One of the things that confuses me about the legal process is how the state could consider someone dangerous enough to need to be punished, but not dangerous enough to be kept away from those they may harm. The 2005 prosecution of Michael Jackson illustrated this oddity.
District Attorney Tom Sneddon charged the pop star with multiple counts of child abuse. He argued that Jackson was a serial predator who targeted boys between the ages of 11 to 15 years old. Sneddon also argued that Jackson began grooming the boys much earlier, usually when the boys were eight or nine. The DA was convinced that Jackson had no control over his behavior. If left with a boy, Jackson would abuse him. Of course, that is why Sneddon made no effort to remove Jackson’s children from his custody, particularly his oldest son Prince, who was the age Jackson supposedly favored.
I found that baffling. If Jackson is so dangerous, why let him keep custody? It was as if Sneddon did not believe his own argument.
Another case also baffles me. The judge in the case admits that the person is dangerous yet releases her without any punishment:
A Jefferson City woman won’t spend any time in prison after admitting to sex crimes against multiple children. Misti Fitzwater pleaded guilty to five different felonies Thursday.
A judge suspended Fitzwater’s sentence and placed her on parole. Judge Robert Schollmeyer was very clear that he did not want to have to revisit the issue with her, saying “If there is a violation that is alleged, you and I will see each other again. You do not want that to happen.”
Judge Schollmeyer went on to say, “If you and I see each other in this setting again, I assure you that I will do everything that is necessary to see that these sentences will be actually executed.”
That sounds very stern, yet it is hard to believe. Fitzwater plead guilty to one charge of statutory rape, two charges of statutory sodomy, and two charges of endangering the welfare of a child. She had sex with two children, giving them marijuana as well. The article does not list the ages of the victims, so I assume they were likely teenagers.
The maximum sentence Fitzwater could have received was 35 years. To receive parole is quite the slap on the wrist considering the charges.
The curious part is this:
As part of the plea agreement, Fitzwater was placed on five years of supervised probation. During that time, Fitzwater is forbidden from contact with any child 17 years or younger. That condition of her probatioon does not include her own family members.
The judge says this conviction will not affect Fitzwater’s custody over her children in any way.
So we are to assume that Fitzwater is so untrustworthy that she cannot be around minors, but we will assume she would never abused relatives? Does the judge actually think Fitzwater is incapable of committing incest? Or does the judge think that Fitzwater is no threat at all?
Better yet, if she has custody of her children, how can she attend any of their functions? She cannot be around minors, so she cannot go to school plays, go on field trips, or even set foot on a playground.
It is as if the judge did not want to actually punish her, but had to do something and issued this ruling.