Our "Rant" telephone line serves at least one useful purpose -- it provides a quick look at what people in town are collectively outraged over at any given moment. Right now, a lot of people calling in -- especially the women -- are beside themselves over Bobby Joe Flores, the molester who gave a 1-year-old an STD. They are especially angry that he could have faced up to 20 years but will get out in about six months because Indian's attempts to protect the privacy of those with STDs are having some unintended consequences:
(Prosecutor Karen) Richards says her staff faced one big challenge, in that the victim was an infant, and couldn't take the witness stand to identify her attacker.
But beyond that, state law currently holds that in a crime involving a sexually transmitted disease, a defendant's health department records can't be turned over to prosecutors without the person's consent.
Richards says that feature of the law needs to be overhauled.
Yeah, no kidding. And I got a letter to the editor this morning from a woman who said it was "just a little ridiculous" that a 27-year-old man recently got 12 years for groping a girl. "Something is very wrong when we think groping is worse than molesting an infant," she wrote. There are always sentencing anomalies, often involving some people who get off lightly and some who don't for what amounts to the same crime. That can't be helped when plea bargaining is a fact of criminal-justice life. But sometimes the disparities are so blatant that they point to a defect in the system, which, in this case, Prosecutor Richards seems to have identified.