“Earth needs a virtual country: #Rationalia, with a one-line Constitution: All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence[.]”
–Neil deGrasse Tyson on twitter
The sting was a part of a statewide effort from the Washington State Patrol and local law agencies around the state. Detectives posted an ad on craigslist titled “New to Spokane. Young fam fun.”
“We used a number of different personas in ways where we went out and talked to people who wanted to do bad things to kids,” said Sgt. Carlos Rodriguez of the Washington State Patrol.
In all, detectives said they got more than 1,000 replies to the ad. One of those that allegedly applied was Robert Dahms.
Court documents allege Dahms replied “I love young, I don’t care how young,” to what he allegedly thought was a mother offering her six and 11-year-old girls and her nearly 13-year-old son.
“Child sex sting arrests ‘terrifying’ to Spokane parents”
“Dr. Olsen, you are a board certified expert in the areas of sexual orientation and sexual identity, is that correct?”
Deputy Public Defender Sheila Grey Allen slowly walked toward the witness-box as she casually referred to her notes. Her manner was practiced and even to the casual eye, she gave the impression that she knew the answer to every question she asked, which, in fact, she did.
“Yes, that’s correct.” Benjamin Olsen, Ph.D in Psychology, was a professional expert witness who traveled all over the country at the request of various legal offices, in order to render his testimony, however, this case promised to be a landmark if the jury could be swayed to look at the evidence in a certain way. The talk show circuit would beckon Dr. Olsen, and lucrative book deals were most assuredly waiting in the wings.
“Have you had an opportunity to examine my client,” Allen subtly indicated the man with the receding hairline dressed in the yellow jailhouse jump suit seated at the defense table behind her, “Jesse Martine?”
“Yes I have,” Olsen responded calmly belying his internal excitement. “I issued my report last week.”
“Note that Dr. Olsen’s report was admitted into evidence yesterday afternoon,” Allen addressed the bench.
“So noted,” the bench replied.
“On what evidence do you base your report’s conclusion, Dr. Olson?”
“Based on the latest research, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM V, defines an adult attraction to individuals significantly younger than the individual in question to be a sexual orientation, as opposed to pedophilic disorder which is considered a compulsion.”
“Mr. Martine has been accused by the state of soliciting children between the ages of six and thirteen for sexual contact through Craigslist ads. As an expert in the field of sexual orientation and sexual behaviors, do you find my client to be sexually disordered?”
Allen, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Paul Edwards, and the Judge had all read Dr. Olsen’s report, so the psychologist’s reply was not unanticipated.
“No, I do not.” The crowd in the courtroom murmured loudly and one woman in the back started to cry.
“Order.” The judge banged her gavel and the noise died down.
“Your examination of Mr. Martine indicates he experiences attraction but not compulsion, is that correct?”
Edwards half stood and stated “Objection. Leading,” then immediately sat down.
“Dr. Olsen, did your examination of Mr. Martine show he experienced a compulsive attraction to act out his sexual desires with children?”
“No, it did not. I have determined that Mr. Martine exhibits what we now believe to be an acceptable sexual orientation in his attraction to children of the same calibre as heterosexual or homosexual attraction to the opposite or same-sex respectively.”
This time, the Judge had to pound her gavel several times to stop the shouting of the crowd. News reporters in the courtroom were frantically tapping notes into their handhelds. Viewers would be riveted to the six-o-clock news reports.
“Do you believe Mr. Martine suffers from a mental illness?”
“Not according to our modern diagnostic criteria, Ms. Allen. Mr. Martine and those like him have historically been imprisoned or confined to psychiatric institutions based on outmoded social prejudices, and it is my expert opinion that not only should he be released from custody, but that the legal cases of all such individuals like him should undergo strenuous review with the…”
The outburst from the crowd was uncontainable. The audience rose as a single entity and court bailiffs had to restrain several people to keep them from invading the areas of the defense table and witness stand.
The Judge was forced to order a recess and to call for additional deputies to clear the courtroom so order could be maintained for the rest of the trial.
Nine days later, the proceeding ended in a hung jury.
Prosecution and Defense considered the expense of a re-trial, but given the profound issues introduced by Benjamin Olsen and other expert witnesses, the Judge believed it was critical to reach a definitive verdict based on the legal and psychiatric evidence at hand.
The fate of Jesse Martine was only a superficial issue, since thanks to Dr. Olsen’s testimony, if Martine was found not guilty based on the evidence of the latest psychological research, then not only would others like him, when accused, be found not guilty (if accused at all), but the law might even have to be changed to decriminalize what for centuries had been considered a crime against society’s most vulnerable citizens.
After all, you don’t imprison a person because of their sexual orientation.
I should say that an error in the wording of the DSM V referred to Pedophilia as a “sexual orientation”. The specific text was:
“…refers to a sexual orientation or profession of sexual preference devoid of consummation, whereas pedophilic disorder is defined as a compulsion and is used in reference to individuals who act on their sexuality.”
The error has since been corrected in electronic versions to read “sexual interest” rather than “sexual orientation,” according to The Washington Post , as of October 31, 2013, and subsequently in all future print runs of the diagnostic manual.
I just wanted to illustrate that, depending on what you call “evidence,” justice isn’t always achieved. “Evidence,” scientific or otherwise, is not always such a simple, easily grasped notion at all.
I’m not laying anything like my wee fictional tale at the feet of Neil deGrasse Tyson. I know this wasn’t what he was talking about in his short “tweet.” However, any system, including rationality, can be carried out to an extreme at the cost of humanity.
I also want to say, before someone starts in on me, that I’m not “bashing” various sexual orientations by writing this story. I’m just making a point.