Friday, June 28, 2013

Life Sentence in Nevada Case

Updating a case we last covered here, a man has been sentenced to life in prison (with the possibility of parole) in Nevada for "incest." Life is an appropriate sentence for rape. I had not previously seen any indication that this was rape, and he wasn't changed with with rape. Remember, the age of consent in Nevada is 16. Here's the the article at by Dylan Woolf Harris...

A young woman — who five years earlier was a teenage victim of incest — testified Thursday in Elko District Court to the humiliation, anger and isolation she has suffered.
Rarely looking up and never at defendant Aaron Hughes, the victim tearfully read a letter she wrote for the court addressing how the crime affected her life.

“I have lost so much faith in what is good and what is true,” she said.

That sounds like she is describing being assaulted or abused. But...

The high profile case caused the victim humiliation from which she’s had trouble recovering, she said.

“I have convinced myself that I have moved on so many times only to have my feet ripped out from beneath me again and again,” she said. “This case has been continued for way too long. … I blame (Hughes) for his mistakes because I’m being dragged through the mud right behind him.”
That doesn't sound like abuse or assault. Those are not "mistakes," those are terrible deliberate acts. So this still sounds like it was consensual. At least of it was caught on video. If it was assault, then it should have been easy to prosecute him for that.

Porter, bound by statute to sentence Hughes to life in prison for incest with parole eligibility after two years, had the option of suspending the sentence and giving the defendant probation.

Porter denied granting Hughes probation, however.

“I think you understand why,” she said to the defendant.

Porter also denied a request by the defense to allow Hughes a one-day stay before being taken into custody. Hughes was cuffed and escorted out of the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies past the near-full courtroom gallery that included many law enforcement officers as well as Hughes’ and the victim’s family and friends.

Hughes had been a police officer.
Defense attorney Tammy Riggs called Dr. William O’Donohue, a licensed psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno to the stand as an expert witness. O’Donohue evaluated Hughes prior to the hearing and determined the defendant to be an extremely low risk to reoffend.

O’Donohue noted in his report that he didn’t find indicators in Hughes that typically precede relapse into deviant sexual behavior. He also said Hughes’ social personality, excellent impulse control, intelligence and otherwise healthy relationships would serve him well in recovery.

“The final strength is he is not in denial. One of the most difficult things we have in repeated sex offenders is they say it didn’t happen. He’s admitting that this happened,” O’Donohue said.
If it was consensual, he shouldn't have any reason to deny it, other than ridiculous laws against consensual sex.
Hughes was arrested in 2008. During an investigation related to stolen property allegations, sheriff’s deputies found a video depicting Hughes and a 17-year-old relative engaging in sexual acts.
No charge or conviction on stolen property?

So what do we have here. The woman didn't complain. Someone else found the video do to what may have been an unrelated investigation and that is how this became a case. Is that why she has suffered, because the law still criminalizes consensual sex in cases like this, and law enforcement chose to pursue this? From reading the full article and past articles on the case, it sounds like the woman would have been just fine if this case had never been brought, and Hughes would be harming nobody. She wasn't suffering in silence and he wasn't preying on anyone.

Is this a travesty? A waste of taxpayer resources? The needless destruction of several lives? We need consistency in our laws. If a young woman of 17 years of age can legally consent to group sex with complete strangers, why not with one person she knows and loves?

UPDATE from February 2017
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  1. Is this a travesty? A waste of taxpayer resources? The needless destruction of several lives?

    YES! The facts presented indicate this to be another extreme travesty of justice that amounts to criminality itself.

    Unfortunately, defense attorney's are prohibited from addressing nullification in such cases (*with the exception of New Hampshire):

    The judicial system in the US is broken.

  2. I support the idea of nullification of unjust laws in jury trials, but the political advocacy demonstrated here toward Free Marriage Equality seems by far the best route toward reforming such laws, though it is surely a very long road to justice in either case.

    Furthermore, SCOTUS has called free will a “universal and persistent foundation for our system of law distinct from a deterministic view of human conduct that is inconsistent with the underlying precepts of our criminal justice system.”

    Yet a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that entire presumption of free will is wrong...

    That matter remains scientifically undecided but is strongly suggestive at this point that people ultimately have little moral culpability for their actions. The idea that free will is an illusion is absolutely contrary to the very basis & historical precedents of western jurisprudence, but nontheless the evidence is compelling & potentially true.

    Such introspection only underlines the inherent biases & abuses of our justice system & especially its treatment of individuals prosecuted for victim-less crimes, who are publicly condemned, forever labeled as immoral & treated with extreme punishments that needlessly amount to utter ruination & cruelty.

    That's the system we have, as evidenced by this case & the many others that have been conscientiously noted on this site.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I understand where you are coming from. Such philosophy is something I'm not discussing, but I welcome such comments of a philosophical nature. I just wanted to say that regardless of why, predators should be locked up, lovers should not.

  3. Yes, I agree Keith - thanks for your thoughtful reply. Absolutely, society has a duty to protect itself, but hopefully an understanding of the limits of moral culpability would increase compassion & empathy & inspire greater investigation into the root causes of criminal acts & behaviour...


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