When this time comes, and it will, I'll be the first in line.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
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FBI: Staffer for Sen. Maria Cantwell sought tryst with boy
A U.S. Senate aide was arrested Friday after allegedly arranging a lunchtime sexual encounter with a teenage boy, according to federal court records. James McHaney, 28, was nabbed by FBI agents after he arranged the afternoon liaison via a "cooperating witness" working with investigators. According to the below felony complaint and an accompanying statement of facts filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the CW and McHaney were conversing online Friday afternoon when the CW asked whether McHaney was interested in engaging in anal sex with a 13-year-old boy. "I'll be there," McHaney allegedly replied. He later asked for a photo of the child with whom he and the CW would have sex and whether the boy had "any pubes." When told no, McHaney allegedly replied, "That's hot." McHaney was nabbed in the lobby of an unnamed "predetermined location," where he had arranged to meet CW. Until his arrest Friday, McHaney had worked as the D.C. scheduler for Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell. A caller to Cantwell's office was told late today that, as of last Friday, McHaney no longer worked for the Washington state politician. (2 pages)
TSG TV: Nearly 50 new clips, from mind-bending drugs to body-bending swimsuits
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Kenneth Hailey, a sex offender now free, wants to spend his last days with his sister, but she lives near a school.
Terminally ill with a brain tumor, convicted sex offender Kenneth Hailey, 51, wants to spend the last months of his life living with his sister.
On Friday however, Hailey found himself stranded in the emergency room of a Veterans Administration hospital in Los Angeles as the medical staff argued with corrections officers over his fate.
In a case that underscores the difficulties inherent to a new state law that requires the tracking and segregation of released sexual offenders, Hailey could spend his final days in a medical and legal limbo. Unable to move in with his sister, who lives within 2,000 feet of a school, Hailey is too ill to live on his own.
His sister, Walnetta Hailey, 55, of La Mesa, east of San Diego, said she knows its difficult for people to sympathize with her brother, but that the law has, in his case, inflicted severe and unforeseen consequences.
"All I know is he's a human being," she said of her brother. "He has three to six months to live. A month of it he's spent being yanked around," she said.
When Hailey, a former Navy officer, was first released from prison, he was homeless until his then-estranged sister decided to take him in. But when parole officers learned that the proximity of her home to a school put Hailey in violation of Jessica's Law, officials said he had to return to Los Angeles County.
Because Hailey didn't have a place to stay in Los Angeles County, corrections officials put him in an Inglewood motel.
After a day and a half at the motel, Hailey disappeared and showed up two days later, disoriented and sick at the Los Angeles VA hospital, said Ken Rosenfeld, director of the palliative care services at the facility.
Rosenfeld described Hailey's condition: He's "not super steady. He has lots of problems with memory. He can't speak very easily. He has a difficult time concentrating on things. This is going to get worse over time."
Hailey was convicted of rape in Baltimore in 1982, his sister said. California sex offender data say he was convicted of lewd or lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14. His sister said the conviction did not involve a minor.
Even so, Walnetta Hailey said her brother has paid his dues and now needs to be cared for.
"He has already served his time for the crime. He has not committed the same crime. Yet he cannot just die with a little dignity and peace?
"I voted for these laws," she said. "I didn't realize just how it was going to affect me."
On Friday, as Rosenfeld handled Hailey's case, he seemed directly affected by the difficulties posed by the law's residential limitations on sex offenders.
"It's an amazing example of some of the challenges people are facing because of Jessica's Law," he said.
At one point Friday, authorities told Rosenfeld that Hailey would be arrested if they tried to send him back across county lines. After that, Rosenfeld picked up the phone and called corrections officers directly.
By afternoon a compromise had been struck: Hailey will be allowed to stay at a San Diego VA hospital.
The law makes things difficult for corrections officials trying to find a place for ailing sex offenders, said A.E. Smith, administrator with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, who supervised those who handled the case.
"Jessica's law makes things extremely difficult," he said. "It makes my job extremely difficult."
On Friday afternoon, Hailey sat in the VA's emergency room waiting for corrections officers who were supposed to escort him to San Diego. He didn't remember how he got to the hospital or how long he'd been there. He pointed to the scar on the right side of his head, where doctors had operated to remove several tumors.
"It's messed up my mind," he said. "I find myself places I don't realize." He put his hands to his mouth as he tried to explain that he can't say what he thinks.
He said he was happy to be going to San Diego, even if it was to a hospital and not to his sister's home.
"My sister's down there. I feel safe down there."
At the end of the night, as Hailey made his way back to San Diego accompanied by corrections officers, his sister was told he might not be able to stay.
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More with the word "punish", thus meaning these laws ARE punishment and not restrictive, like they always say. So therefore they are unconstitutional due to being punishment after the fact (i.e. Ex-post facto).
Gov. John Lynch has unveiled one of his top legislative goals, the Online Child Safety Act, to punish would-be Internet seducers of kids under age 13.
Sentences would range from three and a half to seven years for trying to meet with a child, if the would-be victim shows up with a badge and a gun. The same suspect would face enhanced penalties for exploiting a real child by using the Internet. A second offense would earn another 10 to 20 years. A third would be 15 to 30 more years.
Convicted offenders would also register their e-mail addresses online the way they now report their homes.
"We will not allow sexual predators to hide in the shadows of cyberspace," Lynch said.
Assistant Attorney General Ann Rice said police around the state are good at finding adults posing as kids in chat rooms.
"They can go online and in five or 10 minutes, pick out people engaged in luring or grooming practices," Rice said. "It's pretty easy to do."
The bill has won GOP support, including co-sponsor David Welch, a state rep from Kingston. He's the former chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee.
"Like everything else," Welch said, "our laws need to adapt with the times, and I think this legislation brings us into the 21st century."
Lt. Tim Brownell, of the Portsmouth police, heads the Northern New England Task Force on Internet crimes against children. He said the longer sentences should be a deterrent.
"And if they're in jail, they can't do the crime," he added. "This crosses all economic strata. It's people affluent enough to fly a thousand miles to meet up with a child in Portsmouth. It's homeless people using the Internet in a town library. If I had someone working full time on this, they could catch one or two people a week, easily. They're not as anonymous online as they think."
Kristyn Bernier, a Portsmouth detective, has nailed six online stalkers of children in about a year. To hook them, she starts explicit conversations with them by posing online as a child. There's no crime to prosecute unless the officer identifies herself as underage.
"The Internet is a double-edged sword," Bernier said. "Child molesters have a whole new realm to reach children they didn't have even five years ago."
The bill cracks down on child pornography, too. Each image of child is a possible felony, but prosecutors have to prove who and how old the child was in the photo. The young faces and videos become immortal on the Web, Bernier said. Nobody can get rid of them.
"At the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, they work tirelessly to identify those children," she added.
Lawmakers are pushing a related bill to bring the state's sex offender registry into compliance with the tough standards of the national Adam Walsh Act. There is federal money at stake, up to $200,000 in Byrne law enforcement grants for innovations in crime control.
Among other things, the New Hampshire bill would post an offender's work address on the state's Internet registry.
Not everyone would go that far. Bernier said blocking a person's chance to work could leave them sitting around all day without a purpose or paycheck.
"The idle time creates more opportunity to re-offend," she warned.
Another New Hampshire bill would give prosecutors extra time to file civil commitment petitions against a dangerous sex offender with a personality disorder who is ready to leave prison.
Under last year's landmark sexual predator law, authorities can seek to hold a person like that an extra five years for intensive treatment even though this level of care does not exist.
The state Supreme Court ruled this past week that the hearings and trials for people facing these proceedings are presumptively open to the public, and a judge must cite a compelling reason to seal any part of the process.
The Union Leader and the Concord Monitor won their appeals to gain access to the evidence and transcripts in the case against convicted rapist William DeCato, the first inmate the state tried to keep past his original release date.
But prosecutors dropped their claim against DeCato days before his scheduled trial, with little explanation. The high court said there's so much riding on the new law the public should see for itself the basis for any verdicts.
Rehab at Pease
It looked like a slam dunk this summer. The state's Certificate of Need Board had determined the Seacoast needs another 33 beds with a hospital level of rehabilitation care. That's for people recovering from strokes, car wrecks, back injuries, major burns and brain injuries.
Northeast Rehabilitation Network, a two-state proprietary chain of health agencies, applied for and got state approval to build a one-story, 33-bed facility that would cost $15.6 million and create the equivalent of 80 full-time jobs. Northeast would offer aggressive treatment in a hospital setting to minimize a patient's long-term disabilities and teach them to cope.
The company narrowed its plans this summer to a couple of sites at Pease International Tradeport, and picked one with about 12 acres. The Pease board is scheduled to discuss and possibly vote to offer a purchase option on that lot at its Jan. 17 meeting.
But that's the same day the Certificate of Need Board reconsiders its approval for the hospital. Those officials will hear testimony from the public, from the Rehab Network and from its opponents in a quasi-judicial adversarial hearing.
The Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Haverhill, Mass., has raised objections. So has the N.H. Healthcare Association, which has eight member nursing homes in the Seacoast. These competitors warn the new facility would siphon some of their patients.
John Poirier, director of the Healthcare Association, said the average skilled nursing home charges between $300 and $400 a day, compared with $1,000 for a rehab hospital. By his calculations, the service area will not generate the 600 patients a year Northeast would need for profitability.
"Fewer than 300 a year go outside the region now for care, including to Whittier and the Northeast facility in Salem," he said.
Poirier suggested the Certificate of Need Board wait until Northeast knows for sure where it plans to build. The site at Pease could have ledge nobody knows about, forcing up the cost or scaling back the project.
"And the hospital will create demand for more specialists where the supply is limited," Poirier added. "That could drive up wages and health-care costs in the whole region. Finally, in 2003 when the CON board implemented its rules for rehab facilities, a key opponent to expanding the number of beds in the Seacoast was John Prochilo. He said it would be too expensive, and there was no need."
Northeast CEO John Prochilo defended his plans as a boon to the acute care hospitals in Dover, Rochester, Portsmouth and Exeter. All four have submitted testimonials in favor of the newcomer to town.
Prochilo said he fully expects approval on the building site Jan. 17, probably in time to report that news to the Certificate of Need Board. He challenged Poirier's cost figures, saying skilled nursing homes charge between $300 and $600 a day. Their average length of stay is 27 days, and it's half that long at a rehab hospital.
Prochilo based his opinion four years ago on the population projections available at the time. The latest demographic forecasts support building the Northeast facility, he said.
He promised not to start a "nuclear war" over medical salaries. His top managers would work out of the Salem office, and they are already company employees.
"We're banking on the therapy training programs at UNH and the tech colleges at Pease," he explained. "We'll help them."
Chris Dornin, of Golden Dome News, covers the Statehouse in Concord.
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THE VICTIMS A drug informant said she was coerced into sex. Two other women came forward. WHAT'S NEXT Shawn Pringle faces up to 3 years in prison when he is sentenced in March.
A former Jacksonville narcotics detective accused of sexually assaulting women while on duty faces up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to two felonies, including sexual battery.
Shawn Mario Pringle, 38, will be sentenced in March. He will be required to register as a sex offender under terms of his plea agreement.
He is free on $250,000 bail and is required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet to monitor his movements, said Assistant State Attorney Julie Schlax.
Pringle quit the police force and was arrested in 2004 after a confidential drug informant told investigators he forced her to have sex with him by threatening her with prison and loss of her children.
Two other women subsequently came forward and accused him of using his police blue lights to pull them over and assault them in 2000 and 2002.
Prosecutors identified four additional victims in court.
Pringle eventually was charged with two counts of sexual battery by a law enforcement officer and one count each of attempted sexual battery, misuse of his public office and petit theft.
He pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexual battery and misuse of his office.
Pringle's lawyer was out of town Friday and couldn't be reached. But Schlax, who heads the State Attorney's Office Special Assault Unit, said the case against Pringle was complicated by several issues.
"All of the victims were extremely reluctant to testify," she said. "It was going to be an extremely difficult case to put on."
Additionally, she said, there was no physical evidence linking him to the crimes, and the judge hadn't decided whether prosecutors could use the other identified victims as pattern evidence against Pringle. He had been scheduled for trial Jan. 28.
Pringle could spend up to 12 years on sex offender probation after his prison sentence, meaning he would be required to undergo psycho-sexual counseling and monitoring.
Schlax said the case has lingered in the court system because Pringle has had three different attorneys, and a number of the victims and witnesses are scattered around the country and hard to locate. She said lawyers spent hours arguing in court whether Pringle had the means to pay for tests he and his attorneys requested.
Pringle joined the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in 1992 after working for sheriff's offices in Clay and Putnam counties. He was commended in Putnam County for saving a teenage girl who nearly drowned in the St. Johns River.
His Jacksonville personnel file included 16 commendations but also 10 sustained disciplinary charges for tardiness, unbecoming conduct, incompetence and failure to conform to work standards.
In 1999, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge, but the case was dropped after his girlfriend refused to cooperate.
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Another San Antonio police officer was arrested and charged with sexual assault.
Officer Raymond Ramos turned himself in Friday morning after two other officers were arrested on similar charges Thursday.
It's a case that sparked a series of rape investigations involving South Side police. Investigators say Officer Raymond Ramos walked right into this substation and told police, "I'm the officer wanted. I'm the one you're looking for." Then Ramos was handcuffed and walked to the magistrates office where the rookie officer was charged with rape. Ramos is accused of raping a 28-year-old woman last month.
The woman told investigators a uniformed officer, later identified as Ramos, stopped her as she was walking along Somerset near Pitluck on the city's South Side. According to his arrest warrant, Ramos found heroin, cocaine, 2 syringes, and other drug paraphernalia on the woman, but never arrested her. The woman said Ramos drove her a few blocks away to a secluded area of Golden Park and forced her to do sex acts.
The woman says as soon as Ramos released her, she began running through a field toward Somerset Road. As soon as she didn't spot Ramos behind her, she began screaming for help.
Investigators say they were able to confirm the woman's story and Ramos' involvement using the GPS tracking from his patrol car.
Ramos' arrest warrant also shows detectives seized Ramos' uniform pants, where they found both the woman's DNA and Ramos'.
Ramos is now charged with sexual assault, violation of civil rights, and official oppression.
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By Avery Walker | RAW STORY COLUMNIST
They’re lurking in the shadows, and behind every corner. They’re tirelessly, ceaselessly plotting and scheming, just waiting for the first opportunity to make their move. They’ll destroy you and all that you hold dear. I am talking, of course, about sex offenders.
You see, sex offenders aren’t just the rapists and pedophiles that hog all the publicity. They’re also flashers, exhibitionists, people who couldn’t “hold it” and sought relief in what they thought was an empty alley, couples who thought they were alone in the woods, and guys who really, really didn’t go over well with the parents—you know, people just like you and me. The only difference, in these cases, is that they were caught. Well, maybe I shouldn’t speak for you.
And that's not even taking into account the fact that an accusation of sexual wrongdoing will likely narrow a jury's view of "reasonable doubt," making for many convictions based solely on an accuser's testimony.
So, let me make this clear, before I continue: I’m not here to defend rapists, who I, in fact, advocate far tougher sentencing for. And I’m not here to say that there’s any excuse for a proven pedophile to be walking the streets, ever. Call me simple-minded and old-fashioned, but I think if someone is a danger to society, they shouldn’t be released from prison. I’m not here to defend predators. I’m here to defend perverts.
Furthermore, I believe that only by acknowledging our own inner perverts can we all get our collective heads on straight enough to tell the difference between a rape and an expression of poor judgment or taste.
I happen to live in California, where a sex offender is required to register if they have committed, for instance: Indecent exposure, lewd or lascivious acts, sodomy (not to be confused with “sodomy with force or violence,” with someone who is drugged or unconscious, or in conjunction with a criminal offense, which are separate violations,) oral copulation (same distinctions again not made,) penetration with a foreign object (ditto,) annoyance of a child under 18 (look up the legal definition of “annoy,” I beg you,) assisting someone else with indecent exposure (look out, look-outs,) and the catalog of offenses that fall under the laughably-broad umbrella of statutory rape. As a result of this, um, rigid standard, there are over 100,000 registered sex offenders in the State of California. Simply forgetting to renew their yearly registration can result in a sentence of 25 to life. Admittedly, I forgot to send in my car registration once, and the penalty was nearly as severe.
I know what you’re thinking: These non-violent offenses are vetted by the courts to ensure that registration is only required if they are committed in conjunction with a violent or traumatizing crime. Unfortunately, unicorns and zero calorie chocolate cake will be plentiful before all judges are fair, or honest.
Raw Story readers may recall the case of the man who grabbed a girl’s arm while yelling at her for walking in front of traffic and as a result, was forced by a judge to register as a sex offender—even though he wasn’t even convicted of a crime. Was it appropriate for a grown man to grab a strange girl’s arm, and yell at her in public? No. But it hardly constitutes a danger to society. Only the justice system could be so perverse as to sexualize this sort of contact.
We’ve also all read or heard tales of 18 year old boys convicted of having intimate contact with their 17 year old girlfriends. Is it a good choice for an 18 year old boy to engage in sexual—or merely “lewd”—acts with a 17 year old girl? No. But, unless she’s drugged, forced, or severely disabled, this doesn't amount to anything more than one of those terrible old after school specials.
In the event of a hurricane, the state of Florida would have these people wear an ID badge and report to the nearest prison, as they have been barred from hurricane shelters. This bit of histrionics beat out an earlier plan, which would have offered no shelter to convicted sex offenders. Florida: Our state legislature can out-crazy yours.
Under laws in some states, these people would have to post signs in their front yards for years, or even the rest of their lives, announcing to their neighbors that they had committed a sex crime. What logical purpose this serves is beyond me. “Watch out, kids, the man living there was convicted of public indecency—and he eats children! He might jump out at any moment!” I’m waiting for the first kid to be hit by a car while walking a wide circle around one of these houses. Not that it would be the first death attributed to this rather splashy take on criminal justice; people have committed suicide over these signs.
The Napa Sentinel, a local publication that can charitably be described as a rag and rather desperately wants to think of itself as the last standing member of the free press, went so far as to publish the photographs of 42 local sex offenders, without taking the time—or showing the responsibility—to list the offenses involved. How many alley-pissers were shamed in front of their community as deviants or sexual predators? How many of them have wives, husbands, and children whose lives were also destroyed? How many of them had wives, husbands and children that didn’t know? (Okay, that last one doesn't help my argument, but could have been one hilarious episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond.")
But these are obvious reasons to remove the popular, but shameful, sex offender registries in this country. Want one maybe you haven’t thought about? Have you ever considered that you might be a sex offender? Okay, so you’ve peed, drunk, behind a dumpster. But most COPS would understand (unless they happen to be irritated at you for some reason, which can sometimes include things like the color of your skin,) and a Judge might not make you register—it’s not like you own kiddie porn or anything.
Or do you? The September 1984 issue of Penthouse magazine published compromising photographs of then-Miss America Vanessa Williams. Williams lost her title because of the ensuing fallout. Several films and hit singles later, I think we can all agree she got the last laugh, but the issue obviously made its way into many a household before it blew over.
That same magazine, purchased not just by regular readers, but news junkies, pop-culture addicts and any curious lookie-loo who wanted to see the beautiful Ms. Williams topless, also featured nude images of Traci Lords, an adult film starlet born in 1968. I’ll give you a moment to do the math… That’s right, everyone who bought that headline-making issue—and every collector purchasing one since—came into possession of child pornography. Most (since that one was obviously a “keeper,”) still are.
But it doesn’t end there. Of Lords’ 50+ adult films, just one was filmed after her 18th birthday. The only reason prosecutors failed to convict her employers was that she had used a US passport to “verify” her age—the government had made the error. Video companies lost millions destroying her films, but does anybody seriously believe that the average video voyeur either searched their collection for Lords’ name and destroyed all copies, or intended to possess child pornography? Let's face it, a sixteen year old, especially a naked one, does not look a child in most cases. (I say this because clothing choices often indicate age, not because I've seen a statistically solid sample of nude sixteen year olds.)
It’s unlikely that, in the case of Lords, a video owner would be prosecuted. But if you believe this is an isolated incident, I fear you’re quite naïve. The world wide web has swung the doors of exhibitionism wide open for minors to post images of themselves almost anywhere. Not only are there adults (who should clearly be located and arrested,) distributing images of minors online, but teenagers themselves are sharing images of their naughty bits with each other in cyberland. You could easily be surfing Google images, Altavista, or even Rupert Murdoch’s Myspace and end up with kiddie porn on your PC. And, you’d be a sex offender of the worst kind.
Even given these examples of how bureaucratic idiocy is destroying lives as you read this, the best argument against the sex offender registry is still the most obvious: Why is there a need? Pedophiles and rapists have a tendency to repeat their crimes. Call me crazy, but I say that the best solution is simply not to release them back onto the streets unless we’re damned certain they won’t strike again. While researching this piece, I came across a phrase I’d never seen before, “misdemeanor child molestation.” Let me repeat that, so that you can really take it in: Misdemeanor child molestation. How on earth does that work? The damage done by child molestation is a breaking of trust and boundaries between and adult and child to exploit the child, leading to a lifetime of sexual trauma to work out. It isn’t the kind of thing that can be done “just a little.”
We make up excuses about overcrowded prisons, but next to murder, rape is the most grievous crime one could commit. Meanwhile, prisons are flooded with non-violent drug offenders because politicians wanted to look tough. I’m thinking we could make room for the rapists, if we really wanted to. Sadly, the simple fact of the matter is that we don’t.
To put it bluntly, society wants a sex offender registry more than it wants safe streets. It isn’t about threat at all. I, for one, would rather know if my neighbor had been convicted of breaking-in entering than indecent exposure. It’s about using the justice system to satisfy the prurient interests of the masses, pure and simple. It’s the Scarlet A for flashers and peeping toms, because we, like all societies, get off on the sexual indiscretions of our neighbors. The song used to ask, “Who’s Cheatin’ Who?” It’s a very true, telling lyric. We want to know who’s doing the things that at once repulse and excite us, in some sick way, deriving vicarious pleasure from it. Today, it would have to have the unfortunately wordy title, “Who’s Had Sex With That Girl Who Blacked Out at a Frat Party?”
These bizarre repressed urges have lead us to do far more vile things than a sex offender registry, but it is part of the same phenomenon. Unfaithful women have been subjected to rape in many societies, or sexual desecration by an entire town. Sexual humiliation has always been the first choice of punishment for women who behaved improperly.
And nobody can turn sexual excitement into holier-than-thou fervor better than modern-day“gay bashers,” both at home and abroad. Here, assaults on homosexuals often include rape, usually involving an entire group of men on one battered and traumatized, outnumbered victim. Can we say, “Reaction formation,” boys and girls? Studies have also indicated that men who express strong negative feelings about homosexuality in fact respond physically to gay porn, while those who do not are able to stand freely during the climax of “How the West Was Hung.” More disturbing are the tales out of Iran, where men convicted of homosexual acts claim they were regularly raped as part of their torture. News flash, boys: If you’re putting it in another guy, that’s gay, no matter how you dress it up. And if you can manage, you like it, and you’re gay, too. The only difference is how you express it.
Again, I can hear people saying that these are not fair comparisons. I would remind them that Lawrence v Texas is just months behind us (pardon the phrase,) and that there are those among us who would consider breastfeeding indecent exposure. What is perverse one year, or to one person, is perfectly acceptable another. Our means of acting out these impulses have changed, but the real problem has remeained the same. And, at some point in the future, they’ll be flabbergasted at the crude standards we use to distinguish statutory rape, the same way we are by any number of puritan laws. It all seems so obvious, from a distance.
So, to those who say that sex offender registries are necessary because of a proclivity for relapse, I say, work harder to get the dangerous criminals off the streets. More importantly, let go of the morally wrong, and logically flawed idea that any crime that is sexual in nature is a threat to public safety.
And, though I don’t want to get particularly preachy or sanctimonious… Please, do the justice system a favor, and embrace your inner pervert. Accept it before it does something stupid—like making someone put a sign in their yard because they got caught administering oral sex behind a 7/11 to someone they just met in a bar. Accept that the babysitter does have some physical attributes that your middle-aged wife may now lack, and accept that you cannot under any circumstances act on those urges. And let go. Because there are real, dangerous criminals out there, and we need desperately to be able to tell one from the other.
Avery Walker is a Managing Editor of Raw Story. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.