What happened to Zach Anderson shouldn't happen to anyone. The 19-year-old used a dating app to met a young woman. They had sex. She said she was 17, but actually was 14.
Zach was arrested, convicted, sentenced, jailed and is now a registered sex offender for the next 25 years. As part of his sentence he can't use the Internet, go to a mall, or be near other teens, including his younger brother -- so he can't live at home.
The person responsible for this ruling is Judge Dennis Wiley. Wiley is a professional prude. He was apparently pissed off because Zach met the young woman via a dating app. Judge Wiley whined:
The Internet's wonderful, thank you, Al Gore. But it also is a danger. You went online, to use a fisherman's expression, trolling for women to meet and have sex with. That seems to be part of our culture now: meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this, whatsoever.
As you might suspect, Wiley is a conservative Republican. That, sadly, means a bitter old man wanting to see people suffer for their sins -- a religious theory, not a legal one.
It seems Wiley is not looking at law, but at what personally offends him. Whether a behavior is "inappropriate" or not is no concern of cops or judges. Wiley is, no doubt, offended by many "inappropriate" things, but that doesn't matter.
It's inappropriate to fart in church, giggle at a funeral, or give an old lady the finger, but these aren't crimes. Zach was found guilty of a crime because he didn't know the young lady lied to him. The sentence imposed, however, seems to have more to do with what offends Wiley than the facts of the case. Wiley is offended that people "meet, hook up, have sex." That is a personal opinion, irrelevant to the law and ought to be irrelevant to the sentence as well.
At Zach's trial, the "victim" appeared and testified on his behalf. The young woman's mother asked the judge for leniency, she said Zach didn't deserve to be punished because her daughter lied to him. "I don't want him to be a sex offender because he really is not," she said.
The "victim" feels terrible. Judge Wiley inflicted real emotional harm on her, something Zach didn't do. Both she and her mother sought counseling due to the trauma of what Wiley put them through. She begged Zach's forgiveness. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you my age. It kills me every day, knowing you are going through hell and I'm not. I want to be in trouble and not you."
It seems the only person who inflicted pain and suffering here is Wiley, but Puritanical crusaders don't care who they harm. What inspires them, as H.L. Mencken said, is "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
If the pain and suffering of the victim matters, Judge Wiley should be the one sentenced, not the one handing out the sentences. Judge Wiley is a cruel man. Sadly, he is a typical conservative for this era -- one who feels duty bound to punish sinners. He is unwilling to distinguish between vices and crimes. For the Comstocks of the world there is no difference. They see all vices as crimes and want to punish the consensual the same way they would punish real crimes.
They see no difference between rape and fornication or between homosexuality and murder. All moral issues are criminal issues in their eyes. There is nothing outside the purview of legislation. There are no limitations on the power of the state to punish sin.
The Rev. Edward Pinkney is a political activist charged with election fraud. Pinkney is African-American and his trial in Benton Harbor, which is 90 percent black, resulted in a hung jury. The powers-that-be moved the second trial to a predominantly white area and secured a conviction.
His sentence was probation. Rev. Pinkney used biblical language to condemn the judge in that case.
Judge Butzbaugh, it shall come to pass; if thou continue not to hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe to do all that is right; which I command thee this day, that all these Curses shall come upon you and your family, curses shalt be in the City of St. Joseph and Cursed shalt thou be in the field, cursed shall come upon you and your family and over take thee; cursed shall be the fruit of thy body. The Lord shall smite thee with consumption and with a fever and with an inflammation and with extreme burning. They the demons shall Pursue thee until thou persist.
Religious hyperbole, but Wiley used it to sentence Pinkney to prison for three to 10 years. He claimed it was a violation of parole, and a serious threat. Wiley said that as a reverend, Pinkney had a "direct line to the Lord, and that he is knowledgeable that the Lord is going to do these things."
Wiley said, "Those are words that would ... put the fear of God into anybody, as a threat that this could happen to them if they do not do what Mr. Pinkney wants him to do, whatever that might be." No legal scholar would take this as a serious threat, which is why the sentence was overturned, but Wiley is no scholar, just a zealot.
Consider the case of LaRue Ford, who went to the courthouse to pay traffic fines and remove the hold put on her drivers' license. She was told she had to pay an additional $45 reinstatement fee. Her response was to curse. It was an unexpected expense she wasn't prepared to cover, so, she left the courthouse. No clerks were threatened, or even felt threatened.
Judge Wiley was apparently eavesdropping on conversations between the clerks. He heard what they said regarding Ms. Ford and told them she was to be sent to his court when she returned to pay the $45 fee.
He charged Ford with contempt of court -- in regards to Wiley, anyone not in contempt isn't paying attention -- and demanded bail. Ford was forced to spend the night in jail, at the expense of taxpayers. She posted $500 cash bail the next day and was released.
It seems Judge Tight-ass wasn't happy to hear that. During the hearing, he increased the cash bail to $5,000, forcing Ford to spend 10 days in jail -- again wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars, all to punish cursing.
For that act of first-degree prudery, Judge Wiley was censured by the Judicial Tenure Commission. The Commission said Wiley was guilty of "misconduct in office," "conduct clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice," and "failure to establish, maintain, enforce, and personally observe high standards of conduct." I'd go further and say, in Wiley's own manner of thinking, his behavior is "totally inappropriate."
Inappropriate he is, but I wouldn't treat him with the same contempt he shows his victims. I think he should just be removed from office, not harassed by being on a sex offender list for the next 25 years of his life.