July 27, 2009
We are, as a nation, when it comes to sex, deeply insane. I am the father of five sons, all of whom at one point or another were both ten and fifteen years old. If anything so frightful, so revolting, so deeply scarring as this had happened to any of them at the hands of a pervert so vicious, I would not have rested until she was sentenced to harsh psychiatric evaluation followed by at least six weeks of group therapy, perhaps alongside the Prime Minister of Italy.
Under state statute, the only prison term possible for the former Tacoma school teacher, convicted of sex crimes involving a 10-year-old student and his older brother, was 25 years to life in prison…
Prosecutors contended that Rice had a sexual relationship with the 10-year-old boy for several months while she was a teacher at Tacoma’s McKinley Elementary School. The ordeal came to light in August 2007, when Rice sneaked the boy out of his home and drove him to Ellensburg. The two had sex at a rest stop before she returned him to his home, court documents alleged.
During the course of the investigation, detectives learned Rice also had sex twice with the boy’s older brother in July 2007. The boy was 15 at the time.
Steiner convicted Rice in April of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree child molestation and two counts of third-degree rape. He found the kidnapping and child molestation charges were predatory offenses because the victim was a student. The predatory designation – required when a teacher is accused of certain sex crimes – meant Rice faced stiffer sentencing requirements.
Posted by Jerome Doolittle at July 27, 2009 10:49 AM
So, are you advocating different sentencing for when the teacher is a female vs. a male; or is it also okay/not-that-bad for a male teacher to have sex with a fourth/fifth-grade girl or boy?
I am advocating that we all take a few steps backward, and several deep breaths, and try to relax about questions of sexuality. Twenty-five years for this pathetic woman's offense is primitive, cruel, priest-ridden, psychologically sick, vicious and — of course — utterly useless either to her, the boys involved or to society. If those boys have suffered any psychic or emotional damage at all, it has certainly come not from Ms. Rice but from the sick, intolerant reaction of the society around them. The cops, the DA, the newspapers, the churches, the general ignorance, paranoia, hypocrisy and intolerance displayed by adult Americans — these are what is likely to have harmed the boys in question, if indeed they suffered harm.
One size does not fit all, and the blanket use of the word "rape" in cases of age disparity adds immeasurably to the trouble. Statutory"rape" suggests to the invincibly ignorant — and there are hundreds of millions of Americans in that demographic — an act of vaginal or anal penetration performed on an unwilling subject by force or the threat of it.
As to sentencing in these cases, I am saying that it is generally grotesquely long (as it is throughout our criminal justice system). In many cases the criminal statutes are the wrong tool anyway, most particularly when little or no coercion is involved. To me this is obvious. We have seen case after case where one of the willing young partners to a sex act has been jailed because he or she is a few months or years older than the other. This presumes that the younger of the two has been rendered incapable of free will by his or her youth. She or he may have seemed to acquiesce, but in reality was no more capable of refusing sex than a corpse would be. This would strike the average 15-year-old as nonsense, which indeed it is.
The law is a clumsy and brainless tool to use in most of these cases — especially so in a country whose laws are constructed to appease a citizenry simultaneous addled, repelled, and besotted by sex, and pathologically protective of its children. Each case is different. The law is too clumsy to recognize those differences, and we Americans are too frightened, confused, and uninformed to do it for ourselves. (How many people are aware,for instance, that the rate of recidivism among sex offenders is far lower than that for almost any other class of criminals? That's what the Justice Department says, however: http://badattitudes.com/MT/archives/2007/06/the_pervs_in_th.html)
Well, enough of this ranting. I can probably be provoked into a little more, though, so have at it.
You are dead right, this country is fucking looney about sex and obsessed with controlling it or limiting it according to strict religious principles we give the Taliban a run for their money when it comes to craziness about sex. I appreciate the explanation because I wasn't sure where you stood from your post. I'm in Georgia where "we incarcerated some poor 17 year old for several years and were working on a life sentence or some such craziness for sex with a consenting 15 year old. I think he still got stuck with the sexual predator designation which makes it almost impossible to live anywhere and gives the victim a lifetime sentence of monitoring and punishment by the police.
She's still a pedophile. Would you want her around your 10-year-old?
Of course not, Joyful. She should be fired from her teaching job (as I imagine she was). But she shouldn't go to jail for 25 years, and possibly not at all. These things are better handled — except for the most extreme cases — by doctors, mental health workers, family, church.
That said, I doubt if even the ten-year-old will be seriously or permanently harmed. As to the 15-year-old, he's probably the envy of every other boy in the sophomore class. Nor do I mean that in a totally flippant way. Read Pete Hamill's memoirs, "A Drinking Life." When he was that age he had an affair with a much older life model for his art school class. It was, quite plainly, a high point in his life. He remembers her with love and gratitude.
Even when these things more clearly fit the common stereotype of sexual predation, they are not always emotionally or psychologically crippling (although sometimes they are, as too are sexual entanglements between people of the same age). I know one male victim of a predatory Catholic priest who suffered a severe breakdown many years later, losing his wife and family. And I know another man, my age, who was the victim of a classic pedophile teacher when he was 13. He went on to be a an enthusiastically practicing heterosexual, married twice and with six kids. I asked him once whether his adolescent experience had left any permanent marks. He said not really. He'd just as soon it hadn't happened, he told me, but it didn't seem to have made much difference in his life.
Each case is different, and to criminalize them all does more harm than good.
I could not agree more. Each case is different. In different societies, young men and women get married at 15 or 16. They certainly are capable of thinking for themselves... We seem to have the most backward attitude about human sexuality here.
These things are better handled by...I would have left off the Church from that list as they seem to be behind some of the most looney behavior imaginable and very much into the punishment angle of things including the death penalty.
Know what you mean, knowdoubt. But churches differ, too. I know several ministers locally whose advice and counsel I would trust in these sorts of situations.
You're right, but in general my religious friends, more often than not, are very unforgiving. I'm in the deep. red South and the kind you're talking about are few and far between around here.
I've always found it interesting that we will try teenagers as adults for murder but when it comes to sex, we're crazy to "protect" them. Somehow they are supposed to be adult enough to take responsibility for murder but not sex.