Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A sensible way to deal with alleged criminals

    It seems that in Texas, they've discovered an amazing new way to deal with alleged criminals who allegedly engage in criminal acts of child abuse: the criminal justice system. Yes, now that higher courts have stopped Child Protective Services from persecuting the alleged victims in the FLDS case, law enforcement is going to try prosecuting alleged perpetrators.

    Five members of the FLDS have been indicted on what The Salt Lake Tribune calls "charges related to sexual assaults on underage girls." What a novel approach! Guilt or innocence determined by actual evidence. Children protected by removing the alleged abuser from the home instead of the child.

    I've said from day one that the issue in the FLDS case is not religion, the issue is child rape. If children were raped, the rapists should be tried, convicted and sent to jail. That way, children are protected without having to endure the emotional torment – and risk of abuse – of foster care. And children are protected without having to be separated from their mothers.

    There is always the risk, of course, that in some twisted quest for vengeance against a sect that made them look like idiots, Texas authorities also will go after the mothers on "failure to report child abuse" charges. They've already done that with one of the men. But if the allegations in the FLDS case are true, many of the mothers were rape victims themselves. No one has ever satisfactorily explained when, exactly, a woman – or a girl – living on the FLDS compound goes from "vic" to "perp." If, in fact, the needs of children are paramount, Texas will put those needs ahead of any quest to get even with the mothers.

    And who knows? Maybe this whole go-after-the-alleged-abuser-instead-of-the-victims idea will catch on.