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WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Do you still have faith in the American justice system?

Asked by WillWorkForChocolate (23160points) October 14th, 2015

Drug charges seem to garner a stiffer prison penalty than assaulting children.

My fourteen year old daughter was assaulted early this year and all the cops were willing to go after him for was a class C assault. Two years on his record, then he’s clean. Basically the equivalent of a traffic ticket.

The guy touched her breast and put his hand between her legs and cupped her, and that’s it?

They say it’s because a sexual assault charge requires penetration and indecency with a minor requires proof that it was with “intent to arouse or gratify.” Excuse me? Why else would a man grope a teenage girl? If you put your hand between my legs on purpose, without my consent, you have assaulted me, penetration or not.

Now, we have been waiting months for a court date. MONTHS. Why must my daughter have to wait this long to face her assailant in court?

And I’m not angry only because it’s my own daughter. I’m outraged on behalf of all other children and women who are assaulted, and the pervert gets away with it. I’m outraged because another pervert (with whom I had personal experience) was jailed for about two years (for diddling two little boys) and is living happily not too far from me.

Does this seem like complete bullshit to anyone else? The laws need to change. Pedophilia and rape have been consistently on the rise for years and it’s not going to stop, because our justice system doesn’t seem to care enough to stop it, and the criminals know it. We need tough, “we take no shit” laws when it comes to molestation and rape.

How can you have faith in a justice system when there are so many cases like this?

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37 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

I haven’t had faith in the justice system for a long time. My first real world encounter with a police officer involved having a gun pointed at me while I was threatened about what would happen if I tried fighting the ticket in court. But at least the boys in blue revealed their true colors right from the start.

_Seek_'s avatar

But, y’know, if she took a picture of herself in the bathroom mirror, they’d arrest her for child pornography.


Jeruba's avatar

The last time I served on a jury in criminal court—probably ten years ago now—I came away shaken, saying, “I never want the fate of myself or anyone I care about to be in the hands of the court system.”

Unfortunately that wish has been denied, and the process seems to be an ever-compounding nightmare.

The other side of the “take no shit” attitude results in a young man calling for help when his girlfriend stumbles and falls, and suddenly he’s in custody.

tinyfaery's avatar

Never have, never will. I’m not sure that cases of sexual assault are rising; crime itself has been steadily decreasing for decades. We know what the media focuses on—what sells.

America is a shit show. Do what you can to stay out of the system and do what you need to do to help your daughter.

jerv's avatar

I have always had faith in the system.

As for the people running it, that is a different matter entirely.

msh's avatar

WillWorkForChocolate- I am so very sorry for what you and your daughter are going through. I am glad you are not giving up. I hope the a-hole gets a ‘predator’ status and has to register for the rest of his worthless life. Hang in there.

I have found myself wondering about how much care is given to the person who did wrong in the first place. I saw the story were a man was arrested for killing his wife. But what I do not understand is that he took his 3 little kids. No one has any idea if they are alive or where they could be. To see the smug look on his face- and he’s being protected from other inmates in jail so he won’t get hurt for what he did! That’s messed up!
I say, put them in general population and let it out about trying to find those three babies. You’d have the answers in less than 24 hours.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Faith is certainly the wrong attribute regarding my sentiments on the workings of the criminal justice systems in the country. And a stint as a juror on a murder trial confirmed not only my suspicions, but those alleged by people I formerly believed paranoid.

Cruiser's avatar

The real problem I see and am experiencing as we speak is that the police/detective work involved is time consuming and both the police work required and getting the States attorney involved is difficult at best because they and the court system that has to prosecute these cases are all overloaded and I am finding you get all sorts of excuses on why so little is being or can be done. I am having to hire a PI to do all the detective work to collect the evidence I need to prosecute this case.

Coloma's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I’m so sorry to hear this, and yes, I have lost faith in everything in our system from the judicial to the political to the fiscal to the life force of this poor planet. We are living in strange times indeed where child molesters get a slap on the hand and felons can get firearms. Hang in there, I don’t know what else to say.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Jeruba When I say “take no shit,” I’m referring to clear cases of assault, not when it’s up in the air and it’s simply speculation. Like, if it’s clear that the assault or rape actually happened, they need to increase the prison sentence drastically, instead of giving a year or two then setting the bastards free.

It would cut down on this sort of crime, IMHO. If a first time rapist or pedo gets an automatic fifteen years, then life for a second offense, I think we would see a drop in the number of cases. This mamby-pamby short sentence BS isn’t enough to scare them away from doing it, obviously.

Personally, I think all rapists and pedophiles should just get a bullet between the eyes, on the courthouse lawn, so everyone can see what happens to scum like that.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Also…how many thousands of rape kits are sitting on shelves, collecting dust right now? Get those things taken care of and put those filthy bastards behind bars where they belong.

kritiper's avatar

Sure do. Haven’t any other choice, do we??? Out in society, you are guilty until proven innocent. In a court of law you are innocent until proven guilty, as it should always be.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yes, but the point is even when they are found guilty, not much happens to them, and that pisses me off.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

No, not at all. America is a rape culture. We blame the victims and tell them to be happy since “it could have been a lot worse”. After serving on Grand Jury years ago, I lost all hope for “justice”. The DAs are corrupt and all they’re interested in is building a reputation for themselves. I came away from the experience extremely disturbed.

On top of sentencing rapists and child molesters longer, America also needs to focus much more heavily on rehabilitation. Without it, we will get nowhere.

Coloma's avatar

The stats are mind blowing on how many sex offenders and violent criminals are released to go on to become repeat offenders and/or cross the line from rape/molestation to murder. After all dead victims don’t talk. I think in the case of these leopards we should strip their spots the first time. ONE sexual assault you’re goin’ down for a minimum of 20.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I have to disagree with just one thing- There is no rehabilitation for pedophiles. That is a mindset that never goes away. Thats why I believe so strongly in the death penalty for them, to make dead certain (pun intended) it never happens again.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It just blows my mind that they don’t consider it a sexual assault because there was no “penetration.” What kind of excuse do they make for people who just look at child pornography?
And what is this nonsense about “intent to arouse or gratify.”? Why the fuck else would a man do something like that?

Cupcake's avatar

I am so sorry that you are going through this.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Dutchess_III Exactly.

@Cupcake Thanks. She had to see a therapist for a while because of it and was briefly afraid of her male schoolteachers and missed a lot of classes due to having panic attacks and having to run to the school counselor’s office. It has really sucked for her, my poor girl.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

It might not go away, but there’s a small chance, at least, that they won’t act on their urges. There are quite a few pedophiles that actively struggle against their inclinations (because they genuinely don’t want to be that way) so with tons of intense therapy, maybe it would make a difference. It’s hard to say, because America has never had anything like it put into place.

However, I know there’s a chance it might not work, but I think it should at least be attempted. Especially in cases where the child molesters were themselves molested as children. It’s a very unfortunate cycle.

I am genuinely disgusted that your daughter has had to experience this, though. Many things still need to change.

_Seek_'s avatar

Because there was no evidence to convict him in the first place – he was railroaded by an incompetent lawyer who refused to recuse himself when asked.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Well, damnit if that’s true then his former lawyer deserves to serve the remainder of his sentences. Gah, this is another reason why the justice system pisses me off. Too many crooked lawyers. Crooked lawyers, crooked judges, corruption everywhere. Now I feel bad for wanting to castrate the guy. It’s like our justice system can’t get a fucking thing right. The wrong people convicted and the actual criminals either getting completely away with shit, or not getting an appropriate sentence.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They should have provided that information in that Texarkana Police report..given a reason why he was released.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

So I just found out yesterday that my daughter’s case was dismissed last month, without a single phone call or letter from ANYONE. How did I find out? I had to call and ask because it’s been seven fucking months without hearing a word. I’m the one who had to call because nobody could be bothered to lift a finger and call me.

We were told we didn’t need to hire a lawyer for our daughter because she’d have a court appointed lawyer when the time came to go to court. Turns out that her “court appointed lawyer”, the prosecutor, sat down with the asshole’s defense attorney and cut a deal where the pervert only got six hours of community service and had to take some stupid “life skills” class.

Excuse me, what? The prosecutor dismissed the assault charge in favor of that measly bullshit, and did it without even bothering to contact the plaintiff or her parents? So I’m fighting via the local paper who’s promising to get me at least some answers and a phone call from the prosecutor to explain himself, and if I don’t like what I hear, it’s getting splashed all over the major news networks. That cocksucking bastard fucked with the wrong mom.

msh's avatar

6 hours of CS, and ‘lifeskills classes’?
Are you kidding? For cryin’ outloud!
They didn’t tell you because they knew it didn’t fit what happened.
What pull does the guy’s family have? (oops-)
I would wonder about that. Research family.
Watch for him when out and about.
I’m so sorry.
Hug your daughter, and you keep strong Mom.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

How does a prosecutor cut a deal for a defendant without ever contacting the plaintiff one single time? And then, never even notifying the plaintiff that the case was dismissed?

Breach of ethics? Legal negligence? Legal malpractice?

Is there a lawyer in the house?

As for the perv who touched my daughter- he’d better PRAY I don’t see him when we’re out and about. I know what the asshole looks like.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I hope you do get a chance to speak with someone who knows a lot about law, because that just doesn’t seem right to me at all. I can’t fathom how they didn’t even contact you, at the very least to let you know. :-/

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

A local reporter is already digging for me, and I’ve left a fb message for a relative who’s a lawyer to ask her what the hell I should do. I’m thinking legal malpractice, at the least.

An interesting FAQ I just found

“Can my lawyer accept a settlement offer without my consent?

No. A lawyer has a duty to communicate with clients about new developments and other information pertaining to a case. This duty includes informing clients of settlement offers. Before an attorney may accept a settlement offer, the client must agree. If a lawyer fails to obtain the consent of the client, a breach of a fiduciary duty may have occurred.”

^^ That sounds like it’s referring to a defense attorney, but it should be the same rule for the prosecuting attorney, right? You can’t offer a deal without discussing it with the plaintiff first, right?


Dutchess_III's avatar

Argh! Keep us updated, please. I would be SO angry too.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I definitely hope so @WillWorkForChocolate. I’m really sorry you’re going through this, but I’m glad you’re not backing down. Keep us updated. Sending good vibes your way.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

ROFL! You guys know I never back down when I’m pissed off.

I’m having trouble patiently waiting for my relative (really my husband’s relative) to reply, so in the meantime, I left a message for a local law office who deals with legal malpractice. It’s after 5 on a Friday, so I may not hear back until Monday. :(

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, she doesn’t back down!

I hate waiting for doctors and lawyers.

tinyfaery's avatar

Not sure what state you live in, but in general, in a case like this, you are not the plaintiff, the government is the plaintiff and the prosecutor works for the district attorney, not you. I believe the state can settle a case without agreement from the injured party, just like they can pursue a case without the consent of an injured party.

I work in the field of law in the state of CA so I do not know if this applies where you live. But I agree, this whole scenario is shit.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yes, unfortunately, I’m being told that the prosecutor had zero obligation to contact us at any time, and we have no legal recourse. I think that’s utter bullshit. So someone is molested, they file a complaint, and NO ONE is required to inform them of what is going on with their case? What in the actual fuck? (I kinda sorta ripped the prosecutor a new one when he called me. He only called because the reporter called him and told him to…) Our laws and all the loopholes are beyond fucked up.

I’m being told that our only option to pursue ANY of it is to file a civil suit against the perv and his employer, where the incident occurred.

This entire thing is maddening, and the prosecutor’s blahblahwhateverblahblah attitude makes me sick to my stomach. The reporter I’ve been speaking with has informed me that I’m not the only person who has had major issues with him and his “treatment” of cases.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Unfortunately, @tinyfaery is entirely correct. Under US legal theory, criminal actions are between the state and the perpetrator. This is why things like “victimless crimes” exist: a criminal is not prosecuted for harming someone, but simply for violating The Law. If you want to address the actual harm done to your daughter, a civil suit is probably your only recourse (as you’ve been told). In addition to your newspaper campaign, though, you might want to look into the victims’ rights movement and see whether there is a local chapter in your area. Someone there might be able to tell you whether the prosecutor in question violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 (though I think this is unlikely because, as far as I recall, the provisions don’t apply to cases that are settled prior to trial). And even if no violation has occurred, you might be able to join them in pushing for further reforms (e.g., more victim input during pretrial).

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s a bitch when people don’t do the polite, common sense thing just because they don’t have to.

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