Destroyed lives

Originally published at Criminal Legal News

By Sandy . . . In 1969, a man named Peter Yarrow, a musical pop star, opened the door of his dressing room to two sisters, ages 17 and 14, who were seeking his autograph. He was nude and proceeded with sexually suggestive and apparently aggressive remarks and behavior toward the girls.

Mr. Yarrow is the “Peter” of the ’50s and ’60s musical group Peter, Paul, and Mary. He served three months in prison and in 1981 was granted a pardon by President Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Yarrow’s career was not totally destroyed, but over the years, his past has surfaced as regularly as clockwork. He has lost jobs and been refused appearances due to it. Protests erupt every time he is invited to perform or appear or receive an award. His critics are quick to point out that if he or anyone did what he did today, he would be on a sexual offense registry as a sexual criminal. 

In 2012, Luke Heimlich was convicted of sexual molestation by inappropriate touching of a young female relative. It was not a one-time occurrence. Luke was 12 or 13 when it happened, 15 when convicted. He successfully completed a period of probation that included a diversion program and therapy designed specifically for children who have been sexually inappropriate. He was registered as the lowest level offender in Washington State.

At Oregon State University, Luke was a top-ranked, winning pitcher for the college baseball team and a shoo-in for first-round draft pick in the MLB Draft. That all came crashing down around his head in 2017 when his status as a registered sexual offender, always known by the university, was unearthed by a reporter and widely publicized.

It was all over. Luke did not play in the play-offs; he was not drafted in 2017 or 2018 by any MLB team. Later in 2018, he was scouted by a team with the Chinese Professional Baseball League. He was signed and then terminated the same day with the league citing zero tolerance for players with criminal records.

Where he is now, and what he is doing is undetermined. *

Actor Steven Striegel’s role in The Predator film was not large, but he was working in his chosen field and happy to be doing so. Before the film was released (2018), his inclusion on California’s sexual offense registry for the attempted luring of a teenage girl was discovered and publicized, and he and his scene were cut from the film as though they had never existed.

The stigma and blame for hiring him in the first place fell heavily on Striegel’s long-time friend and the film’s director Shane Black, and the criticism was so severe that one couldn’t be faulted for wondering if Shane’s own career would be in ruins before it was all over.

Nothing can be found to indicate that Mr. Striegel has found work in the film industry since.

The art gallery of the University of Maine in 2018 displayed a variety of works by Maine artists depicting Maine’s industrial history. Among them were three canvases by highly regarded artist Bruce Habowski. His scenes depict an overpass, a large truck, and an earlier era’s industrial complex.

Mr. Habowski also has the distinction of, in 1999, having a conviction for unlawful sexual contact and having served a short prison term for the offense. When a person knowing of this history saw the art with Habowski’s name on it, a complaint was made to the college. The pieces were removed.

One would hope that this did not end Habowski’s continuing in his art, but the impact on his having a continued successful career is undetermined.

Jensen Seifert, a stage actor in Alaska and a registrant on Alaska’s sexual offense registry, is dealing with turmoil involving his inclusion among the cast of a play being produced by Cyrano’s Theater Company in Anchorage. 

His conviction in 2009 was for sexual abuse of a teenage boy, a student of his where he taught. Upon his release after eight years of imprisonment, he joined the tight-knit theater community in Anchorage, working at Cyrano’s as well as the other live theaters there. While his history was known by some, it became openly publicized on Facebook in the fall of 2018. A controversy erupted that is still in progress, and Mr. Seifert is teetering on the precipice of becoming persona non grata in the only world that matters to him.

And now, breaking news reveals yet another sexual scandal involving a public figure. In late February of this year, billionaire owner of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft was charged with two counts of solicitation of a prostitute resulting from a police sting operation at a massage parlor.

This is very much still under investigation, but repercussions from the NFL were discussed almost immediately, including the possibility of a suspension that would bar him from Gillette Stadium and from contacting any team personnel.

Six men. Six different situations ranging from statutory to very serious, ranging in age from 12 or 13 to 77, and spanning five decades.

Five have successfully completed whatever legal penalty was imposed upon them. What will occur with the sixth will play out in the coming weeks and months.

There is no evidence whatsoever that any of the five have re-offended, gone astray of the law since, or pose a risk of harm to anyone. Each of them has expressed regret, dismay, or horror at their past behaviors. 

Why are we as a society so willing to forgive and embrace those who run afoul of the law in virtually every way but sexual, up to and including murder, and yet are so willing, nay, eager, to ruin the lives and the careers of these men and so many others, both well-known and unknown, whose indiscretions were of a sexual nature?

It is because, of all types of crimes with victims, it is only the victims of sexual crime who are believed, even expected, to suffer for a lifetime. Every other victim “gets over it.” Even when the victim is dead, murdered, the remaining family and friends are encouraged to move past it and get on with their lives.

We do not tell victims of sexual crime to get over it and get on with their lives. To do so, we are told, would be cruel and insensitive and belittling the trauma they suffered. We ignore the fact that some sexual crimes have no direct victims and that some who are labeled “victims” do not consider themselves victims at all. And we ignore the fact that many who were indeed victims, and truly harmed, choose to move past it, embracing recovery and often forgiveness.

We insist that sexual victims are “ruined,” “destroyed,” will “never be the same,” will “never get over it.”

Therapists and legitimate victim service providers know this is the opposite of what victims need to hear, but the all-knowing public persists in that belief. Once that belief is accepted, it logically follows that the person who caused the destruction of that life must have his own destroyed. Therefore, nothing that can be done to bring him grief and shame and ostracism is too extreme. His career is in ruins? Good. He ruined her life; why shouldn’t his be ruined? She will suffer for a lifetime; so should he.

And thus, we have a system, complete with its own, unique registry, that says to the world that those on it have destroyed the lives of others in a special and distinctive way and deserve to have their own destroyed, and no punishment, consequence, or restriction heaped on them is enough to repay the victim for what he or she has lost.

This is not criminal justice; it is no kind of justice.

This is a vehicle with which to express our indignation at a segment of society we find repugnant and abhorrent.

This is revenge. This is cruelty. This is a lifetime of punishment that does not go away. 

* Since this was written, Luke is reported to have signed with a league in Mexico.

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

  • This topic has 10 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 2 years ago by CharlieCharlie.
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    • #53472 Reply

      I concur that to keep a victim in a continuos victim state harms the victim. This give their power over to the perpetrator, or so we say. So, in most all instances, we cheer them on towards healing and health and a life without being forced to relive their victimization. This is therapy. But, society has taken that choice off the victim, and chooses instead to keep a here and now focus on the person who, regardless of the circumstances, did the harming. The victim has no say, and is forever linked in a vengeance cycle and therefore, never can, if they choose, ever be free. Not to mention in many cases, they marry their perpetrator because a statutory crime happened or in others, this was a parent, a brother, a sister, etc who they choose to figure, and who bear the mark of Cain every time they see them, opening a fresh remember now of all the associated wounds for both. The registry is evil and cruel and care not a wit who collaterally is destroyed, so those who are not true victims can feel good about themselves. Machiavellian narcissists drive this registry.

    • #53468 Reply

      When I was 13 or so, in the 80’s, I had the awesome opportunity to see Peter, Paul and Mary play at a college nearby
      And me and several young people were invited to sit at their feet while they sang Puff the Magic Dragon.
      It was so cool.
      It’s a shame that had the incident happened more recently, I would not have had such an opportunity

    • #53479 Reply
      Ed C

      Sandy, you have a very hard-hitting style of writing that goes to the heart of the issue. Although you’ve raised a number of questions, I will provide observations on only one.

      To paraphrase, you asked why society is willing to forgive any transgression except those that are sexual in nature. One factor is that all humans are sexual beings. Not every person is inclined toward murder, robbery, violence or other anti-social behavior. So those are not feared. But most have fears about their own sexual desires, whether fleeting or more permanent.

      Considering those convicted of a sex offense as aberrant monsters allows one to push away the mirror; to see that possibility not as a part of himself, and to deny the potential in all of us. We tend to hate what we fear most in ourselves. The witches are over there, not here.

      • #55321 Reply

        This also has a lot to do with the sensationalism of sex crimes in the media. It sells well. And the public has been educated to accept group thinking as a “societal norm” and accept sex offenses as monsterous. Since humans are social creatures, (herd animals) by nature, there is an existential drive to belong to the strongest group. Group think allows belonging, which creates a feeling of power and security. Much like a gang, a faith system, or a cliche, hating on sexual offenders makes you feel like you are part of the majority, therefore, normal. If society viewed human sexuality more like other countries where registries don’t exist, it would be different. This is why the work NARSOL does with public awareness, Fearless Groups, and advocacy is so vital. We must combat thinking errors with facts…change the minds of the general public.

    • #53482 Reply
      a man without a country

      Great article, Sandy!

      You might not post it here, but here’s a link to a newspaper I follow in the state where my descent began (I am now no longer in the USA, but I still watch things back there.) [EDITOR COMMENT: NARSOL IS ALLOWING THIS LINK BECAUSE IT IS PERTINENT AND RELEVANT TO THE POST AND IS NOT SELF-PROMOTING.]

      I saw this last year and gagged on the junk science in it. AR’s deputy AG talks about how a customer in a check-out line notices the person behind her is looking at her strangely–as if they may have seen the pictures of said customer from thirty years before. First of all, the internet isn’t that old. Second, I remember many times looking at family photo albums and amusing my parents by my mistaking the little one in the picture for someone who is now 150 pounds heavier and twice as tall. The notion that a stranger can identify a person in their 30s with just a few seconds’ looking with a much, much younger version of the same person, having seen on the picture and the new old version is so dang ludicrous, but that’s what these gov’t shysters like to do: keep up the victimization!

      Not to sound like a broken record, but I wish more people would look at the blog I posted over in Tales last year: “Quotes, Sources, and Thoughts.” Our team needs to be prepared with the logic of false cause/false effect arguments as well as false analogy and many more.

      • #53507 Reply
        a man without a country

        Hi again,

        Just looked at my link again. It almost looks like (purposeful ambiguity) the AR deputy AG is insinuating that a victim might, years in the future, FEEL when someone is looking at their old pictures.

        I guess I should have destroyed those pics my parents took of me in my baby bathtub instead of tossing them in the garbage fifty years after the fact. Ooh! That explains those creepy feelings I get every now and then! Someone’s looking at a picture of me I can’t even remember being taken.

        Is he or isn’t he playing word games to make this CONTINUED VICTIMIZATION by the system seem real.

    • #53592 Reply
      R M

      People hate, convict, abuse, humiliate, shame, kill, blame, etc, etc, etc to hide their own past…. simple.

    • #53671 Reply

      I have a question or two I’d love to have answered:

      (1) How is bringing the registries across this nation in line with the Constitution and removing the punitive aspects “re-victimizing” any victim of any sexual offense? That’s always thrown out there by advocacy groups with full media support.

      (2) Is there any part in the United States Constitution that bestows society has the “right” to know about a sex offender’s whereabouts, employment, address, etc. via a public sex offender registry? Is this not an “invented right”?

      (3) How is demanding legitimate hard evidence re-victimizing the alleged victim of a sex crime?

      (4) Who do so many women seem to think that a mere accusation should be all that’s required to convict a man of a sexual offense/sexual misconduct? Why do so many act as if women and children NEVER lie about an alleged sex crime?

    • #53798 Reply
      Don’t tread on me

      It’s called a self reinforcing delusion.

    • #53833 Reply
      Ernest Tucker

      Has anyone ever tried following the bouncing buck? Over the years I have seen various substances and activities become illegal and the government and the supreme court have twisted the commerce clause to usurp the power reserved to the state by the constitution. The more people that are arrested, charged, convicted, and imprisoned, the more money each department of the DOJ gets in its annual budget.
      Now we have the registry. My po is forcing me to take sex offender treatment program and psychosexual therapy. Here again we are talking money. The more people the po has to manage the more money they get in the budget. I have evidence of how illegal and fraudulent this is but have been unable to find a lawyer with the intestinal fortitude to take on the doj.
      If anyone knows of such a person, please let me know. The evidence I have includes affidavits from Senate secretaries, house secretaries, judges and other witnesses. But no one I have found other than two people who are now dead have been willing to even look at what we have. Someone out there knows someone who will be willing to look at what we have. Whomever you are, this could mean a big difference in the way our future could look. Thank you all so very much for all you’re doing. I just want to contribute also.

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