Where do you rank child molesters? Dead last on people you'd ever cross the road to help out, right? Keep that in mind as you read this story.
A convicted child rapist who is facing additional charges for child sex abuse has been set free by the Utah courts because of a loophole in the law. Lonnie Hyrum Johnson has been deemed incompetent to stand trial by doctors, so the police can't hold him any longer. So, he's competent enough to do unspeakable things to a kid (he was convicted of at least one charge, after all), but he can't be forced to pay for that? WTF Utah!
The bizarre case has frustrated prosecutors, who have argued that Johnson is a risk to the public if he's released . . . all to no avail. The legal loophole describes a person who presents a danger to the public as someone who carries the "risk of causing “serious bodily injury,” which is defined in terms of death, extreme physical pain, obvious disfigurement and “protracted loss or impairment ... of a bodily member, organ or mental faculty.” Sex crimes aren't listed, so Johnson goes free to hang out around kids and put them in danger.
Which brings up the second bizarre bit of this awful situation. The frustrated county attorney announced, "I feel there’s been enough coverage that I suspect people will have their eye on him." So he's putting that on the public now? They now have the burden on their shoulders of policing where the cops can't. They have to watch out for a guy who is a clear risk to children, and carry the burden of guilt if something happens to one of their own because they can't watch 24/7.
And those are the sane people. Read by someone crazy enough and "have their eye on him" becomes code for "take CARE of him" pretty quickly. With the way most of us think of child molesters, it's not unfathomable. It would be WRONG, of course, but there's a storied history of people in America branded heroes for taking justice into their own hands and taking out a child molester.
But I digress. It's sad that a community has to take on the mantle of protecting kids from a criminal and deviant because the law won't do it. Thank goodness the prosecutor is right, and there are people who will!
Is this law wrong? Should this guy be in prison?
Image via stevendepolo/Flickr