What about the children? - Opinion

by Tammy Joy Wood-

Originally published on January 23, 2013

The January 10th edition of the Messenger of Juneau County ran yet another headline of a monstrous child rapist. This story infuriated me. I am sure many of you were just as incensed. However, the aspect that truly brought my blood to a rolling boil was the story that ran adjacent; an account of a home being raided by police in search of a plant.

The article reads that the police came to the rescue of an anonymous caller offended by the cultivation of a plant. It took only four months for the anonymous caller to receive justice. Whereas the little girl who had to relive the memories of her torture in her appeal for justice was forced to wait for four long years. What about the children? What kind of message does this send to them?

I was baffled at the gross absurdity headlined across our community newspaper. Once again the abysmal prohibition of a plant was held in more regard than the life of a child broken by a pedophile. Once more the cries of a shattered child fell on deaf ears as the police pound their chest proclaiming victory over a plant.

I was nauseous; still, it was a press release from the D.A’s office that sent the bile lurching up from my bowels to take hold at the back of my throat. All charges against this known child rapist were dismissed with prejudice. That means this crime can never again be heard before the court.

How does this happen was the question reverberating through my aching heart? I called the office of the district attorney and the receptionist politely referred me to the Juneau County Sheriff’s Department. My call to them requested I call back the following day as the officer who could help me was on vacation. Out of desperation, I made the only other call I could think of; I called the offices of the Messenger of Juneau County.

My conversation with the ladies at the paper was the most fruitful call I had made. They also shared my confusion. They had read the file concerning this monster and found it wanting. Their suggestion was I read it for myself; I decided to do just that. As I stood before the clerk of courts holding a file a mere four pages long I was astonished at what I did not read.

There was no indication of a search warrant being served. There was no indication of an interview being held. There was no indication the investigative process went any further than the pat on the shoulder the little girl received as she left the officers cubicle. This shocked me as the suspect in question had previously been found guilty of raping a child.

Out of curiosity I also requested the file for the gentlemen whose home was raided for a plant. Here I discovered solid police investigative work at its finest. The officer responding to the pleas of an anonymous caller really dug in and got his hands dirty.

At different times of day and night, the officer would drive by the gentlemen’s home to look for anything out of the ordinary. He obtained copies of the utility bill for their residence as well as the bills of similarly sized dwellings and compared energy usage. On two separate occasions, he even dug through these citizens’ garbage searching for anything to incriminate them. The officer even noted how close the residence was to a school.

Something was very amiss here, surely there had to have been more leg work done in the case of a child rapist than that of a plant grower? Surely those sworn to protect and serve would ensure their due diligence to a case of child rape? Surely.

Surely must not mean what it used to. I spoke with the detective who listened to that little girl retell the horror of having a bandana shoved in her mouth as her attacker violated her. I asked him if he had interviewed the perpetrator of this heinous crime. His response, No. No interview was conducted because the aforementioned monster told his lawyer he did not want to.

Well, that settles it. He told his lawyer he wasn’t up to it so, and I quote, “there’s not too much to be done”. My expectations must be too high from all the cop shows I watch on T.V because I thought police could bring a suspect in for questioning with their lawyer present so the cops could at least make the suspect sweat it out as he refused to answer questions. But what do I know?

Regardless of my Law and Order ideology, certainly a search warrant was served? Nope. Again, I quote, “in cases like this there is not too much to be done”. In cases of child rape there is no need to sift through garbage searching for evidence this scum might be preying on little girls. Known child rapist suspected of continuing their child raping ways do not warrant the occasional drive by to look for anything out of the ordinary. There is no need to note that this known child rapist is only a meager half mile from a Head Start Preschool. There just simply is “not too much to be done”.

At least I could be satisfied the officer spoke with the doctors that examined the little girl finding there was indeed signs she was sexually abused. Except when I asked if he drove to Madison to retrieve the files himself or if they had been faxed to him he told me he had never actually spoken with any of the staff at the hospital. The files were given to him by the mother of the victim. Did he follow up with the doctors himself? There is no indication of that either.

I asked the kind officer one last question before we closed our call. Does his office get any special incentive to seek out and bring to justice child rapists? What do you mean he asks? Well, seeing as I know the more drug bust made by police departments the more money those departments get; I asked are there any programs like that for child rapist? No, no there are not. Another quote, “The government wants their, (read your) money to go to drug enforcement”.

So what we have here is a little girl begging for her rapist to be condemned yet finding four whole years later her file just sat collecting dust. Meanwhile, an anonymous tipster sets off a super sleuth and within four months five officers are at the home of a plant grower prepared to get them off the streets for as long as 10 years. What About The Children?

Across our nation prisons house everyday citizens whose only crime was a personal choice that only affects themselves. 53% of the inmates our tax dollars pay to incarcerate are nonviolent drug offenders. Guess how many pedophiles, rapist, and other sex crime inmates make up the prison population? 5.8% Less than six percent.

That may surprise some of you considering nearly every other week the Messenger is headlining yet another child raping deviant. In many of my conversations regarding this subject I have often heard the complaint of the amount of child rapist the Messenger headlines, as if they are picking and choosing the stories they report. That is not the case. They report that many child rapists because there are that many monsters out there breaking our children.

The sad fact is only 16% of rapists even get charged for their crime. What’s worse, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics compared to non-sex offenders released from State prisons sex offenders were 4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime. In comparison, a study done by Human Rights Watch found that ninety percent of drug offenders had no subsequent felony convictions of any kind.”…None, Of Any Kind.

All too often sex offenders are right back out to rape again, serving as little as a few months, if they even get jail time at all. Take for example the case in 2004 of a Juneau County man who raped his daughter for years before he impregnated her. He was sentenced to 9 months of work release. Only nine months for raping and impregnating his very own daughter, and he was allowed to keep his job. What about the children? What kind of message does this send to them?

What about the children is the “go to” question when the discussion is about cannabis. What kind of message would society send to the children if instead of prosecuting responsible adults who choose a safer way to recreate, we spent more effort locking up child rapists? What kind of message indeed? What about the children?

It is high time to answer that question.