I enjoyed my “vacation” aka moving, but as I woke up this morning and booted up the laptop, some very disturbing news came across my screen.
Supreme Court of Ohio: Judges uphold decision striking down law barring officers from sex with minors.
EXCUSE ME-WHAT? MY STATE COURTS SAID WHAT?!
I honestly thought I was having a weird eye moment where I was reading things while still not awake and my brain was filling in the wrong words. So I immediately grabbed my coffee and began to pour through the court documents.
OH YES-IT’S A REAL CASE.
Now, a small disclaimer before we get into the reaction bit. I’m not in law school yet. Court documents are still kinda hard for me to digest. But just as I faithfully read through the Kesha case, the Stanford Case and others, I have tried my best here. My reaction is going to be limited to what I fully understand, as always.
And another disclaimer: I have friends who are law enforcement and they are decent, hard working people. It is not the moral, upstanding officers to whom I am referring here. I have tried to keep my sentences very specific so that there will be no confusion of message. But just in case, let me say, before we begin, that not all officers are corrupt or terrible, or anything other that the people sworn to keep citizens safe. I am talking about the ones who ARE corrupt, who are terrible, who are to blame for their heinous actions. And because of the recent tension between civilians and law enforcement, I understand that this is a touchy subject.
So if you want to read the slip opinion that I read, you can find that here.
The very first section of this slip opinion says the following (I’m copying-and-pasting):
Criminal law―Sexual battery―R.C. 2907.03(A)(13) unconstitutional―Statute violates equal protection by irrationally imposing strict liability on peace officers―Government cannot punish class of professionals without making connection between classification and prohibited act―Creating separate class for peace officers in order to subject their off-duty behavior to criminal sanctions on basis of strict liability is not rationally related to governmental interest in maintaining public confidence in law enforcement, ensuring integrity of its members, or protecting minors from sexual exploitation.
So let’s break this down, shall we? I’m going to do it the old fashioned way: “translate it” word by word.
Criminal law-Sexual battery-R.C. 2907.03(A)(13) unconstitutional-The in place statute has been interpreted to violate equal protection (The Equal Protection Clause is part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction “the equal protection of the laws”.—-took that straight from the Google page). by “irrationally” imposing strict liability on peace officers (law enforcement)-Government cannot punish a specific group of people without making the line between job title and crime well known-creating more categories of crime based on whether or not the law enforcement was committing the crime on the clock or off it on the basis that what they do off the clock isn’t really the business of the government (or in the government’s best interest to look at) because people have to maintain confidence that the law enforcement is actually maintaining high levels of integrity even if they aren’t and that applies to minors in vulnerable situations as well (except for this slip opinion, which just blew that idea out of the water).
So I know I made that paragraph a little longer. Allow me to summarize.
This case argues that, as a blanket statement, police officers cannot be held to the same standards as say mental health workers, child care providers and compulsory education professionals in the realm of sexual assault. Why is this even a case, you ask? Let me tell you.
The problem I have with this case (well, one of them anyway) is that the wording says: Irrationally imposing strict liability. Now, I highly doubt I am in the minority here-but expecting (demanding) law enforcement to refrain from sexually assaulting a child is not irrational, nor is it strict liability. It is a basic moral requirement. If we place these expectations on other professionals who look after the well being of minors, that list most assuredly should include law enforcement and peace officers. No exemptions. It isn’t unreasonable to expect law enforcement to not commit statutory rape whenever they want to. It isn’t irrational to place that expectation on them (or anyone else for that matter!). It isn’t strict to demand safety for children. It isn’t a liability to hold a human being accountable for their actions.
Here’s the first paragraph to the Cleveland 19 News article over this issue (read the full article here.):
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) –
The Ohio Supreme Court overturned the 2012 conviction of Waite Hill police officer Matthew Mole, jailed for sexual battery for having sex with a 14-year-old boy, in a tight 4-3 decision on Thursday. The ruling upholds a prior decision by the Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals stating that police officers cannot be held to a higher standard than the rest of the public when it comes to having sex with minors.
The Ohio Supreme Court (the one who rules over the very state I live in) has put their official opinion out as: “We want children to be safe, but if they’re with a police officer or other law enforcement, it would be too much hassle to keep those officers from sexually assaulting the children, so we might as well just make it legal for them to do so.
THIS IS THE PROBLEM HERE.
We have decent, self-respecting police officers working beside rapists (yes-that word IS appropriately used here) and then everyone gets a bad rep. We have lawyers (and future lawyers) working to convict pedophiles, rapists and sexual assault perps. We have judges who rule in favor of victims (except in this case, where the jury was hung and led to a mistrial). AND THEN THIS HAPPENS.
Let me be very clear about this. I do not care if both parties “claim” that it was consensual: IF YOU ENGAGE IN SEX WITH A MINOR-YOU ARE A PEDOPHILE AND A RAPIST, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PROFESSION.
This is Ohio’s Statutory Rape Law: Ohio statutory rape law is violated when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under age 16 whom they are not married to. A close in age exemption exists allowing minors aged 13 and older to consent to a partner under age 18.
I am so vehemently angry with the justice system today. This isn’t justice.