I’m sitting out here in the middle of nowhere, working my paying job. I’ve finally gotten caught up enough to read some of the other blogs and new sites. I have noticed a theme that is really beginning to get on my nerves. I keep hearing this “If it saves a single child, it will be worth it” in regards to all the new sex offender laws that are being submitted to congress. And while I do believe that the protection of our children is vital to our society, there’s an aspect to that statement that most of you haven’t considered.
What about the children who’s lives have been destroyed by these laws? Has anyone ever considered them? Now, I know what you’re thinking… how can these laws destroy children’s lives? They do so by destroying families, destroying trust, wrecking friendships… These things happen. Someone is accused of some sex offense, and even before the criminal investigation begins, it’s all over the newspapers and local television. Then Social Services gets involved, and removes the person’s minor children from their home, totally disrupting their lives and the lives of their entire family. Plus, they have to attend school, where the other children speak in whispers about what they’ve heard … and this is usually so blown out of proportion that it’s ridiculous.
Then comes the investigation, where the police and social services try to convince the children that they are victims, and all they have to do is tell the investigator what they want to hear. If they don’t tell the investigator what he or she wants to hear, they are accused of lying, and covering up for the accused. It’s difficult for a young child to stand up to an adult, or in most cases, several adults, and not say what they are told to say. The younger the child, the easier it is for the ‘investigators’ to get a statement.
Even if the person’s children don’t give in, there’s the other aspects of the investigation. Investigators will interview every child that has ever set foot in that house. This usually causes the destruction of friendships that these children need most at this difficult time. Parents won’t allow their children to associate with the children of the accused, for fear that they might somehow be drawn into this mess.
Now comes the trial. That is if the person hasn’t been cowed into accepting a plea bargain. These are usually offered by the prosecution because they don’t have a deposition from the children that they can use to nail the man. If it goes to trial, the children have to watch as the person is portrayed as the most evil, sadistic, horrible SOB on the face of the planet. Of course, his/her defense lawyer, if s/he was able to afford to hire one (a public pretender is worse than useless…s/he will usually only put up a token defense. This is because s/he doesn’t want to be associated with getting a Sex Offender off), will put up the best defense he or she can, but it’s impossible to prove a negative. Of course, in the trial of a sex offender, most will assume that s/he’s guilty, and if the prosecution can’t prove it, it’s because s/he’s a sneaky bastard. One can only hope that the prosecution’s case is too weak to get a conviction.
If s/he’s convicted, s/he’s going to prison. There’s no probation for Sex Offenders. This means the children will probably not see that person again until s/he gets out, if he gets out. They’ll ether go to foster care, or to the other parent, who might have been the one who started this whole damn thing in the first place. So their young lives have been totally and thoroughly screwed up.
If s/he manages to avoid conviction, say by having an actual lawyer who fights for him/her, everyone will assume that s/he got off on a technicality, and will still refuse to allow their children to associate with his/her children. After all, things like this run in families, you know. The person’s life is in ruins, and his/hers children’s lives are in ruins as well. Their best option is to pack up and move, try to start over.
But technology won’t just let them walk away. For $19.95, anybody can find out anything and everything about anybody else. And I know that when you move into a new neighborhood, there’s going to be some snoopy neighbor who’s going to investigate his/her new neighbors. Of course, this is all for the good of the neighborhood. We wouldn’t want the wrong type of people living next door to us now, would we.
All this adds up to lives being unnecessarily damaged or destroyed by a single accusation, which is then built upon by all these laws and regulations. It use to be that the accused had the right to a fair and impartial trial by a jury of his/her peers. That’s impossible nowadays because the media gets ahold of every criminal report filed, and then plaster it all over television, print, and the internet. Most allegations of criminal sexual conduct are so heavily covered that a fair and impartial trial is impossible. The case has been tried in the media long before it ever reaches a court room. Families are ostracized by their neighbors and friends, besieged by reporters who know no shame when it comes to getting any kind of statement. The children are (in my opinion) subjected to mental abuse and criminal influence by investigators trying to force their case. Is it any wonder that the number of sex offenders in prison has risen so sharply over the last decade or so.
We have victim’s rights laws, victim’s compensations funds, support groups, etc. But where are the groups that should be there for the children of people accused of sex crimes, the mental health counseling, the support groups? Where is the compensation for people falsely accused of sex crimes? Where are the groups that help these people rebuild their lives after the police, media, and courts have destroyed them? What about these victim’s? What about their children?
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