It's safe to say that if you're a convicted child molester, most people want you behind bars. But then there's Daryl Kelly. When his daughter was 8 years old, the New York father was convicted of raping the little girl. Only now that daughter is 25, and Chenaya Kelly wants her father released from prison. She's even willing to let the world know that she lied about her father raping her.
Only the courts don't care what 25-year-old Chenaya has to say about the 17-year-old conviction. They're keeping the convicted molester in prison.
The case has opened up a discussion about who should have the final say in what happens to the perpetrator of a crime. Should it be the courts or the victim?
If victims are the reason we put criminal in prison, it would seem like it should be the latter, but unfortunately once you get the justice system involved in your problems, you have to look at a much larger picture. Punishment becomes not just about the victim, but about the threat to society as a whole.
Chenaya has come out to say she only lied all those years ago because her drug-addicted mother threatened to beat her if she didn't accuse her Navy veteran dad of molesting her. This isn't even her first recanting of the allegations -- the 8-year-old changed her tune way back in 1998, six months after Daryl was convicted.
But now that she's an adult, Chenaya has been able to put pressure on the courts to make a change in her father's case in a way she couldn't before. Her complaints prompted a review of her case by the Committee on the Fair and Ethical Administration of Justice of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York. Unfortunately for Chenaya -- or fortunately, depending on how you look at the case -- the prosecutors on the committee disagree with her. They say her father's conviction was fair and just.
Not surprisingly, the prosecutor's office in Orange County, New York, where Daryl was convicted, agrees. That puts the victim -- Chenaya -- and the prosecutor's office at odds with one another, but ultimately the victim has no say.
The fact that Chenaya was just 8 at the time of the conviction certainly makes this a more difficult case -- child who are victims of sexual molestation are often confused and scared of their abusers. They aren't always truthful about what happened because of that fear and confusion. Then, when they grow up, adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are known to "disassociate" with the past trauma or allow their minds to distance themselves from the abuse. It's hard to say whether she's more credible as an adult or LESS so simply because of the crime alleged here.
If the abuse did happen, Chenaya's forgiveness of Daryl isn't enough of a reason for the courts to let him out of his 40-year sentence as he could still represent a danger to OTHER kids.
If it didn't, well, who's to know?
What do you think should happen here? Is this girl's word enough to let her dad out of prison?
Image via Ocean/Corbis