Ya know, I keep thinking that nothing can shock me anymore... And I keep being wrong.
Richard W. Thompson was accused and convicted of sexual contact (over a period of months) with a 12 year old girl. The judge, Judge Kristine Cecava, in her infinite wisdom decided that this poor 5'1" man would have a rough time in prison --so she gave him probation instead. She could have sent this CONVICTED PEDOPHILE to jail for ten years, but he didn't have to serve one day because he's short?
"I'm concerned about the message this sends to victims and perpetrators," said Marla Sohl with the Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition, adding that it shows more concern is being placed on the criminal and his safety in prison than the victim.
But Joe Mangano, secretary of the National Organization of Short Statured Adults, agreed with the judge's assessment that Thompson would face dangers while in prison because of his height. "I'm assuming a short inmate would have a much more difficult time than a large inmate," said Mangano, who is 5 feet 4 inches tall. "It's good to see somebody looking out for someone who is a short person." (source)
Joe Mangano has been summarily relieved of his duties at the National Organization of Short Statured Adults (who knew there was such a thing?) and they have issued and apology and said they DO NOT agree with the judge's decision.
The amazing thing is that even the ACLU is befuddled at this ruling:
"The judge's reasoning confounded Amy Miller, legal director for the Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"I have never heard of anything like this before," she said.
No one has ever come to the ACLU to complain of height discrimination, she said. And using Thompson's height as a reason to avoid sending him to prison is surprising, because neither the U.S. nor state constitution provides protections based on physical stature, she said.
A spokesman for the prison system said Thompson's height would not put him at risk among the state's 4,400 inmates. There are protections available in prison to help inmates who feel threatened, prison spokesman Steve King said, but to his knowledge, no one has ever taken advantage of them based on fears related to their height.
"He's not the shortest guy we have in prison," King said. "We've got some short guys that are as tough as nails. We've got people from all ages, physical stature of all sizes, in general population."
State Sen. Ernie Chambers, a longtime critic of judges, said he was baffled by the sentence.
"If shortness is an excuse and protection from going to prison, short people ought to rob banks and do everything else they would wind up going to prison for," Chambers said. "We're talking here about a crime committed against a child, and shortness is not a defense." (source)
Guess I'm off to rob a bank...