Friday, December 14, 2007

The law’s an ass

Two court cases have been catching a lot of attention here over the past few weeks, one essential trivial the other deeply concerning. I both cases there are serious questions about the application of the law.

The first was a young Australian bloke who threw a snowball at a Colorado ski resort co-worker. Authorities said 21-year-old Andrew Thistleton hit Michelle Oehlert with the snowball last February when both were working at a Copper Mountain ski resort rental shop.

An effing snowball, and it has cost Thistleton and his mum $20000 to defend a very serious criminal charge which should never have gone near a court. The first day of the trial was spent empanelling a jury, within an hour of the actual hearing on the second day the trial was aborted.

Oehlert, the prosecution witness, and sensing that her claim was flimsy at best tried to introduce allegations of sexual assault. So out of pocket and having gone through months of hell Andrew was told this week that the prosecutor dismissed the charge "the best interest of justice". Hardly justice served.

Rape or just dysfunctional fun?

The other case took place in an indigenous community in far north Queensland. Nine boys and men had ‘consensual’ sex with a ten year old girl. That was the court finding at least, on the prosecutors recommendation. The judge's decision? Set the rapists free.

It doesn’t help that the girl had been abused at seven. It doesn’t help that the males were from a community regarded “dysfunction - bereft of parental influence, poorly educated…” Sure there are some complex issues at play here, but not at the expense of rule of law.

IT pains Aurukun Mayor Neville Pootchemunka to say it, but the nine males who pleaded guilty to raping a 10-year-old in his community last year should be in jail. The reason it pains him is that one of the adult perpetrators is his son, Ian Koowarta.”

I am not a knee jerk punishment freak, but the messages in this, that a ten year olds acquiescence can mitigate the behaviour of young adults is plainly wrong. The world is moving rapidly to a zero tolerance on predatory sex. So it should.

I just have fears of sleazy predators seeing this episode as some sort of justification for their sick behaviour. There is no justification for, the poor dears are too dumb to know the difference…”

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