law, true crime

Wonder if Josh Duggar will see a video like this when he gets to prison…

A couple of days ago, when I mentioned “diesel therapy” on this blog, I ran across an article written for The Marshall Project by an ex-con, who was initially doing time in a minimum security camp. The author of the article, Michael Rothenberg, was a white collar criminal who had made the mistake of befriending another white collar criminal who escaped from their lockup at FPC Montgomery, in Alabama. Because he had associated with the escapee, prison officials figured he somehow knew the guy was going to escape. They decided to send Rothenberg to a harsher facility in Lovejoy, Georgia. He and other inmates were shackled and handcuffed, then put on a bus with an overflowing toilet for a drive that lasted several hours.

When Rothenberg got to his destination, he was kept in a crowded holding cell for hours. Then, he was shown a video about avoiding prison rape, which freaked him out. Rothenberg had never been to a “real jail” before. His camp in Alabama had been more like a dormitory than a prison. The idea that he might be raped while he was in prison was, naturally, very upsetting.

While I can understand why Rothenberg was unsettled by the video about prison rape, I thought it was kind of progressive. And then, completely by coincidence, I was watching YouTube the other day, and in my queue of suggested videos was a video made by the Alabama Department of Corrections. It was about how to avoid being raped or sexually harassed in prison, and how to make a report if an assault happens. I watched it, and was actually surprised by how respectful and well done it was.

Several inmates spoke about their experiences, and there were also comments by correctional officers and the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections. The commissioner explains that the video was made in response to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA). PREA requires that federal, state and local correctional facilities maintain and enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual assault for both inmate-on-inmate and staff-on-inmate misconduct. Given that this is a law that applies to all facilities, I’m surprised that Rothenberg’s first encounter with an anti prison rape video was at the second facility.

I don’t know how seriously people take this video, but it seems like a good idea to show it…

Since Josh is going to a federal facility in Texas, at least initially, he’ll probably see a film much like this one, only it will be made by the feds. I’m not sure how much this video and others like it actually help prevent prison rapes and sexual misconduct. Based on what I’ve heard about prison, a lot of correctional officers don’t care too much about making sure prisoners avoid harassment. It could be that showing this video is just a way to comply with the law. I still thought it was an interesting video, though… and surprisingly well done. It would be nice if the correctional officers who say they want prisoners to get through their time safely really mean what they say. I don’t like Josh Duggar, and I hate what he did, but I don’t wish for him to meet violence. On the other hand, I don’t have high hopes that he can be reformed.

The above video, by the way, comes with a trigger warning. I didn’t think it was hard to watch. It was certainly a lot easier to watch than whatever Josh was watching on the videos that got him sent to prison in the first place. I’m sure it won’t make him as squeamish to watch it as it did Michael Rothenberg.

Rothenberg writes that after he saw the video, he was taken to solitary confinement, where he listened to other inmates scream. One guy passed him a note begging him to give him the food he wasn’t going to eat, since he was starving. Meanwhile, Rothenberg’s wife and children were in Alabama, planning to visit him in the prison camp in Montgomery. They didn’t know he’d been moved. Rothenberg was threatened at the Lovejoy facility, then sent to Oklahoma City, where he spent three weeks of hell before he was sent to South Dakota. On the flight to South Dakota, another prisoner begged to use the toilet, but was denied. The prisoner said he was going to piss himself, and the guard told him he’d tase him if he pissed himself. The prisoner said being tased would also make him piss himself. When he finally did pee on himself, he got tased, as promised.

Rothenberg was then moved to a private facility in Nevada, where he saw lots of ICE detainees. To comply with the kosher diet he maintained as an observant Jew, he was given nothing but celery and rice to eat. Then, from Nevada, he went to Utah, and on the way there, he was shackled to a Neo-Nazi, who had “white power” tattooed on his knuckles. The Nazi told Rothenberg that he was okay with most Jews. He just didn’t like the Jews involved with banking. Rothenberg wrote:

We remained stuck together for the next two weeks. Over that time he told me his story—how he dropped out of school and followed in the footsteps of his older brother, whom he idolized and who was serving time for a hate crime as well. His father had left them. He was not able to afford his mental-health medication. He took a gun and went to the local synagogue. It was empty; he was intending to kill himself. At the last minute, he decided he couldn’t go through with it and emptied his clip into the empty synagogue instead.

He asked me for forgiveness for what he did. I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing.

When Rothenberg’s mom called to complain and demand accountability as to where her son was, the prison officials said they’d never heard of “diesel therapy”. Hmmm… As I mentioned before, I first heard about “diesel therapy” listening to Jim Bakker, of all people.

Rothenberg is now an ordained Rabbi and prison consultant. It sounds like he’s mended his ways. I hope he avoided being sexually assaulted. I hope Josh does, too. But it’s probably not very comforting to be welcomed to prison with a video about how to avoid and report prison rape. I bet it makes settling in a bit difficult.

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Duggars, law, true crime

Apparently, some people still love Josh Duggar…

Apparently, in spite of his well-known crimes against children, Josh doesn’t have a face only a mother could love…

In a couple of weeks, notorious convicted sex offender and former reality TV star, Josh Duggar, will be headed to some federal prison facility. Josh Duggar is much reviled for the crimes of which he’s been found guilty, which include receiving and possessing pornography involving children, as well as crimes for which he was never punished by a court of law, which include molesting his sisters and a babysitter. I remember that even before the year 2015, when Josh’s earliest crimes became common knowledge, a lot of people thought he was a vile creep. I used to read about him in the forums on the now defunct site, Television Without Pity, and raise my eyebrows at the derisive comments about Josh, who was often called “Smuggar”. People thought he was a massive asshole even before they knew about his many creepy issues with sex. Now that we know about the bad things he’s done, he’s now outright hated by a lot of people.

But Josh Duggar does still have some people in his life who love him. Naturally, Josh’s parents love him. Josh’s wife, Anna, inexplicably still seems to love him. I guess his kids love him… or, I would assume they do. And he still seems to have some friends in his community. I base these comments on the bizarre letters these folks wrote to Judge Timothy L. Brooks, who will be handing down Josh’s prison sentence in a couple of weeks. The first one I saw was from Josh’s mother, Michelle Duggar, who signed her name with a little heart over the “i” in her first name. I would certainly expect Michelle to support her son. She gave birth to him, after all. Her letter to Josh made me cringe a little bit, but of course I knew she’d support him. Jim Bob probably made her do it, if she wasn’t already willing. Below is a screenshot of Michelle’s letter to the judge on Josh’s behalf.

WTF, Michelle?

Anna also wrote a letter to Judge Brooks. I would expect Anna to write a letter, since she’s Josh’s wife. Even if she’s faking having actual love for him, she does depend on him for support. So of course she wants him out of prison as soon as possible, since they have seven children together. Still, I can’t help but remember that Josh allegedly cheated on Anna with a sex worker, who later described him as a violent person. He had a subscription to Ashley Madison. To read this letter, one would think Josh’s problems are very “minor”… Is Anna really this brainwashed?

There are several other letters of support from people in Josh’s life, most of them church people. Below is a lengthy screed written by a woman named Nicole Burress, whose property is adjacent to the Duggar family’s property. Burress describes herself as a former pediatric nurse who has met abused children. Her letter really shocked me, since I would hope that a nurse would know better than a lot of people how damaging abuse is toward children. And yet, she champions Josh for 3.25 pages…

I don’t know anything about Nicole Burress. I do wonder if she wrote this letter in a spirit of genuine concern for Josh, or because Jim Bob threatened her somehow. This woman is a wife and a mother, a Christian, and a former pediatric nurse. And yet, she’s standing up for a convicted sex offender, and acting as if his issues are curable. I think a cure for Josh is extremely unlikely.

Other letters came from LeCount Reber, whose home Josh lived in while he awaited his trial, his father-in-law, Michael E. Keller, Nicole Burress’ husband, Timothy, and David Waller, who is a pastor and Josh’s brother-in-law. Most of the letters bring up times in the past when Josh did something “kind” or charitable. Some of the letters describe Josh as “polite” and even “gentle”. One person pointed out that Josh “didn’t choose this life” of notoriety, and he will never enjoy privacy. To that point, all I can do is scratch my head. How does not having privacy excuse Josh from downloading and viewing material depicting sexual abuse of children? Was that the cause of Josh’s perversion? I tend to think not.

I think of all of the letters I’ve read, though, Michelle’s gives me the most pause. Yes, I would expect her to love her son. I would expect her to want him to be out of prison… although it does puzzle me that she’s not just as caring toward her daughters, who were among Josh’s first victims. But in her letter, she writes about how Josh played games with his kids, took them hiking, and built them forts. Okay… so he did “daddy” things with his kids, as I would expect. But how does this excuse Josh for what we know he did? And why doesn’t Michelle spare a thought for the four daughters who endured Josh’s perversions when they were kids? As a mother of 19 children, doesn’t Michelle have any regard for the children who were harmed by her son’s actions? I get that she’s Josh’s mom, but doesn’t she have any empathy for the parents of the victims, who would probably like to skin Josh alive or burn him at a stake?

I’m not sure how effective these letters are going to be as Judge Brooks considers Josh’s sentence. I think a lot of people will be very outraged if Josh doesn’t get a harsh punishment. Granted, he doesn’t have a prior record of criminal misconduct, but he definitely should have had one. The only reason he doesn’t have a police record is because no one reported the crimes before the statute of limitations expired. He clearly has a real problem, and it’s not safe for him to be around children. I hope Judge Brooks pays more attention to the statement made by the mother of one of the children victimized in the material that Josh downloaded. The child’s mom wrote:

“I can find no words to express the fury I feel at those who participate in this evil,” she stated, “or my scorn for any attempt to minimize the responsibility by feeble claims that the crime was ‘victimless.’ My daughter is a real person. She was horribly victimized to provide this source of ‘entertainment.’ She is exploited anew each and every time an image of her suffering is copied, traded or sold.”

And the child herself had a comment for Josh:

“Don’t you know no one should do that to a little girl!” she wrote. “Don’t you know it hurts!”

Obviously, for all of the positive character qualities that Josh allegedly possesses, he has done some very bad things. And while I would never advocate for him to be treated inhumanely, because I don’t advocate for cruelty, I do think he needs to be taken out of society. I also think that he’ll one day get out of prison. When that happens, he will reoffend, unless by some miracle someone comes up with a way to treat pedophilia.

My heart goes out to Josh’s victims, especially his children, who really “didn’t ask for this life.” Imagine the horror of being the child of a reality TV star whose fame is now overshadowed by the infamy of being a sex offender. What will it be like for those children, as they grow up with the shadow of Josh’s disgusting and disgraceful crimes hanging over their heads? Imagine being one of Josh’s sons. I suspect they may have a difficult time finding wives some day. Who would want to have Josh as a father-in-law? That’s only one aspect of how hard it’s going to be for Josh’s children in the coming years. They are really going to suffer, although they’ll presumably be safer from their father’s obsessions.

I will be surprised if Josh gets the 20 year maximum, but I sure hope he’s in the jug longer than the five years his attorneys have requested. What he did wasn’t harmless… and it’s part of a worrying trend in Josh’s life. He’s clearly a deceitful person, who only disguises himself as decent and God fearing. Underneath that smug exterior, there’s someone with some very serious antisocial qualities. So… while I understand that some people still love Josh Duggar, and they hope that the judge grants him leniency, I have a lot more concern for the children who were hurt by him. I think their safety should count for much more than Josh’s fans’ hopes for leniency. But we’ll see what the judge decides in a couple of weeks.

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law, true crime

My thoughts on Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial…

This morning, Bill and I were talking about Kyle Rittenhouse, who’s been all over the news this week. Rittenhouse sobbed during his testimony about the night of August 25, 2020, when he killed two men and wounded another. Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time, had traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin from his home in Antioch, Illinois. The teenager had gone to Kenosha to help “protect” property and act as a medic as protesters flooded the street, angered that police had shot and wounded a Black man named Jacob Blake.

From what I’ve read, the protest had become violent and chaotic. Protesters burned down several buildings and were destroying police cars. And yet, there was Kyle, driven by his mother over state lines, and carrying an AR-15 rifle, purchased for him by a friend who was over 18. At 17, Kyle Rittenhouse was too young to buy the weapon himself.

According to his testimony, Kyle Rittenhouse was being chased by the protesters he ended up shooting with the AR-15. He says he was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and later injured Gaige Grosskreutz. Although Rittenhouse has maintained that his actions were done in self-defense, prosecutors have argued that Rittenhouse “created the peril through his own reckless actions that caused others to fear for their own lives and led directly to the violence.” However, according to the article I linked, “mountains of video and photo evidence appear to show Rosenbaum acting aggressively and chasing Rittenhouse, Huber striking him with a skateboard and Grosskreutz pointing a pistol at him.”

So this wasn’t a case of a person cold-bloodedly walking up to someone and shooting them. This wasn’t a situation in which the victims were completely blameless. No matter what I might think about Kyle Rittenhouse’s actions or the wisdom of his decision to attend the protest with a weapon, the fact is, there’s evidence that he was being attacked by the men he shot. And that really weakens the prosecution’s case, in my view.

When I first heard about this case, I wondered what in the hell made Kyle Rittenhouse think his “services” were needed at a protest in another state? Why did he feel like he needed a weapon, when he was supposedly there to “help” protect property and tend to the injured? What was his mother thinking when she brought her 17 year old son to Kenosha and turned him loose on the streets?

According to an article published by the University of Rochester Medical Center, “the rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.” Kyle, at age 18, still has several years to go before he’s “fully baked”. The article continues:

…recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.

In teens’ brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.

I have read that Kyle Rittenhouse has been associating with white supremacists. Even if that’s true, I remember that he’s still a teenager, and is likely highly impressionable and impulsive. That doesn’t make his actions right, nor does it mean that I think he should get off “free and clear”. But I do think it mitigates his case somewhat. There must be a reason why Kyle Rittenhouse has ended up in this situation. There is a backstory that leads up to his decision to try to offer “help”, where clearly it wasn’t in his best interests to do so. Again, he’s still a teenager… and he obviously doesn’t yet have the more solid judgment or reasoning skills that most responsible adults have.

According to the NPR article I linked earlier in this post, a number of legal experts are saying that they think Kyle Rittenhouse will be acquitted of most of the charges. Prosecutors are now trying to get Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder to allow jurors to consider lesser charges. This is because the prosecution’s evidence has been as useful for the defense as it has been for the prosecution.

In fact, Gaige Grosskreutz, who, as the lone survivor, was supposed to be the prosecution’s “star witness”, has made several inconsistent statements. He’s also admitted that he was, himself, carrying a pistol on an expired permit on the evening Rittenhouse shot and wounded him.

Defense attorney, Corey Chirafisi, cross-examined Grosskreutz, and asked “It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him — advanced on him with your gun, now your hands down, pointed at him — that he fired, right?”

And Mr. Grosskreutz responded, “Correct.” as one of the prosecutors put his head in his hands.

Yeah… I wouldn’t say that’s a good look for the prosecution. It doesn’t excuse the fact that Kyle Rittenhouse had no business being involved in the protest, but Grosskreutz doesn’t exactly inspire sympathy when he admits that he had a gun, too, and wasn’t carrying it legally.

Yikes.

Rittenhouse took the stand in his own defense, and sobbed so hard that Judge Schroeder called a recess. He testified that he reached for the rifle as “Rosenbaum chased him and reached for his rifle, as Huber struck him with the skateboard and as Grosskreutz advanced on him with the pistol.” Rittenhouse said that he feared for his life. Frankly, based on that description, and especially considering his age, I can’t blame him for being terrified that the three men might kill him.

When Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger cross-examined Rittenhouse, he asked, “You understand that when you point your AR-15 at someone, it may make them feel like you are going to kill them, correct?”

And Rittenhouse responded, “Mr. Rosenbaum was chasing me. I pointed my gun at him, and that did not deter him. He could have ran away instead of trying to take my gun from me, but he kept chasing me. It didn’t stop him,”

My guess, not having been there, but having personally experienced being hopped up on adrenaline, that none of the people involved in this altercation were thinking straight. They were probably all in a state of “fight or flight”, brought on by extreme fear, aggression, and an overload of testosterone and adrenaline.

Given that, I don’t see Kyle Rittenhouse as a cold-blooded murderer who is undeserving of mercy, even if I am personally disgusted by his politics, and I realize that he’s now killed two men. I also don’t believe that most people who commit serious crimes when they are minors should have their lives ruined. While I’m certain Kyle knew that killing is wrong and against the law, he didn’t, and still doesn’t, have the mind of an adult. He proved that his judgment wasn’t very sound when he decided to attend the protest alone, stayed out after curfew during a protest, lied about being an EMT, and carried a weapon that he wasn’t legally permitted to have.

But the case hasn’t gone very well for the prosecution, which is why they’re asking the judge to allow jurors to consider lesser charges. I think the lesser charges are probably reasonable, but based on what I’ve read about the judge, I have a feeling he might not allow it. He seems somewhat sympathetic to Rittenhouse. Edited to add, Bill says the judge is allowing the lesser charges to be considered. Of course, the final verdict is up to the jury.

Hmm… this doesn’t look so good for the prosecution.

It will be interesting to see what happens in this case. A verdict is expected next week. Based on what I’ve read, both about the case itself, and the judge involved, I have a feeling Mr. Rittenhouse will not be spending long years in prison, as a lot of people seem to hope he will. While I agree that he was wrong to kill two men and wound another, and he had absolutely NO BUSINESS being at the protest in the first place, I don’t think he should rot in prison. I also hope he wises up about the right wing white supremacist types who have championed his cause. If he continues to hang around with them, there’s a good chance he will end up in trouble again. And the next time, the case against him might be much more compelling.

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healthcare, law

One brave Texas physician has already defied the new abortion ban…

The featured photo was taken at a Mexican restaurant in San Antonio, where Bill and I lived before we moved back to Germany, and where our absentee ballot votes go when it’s election time.

Abortion is probably the last thing I want to write about today. That’s why I reposted four book reviews. Trust me… this is a topic I’m getting really tired of revisiting over and over again. I feel like this issue should have been settled about fifty years ago. But it’s hot news right now, and too many people seem to think it’s right to deny women this basic right to determine what happens to their own bodies. So here I am, writing about this again…

Actually, today’s post may be a bit more upbeat than outraged. One of the first news items I read this morning was in the Washington Post. It was about San Antonio based OB-GYN Dr. Alan Braid, who wrote an op-ed about how, on September 6, 2021, he violated Texas’s new abortion ban law. A woman received an abortion from him. Although she was still in her first trimester, she was further along in the pregnancy than six weeks. According to the article:

“I understand that by providing an abortion beyond the new legal limit, I am taking a personal risk, but it’s something I believe in strongly,” Alan Braid, a San Antonio OB/GYN, said in an op-ed in The Washington Post. “I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. . . . I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”

As I read that part of the article, all I could think of was– wow… what a BRAVE man. This is a man who cares about women and women’s health. He’s put himself at great risk. I would say that not only is his career at risk, but his very life could be at risk. He practices medicine in a state where just about anyone is allowed to carry a gun, and there are many religious nuts running amok.

I had to read Dr. Braid’s op-ed for myself, so I clicked the link in the article I read about it. In his opinion piece, Dr. Braid explains that he started practicing medicine on July 1, 1972. I was eleven days old on the day Dr. Braid began taking care of women’s health. I will be 50 on my next birthday. This is a man who has been in his field for a LONG time, and has seen and done a lot.

Dr. Braid graduated from the University of Texas medical school, and during his time as a med student, he was taught that abortions are an “integral part” of women’s health care. However, when he began practicing, abortions were effectively outlawed. It was only legal for a pregnant woman to get one if a psychiatrist certified that she was suicidal. I find that limitation curious, given that some women have medical issues that would also call for terminating a pregnancy for the sake of her health.

In those days, if a woman wanted an abortion, Dr. Braid would advise her to travel to a state where abortion was legal– California, New York, or Colorado. Some would go over the border to Mexico, which incidentally just recently decriminalized abortion. That’s interesting, isn’t it? It used to be, people from Mexico would come to the United States for medical care; but now, thanks to the extremely high prices of medical care and ridiculous laws such as Texas’s S.B. 8, Mexico may soon see more American women coming into the country for medical care.

As of September 1, 2021, Dr. Braid found himself in a similar situation that he faced in 1972. A 42 year old woman came to see him. She was pregnant, though she already had four children, three of whom were under age 12. Dr. Braid told her she should go to Oklahoma, a nine hour trip one way. He even told her he could help with the funding. The woman said, “Who’s going to take care of my kids? What about my job? I can’t miss work.”

Dr. Braid wrote:

Though we never ask why someone has come to our clinic, they often tell us. They’re finishing school or they already have three children, they’re in an abusive relationship, or it’s just not time. A majority are mothers. Most are between 18 and 30. Many are struggling financially — more than half qualify for some form of financial aid from us.

Several times a month, a woman confides that she is having the abortion because she has been raped. Sometimes, she reports it to the police; more often, she doesn’t.

Texas’s new law makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

And I have noticed that Texas is also doing nothing to help pregnant women, either. I have not read or heard of any child or family friendly policies being put into place to help pregnant women get the care they need. I have not heard for a push for better sex education or making contraception widely available, easily affordable, and accessible to everyone. I have heard a lot of slut shaming, though.

Yesterday, I read another article about this new law. The focus was on Johnathan Mitchell, the main architect of this legislation that violates women’s self-determination and privacy. Mr. Mitchell is a graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, a very conservative Christian school. I knew about it before I heard about Mitchell, since I once worked with a guy who attended there. It was back in the 1990s. I remember my co-worker was very smart, even though he was selling ice cream at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was also VERY Christian. Anyway, I digress… except to say that I know Wheaton College is a prestigious, selective school, but it’s also a school for Christians.

Mr. Mitchell wrote, in a brief for the Supreme Court:

“Women can ‘control their reproductive lives’ without access to abortion; they can do so by refraining from sexual intercourse… One can imagine a scenario in which a woman has chosen to engage in unprotected (or insufficiently protected) sexual intercourse on the assumption that an abortion will be available to her later. But when this court announces the overruling of Roe, that individual can simply change their behavior in response to the court’s decision if she no longer wants to take the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.”

Based on this comment, I’m assuming that Mitchell doesn’t believe that women can get pregnant as a result of rape and incest. I’m guessing he’s akin to Missouri Republican Todd Akin, who famously said “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Did either of these two men ever take a biology class? Have either or them ever studied sex education? Sure, women sometimes get pregnant because they, or their partners, or both parties were “careless”. But not all sexual intercourse is consensual and, in spite of what these men seem to believe, sometimes women DO end up pregnant afterwards.

Aside from that, sometimes pregnancy makes women very sick. Sometimes it even threatens their lives. I don’t understand why, in the age of healthcare privacy laws such as HIPAA, a woman should have to justify her need or desire for an abortion to anyone. But I haven’t heard or seen any provisions in the new Texas law that allows for that scenario, either. Instead, the law encourages neighbors to spy on each other and file lawsuits in healthcare situations that absolutely none of their business. What makes this law even more sickening is the fact that the people might theoretically sue haven’t suffered a personal loss due to a woman’s decision to have an abortion. But, by suing, they may stand to gain a financial incentive, which seems very unethical to me.

I will admit, however, that Mr. Mitchell is certainly correct that a woman can “refrain” (I hate that word) from having sexual intercourse. And, quite frankly, it would serve the men of Texas right if women went on a sex strike and denied them that pleasure. In fact, I hope Mitchell isn’t having sex and never does again. If I were his wife, I would certainly keep my legs closed around him. He should be deeply ashamed of himself.

In another article I read about this issue, author Chavi Eve Karkowsky writes:

“Every week, I see examples of morally necessary pregnancy terminations that, under the Texas law, could put doctors in legal jeopardy. In one case, a 14-year-old with brain damage had been raped by a caregiver. In another, my diagnostic ultrasound 15 weeks into a patient’s pregnancy showed that her fetus had developed an empty space where a brain should be and would not survive more than a few hours past birth. In another case, a patient, whose heart had become weak during her previous pregnancy and had never fully recovered, sought an abortion so she could live to care for her toddler.”

Can you even imagine? Can you fathom being a woman in any of those situations? Or a doctor? It’s sickening.

I totally get that many people find abortion distasteful and morally wrong. I find it distasteful, too. It’s probably not a choice I would make for myself, but I can’t say I would never make it. Because there are situations when it really is the right thing to do. I am lucky enough to be in a situation in which I could go elsewhere for an abortion if I needed one. I am also at a point in my life at which I won’t be affected by potential pregnancies.

However, this new law does open up a Pandora’s Box that could affect other people besides women of childbearing age. Who’s to say that, based on this precedent, lawmakers don’t try to screw with people’s healthcare privacy in other areas? What if a law was designed to deny vasectomies to men? What if we incentivized private citizens into reporting on the men who want vasectomies by offering a $10,000 bounty? That’s just one example off the top of my head. The same theory could easily extend into other controversial areas… say, gender reassignment therapy, or marijuana use, or euthanasia… I’m sure I could think of more if I tried.

Anyway, my hat is off to Dr. Alan Braid. I think he’s a hero. This may be one of the most lifesaving actions he’s ever taken in his entire medical career. I know he’s a good man. I knew it when I read this comment from him:

I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. I have spent the past 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”

What a dedicated, brave, inspirational, kind, and excellent doctor Dr. Alan Braid is. He deserves all of the respect and all of the support that is coming to him.

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celebrities, law, true crime

Bill Cosby has been sprung from the joint…

Last night, I was startled by a headline about the man who was once called “America’s Dad”. Bill Cosby, who has spent the best part of the last three years in a Pennsylvania prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004, was released from the joint on a technicality. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s 2018 conviction for sexual assault, for which Cosby was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in a maximum security prison. As of September, Cosby would have served the minimum time of three years.

He’s out of the jug.

Cosby was released because of a “non-prosecution agreement” he had with a previous prosecutor who had decided not to prosecute Cosby for sexual assault. The agreement meant that Cosby should not have been charged. Although more than sixty women have come forward to allege that Cosby had also victimized them, the statute of limitations has passed, making any future prosecution unlikely. According to The New York Times:

In their 79-page opinion, the judges wrote that a previous prosecutor’s statement that Mr. Cosby would not face charges, which paved the way for Mr. Cosby to testify in a civil trial, meant that he should not have been charged in the case. It was a 6-to-1 ruling, with two of the judges in the majority dissenting on the remedy, which barred a retrial.

In 2005, Cosby was investigated following allegations from Andrea Constand that he had given her drugs and sexually assaulted her. Former Montgomery County district attorney, Bruce L. Castor, had stated in a press release, at the time, that he had found “insufficient evidence” to criminally prosecute Cosby. Ms. Constand then brought a civil suit against Cosby, which they settled in 2006. Cosby eventually paid Constand $3.38 million. In the course of that civil suit, Cosby made incriminating statements against himself, based on assurances by Castor that he would not be held criminally liable.

In December 2015, Bruce L. Castor’s successors reopened the criminal case against Cosby, just days before the 12 year statute of limitations would have expired. Over 60 women had come forward to accuse Cosby of sexually assaulting them– the case was gathering steam just as the #MeToo movement was heating up, which no doubt increased pressure for Cosby to be convicted.

Cosby had admitted during the 2006 civil suit that he had given “quaaludes to women he was pursuing for sex”. That evidence was used in the criminal case against him in 2015, but because he’d had that agreement with Castor, he never should have been charged. Consequently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that “…in light of these circumstances, the subsequent decision by successor D. A.s to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby’s due process rights.” 

Although I know a lot of people are disappointed that Cosby was released, personally, I don’t have much of a problem with it. Cosby is almost 84 years old, essentially blind, and extremely unlikely to repeat his crime. I doubt any women will be visiting him in an attempt to bolster their careers. I also doubt any women with sense would accept drinks or pills from Mr. Cosby. Any women that would do that should have their heads examined.

Cosby definitely should have been prosecuted years ago, but he wasn’t. And it does sound like his rights to due process were violated. Since I would hope for fairness and due process if I, or someone I love, was ever accused of a crime, I expect proper due process for other people. That includes people who are clearly guilty, which I believe wholeheartedly that Cosby is.

We should all remember that the fact that Cosby was released from prison on a technicality doesn’t make him any less culpable in his crimes against women. His reputation and career are now pretty much ruined. Hopefully, he’ll go home and live out his remaining years quietly with his faithful wife, Camille. Unfortunately, I don’t think Cosby will keep quiet. He’s always fancied himself someone with something to say, and I suspect being released from prison will embolden him. In fact, after being released, Cosby “called in to local Philadelphia radio station WDAS-FM, where he said the audience needed ‘clarity, they need guidance.'”

“Because this is not just a Black thing,” Cosby said. “This is for all the people who have been imprisoned wrongfully regardless of race, color, or creed. Because I met them in there. People who talked about what happened and what they did. And I know there are many liars out there.”

Camille Cosby, made some shameful comparisons of Cosby’s case to that of Emmett Till’s. Emmett Till was a black fourteen year old boy who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of “leering” at a white woman. Mrs. Cosby also blamed the media for “demonizing” Bill Cosby– although Cosby had no issues using the media to promote his long and successful career. It just doesn’t wash… but at least now that Cosby’s been released, some of the accusations of racism regarding his case might be put to rest.

As for Bruce L. Castor, he’s gone on to bigger things. This year, he served as a lawyer for Trump during his second impeachment trial. Castor says that he feels “exonerated” by the ruling allowing Cosby his freedom. According to The New York Times, Castor said:

“I was right back in 2005 and I’m right in 2021… I’m proud of our Supreme Court for having the courage to make an unpopular decision.”

Except Cosby actually admitted to drugging women he was pursuing for sex. Castor didn’t find sufficient evidence in 2005 to prosecute “America’s Dad”, but clearly Cosby was guilty. I don’t quite understand why Castor would congratulate himself for not finding evidence against Cosby in 2005, when it’s quite clear that Cosby had a long standing habit of sexually assaulting women and getting away with it.

I do think it’s good that Cosby went to prison. I’m sure that experience was very humiliating and educational for him, although upon his release from the joint, Cosby is claiming that a lot of people who have been imprisoned are innocent and have been victimized by “liars”. That may be true. There may be people in prison who don’t belong there. However, I don’t believe Cosby is among the innocent people who were falsely imprisoned. He openly admitted to drugging women he was pursuing for sex. Cosby’s release is strictly because court officials screwed up– not because someone “lied”.

I think Andrea Constand should be commended for bravely coming forward and doing her part to stop Cosby from hurting other women. If Cosby were younger and still posed a serious threat to women, I might be much more outraged that he’s been released from prison. But I honestly don’t think he will continue his habit of drugging and raping women. As a general rule, I think prison should be for people who are violent and pose a threat to others. That’s just my personal opinion.

I know a lot of people think Cosby should continue to rot in prison to serve as an “example” to others. But in my experience, people who are narcissistic criminals aren’t influenced by what happens to others. They think they’re above it, and they don’t ever expect to get caught. Cosby got away with his crimes for years. Why shouldn’t he have believed that he’d continue to get away with what he was doing? He didn’t learn from watching O.J. Simpson go to prison, did he? I notice we *finally* don’t hear much from O.J. anymore.

And look at Trump. Trump openly admitted to assaulting women and countless women have accused him of assaulting them, including a teenaged girl. Yet he was the president, and many people still want him to lead the country, despite his dismal record and obviously terrible leadership. Unfortunately, Americans are often hesitant to punish powerful, charismatic men. The proof of that is in the Jello Pudding Pop…

Anyway… while I empathize with everyone who is disappointed that Cosby is out of prison now, I don’t see how being outraged about this will make things better. What’s done is done. Cosby can’t be prosecuted again for this crime. That’s a feature of our legal system. So my being outraged about Cosby’s release will do nothing more than raise my blood pressure. Given the state of the world today, and the rising numbers of people getting sick with new variants of COVID-19, I figure I have bigger fish to fry. So since I can’t do anything about this, I wish Mr. Cosby luck, and I hope he stays out of trouble. He would do well to STFU and be grateful, too… maybe show some humility. I don’t think he will, though. His kind never does.

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