Monday, September 8, 2014

A Wake-Up Call

Saturday morning was a quiet morning. I made a big breakfast, we watched cartoons, the TV went off at 10:00, as it does every Saturday morning, and then Carter went out front to play. I typically let him do this for a little bit (sometimes along, sometimes with the kids down the street) because he deserves some freedom and independence. Plus, I can see him from the living room windows, and the front door was wide open, with the screen door window open as well. I could see and hear him (because who uses their inside voices OUTSIDE?). When I realized I had stuff to do around the house, I asked him to come inside. Sure, it was met with attitude and complaining. That's the norm with this almost seven year old these days.
Not 10 minutes later, I see a man walking up to the porch. He saw my "no soliciting, no churches" sign and turned and walked off. Easy enough. Except that bells and whistles were going off like crazy. While I was down exploring the Redwoods, my neighborhood website had alerts going off all over the place about this four-time convicted felon going door-to-door, preaching the word of god. His four convictions?  Three first degree sexual abuse of a child, and one conspiracy to commit sexual abuse of a child.  Various neighbors had different comments - some knew exactly who he was based on recent news articles and broadcasts, some knew of him from previous church experience, some knew that he was no longer affiliated with a church and that he was doing this preaching on his own. Made me glad to be out of town as he roamed my neighborhood.  Well, as he walked away and down the sidewalk on Saturday, it clicked and I realized it was the same man from all of the articles, e-mails, etc. The same man who preyed on defenseless, innocent children. And here he is. My first reaction was to call the police. But then I realized he truly wasn't doing anything illegal. Knocking on doors and, if the person answers, talking about your faith is not against any law. I watched him knock on every single door on my street. Some people talked to him, most shut the door in his face, or didn't even open at all. Our neighborhood is on high alert right now, so I'm willing to bet that most people were aware of his presence.
After he moved on to a different street, the e-mails starting coming in - warning, he's back! He knocked, trespass warnings were issued, some people even said he talked to their children. I'm still getting e-mails today about this. 90% of the people are very concerned, the police have been notified, and many rules about our kids are changing in a big way. And then, of course, there are those people coming to his defense, stating that as children of god, we have no right to judge him, his crimes were over two decades ago, and he has been forgiven and maybe he's truly just passing on the word of god. Maybe he's a changed man. He could be totally harmless now.
I don't think so.
There are many instances in life where I would agree that people deserve second chances.  When you sexually abuse children, sorry, that rule goes out the door and you are forever "marked" in my eyes. There's no coming back from that. There were many people on the neighborhood website who were throwing out statistics (thank god, because I didn't want to dig out my criminal justice notes to get into it) on recidivism in felons, specifically those convicted of violent sexual crimes, and even more specifically in those violent sexual crimes where a child is the victim. There was another person who spoke up that she used to attend the same church and how this man would never interact with adults, but would bring toys to play with little kids. He was asked to leave the church.
KBOI recently did a piece on this man, and here's a link to the story and video:
Two points I would like to raise here. First:  he said he has lived here in Idaho for nine years and has not been arrested one time.  Notice he didn't said say "I haven't done anything wrong."  To a person like me, that immediately translates to "I have lived here for nine years and haven't been caught."  Two:  for him to say that the simple solution is for people with kids to live in gated communities.....screw you, dude. I should NOT have to live in a gated community to simply feel safe.
I knew I was going to have to have a chat with Carter at some point because obviously the rules about playing out front needed to change. I stewed on this chat until Sunday afternoon, when I felt like I had a good outline for the talk prepared. I sat down with him and explained that the man who came to the door was a bad man who did bad things to little kids. We changed the rules about opening the front door, and we also changed the rules about when he's allowed to play out front, either alone or with his friends. It's sad that this has to happen. I hate that there are people like this man allowed out in the world, roaming streets, knocking on doors. And it makes me even more sick that we protect these people.  They are protected in prison by being placed in ad-seg. Child molesters are not only treated poorly in prison, but they are often targeted.  Rightfully so, in my opinion.  They are the scum of the scum. But why is there this unwritten rule that we should hide them away and protect them? Why not just toss them into gen-pop and see what happens? No one was there to protect their victims, why should the monster be the subject of special treatment? And certainly, if one of my neighbors were to take the law into their own hands and something mysteriously happened to this man.....I sure wouldn't bat a lash.
And that's how I feel about all that.  ;)

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