legal double standards
November 26, 2002 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Sex Crimes and equal treatment "under the law." (pun anyone?)

Outraged prosecutors said Thursday that they will appeal the sentence given to Edwin "Ed" Mann, a former Orlando Police Department sex-crimes detective, for having a sexual affair with a 14-year-old girl who had earlier dated his son.

Mann, a former leader in Cops for Christ, pleaded guilty last week to four felony charges resulting from an ongoing sexual relationship he had with the girl two years ago when he was a sex-crimes detective.

Do you think being "religious" and policeman merits special treatment from a judge?
posted by nofundy (37 comments total)
Link is broken...
posted by PenDevil at 11:54 AM on November 26, 2002

The link wouldn't work for me, but I can already gather the gist of the article:

Jeb Bush appointed judge soft on Cops for Christ accused pervert, prosecutors outraged! Another trial by media article. I don't have the facts of the case, sure I couldn't get them from a write up in the Sentinel. The question is a bit speculative, don't you think? Do you think a "religious" policeman needs less protection under the law? What is the judge's convictions like in the past? Did the prosecution drop the ball? etc, etc...
posted by Pollomacho at 11:56 AM on November 26, 2002

Did I mention I've been sick? Please forgive my horrid grammar as of late, thanks!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:58 AM on November 26, 2002

Fell afoul of the Mann Act, did he?

Alas, it appears all articles about Edwin Mann are on the O. Sentinel website, and something seems to have killed it. The Sentinel seems to have an editorial now berating the governor, "Get the message of rape ruling".

As for the judges, one notes that circuit and county court judges are elected, not appointed. This seems to have been endorsed in a referendum in November of 2000, i.e. voting down a "merit appointment" system, unless I'm reading wrong. Also, the prosecutors do have the opportunity to appeal the sentence, so this isn't the end of things.
posted by dhartung at 12:25 PM on November 26, 2002

I think someone who is sworn to uphold the law should face even greater penalties for breaking the laws than the rest of us.

Sort of like, if you're a locksmith and you get busted for breaking and entering. by using the tools of his trade to break the law, a locksmith would face higher penalties.

same should hold for crooked cops.
posted by jaded at 12:25 PM on November 26, 2002

Until the server comes back online, here's another link with the story.
posted by nofundy at 12:30 PM on November 26, 2002

Do you think being "religious" and policeman merits special treatment from a judge?

No, I don't, and I didn't see anything in the article that implied the judge did, either. I can't help but wonder, though, whether you consider his religion to be a part of his crime.
posted by coelecanth at 12:47 PM on November 26, 2002

After reading the article, it didn't appear that the judge had given a particularly lighter sentence based on any affiliation the offender had, be it police or "for Christ".

That doesn't mean the guy shouldn't have necessarily been nailed to the wall for being a pederast and a victimizer, but I'm fairly even-handed in that regard.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:52 PM on November 26, 2002

Thanks for the link nofundy and the clarification dhartung!

As for jaded's "higher standard" - A cop or locksmith DO face tougher penalties, even this guy lost his position with the Police Department and works an $8-per-hour job at a greenhouse, his attorney said. He can and will never be a cop again, just as a locksmith could never get licensed or bonded again, no license and you can't even legally own the tools, that's added incentive to keep your nose clean! Convicted felons regardless of length of sentencing face MANY penalties outside of jail time, for instance they can never be a barber, or in many places coach their kid's little league team or vote. I'm not saying this guy should have gotten a slap on the wrist, but he does deserve equal justice, regardless of his job, or religious preference, which also seems to be on trial in the article. Who gives a damn if the guy was a deacon, a mullah or a rabbi, he's a convicted pervert so why does his piety ("religious" is a misused term for conviction of belief) enter into the discussion?

I'm also with coelecanth, what beside the author's opinion lead you to belive that the judge sentenced him based on that?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:52 PM on November 26, 2002

The age of consent is 14 in many places I don't understand the notion of someone being a pedophile based soley on geography. He broke that law in Florida, but it would have been legal many other places. If he is morally wrong, we do not know the nature of the relationship.
posted by stbalbach at 12:53 PM on November 26, 2002

It's the American Way ;-)
posted by LowDog at 12:59 PM on November 26, 2002

stbalbach, we have a lot of laws in this country that other countries don't. That doesn't actually say much about the morality of the situation -- we can drag out the female genital mutilation argument if we must. The question here is why this man in particular got an overly lenient sentence, and whether his occupation and professed faith had any influence.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 1:03 PM on November 26, 2002

The most interesting thing about the article to me was that the prosecutors were questioning the "downward departure" of the sentence. I'm surprised that there isn't a mandatory sentence for molestation of a minor.

I think there was a thread earlier here (or maybe somewhere else) about a group of judges who opposed mandatory sentencing. Is it appropriate to impose mandatory sentences on cases of pedophilia but not on other crimes (e.g. drug cases)?
posted by CommaTheWaterseller at 1:04 PM on November 26, 2002

I think I would have to hear what the sentences for other people that plead guilty to the same kind and amount of charges in the area (and also by that judge) before I could decide if I thought he got off light. I didn't see that anywhere in the article (just what the prosecutors were asking for...).
posted by stifford at 1:08 PM on November 26, 2002

I'm confused where the penalty of loosing his job as a cop even comes into play here when deciding the severity of his legal sentencing.

Losing the job is just an outgrowth of the crime, but is a penalty for something he wasn't specifically charged for - abuse of position. For child molestation, especially in light of all the Catholic Church issues with it, this is a sentence that flies in the face of current standards for punishment.

That he has a cop and a pastor of sorts should make the sentence heavier, not less, in my eyes.
posted by rich at 1:14 PM on November 26, 2002

I'm confused where the penalty of loosing his job as a cop even comes into play here when deciding the severity of his legal sentencing.

I don't think it is where the judge is concerned, but where the cop is concerned when considering committing a criminal act... Had he used his position of power as a cop or as a minister to commit these acts, yes, that is "abuse of power" but I haven't seen anything in the article to indicate this. Was he a deacon in her church? Did he threaten to arrest her if she didn't cooperate? As a cop he should have known the penalties for his actions and should have been maybe a little smarter than your average guy. He wasn't, now he has to face losing his career, his family, his life, and that's what he gets for being a moron. Had he used his positions to further his goals, that would have compounded his sentencing with further charges, above and beyond the statutory rape charges, but apparently the prosecutors did not see fit to charge him with that!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:26 PM on November 26, 2002

let me borrow a line paraphrased from our beloved bush apologists in a recent noelle bush thread and just say: "so, a law enforcement guy got special treatment from another law enforcement guy? i'm shocked. yawn."
posted by quonsar at 1:35 PM on November 26, 2002

Not to defend sexual criminals in any way, but I believe the law on sex crimes needs some serious work in the balance and fairness department. Just being accused of a child sex crime is enough to ruin any man, even if he's innocent. I know one man who lost all custody of his son because his nasty wife, during the divorce, accused him of molesting a neighborhood girl that he had spent some time alone with. While it turned out to be untrue, the accusation took all of the power out of him to legally vie for custody.

Here's another true story : There is a man who at the age of 18 had a consenting sexual relationship with a cute girl who later turned out to be 14. As I understand it, she threw herself at him and was quite sexually active before they had met. Yeah, whatever, he was still criminally stupid. When he was later tried for the crime, his publicly-appointed attorney told him the day before the trial that they had no case and he'd better plead guilty or he'd have the book thrown at him. There were quite a few extenuating circumstances, and the trial would have been interesting. However, having no other recourse, he pled guilty to statutory rape and ended up serving a few years in prison.

Years later, he has three children and is trying to make a life for himself. But a law was passed recently (I don't remember if Texas or Oklahoma law applies, since the crime was in OK and he currently lives in TX) that caused all sex offenders to fall under new rules. As a result, he is now (and forever, as far as I know) banned from living in a house where children live, banned from being around his own children alone, banned from ever using a computer (and just try to get a decent job that doesn't use a computer), banned from ever using a camera, banned from leaving Texas for several years, legally required to report on job applications that he is a sex offender, and etc. Since then he has been continually desperate because the only family member he can live with (who doesn't have kids) lives in the outskirts of Ft Worth, Texas -- and of course they don't have a car or access to public transportation so he can get to a job. Being criminally stupid is one thing, but having a sexual felony on your record is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Incidentally, he is currently looking for help from any legal or special interest group that will take up his cause to get the current law changed to differentiate a little bit more between the different "kinds" of sex offenders. Understandably, not many organizations are eager to take up the banner for sex offenders, so it may be many years before his life can ever approach normality again.
posted by Jonasio at 1:43 PM on November 26, 2002

I don't think this Mann got special treatment because he is a cop or is a christian. He got special treatment because it was a consensual relationship.

The girl told investigators that her six-month relationship with Mann began in July 2000...At first, she and Mann engaged in "a lot of kissing, touching and feeling." Then the relationship progressed, and she said they had sexual encounters "too many times to count."

The crime is that our society pathologizes consensual relationships between teens an adults. Calling this "rape" or "molestation" diminishes real cases of rape, and real cases of non-consensual child abuse.
posted by alms at 2:00 PM on November 26, 2002

The girl told investigators that her six-month relationship with Mann began in July 2000...At first, she and Mann engaged in "a lot of kissing, touching and feeling." Then the relationship progressed, and she said they had sexual encounters "too many times to count."

Alms and anyone else that thinks similarly:

This is a case of rape, sex offenders break down their victims inhibitions regarding sexual contact by slowly building up to the contact. Just. Like. Mann Did. Anyone who considers this consensual is being just as fooled by a slick predator as this girl was.

And as for cases of non-consesual child abuse? Assuming you are referring to sexual abuse, the cases of the kids snatched off street corners are small compared to the number of youth who know their perps- perps who use the exact same process Mann used. I don't see any difference between Mann and a pedophile priest.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 2:41 PM on November 26, 2002

CoolHandPuke, I'm well aware that most child abuse is perpetrated by family members or other people known to the victim. That's unrelated to the question of whether teenagers are able to have truly consensual sexual relationships with adults.

Based on the accounts I've read, the people I've spoken to, and my personal experience from my youth, I believe that they can. Many cultures, including American culture prior to the 1960's had positive models for such relationships. These days, when such relationships are discovered, the youth is put under tremendous pressure to feel abused after the fact about a relationship that had nothing intrinsically abusive about it. The real abuse is perpetrated by society, not by either of the people in the relationship.
posted by alms at 3:29 PM on November 26, 2002

sex offenders break down their victims inhibitions regarding sexual contact by slowly building up to the contact

not that i think Mann is innocent, but... isn't that how a lot of us get to that point, especially when we're younger? i remember in high school, you had to go around the bases before you hit home.
posted by lotsofno at 3:40 PM on November 26, 2002

These days, when such relationships are discovered, the youth is put under tremendous pressure to feel abused after the fact about a relationship that had nothing intrinsically abusive about it. The real abuse is perpetrated by society, not by either of the people in the relationship.

I'm sure pretty much all pedophiles would agree with you.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:01 PM on November 26, 2002

I'm sure pretty much all pedophiles would agree with you.
which doesn't alter the truth of the statement.
posted by quonsar at 5:08 PM on November 26, 2002

Slimiest debate tactic ever.
posted by kindall at 5:32 PM on November 26, 2002

Proof that the law is an artificial social construct. In (more than) one state, it's perfectly legal. In another, the prosecutor wants 13 years. There is a moral lesson here, and it is not that men shouldn't have sex with teenage girls.

The very first thing one has to know when studying the law is that criminal acts are not things that are wrong or even unpopular. Criminal acts are acts which have been declared illegal by the legislature. Safeguards include: arresting officer turning a blind eye, prosecutor dropping charges, and judge exercising his authority to give a low sentence. I would applaud this judge's courage...but I do have a sad feeling that the defendant being a policeman and church leader did have something to do with it.

Having sex with a 14-year old girl has absolutely nothing to do with pedophilia. Some people think it's wrong, and use the word pedophile as an insult, but that does not make it "sexual attraction to children." Would have to see a picture of the girl to be sure, or maybe a video of her playing slip-and-slide in a bikini, but it's absolutely okay by me if she has the body of a fully-developed woman.

Personally, I do not ever plan to have sex with girls under 18 again. It's got nothing to do with them, though. It has everything to do with a) societal pressures and b) the fact that they're still under the control of their parents and every other joker who wants to control their lives and mine. Not to mention the fact that high school girls are annoying as hell. I couldn't stand them even when I was in high school. I just hope people don't start taking it seriously when they say college girls are children, too.
posted by son_of_minya at 7:11 PM on November 26, 2002

I'm really disturbed by the number of people who seem to find nothing wrong with a grown man having sex with a 14 year old. Whether or not the girl has "the body of a fully-developed woman" has absolutely nothing to do with whether she is able to give informed consent.

This kid is in the seventh or eighth grade. She doesn't know algebra. She can't drive. She has probably never been anywhere further than the mall without her parents. A relationship with a man in his thirties is almost necessarily exploitative. Calling it consensual is a huge joke.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:33 PM on November 26, 2002

a slick predator

perps who use the exact same process

This is the language of urban legend, the sociology of talk shows for Oprah to Jerry Springer, America's Most Wanted and local TV news. There is about zero science and documentation in this saga of slick predators, etc. There is no academic literature on the exact same process since there is no exact same process, no pedophile academy or child molester training videos--other than talk shows, local TV news and America's Most Wanted--no, the exact same process and the slick predators are the stuff of our collectively written kiddy porn, the narrative constructed out from our national jones for talking about sex and children, sex with children.

And when we're not obsessing about sex with children, teens and tweeners, for the most part, we're talking killler teens and children who molest. A fourteen year old who has sex with anyone over sixteen is a child! a child! Should they shoot or stab someone older, they're another superpredator liable or trial as an adult and possible execution.

Again may I cite Judith Levine's Harmful To Minors and also note this review from All About Sex--the latter an educational site for teens and preteens. It's nice to think that some kids get some reason along with their daily overdose of sexual terrorism via our current national obsession.

What is with you, fold_and_mutilate? You surprise and disappoint me.
posted by y2karl at 7:34 PM on November 26, 2002

LittleMissCranky on 14-year old girls: This kid is in the seventh or eighth grade. She doesn't know algebra.

Having sex with 14-year old girls is questionable. Having sex with 14-year old girls who go to the Special Ed. school is just plain wrong.

We're talking high school freshmen here. Some of them may not be developed yet... My first girlfriend was pretty flat-chested until around 16, and she probably still doesn't know algebra. Everyone develops differently.

If the girl looked like an 11-year old, then maybe the guy has some problems and should be forced to see a therapist and put on probation for a while, or given "maximum security" therapy if facts come out of the investigation that show he is seriously into children. This particular case, admittedly, does have some aspects that creep me out. The simple fact that the girl is 14, though, is not enough to blanketly send everyone to prison if they have sex with her.
posted by son_of_minya at 7:58 PM on November 26, 2002

We have developed an intelligent indicator which changes color from cold, warning-red to warm, receptive-green when a person achieves the minimum level of emotional maturity required to make rational decisions about sexual relationships.

Unfortunately, testing reveals that the median age at which this occurs is 38 for females, and 63 for males. Plans for vending the device, intended to be worn like a tika, have been put on hold pending further development.

Ed Filigree, president
Touch Me Not Tika™, Inc.
posted by Opus Dark at 8:19 PM on November 26, 2002


I see where our paths part. You blame TV culture and cite an intellectual book. If you think this was about this 14 year olds sexual awakening, and that by somehow keeping her from fucking a 41 year old guy contributes to society's patholigization of children's sexuality, fine. Very lofty.

To me, the guy was a law enforcement official, that showed behavior similar to methods other offenders use (the people he was supposed to put in jail) to break down the young girls resistance. He knew what he was doing was wrong- and if not, it should be all the more frightening.

And for anyone that waivers on 'consent': Think about your 14 year old little sister, cousin, niece, daughter having sex with a 41 year old man- sounds great, huh? If you think she can 'consent' to it the same way an 18, 20, 25 year old woman could, then I feel sorry for any young women who know you.

And as for the research on offending behavior, it's out there. Lots of it. But I ain't doing all that research for one person in an internet arguement.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 8:49 PM on November 26, 2002

Yes, the age of consent is somewhat arbitrary and it not going to accurately reflect the age at which every person becomes able to give meaningful consent to sex. But it has to be set somewhere. The legislature makes a judgment--basically a guess, informed by cultural norms--about what age children generally can make that kind of decision and then they leave it to the judges to apply the law fairly, taking into account the specific circumstances of each case. One would hope that a 17-year-old having sex with a 16-year-old would get off with something close to a slap on the wrist, where more egregious offenders, like our friend the deacon/cop, get more severe punishments. Sometimes this system produces injustice in the individual case, but pretty much any system you can think of will suffer fom similar problems. Give the judges too much discretion and they'll occasionally make mistakes or let personal biases get in the way. Take away all discretion from the judges in favor of black and white rules and you will get unjust and absurd results when cases come up that the rule-makers didn't think of.

Although it's never fair to judge without hearing all the facts, it's really hard for me to imagine a situation in which a relationship between a 14-year-old girl and a middle-aged man is not deserving of some prison time (although 13 years does sound a bit harsh to me). Even if he wasn't consciously trying to manipulate her into sex (which he probably was) he surely knew it was a rather serious felony and probably also (being a deacon and all) that it is generally frowned upon morally. I'm generally a pretty sympathetic person, but I have trouble working much up in this case.

As for the point about our pre-1950s ideas about the appropriateness of sex between teenage girls and older men, I would make two points:

1) strangely enough, both our culture and our legal norms viewed women primarily as chattel up until the 1950s or so. To say that the law didn't tend to have the best interests of women at its heart in this period is to make the understatement of the year. If the law wasn't too concerned with men beating the crap out of their women it makes sense that it also wouldn't be too concerned with men having sex with them before they could give meaningful consent.

2) back in the good ol' days, sex was viewed quite differently than it is today. Sex outside of marriage was frowned upon, to put it mildly. Divorce was practically nonexistent. The typical sexually active 14-year-old girl in the 1800s was not quite so in danger of being manipulated into sex by sleazy strangers since she was likely to be only having sex with a man that was legally obligated to support her for the rest of her life.
posted by boltman at 9:44 PM on November 26, 2002

Son_of_minya, I'm really failing to see why you seem to think that the presence of boobs makes this permissible, which is the argument that you keep returning to. A pubescent body might make this seem a little less like having sex with children, but it doesn't really have any bearing on the issue of ability to consent.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 10:10 PM on November 26, 2002

Have not actually read Harmful To Minors. I just know Bill O'Reilly hates it. The summaries I have read, in various online articles, seem to make it out to be a book I would agree with. I wish I could just reference that and say, "Read that book. It explains everything." There is the off chance that it actually does make some insane statements, I will attempt to explain myself:

Basically, I do not see young people as being less than human. They're human beings with rational minds and natural rights. I do not believe that young people (high school and college students) are "children" or that participating in adult activities is somehow going to warp their fragile minds.

Someone here mentioned that nobody would want their own 14-year old daughter or sister having sex with a 41-year old man. Well, I wouldn't want my 25-year old daughter or sister, or my mother, having sex with a 41-year old man. That's your guy ever wants his daughter or sister to have sex with any guy. I don't see the distinction between 14 and any other age here (unless you're talking pre-pubescent grade schoolers). You ask me, it would be better for a young girl to have sex with an older guy than some punk kid. At least the old guy is going to wear a condom and can support her if she does get pregnant (semi-sarcastic, but true statement).

The problem is, we have this highly structured society where the "adults" are put over here, and the "children" are put over there. It is a completely artificial structure that I do not believe benefits anyone. This belief of mine extends far beyond just getting action from 14-year olds -- I believe all artificial social constructs are unhealthy for human growth/potential.
posted by son_of_minya at 11:37 PM on November 26, 2002

Ya know, unless you have a vagina and have been a teenage girl, I'm not sure you can really understand the issue. Not to condescend to the men here, but really, I don't think you can comprehend what it's like to have someone almost 3x your age pawing at you. Regularly.

Almost every girl I knew growing up got hit on by men older than our fathers. Sure we had tits at 14. They sort of come with the package, doncha know, but that hardly gives someone who should know better, the right to try and touch them. And yet, many men think of it not only as their rights, but that they're doing us a favor by "breaking us in gently".

Girls at 14 have the same type of hormones as boys at 14...which is to say, raging and easily manipulated. And were the male involved say 18, I might not make the same argument, primarily because I think the age differential makes a difference.

However, a man over 40, especially a cop, not only has the benefit of years of controlling his libido and emotions, he has a social obligation to obey the law. Molesting a child, which is legally what this girl was, is not only morally reprehensible, it is behavior that should be punished. If only to send a message that it is unacceptable to live out your little Lolita fantasies.

Tits or no tits, this girl was legally a child. The line has to be drawn somewhere. For those that are defending this molester, where do you think the line should be drawn? Is it 12? Does something magical happen at 13 that makes a girl capable of knowing when someone is a predator? Or is there just no such thing as predators and all girls, from the time they start to show pubic hair should know how to deal with the advances of men 2 or 3 times their own age? So, an advanced 10 year old should know how to defend against seduction by a 30 year old, right? I had tits at 11, so by all rights, I should have let a 33 year old deflower me, then and there...because, after all, I was "technically" a woman, no?

She was legally molested and battered by a cop. The cop got off easy, the girl gets to carry the scars and shame forever. How can you guys possibly defend someone who pled guilty to multiple counts of sexual battery?
posted by dejah420 at 12:26 AM on November 27, 2002

Not to condescend to the men here, but really, I don't think you can comprehend what it's like to have someone almost 3x your age pawing at you. Regularly.

You saved yourself with the regularly there. It happens to boys more often than you'd think. Your point with the age differential has merit--frankly, thirty seems indecently young to me now--and I'm not disagreeing with yours--or CoolhandPuke's assessment of this particular guy. Not at all, it's a creepy story.

I'm not signing off on this case. But it's a case in particular. There's always a case in particular because anytime there is a crime like this, we wallow in it. All out of proportion to the actual incidence of these crimes. We pass laws against demons and then horrors happen people like those in Jonasarios' anecdotes and no child, preteen or teen is protected. And I wasn't blaming anything on tv culture, whatever that is--I was blaming it on our culture, period. The media isn't throwing raw meat to cows here.

I just happen to think, as does she, that pedophiles are rare, are not any more common per capita than they ever have been--but that we just happen to be in a place and time in our history where we are obsessed with the topic. This has happened before more than once in this country. We pass laws against demons and end up with horror stories like Jonasios' anecdotes. We talk and talk about individual cases because, well, they're few and far between. But in talking and talking--and these stories are as ubiquitous here as on TV, and we can't get enough, it seems--what are we doing to the kids with this obsession?

And Harmful To Minors is not rocket science, CoolHandPuke. O'Reilly and Dr. Laura hate it because she's one of these people who thinks that, on the topic of sex, we ought to provide children and adolescents with positive, straightforward and confidential information and answers to their questions., instead of frightening them to death about sex--and that's what that AllAboutSex site is all about. I'm not in favor of 40 year olds having sex with 14 year olds. I'm not even in favor of 14 year olds having sex with 14 year olds. I am, however, in favor of them being well informed on the subject so that possibly they might be able to make wiser choices down the road.
posted by y2karl at 3:57 AM on November 27, 2002

But a law was passed recently...that caused all sex offenders to fall under new rules.

Whoa now. Doesn't that just reek of ex post facto-isms? Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution:

"no state shall pass any ex post facto Law"

It seems this guy got hit by a bit of retroactivism as this law gives increased punishment beyond the punishment for the crime committed before the law's existence. Anyone know more about this? And is it common for laws concerning sex offenders to take effect retroactively on crimes committed before the laws' passages? That's harsh.
posted by superfem at 1:06 PM on November 27, 2002

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