Showing posts with label Statutory Rape. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Statutory Rape. Show all posts

Friday, November 12, 2010

Piece of Advice #78: Mothers, don't rely on the police to do the job of a father

There have been (at least) two cases in Michigan in the last few weeks involving young girls who died tragically after having had sex with older men.  Most recently Samantha Kelly of Huron Township committed suicide.  Samantha's case is complex; she was 14 years old and apparently had consensual sex with Joseph Tarnopolski, a boy who lived a few houses down from hers.  Tarnopolski was 18 and a senior at the high school Samantha attended.  The two were friendly, Samantha was, according to initial testimony she gave police and texts she sent, anxious to lose her virginity, and they had sex while his parents were out.  Apparently it wasn't that great or things went badly afterward because she told her mother about it, and her mother (featured below) went to the police and had "rape" charges brought against Tarnopolski.  To be more precise the police charged him with Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct which broken down is penetrative sex with a minor aged 13, 14, or 15.  It carries a possible sentence of 15 years in prison.

Yes, that's right: 15 years in prison.

About three weeks later on October 18th Samantha and June Justice, her mother, gave an interview to Fox News and the story she told was different.  In the new version Tarnopolski had prevented Samantha from leaving while they were having sex and had pulled her leg when she stood up.  Samantha implied rape this time instead of consensual sex between a minor and a fledgling adult man.  It seems logical that June didn't like what the police were concluding: that her daughter had wanted and initiated sex with this boy and that she was using them in place of Samantha's missing father to punish Tarnopolski.  More drama was needed to firmly convince everyone of the victimization that had occurred.  Unfortunately for Samantha, the Fox News report named Justice, Tarnopolski, and Samantha's high school in the interview.  From there everything went down in the halls of Huron High.  Samantha was bullied, branded a liar, and made to feel unsafe.  She killed herself this week.  Without a witness to the crime or any incriminating evidence, all charges were dropped against Joseph Tarnopolski.



The second case involves another 14 year old girl having consensual sex, this time with a much older man.  Taylor M. of Harrison had a year-long affair (beginning at age 14) with Raymond Bush who was 20 years her senior.  It was apparently serious - Bush had Taylor's name tattooed on his back - until her mother discovered what was going on and involved the police.  Again Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct charges were brought, and Taylor was sent to live with her father.  Bush was told to make no contact, but he repeatedly tried to communicate with her on the days leading up to the court hearing in which she was scheduled to testify against him.  The day of the hearing Bush abducted and killed Taylor, then killed himself.

What do these cases have in common?  Young girls from broken families, insufficiently supervised and wanting to be sexually active.  Also mothers who used the police as backup to help contain their daughters' sexual exploration and punish the men who had sex with their daughters.  And long prison sentences forecast for two men.

Frankly, fourteen is too young for girls to be sexually active.  There is too much at stake physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  But it is unbelievably hypocritical to punish men who sleep with 14-year-old girls who initiate consensual sex with long prison sentences when at the same time our government and schools push for birth control and access to abortion for these same girls without the consent or knowledge of their parents.  Let's pick one.  Either these girls are girls still and should not be having sex and should also have consequences for engaging in illegal sexual conduct or they are women who can choose to have sex with whomever they like regardless of the age of their lovers.

And here's a little more brutal honesty: Samantha at least was doomed to be precociously sexual the moment the hospital nurse tagged her baby wrist with her mother's name.  According to news reports, June has four children.  Those children have three different last names.  June was willing to put her daughter's sexual experiences on Fox News to get her revenge and her time in the victim spotlight.  June has obviously made any number of bad choices and, from the looks of it, Samantha was on schedule to follow in her footsteps.  Her death is sad, but her life was undoubtedly going to be sad too.  Taylor's mother didn't know her daughter was having an affair with a 35-year-old man for an entire year.  Obviously she wasn't totally plugged in to all the critical details of her daughter's personal development.

I completely support a mother's desire to delay her daughter's sexual activity well into adulthood and marriage.  I also would be angry to find out she was involved with either of the aforementioned men.  I would actively work to cease contact and step up supervision of my daughter - because she is my investment and concern.  As long as she continues to seek out sex and have the opportunity, she will get it, especially given the number of people out there working to undermine parents' control of their children's sexual exploration.  Does it really matter whether the man she has sex with is 15, 18, or 35?  With any of them she can become pregnant, contract a disease, or grow debauched/jaded.  It's all bad.

Finally, the steep prison sentence for Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct has to be considered a factor in the above tragic outcomes.  Would Raymond Bush have abducted and murdered the girl he thought he loved if he hadn't been looking at 15 years in prison?  Would the kids at Huron High School dropped the matter if Joseph Tarnopolski hadn't been about to lose any chance at a good life?  Even if the second version of events Samantha Kelly told was correct, the punishment on the slate for Tarnopolski did not fit the crime.  People who are threatened with the complete ruination of their future often get a little twitchy.  They make impulsive decisions.  Perhaps they let their friends try to even the score.  All actions have consequences.  None of us operate in a vacuum.  The laws for Criminal Sexual Conduct need to be reworked if we as a society plan to continue encouraging young girls to explore their sexuality.  If we don't want girls to be sexual at a young age, we need to stop sexualizing them early and give them consequences too if they participate willingly in illegal sexual conduct.

Addendum 11/15/10:  Read my follow up thoughts here.