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Brian R.
13th July 2003, 10:37
July 13, 2003

Victims Angered and Upset by Ruling Freeing Molesters
By JOHN M. BRODER

OS ANGELES, July 12 George Neville Rucker, an 82-year-old former Roman Catholic priest, was on a two-month cruise off the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, when, the authorities said, his past finally caught up with him.

Alaska state troopers arrested him, harnessed him on a tug boat and returned him to Los Angeles, where he faced charges of molesting 12 girls over 30 years, starting a year after he was ordained as a priest in 1946. If convicted, he faced a possible prison sentence of 26 years.

But this week, before any evidence was presented to a jury, Mr. Rucker walked out of court a free man.

He is among perhaps hundreds of people in California who are being freed from trial or jail as a result of a United States Supreme Court ruling on June 26 overturning a 1993 California law that allowed charges against child molesters protected by a previous deadline on prosecutions.

State officials said the decision affected as many as 800 people accused of sexual offenses or already convicted.

The ruling and the release of the offenders has infuriated victims and frustrated prosecutors.

"We're still licking our wounds here," said William Hodgeman, head of the sexual crimes unit of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. "Conservatively, we have over 200 impacted cases in L.A. County alone, with the prospect of it going higher."

He added, "Without question, there will be established child molesters free from custody and allowed to go back into the communities from whence they came."

Among those the decision frees, prosecutors said, are Roman Catholic priests accused in some of the most notorious molestation cases in California. In addition to Mr. Rucker, prosecutors dropped charges this week against two other former priests. The decision applies to all molesters recently charged in crimes that occurred before 1988 or recently convicted in such crimes.

Among them is John Anthony Salazar, a former priest charged with molesting a student at a rectory at a Catholic high school and an altar boy at a church in Los Angeles in the early 1980's.

"It devastated me and my family," said Carlos Perez-Carrillo, who said Mr. Salazar molested him repeatedly at St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey 20 years ago. "You wait for justice for 20 years, and then it's taken away overnight."

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1993 California law that, effective in 1994, extended the deadline for prosecuting sexual crimes violated the Constitution's prohibition on laws that make an action illegal after the fact.

Until 1994, child molesters could not be prosecuted in California more than six years after the offense. The new law extended the time in which prosecutions were allowed and authorized prosecutions that the old law's deadline had barred.

Under the new law, an adult could provide evidence of sexual molestation before age 18, regardless of when it occurred, and prosecutors had a year to bring charges.

The Supreme Court's ruling said the Constitution's ban on retroactive laws prohibited prosecution for offenses that had been previously barred by the passage of time. The ruling took effect immediately, and several people accused of sexual offenses were released the next day.

"Trials were stopped, people were released from prisons, investigations were closed," Bill Lockyer, the California attorney general, said in an interview. His office is compiling records of cases affected by the decision, and he estimated that 500 to 800 prosecutions would be dropped.

"The court has the last and final word on these matters, and I respect their sensitivity to the constitutional provision," Mr. Lockyer said. "But I think they're wrong. These crimes were committed; they're awful crimes; and turning these people loose creates risks for all children in this state."

The ruling allows charges for molestation after 1988 because only the retroactive extension of the deadline for prosecution was overturned, he said.

On Monday, charges were dropped against Mr. Rucker, who was accused of sexually assaulting 12 girls from 1947 to 1977. The youngest victim was 7, prosecutors said.

After his arrest on the cruise ship, Mr. Rucker was freed on bail and was to have been tried later this year. He has been living in a Los Angeles home for retired priests.

Mr. Rucker's lawyer, Donald Steier, said the California law was defective and he would have challenged it at trial.

Prosecutors cannot conceal their dismay at the effect of the decision.

"I am frustrated and disappointed," said Rosanne Froeberg, chief of sex crimes prosecution in the Orange County district attorney's office. "I have gone through a series of emotions, not dissimilar to a divorce."

Ms. Froeberg said this week that she had identified eight cases that had been dismissed, or would be, and three sexual offenders who would be released from prison. Three of her cases involved clergy, she said.

The worst part, she said, has been breaking the news to victims and victim advocates.

"I have to let them know that these people will be getting out of custody" without any provision for probation, parole or protective orders, she said. Those affected by the decision will not have to comply with the state's law that requires sexual offenders to register with the authorities and notify the communities in which they intend to live.

Katherine Freberg, a lawyer in Irvine, Calif., who represents several people who say they were abused by priests, said the ruling would affect not only the estimated 800 child molesters in the California justice system but also many others.

"Potentially thousands and thousands of other pedophiles will get away with their crimes because other state legislatures will be reluctant to pass new laws," Ms. Freberg said. Lawmakers in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and Florida, she said, had been considering extending the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against children but would now be unlikely to try.

Mr. Perez-Carrillo, 37, said that his molestation by Mr. Salazar had undermined his relationship with the church, which he said had been the center of his life when he was growing up in the San Fernando Valley. Now he said he was equally disillusioned with the state.

"The implications of what happened at the Supreme Court that 800 possible child molesters and rapists are going to be set free is just overwhelming," said Mr. Perez-Carrillo, a supervising social worker in Los Angeles. "The Supreme Court needed to look at the protection of children and they didn't. This is just a devastating blow for children."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

This is truly ignorant

bsdgeek
13th July 2003, 10:40
This deserves a big WTF? :confused::mad:

Wombat
13th July 2003, 11:22
Yeah, no kidding. The Supreme Court made the right call.

Brian R.
13th July 2003, 13:15
I have to add that some of these released prisoners were probably innocent of the charges. Certainly, not all were.

KvHagedorn
13th July 2003, 14:28
Notice how they singled out the priests to mention them by name? Just try and tell me these people don't have an anti-Christian axe to grind. If there were 3 priests of the 800 people mentioned, they would get all the notoriety.

btw, what exactly IS a "molester?" this big witch hunt tends to treat these people like they were all equally evil. Apparently someone who affectionately pats a little girl's bottom is just as evil and deserving of death as someone who kidnapped the girl from her home, mentally abused, tortured and raped her, and then took her to the woods and killed her. It belittles the cases that are really abuse when everything else is lumped in with them, and makes it taboo for anyone to befriend a child (and probably makes kids so starved for adult friendship and guidance that they are more likely to fall prey to the real molesters.) This moronic LCD society we suffer under makes people actually believe that there could be no other motive than rape for any interaction of an adult with a child. These kids are going to be so antisocial when they grow up that this world will suffer greatly for this attitude.

Joel
13th July 2003, 14:48
This is the one type of case that I have seen where you are basically considered guility until you can prove you are innocent. It usually is a matter of the supposed victim's word against the person accused and the way the procescutors present these cases they do everything they can to play very heavy on the emotions of the juryors and not logical facts. Also even if the person is found innocent they still have a stigma that will sit over their heads for the rest of their lives and in most cases are barred from taking any actions themselves against those who wrongfully accused them. Which is not right because there have just been too many of these type of cases being brought up where someone is trying to make a quick buck or where a child gets pissed at an adult because they don't get their way and accuses them of molestation.

I agree 100% that there needs to be a statue of limitation in these type of cases.

Joel

Gurm
13th July 2003, 15:04
Absolutely.

There will be, sadly, a few cases where the person really DID molest a bunch of little kids.

But you know what? If it happened FIFTY YEARS AGO, and the kids are JUST NOW COMING FORWARD... c'mon people.

I'm not saying all these cases are like that, but I hate witch hunts. And I've had a personal friend go to jail for 9 years of a 15 year sentence for "raping" his stepdaughter. Guess what? He didn't do it. There was NO evidence presented at trial other than the word of the stepdaughter and her "friend", who was a drug-abusing teenage prostitute. This was a business owner, a christian, a standout member of the community... who got ****ED by the system.

I'm all for protecting the innocent.

Are there a lot of child-abusing priests? Sadly yes.

Is everyone "accused" of child molestation guilty? Sadly, no.

Statutes of limitations are there for a reason. Cope.

- Gurm

Dr Mordrid
13th July 2003, 15:10
Sad but true, and now many of those charges were brought by the mother in a contested divorce case? Hmmm....

Dr. Mordrid

Gurm
13th July 2003, 15:32
Or by a teenage daughter who got into the custody of the parent she didn't like?

Or by a girl with an axe to grind for any reason?

- Gurm

KvHagedorn
13th July 2003, 15:49
Yeah. God forbid a father show his daughter any sort of affection in this godforsaken world, or mom might get jealous, file for divorce, and say he was raping her..

"He was doing her, I know he was.. I know because all men are wired to be sexual predators! I remember when I was 13 years old I was just walking outside (in my tight tank top which barely contained my new, gravity-defying 34Ds) and this old guy looked at me! (he must have been at least 25!) So I know first hand that all men are perverts who want to rape little girls!"

And if the hapless husband is lucky enough, he might even get a man-hating lesbian judge. :rolleyes:

Gurm
13th July 2003, 15:51
Yeah, that happened to my friend.

The judge attached a "personal note" to his file, saying that she personally found him to be without remorse, the worst kind of predator, and whatnot.

EVERY REQUEST FOR APPEAL was denied.

He got out on parole with time off for good behavior. Sadly, he will forever be a convicted felon and "sex offender".

- Gurm

Jon P. Inghram
13th July 2003, 15:55
Where are all the nuns who molested little boys? We need some balance in the news. :p

KvHagedorn
13th July 2003, 16:00
Originally posted by Gurm
Yeah, that happened to my friend.

The judge attached a "personal note" to his file, saying that she personally found him to be without remorse, the worst kind of predator, and whatnot.

EVERY REQUEST FOR APPEAL was denied.

He got out on parole with time off for good behavior. Sadly, he will forever be a convicted felon and "sex offender".

- Gurm

If that judicial bitch so summarily ruined someone's life unjustly, and he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't, she deserves whatever revenge he sees fit to unleash upon her. :mad:

Brian R.
13th July 2003, 16:08
I initially had a quite different take on this issue. Sounded like alot of sex offenders were being let off the hook. I guess it's not as clear cut an issue as I thought. I am probably unreasonably paranoid about accused sex offenders since I have a couple daughters at home...

Gurm
13th July 2003, 17:07
Oh, I'm COMPLETELY paranoid about predatory perverts. Even with a little boy at home. The issue is seldom clear-cut though.

- Gurm

bsdgeek
13th July 2003, 17:14
Originally posted by Brian R.
I initially had a quite different take on this issue. Sounded like alot of sex offenders were being let off the hook. I guess it's not as clear cut an issue as I thought. I am probably unreasonably paranoid about accused sex offenders since I have a couple daughters at home...
I was thinking the same way when I read it.

Dr Mordrid
13th July 2003, 19:25
Originally posted by Brian R.
I initially had a quite different take on this issue. Sounded like alot of sex offenders were being let off the hook. I guess it's not as clear cut an issue as I thought. I am probably unreasonably paranoid about accused sex offenders since I have a couple daughters at home... If you want to study up on a case showing how the legal system can, and does, railroad people look up the McMartin case. That was one of the biggest miscarriages of justice ever. The McMartin case lasted longer and cost more money than the OJ trial :rolleyes:

McMartin links (http://www.ags.uci.edu/~dehill/witchhunt/cases/mcmartin.htm)

LA Times story (http://members.cox.net/brucelgary/McMartin_Fiasco.html)

Dr. Mordrid

Brian R.
13th July 2003, 19:26
OK Thanks

Actually, now that I read about it. I remember this case quite well. It was very bizarre. I remember thinking that it must be a fabrication. The tales told by some of the children were just totally unbelievable.

The PIT
13th July 2003, 23:43
Unfortunatley todays society is so screwed up about molesting children innocent actions can be taken the wrong way.

Like a friend who was playing with his daughter in a pub bouncing her on his knee with everyone staring at him. He thought it was funny but a sad reflection on todays society.


Things that I can remember. Walking to town early one morning I can hear a child crying somewhere. A few minutes later a four to five year old appears crying Daddy Daddy then runs back down a side road to a bmw which has it door open. No sign of daddy and the only other person who had been ahead of me all the way down was disapearing rapidly out of view. The child got back in the car but there was no sign of daddy. If I had a mobile I would have rang the police and then kept a long way away. Since I didn't so I left the scene. The reason if Daddy came round the corner he'd had said child pervert and I'd have been arrested.

Another time in a local park this kid fell of his scooter. It wasn't bad but since the parents were some way away there was no way I was going near him. I stood a good couple of feet away with the scooter and waited until his parents arrived.