During my sixteen years as a state and federal prosecutor, I investigated and prosecuted defendants in practically every age bracket. One of my earliest cases was against a grandfather and grandmother, whose precious young granddaughters told a nearly unbelievable tale of being repeatedly sexually assaulted by both grandfather and grandmother. Often, grandmother would abuse the children while grandfather watched. Sadly, the jury couldn’t accept the grandmother was guilty, and only convicted the grandfather. One of my saddest cases was a gang rape of a mentally challenged thirteen year-old girl, who was assaulted by approximately twenty males, the youngest of whom was twelve.
In every case where the defendant was either unusually young, or particularly old, defense attorneys used their age as some kind of excuse. In the young, it was that the defendant simply didn’t know better. In the old, the argument was always that the defendant, especially in child pornography cases where we didn’t have an identified child in our jurisdiction, couldn’t possibly be a risk to children given his advanced age. The refrain was the same: he is too old to be sexually attracted to, much less assault, an actual child. I always told the court this argument was false, and that every defendant is capable of assaulting a child, and those who are sexually attracted to children will always pose a risk to them.
This week in Pennsylvania, my point was sadly proven. An 80 year-old man was charged with filming his sexual assaults of a girl for several years beginning when she was fifteen. Please see the story here: http://bit.ly/16J8T7O
When will judges learn???