend, was convicted of six counts of molestation, including rape, against his eleven-year-old foster daughter. It was his own wife who turned him in for the inappropriate relationship and asked that their foster children be placed elsewhere. Once the child was placed in a new home, she was verbally attacked and the perpetrator was given support by people, including a State Legislator.
Was this due to the fact that they lived in a small native village in Alaska? Was it because the convicted sex offender was friends with many people there? The answer to both is yes. But there is more.
Victim shaming and blaming are some of the most horrendous injustices of the criminal justice system, but these things do not only occur in small towns. As a disclaimer, the place I lived in while working as an investigative intern was a smaller town, but it wasn’t that small. There is a major university there.
When we turn our heads to ignore the disgraces of our friends and/or family, we forget to remember there is a face of someone else who was injured. Money and privilege may tell us that “our” people should not be forced to deal with the consequences of their actions, but what happens next? The person trying to protect his child gets charged with false reporting. Thank goodness I was there to protect that one person while he was going through that scenario.
Yet, there are so many more out there I cannot stand up for. We have to be advocates for those who cannot protect themselves because there are too many out there who cannot. To the man who stood up for his daughter in Indiana, I stuck by you even when no one else wanted to. I did it because you were protecting a child. I only wish Cathy Munoz’s goal was to do the same.