The Polygamist Predicament
Seventeen years old Genarlow Wilson was arrested in the state of Georgia for indulging in oral sex with a girl two years his junior. He was convicted of aggravated child molestation. He received a ten year prison sentence after refusing to plea bargain and admitting guilt. On October 26 of 2007, the Georgia State Supreme Court ruled in a four to three split that Wilson’s sentence was cruel and unusual and ordered him release. It was written in the majority decision, although society has a significant interest in protecting children from premature sexual activity, we must acknowledge that Wilson’s crime does not rise to the level of culpability of adults who prey on children and that, for the law to punish Wilson as it would an adult, with the extraordinarily harsh punishment of ten years in prison without the possibility of probation or parole, appears to be grossly disproportionate to his crime.
Today, in San Angelo, Texas, the state is taking great pains to make sure everything stays proper in its investigation of accusations of child abuse in the polygamist ranch. There is a possibility that at this ranch there is a history of girls as young as sixteen years of age giving birth to babies impregnated by men as old as fifty years or so. If the girl is giving birth at age sixteen, chances are good the sex that resulted in pregnancy happened when she was fifteen.
Texas is a state that prides itself on its inability to tolerate crime unless it is of a corporate nature. After all, this is the same state that allowed Kenny Boy Lay and his posse to develop the infamous Enron debacle. The Texas Department of Justice will kill a man on the flimsiest of evidence so flimsy the paper it would be written on wouldn’t even make a good ass wipe. If asked, most Texans will tell you that they believe their state has mistakenly killed innocent people in its rush to administer justice. However, if you asked Texans if they thought the state should stop capitol punishment, most people would reply with a hearty hell no. This is the state that sentenced fourteen years old Shaquanda Cotton to juvenile detention with the Texas Youth Commission for shoving a hall monitor at her high school in Paris, Texas. People here follow a simple philosophy of no justice is too big, no sentence is too big.
As I understand the law, Texas does not acknowledge the marriage of polygamist. As far as the state is concerned these people never filed papers with the state saying that they are married. So in essence, these people who claim that they are married are just shacking up and living in sin. Therefore, although they claim to be married the marriage is not sanctioned by the state. A polygamist is not recognized until he submits document to the state of multiple marriages. So this is why polygamist can live in the state without fear of running afoul of the law. I’m not a lawyer so please forgive my inaccurate laymen’s legalese. Like the majority of the states, Texas does not want to be an accessory to a bigamist.
According to ABC News, the Texas Rangers were involved in the arrest of a Colorado woman who they claimed pretended to be one of the many sixteen year old girls living in the polygamist compound in San Angelo, Texas, sexually abused and locked in a basement. The thirty three year old woman was arrested and is being charged with filing a false report. The phone call from this woman that sparked what has become one of the largest child custody cases in history. The resulting raid on the compound netted four hundred sixteen children being taken into protective custody. Hundreds of lawyers from across the state are participating in the legal representation of the children and the mothers. According to court documents, the call originated from a young under aged mother who called herself Sarah, said she was being physically and sexually abused by her adult husband, court documents say.
Texas child protection lawyers have said that they believe the girl does exist, even though they have not found her. Even the Federal Bureau of Investigations is assisting in this investigation. Filing a false report appears to be a federal offense. Lord knows no one ever calls the police and makes a false report for fear of breaking federal law. There is that special federal task force that deals with criminals making false police reports because it is such a national problem. The fact that there are so many people making fake phone calls is a nationwide epidemic. And the fact that the call may have actually resulted in the rescue of four hundred sixteen children from a group of men whose religious practice allows them to practice statutory rape.
It is easy to sit back and think that this whole thing was little more than a hoax. For some reason a black woman in Colorado is trying to throw a monkey wrench into the happenings at an all white dude ranch in the heart of Texas. But, child protection lawyers continue to believe the girl Sarah does exist, even though they have not been able to find and/or identify her. In other words, there’s every reason in the world to believe that old men are having sex with under aged girls. Back in Georgia, it was written that society has a significant interest in protecting children from premature sexual activity from adults who prey on children. Maybe Texas sees things just a little bit differently.
People in Georgia would send a seventeen year old to jail for ten years for having sex with a fifteen year old. But people in Texas, who are more than happy to support a judicial system that would be most likely to kill an innocent man, would tolerate a religious compound that would promote the rape of children. Sixteen year old girls giving birth were impregnated by somebody. And if they’re calling men in their fifties their spiritual husbands it’s a fair bet that there was no immaculate conception going on here. But it is very interesting that the first arrest associated with this entire sordid episode is of a single woman making prank phone calls up in Colorado instead of one of the men with a penchant for young girls.