Judge Shari Michels caused quite a controversy recently by telling a cop accused of sexting and groping a 13-year-old girl that he could write a letter to his victim. Sounds crazy, right. Understandably, people freaked out. How could this officer of the court encourage and allow such a thing? But as horrific as it sounds, Judge Michels is not totally off her rocker.
At the hearing for former New York City police officer Modesto Alamo after his arrest for forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a minor, Judge Michels seemed to take pity on the man. Though she ordered him to stay away from the young girl, she also said, "If you feel that there is a need for communication, write it down, put it in the envelope, and put a date on it, and in the future, if you want to give them that information, you can do that then."
Not surprisingly, her words have enraged the girl's family and I am sure countless others. But while this judge may not be best equipped to provide counseling or therapy to this alleged criminal, her actions do highlight an important issue that is often ignored. Sexual predators have an illness and they need to be helped in addition to being punished. Why help him, you may ask? Because one day he will be back on the street.
If they do not learn how to deal with their illegal sexual proclivities, they are doomed to repeat them. I have no idea what the best approach is to helping someone with this problem. Michels also ordered him to have a psychological evaluation and get treatment after he reportedly talked of suicide. I imagine different sex offenders may need different things to eradicate or suppress those despicable urges. But I am 100 percent sure that they need some kind of intervention beyond just being locked up.
With all the furor her advice has caused, Judge Michels has since issued an apology through a spokesman. She regrets what her decision may have made the victim feel and did not intend to offend anyone. I buy that. The important thing to remember is that she was trying to make sure Alamo found a way to deal with his demons and not become a repeat offender. Can we really blame her for that?
What do you think of Judge Michel's advice to this defendant? Do you think sexual predators should get counseling?
Image via Hey Paul Stuidos/Flickr