We live in a society where we give people second chances. Unless someone kills a person or multiple persons in a pre-meditated crime, people are usually let out of jail at some point, put on probation, and it's hoped that they'll turn their lives around. Many do. Many, unfortunately, do not. That seems to be the case with sex offender Mario Lopez (no connection to the X-Factor host!) who had only been out of prison on a sex assault charge for less than a year when he reportedly snuck into a building and molested two little girls in the laundry room.
Lopez apparently waited by the front door of a building in Queens, New York until he saw someone who lived in the building enter with her key. He then snuck in behind her. He then allegedly waited by the elevator until he saw two young girls, ages 9 and 4. He then asked them to help him with his laundry in the laundry room.
When the naive young girls followed him to the laundry room, he allegedly smacked one on the buttocks and molested another under her clothes. He then offered them candy before fleeing the scene. Luckily, surveillance camera footage caught the suspect and a keen-eyed parole officer identified him as Lopez.
Lopez had already been arrested in 2000 for the sex assault of a 20-year-old and was a registered Level 3 sex offender. He was sentenced to prison in 2003 and just released this year. Obviously, turning around his life was not on his mind.
What exactly do you do with people like this? Do you put them away for prison their entire life after one assault? If so, how could we even build enough prisons and come up with enough money to house them all? Do people never deserve a second chance?
Do sex offenders always relapse? Child molesters have a high rate of relapse, but this guy had been convicted of assaulting an adult. It's just so heartbreaking, confusing, and anger-inducing.
Of course, one can wonder why the children were in their building alone. But it was only 7 p.m. and in their own building. Still ... you just can't be too careful, especially in a building without a doorman, which this one sounds like it was. Thank god he didn't do worse to them.
Did the justice system fail? What can be done to help prevent this kind of thing?
Image via Matt Gosselin/Flickr