Yesterday, while writing about the Times‘ willful misrepresentation of a child sexual assault conviction, I noted:
[W]hen I see an offender with a record of one or three instances of “inappropriate touching,” I suspect that’s the tip of the iceberg. I suspect the conviction is the result of a plea bargain agreed to just to get the sick bastard away from the child and onto a registry, which is the most victims can reasonably hope for in the courts these days . . .
Well, it didn’t take long to illustrate that point. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Convicted Rapist Sentenced to Life — Again
Barry Daniels was supposed to spend the rest of his life in prison when he was convicted in 1978 of raping a child.
Instead, he served 19 years and was released, returning to Cincinnati where he worked for more than a decade as a maintenance man.
On Tuesday, Daniels was back in court, to be sentenced after he was convicted of raping another child, a 9-year-old girl last September.
Prosecutors had offered Daniels a plea offer of — you guessed it — sexual touching. Just like this guy, whose fib about his own crimes was credulously reported as fact in the New York Times:
Patrick Wiese, 48 . . . said he served time in prison after having his stepdaughter touch him inappropriately. . .
Unfortunately for the nine-year-old victim in Cincinnati, Barry Daniels refused the plea offered to him, and the child was forced to testify against her rapist. Fortunately, the jury believed her and sent Daniels to prison for life — again. Hopefully this time it will stick:
The girl testified during the trial and, despite the stress and embarrassment, proved to be a star witness.
Before the jury was seated, prosecutors [had] offered Daniels a plea offer – to try to prevent the child victim from having to testify – that would have resulted in him pleading guilty of sexually touching the child and being imprisoned for a maximum of five years.
Note that Daniels was offered a sentence that would have put him back on the streets in five years or less. Prosecutors were willing to essentially “disappear” the rape of a child to get him back into the system, to spare the child more trauma, and, doubtlessly, to avoid incurring the costs of a trial. Such are the economics of justice these days: a child rapist who rapes another child after being released early is offered a slap on the wrist.
Chillingly, Daniels was willing to take his chances. And why not? It’s practically impossible to seat a jury these days in which there is not at least one knucklehead who imagines he is playing Atticus Finch, or re-playing 12 Angry Men, or who just believes that there is never any way to know that anybody is actually guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of anything.
The Daniels jurors did none of these things, bless them. But if I was guilty of raping a nine-year old child, I’d still take my chances with a jury. And when you see news articles bemoaning society’s cruel treatment of “men who did nothing more than sexually touch a child,” remember to ask yourself what they really did.