When women sexually abuse children, they usually face little repercussions. Most female abusers are not reported. Of those who are, most do not face charges. Of those who face charges or trial, most receive plea deals for lesser offenses. Of those who are convicted, most will either have the sentence suspended or receive probation. Of those who face conviction for serious offenses, most will not have to register as a sex offender. Of those who do have to register, most of them will be removed within five to ten years.
Simply put: women who prey on children get a pass.
Due to this, I do not expect to see situations like what occurred in a recent case:
A 37-year-old New Boston, Texas, woman received a 25-year sentence Friday for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy after the victim’s parent assured the judge it was their wish.
Kimberly Elaine Mitchell carried a box of tissue Friday morning as she walked into a first-floor courtroom of the Bi-State Justice Building for formal sentencing before 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart. Mitchell pleaded guilty to three felonies Wednesday and was scheduled to have a jury decide her fate in a punishment-only trial next week.
Mitchell faced multiple life sentences for the abuse. If the decision went to the jury, Mitchell could have received five years to life in prison. She chose to accept a plea bargain. The boy’s parents accepted the deal in order to spare their son the stress of testifying. The deal is unusual in that it still required Mitchell to plead to two first-degree felony charges.
This is the sort of deal that is typically offered male offenders. While I am not a supporter of long sentences, it is good to see that neither the prosecutors or judge applied a double standard in this case. Indeed, to the judge’s credit, he did not give Mitchell a pass:
Lockhart noted that text messages Mitchell sent the boy clearly showed she groomed the boy and carefully prepared for her abuse of him.
“Factually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a case like this one,” Lockhart said. “You’re almost 38 years old. This is not a life sentence, but close to it. In a few minutes, you’re going to walk through that door with a deputy, and your life is going to change drastically. You won’t be selecting any prom dresses. You won’t see your kid graduate from high school. You’re going to miss dozens of Fourth of Julys, birthdays and holidays with your family.”
This sort of comment has become more common, yet judges rarely back it up with a stiff sentence. Lockhart stated that had the jury come back with anything less than 25 years, he would have run the sentences consecutively. Given the jury’s decision, Lockhart sentenced Mitchell to two 25-year terms for aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 and one 20-year term for second degree sexual assault of a child, all to run concurrently. Mitchell must serve half the time before she can apply for parole. This guarantees she will spend a minimum of 12 years behind bars for her actions.
Again, this is very uncommon for female offenders, particularly when a male judge presides over the case. Considering how Mitchell behaved, I cannot disagree with the sentence. Mitchell stated in her defense:
“You don’t know me or my character, but I would never hurt anyone,” Mitchell said. “I was very selfish in what I did. Your family’s hurting. My family is too. I just pray someday you can forgive me.”
The article does not give the context of the statement, yet it reveals Mitchell’s massive blind spot. According to the boy’s parents, Mitchell knew of the victim because her 12-year-old daughter had a crush on him. Mitchell took her time grooming the boy. She sent him dozens of sexually explicit text messages. She paid for a local motel room where she would take the boy to molest him. She even molested him when he was at home sick.
This is typical predatory behavior, and it is good to see that the prosecutor, the judge, and the jury recognized it.
As for the impact on the boy and his family:
The parents lament that two of their other children have moved away to live with relatives because they don’t want to face teasing in school or risk running into Mitchell. The statement spoke of a loss of feeling safe in their own home and the loss of valuable family time that should have included good memories but instead has been filled with pain, shock, and trauma.
This is what makes the abuse so devastating. Abusers often do not think about the impact of their actions. They do not consider how the victim will think of others or of themselves. An entire family was upended because Mitchell felt the need to have sex with a barely pubescent child.
It is unlikely that this case will serve as a deterrent for future offenses, yet hopefully it will serve as a guide to prosecutors and judges on how to treat female offenders. These women should not recent probation after they spend months, sometimes years grooming and raping children.