A prominent, up-and-coming Republican gets sentenced in accordance with state law for a sex crime he pled guilty to, and what do I feel?
Concern. For him, not The Children.
Glenn Murphy was the president, for several weeks, of the Young Republicans National Federation and the chair the Clark County, Indiana, Republican Party. After he and another Young Republican spent the night at a friend's house to sleep off a YRNF function, the other Young Republican awoke to find Murphy sucking his cock.
Murphy's defense was consent. Then he apologized for the whole thing. Then his lawyer tried to "come to an understanding" with the victim.
After several other men came forward with similar accusations against him, he pled guilty and got a life sentence.
To a sex offender registry, that is:
The plea bargain calls for a six-year prison term, with four years suspended. That means Murphy could serve only one year in prison under Indiana's policy of reducing a sentence by a day for each day of good behavior.
After leaving prison, Murphy would be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Carmichael scheduled formal sentencing for June 30, when she will announce her decision on whether to allow the deal.
According to the Indiana Sheriff's Department website
, if he stays in Indiana:
- He will have to verify his address once every 90 days.
- He will have to report address changes within 72 hours.
- Neighborhood associations will be notified that a sexually violent predator is living in their neighborhood (yes, he has to register as a "sexually violent predator").
- Anyone in the state can look up his name and find out that he's a sexually violent predator.
- He will have to report any absence from his primary address for more than 72 hours for the rest of his life.
- He will never be allowed to work or volunteer on school property, at a youth program center, or at a public park.
- He will first be able to appeal his status as a "sexually violent predator" 11 years from now.
I'm fully respectful of what the victim went through, the humiliation and mental suffering, by being forced to participate in sex when he didn't want to. No one should have to wake up to such a humiliating experience, and no one should be put in the position of absolute powerlessness that sexual assault puts them in.
What Glenn Murphy did was wrong and he deserves to be punished. I'm sure he has some issues to work through as well, so he also needs treatment. And if we live in a humane society, both he and the victim would be able to get access to a psychologist to help them through this (I have no idea if that's what they're getting or not).
But the punishment still seems a bit... harsh. One might say cruel.
The two years of prison? Absolutely. The life-long registering as a "sexually violent predator"? Weren't we supposed to give people a chance to reform?
Imagine being told that a "sexually violent predator" was living next door to you. It's not just some gossip telling you this, but the state of Indiana. Do you feel afraid? Should you feel afraid?
But the worst part is all the people who are going to see that he's a "sexually violent predator," worse than a regular sex offender, and harass him till he moves out. These laws were implemented under hysteria surrounding sex offenders and anxiety around sex, not any evidence that they prevent sex crimes.
Being demonized in this way prevents these people from finding work, finding stable housing, and leading fulfilling lives. From Human Rights Watch:
Laws aimed at people convicted of sex offenses may not protect children from sex crimes but do lead to harassment, ostracism and even violence against former offenders, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch urges the reform of state and federal registration and community notification laws, and the elimination of residency restrictions, because they violate basic rights of former offenders.[...]
The 146-page report, "No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the United States," is the first comprehensive study of US sex offender policies, their public safety impact, and the effect they have on former offenders and their families. During two years of investigation for this report, Human Rights Watch researchers conducted over 200 interviews with victims of sexual violence and their relatives, former offenders, law enforcement and government officials, treatment providers, researchers, and child safety advocates.
"Human Rights Watch shares the public's goal of protecting children from sex abuse," said Jamie Fellner, director of the US program at Human Rights Watch. "But current laws are ill-conceived and poorly crafted. Protecting children requires a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach than politicians have been willing to support."
In many states, registration covers everyone convicted of a sexual crime, which can range from child rape to consensual teenage sex, and regardless of their potential future threat to children. Unfettered public access to online sex-offender registries with no "need-to-know" restrictions exposes former offenders to the risk that individuals will act on this information in irresponsible and even unlawful ways. There is little evidence that this form of community notification prevents sexual violence. Residency restrictions banish former offenders from entire towns and cities, forcing them to live far from homes, families, jobs and treatment, and hindering law-enforcement supervision. Residency restrictions are counterproductive to public safety and harmful to former offenders.
Sex offender laws reflect public concern that children are at grave risk of sexual abuse by strangers who are repeat offenders. As the report documents, however, the real risks children face are quite different: government statistics indicate that most sexual abuse of children is committed by family members or trusted authority figures, and by someone who has not previously been convicted of a sex offense.
In addition, the laws reflect the widely shared but erroneous belief that "once a sex offender, always a sex offender." Authoritative studies indicate that three out of four adult offenders do not reoffend. Moreover, treatment can be effective even for people who have committed serious sex crimes.
Various studies have also shown that treatment can reduce recidivism up to 59%.
To access the Indiana sex offender registry page, I had to acknowledge the following:
Information in this registry may not be used to harass or threaten offenders or their families. Harassment, stalking, or threats may violate Indiana law.
Why would they make me read that if they weren't afraid that I might actually do it?
I don't know why he needs to be kept out of parks and school property, either; his crime wasn't against children. There's no reason to believe that he's a pedophile considering that the victim was an adult.
I suppose that as a gay man (like Glenn Murphy, whether he can admit it or not) I'm particularly sensitive to this. I've never done anything like what Murphy did, but, then again, I was raised by a hippie father and a leftist mother who went to college with the resistance to a right-wing Latin American dictatorship. They were both educated, open-minded, and accepting of gay people, and so it was easier for me to accept that part of myself when I came of age than it is for many other gay men.
But if it wasn't? If I turned self-hating gay Republican closet case? Who knows, I might be doing things like Glenn Murphy here or Larry Craig or Mark Foley.
Not that it's that far from me anyway; as recently as 2003 I could have been forced onto a sex offender registry just for having consensual sex with another adult man in the wrong state.
I hope that he gets the treatment he needs. But I also hope that we develop the compassion needed to say, hey, he's guilty of a sex crime, now what can we do to actually improve everyone's lot instead of reaching for the closest knee-jerk reaction?