Aren’t All Sex Offenders Guilty???
It’s always a bad thing when a child is hurt, whether it be physically or psychologically. It hurts us as adults to see a child mistreated, abused, or neglected.
That said, not every person who is accused of a crime like aggravated sexual assault, indecency with a child, or continuous sexual abuse of a child is actually guilty. This sounds like common sense, but it goes against every natural urge we have to protect children from bad people.
It doesn’t take anything more than knowing someone has been charged with a sex crime to provoke a reaction. If you don’t handle these types of cases, it’s a natural assumption that the government would only move forward on such serious, life-altering charges with good, solid evidence.
That assumption would be completely incorrect.
I have seen many cases that are based on nothing more than a child’s statement. Many of these children also have histories that should cause some healthy skepticism and prompt further investigation. If a child has previously made a false accusation, was abused or neglected at a young age, or is experiencing hallucinations at the time the report is made, these are BIG red flags.
And it generally makes no difference.
So here we are at the beginning of a trial and the panel walks in for jury selection.
They know the charge and look at the person sitting next to me, positive that he is the scum of the earth.
Obviously, I am guilty by association for trying to help him get away with it.
I can’t blame anyone for hating the heinous act associated with the charge, but I know that, in this case, the charges are based on one, extremely questionable story from a child.
This child (a) doesn’t have a fully developed, adult brain, and (b) has a distorted perception due to unresolved psychological issues.
Then the prosecutor stands up and tells the panel that the law specifically allows for convictions based on nothing more than a child’s story.
There’s a strong undercurrent of disgust.
No one wants to stick up for a child molester and point out that the law requires you to be sure beyond any and all reasonable doubt before rendering a guilty verdict.
The assumption is that there’s a damn good reason my client is on trial and all the jury has to do is wait to hear it.
Many times, that evidence never comes. And too many times, it doesn’t matter.
The conviction comes anyway because it’s just too hard to see a criminal defendant as a fellow human being who deserves to be treated fairly. And, yet, it’s still hard to care because of that underlying assumption that children don’t make up things like that.
Oh, but they do …