This happened in the United States. Let’s repeat the name again, the United States. The judges are still at post, while the victims suffer from physical and emotional damage. Justice has been denied.
In the State of Iowa, Midwestern United States, an investigation by an investigative media outlet has revealed that 7 teachers convicted of sexually abusing students in the last five years have strangely escaped prison terms despite a state law requiring them to spend a period behind bars for their crimes.
The investigation was carried out by The Des Moines Register. During the investigation, the outlet reviewed cases in the state where teachers were convicted of sex crimes involving students to see if their sentences were in line with the law passed by the state.
After the investigation, it emerged clearly that judges and prosecutors who handled the case were completely ignorant of the laws that they are required to uphold and enforce. Some judges honestly admitted lack of knowledge of the law.
In all the cases the outlet reviewed, the victims involved were under the age of 18. The outlet revealed that chapter 709 of Iowa’s sexual abuse law, prohibits anyone who is a “mandated reporter” of child abuse from being put on probation. According to the law, a mandated reporter is a person, such as a school teacher, daycare worker, hospital worker, or social worker who is required by law to report any suspicions of child abuse, to the authorities. It also includes licensed school employees, teachers, coaches and teachers’ aides. The law further states that anyone who is a mandated reporter of sexual abuse cannot, if they are themselves found guilty of sexual abuse of children, avoid prison time. Furthermore, the law specifies that their convictions cannot be expunged once their sentence is served.
Iowa teachers sometimes avoid prison despite state law barring light sentences for those who sexually abuse children https://t.co/4yhKfvN3wX
— Des Moines Register (@DMRegister) September 5, 2016
However, despite the law being clear, The Des Moines Register’s investigation revealed that in a number of cases where teachers were accused of sexually assaulting students, they were granted deferred judgments. It said under deferred judgments, offenders were placed on probation. They were also allowed to petition the courts to have the charges dismissed, and the records expunged from the records once the probation period is over.
The outlet reported that some judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys admitted the errors they have committed, saying they were as a result of misunderstandings around the sentencing requirements for such cases. In fact, some of the judges admitted that they were not familiar with the law, and had to rely on advice from prosecutors.
For example, one of the cases reviewed involved Samantha Kohls, 25, who was sentenced to a one year probationary period in April 2016, after pleading guilty to lascivious conduct with a 17 year old student.
The sentencing judge in the Kohls’ case, Jeffrey Neary, told the outlet that he wasn’t familiar with the nuances of the law in relation to mandatory reporters, and therefore relied largely on the recommendations made by prosecutors.
The investigators then contacted the Plymouth County Attorney, Darin Raymond, who advised Judge Neary in the case. Surprisingly, attorney Raymond told the journalists he didn’t believe Kohls should be considered a mandatory reporter because the victim was not her direct student.
Since these damning revelations were made, it has sparked outrage. Legal experts in Iowa have said the revelations could lead to the retrial of cases or sentencing agreements.
The Special Assistant to Iowa’s Attorney General, Scott Brown, confirmed that under the law, there is no way a teacher should avoid prison for sexually abusing a student. He said the cases reviewed by the Register are likely the result of errors by prosecutors or judges.
“I think there are some prosecutors who don’t know it and that may be why you’re seeing some of these sentences,” he said.
Whether error or intentional, the victims are crying for justice. There is no way these pedophiles should be set free. Expect the victims to challenge for the review of the cases soon. We are following the situation. We will report on the latest.
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