« This is halloween: wanna read something really scary? | Main | in sickness and health »

Mepham update: big development

previous entries on this story can be found here

All three Mepham High School football players charged with sexually assaulting younger teammates in a hazing incident should be tried as adults, a Pennsylvania prosecutor said today.

In a news conference at the Wayne County Courthouse in Honesdale, Pa., District Attorney Mark Zimmer said he will ask a judge to move all three cases to adult court because "the crimes themelves are so horrific."

This is good news. It was revealed two days ago that the boys brought the broomsticks from home, meaning the "hazing" was premeditated, and not just some silly school pranks gone awry, as some have claimed.

In Pennsylvania, anyone under 18 is considered a juvenile. A prosecutor can directly charge a juvenile as an adult when the suspect is accused of certain felonies committed with a deadly weapon, or if they have been convicted of a serious crime before.

You can see the news conference here.

I'll add my thoughts in a bit.

Comments

Wow. And wow. I'm not sure how great the news that they be tried as adults. As vile and horrific as this behavior is, they're still kids. And you can't tell me that they weren't a product of their environment; an environment populated by coaches, teachers, and parents who make high school sports more important than anything else. These kids are bunch of fuckers who need to be taught a very harsh lesson, but to say having them tried as adults is "good news" is just wrong, in my opinion.

they ARE adults, at least in so far as they should have known better than to have behaved like complete barbarians. and while i'll agree that they are products of an environment that encourages winning at all costs, they, and they alone, are PERSONALLY responsible for their actions. it is a shame that they are going to learn this lesson the hard way, but again: PERSONAL REPSONIBILITY. that's the bottom line.

I agree with about almost everything. I really do. What they did was reprehensible. Terrible. These are the kinds of fuckers that deserve a severe beating, but I just don't think that I, personally, would classify ANYONE as an adult wo hasn't yet seen the world outside of the context of their high school. I don't know. Part of me (a pretty damn big part) agrees wholeheartedly with you, I really do. I did a lot of bad things in high school. I never stuck anything up anyone's ass against their will, but a lot of the things that I did, had I been caught (translation: drugs, drugs, drugs.) and tried as an adult, would have effectively stopped my life short. I would have had to deal with a criminal record for the rest of my adult life. Part of me really thinks that these kids might deserve that, but a slightly larger half doesn't think that you should ever have to answer for something that you did in high school for the rest of your life. Believe me, all of the arguments for trying these junior assholes as adults are viable ones, but I just don't necessarily believe that that's the correct route to take. In the end, I guess it doens't matter what I think, though...

JJ,

I guess each of the three perps should cease to "...answer for something that you did in high school..." as soon as the three victims cease to feel the violation, the shame, and the physical memory of the broomsticks, the pine cone, and the surgery.

Sounds like life to me

Stephen,

I agree with you on almost all levels, I really do. I didn't say these kids should be just let off the hook with 40 hours ocmmunity service and a $200 fine. They should be hit with the stiffest penalties available to CHILDREN because that's what they are. I don't know much about Pennsylvania penal code, but here in Missouri, juvenile convicts can be fully incarcerated up to the age of 18 and forced to live in halway houses until the age of 21.
The victims will have to live with this for the rest of their lives, I know. I know that a story like this hits a lot of emotional buttons, and don't get me wrong, it hits a lot for me too. The victims will have to deal with this for the rest of their lives. It's a valid argument toward making the perpetrators deal with it for the rest of theirs, I agree.
But juvenile penalties can still be very harsh. If hit with the harshest of juvenile punishment (by Missouri standards, anyway. I know, I know, they're not in Missouri, but let me use these just for the sake of argument), these kids could end up in one phase or another of the corrections system for as long as 5 years (for the yougenst one, anyway).
You have to realize though, that even though these kids KNEW what they were doing was wrong, even thought they may have emotionally and physically scarred others for years to come, they are KIDS, and I there's no way I could hold them to the same standard as, say, a 30 year old man who may have done this. I just don't know how to justify putting this on their criminal record for the rest of their lives.
Tell me I'm wrong. I want to be wrong about this one.

JJ, just the fact that they brought the broomstick from home with them, that they knew excactly what they were going to do, warrants more than what the juvenile system can give them in terms of a sentence.

They were not remorseful, they didn't confess to it, they have practically ruined the lives of three young boys and I don't think it's fair to have them walk out of prison in a few years with their whole lives ahead of them and their records sealed.

Michele,

Perhaps not. This case has me really torn. If I come off to anyone as being sympathtic to the plight of people who do things like these, I'm sorry. I'm not. I just think it's very dangerous to set the age (in Pennsylvania, I BELIEVE it's 18[?]) at which individuals are to be tried as adults, but then leave it open to interpretation. I mean, one of these kids was 15 when they did this. That kid is NOT an adult. He is not capable of making ADULT decisions.
I don't think I'd be at peace about this whether they were tried as adults OR juveniles.
I'm going to step off my soapbox and let everyone else debate this now. Perhaps my arguments don't hold any water. A part of me wishes they didn't. (Or at least that I THOUGHT they didn't). I just don't think it's black and white enough to just decide that these kids are adults.
And pardon the deluge of typos in my comments here. I have genuinely wanted to see what sort of replies my arguments would generate, and therefore decided to post hurriedly, proofreading be damned...

No deals. Hang'em all.

A jury will decide whether the crimes were horrific enough to justify convicting these kids under adult laws.

They can't vote, or drink, or even look at porn, but they have to pay taxes and suffer consequences as adults. While I agree that they knew what they were doing, we shouldn't have a double age standard.

OK JJ, you’re wrong. There.

Now, here’s why I think you’re wrong.

First, according to legal lines drawn long ago, yes, the three suspects are indeed “kids.” However, what they did is only the latest in an ever escalating string of sub-adult assaulting behavior that has included aggravated murder done by children as young (to my knowledge) as six. To put it shortly, there is a clear and escalating trend of formerly “adult” violent behavior descending below the traditional line of age eighteen. We won’t even go into all the “Columbines.”

Second, I don’t believe for a moment that the three suspects “knew what they did was wrong.” As the stories surface of their previous anti-social tendencies, it’s clear that wrongness was the furthest thing from their minds. Near the top, perhaps, was a mixture of fear, desire for control, latent perversion, or other pathologies which would give rise to such behavior—but no “wrongness.” Wrongness, in this context, would be a ruler by which a rational person measures and rejects contemplated misbehavior. Michele made the point in re the broomsticks. Too early, too planned, too cold.

Last, why do they need to be tried as adults? Mainly because plotting and carrying out of such behavior is more characteristic of adult thinking and adult style action. But there is a secondary reason which may actually be the more important. That is Example.

Chief of the many (related) reasons we are witnessing behavior in kids which used to appear only in older psychotic sociopaths is because the message these 30 years has been...well, it’s OK. There is no more so called “cruel and unusual punishment.” That started with drawing & quartering, branding and the ducking stool. Fine, but now the phrase is next door to meaning “punishment at all, as opposed to “understanding and some kind of rehab.” As a result of this example, we’re getting cruel and unusual crime instead.

And it’s getting worse, not better. IMO, the longer consequence-free criminal jurisprudence is allowed—by us—to operate, the sharper the reaction—by us—will have to be when we come to the point where we must turn it around. War in the streets, your front yard, and your living room. Plot the curves and tell me I’m wrong. This is not an intellectual excercise JJ. Go out and get a pine cone. In the privacy of your home...just start it. Not so good eh? Does it make you pucker just to think of it? Just imagine it's you in that room, with 15 or 20 of your friends looking on. It's by force, and no one will lift a hand to save you. Your teenage world is now reduced to pain, shame and impotent rage. From now on.

Would there be a payment high enough?

Here’s what I think is needed in this case.

- The 3 suspects tried as adults and sent to prison if found guilty.
- Their parents sued out of their homes and retirement accounts
- The school system containing Mepham pays for all victims’ PRIVATE education and counseling—for life, if necessary.
- The relevant coaches and school administrators sued out of their homes and barred from working in public education in any school accepting Federal money.

Harsh? You bet. But not as harsh as a pine cone up the ass—again and again and again in one form or another throughout this country. It’s message time.

If you have a better plan to motivate parents, schools, "kids" and the ACLU to change their behavior regarding these issues, I'd like to see it. Note, plans which ignore real human behavior, do not show steps of cause-and-effect, and/or have no evidence of efficacy will not be considered.

M-

I just heard on NPR that one of the fathers of the players who are on trial has been found dead. They did not specify his identity or cause of death.

D

Whoops.

You already posted that.

D

You think that is harsh?
A similar incident happened here in New Zealand last year. A group of around 5-6 high school seniors sexually assulted (via broom) another student at an after game party that got out of hand.
Not only were these students tried as adults,(I think the heaviest sentence was about 2 years prison, the lightest 6 months), They also had their names added to a public accessable list/ register of sexual predators/offenders.This will definitely follow them around all their lives and rightly so.
People so quickly forget that there is a victim in these types of crimes. Nothing excuses that type of behaviour in anyone, period.
I'm with you on this one.

The rationale for charging youthful offenders as
adults is that the state will have more time
to teach them the error of their ways. It's not
really a question of whether or not they are capable of adult judgment, knew what they were
doing was wrong or even illegal. Of course, they are children. Obviously. They are not, however, normal children. Normal human beings in their teens should have been socialized by that age. Normal human beings at age 15 are revolted by the thought of torturing anyone else.
Kids like these are sociopaths, plain and simple.
About all our society can do with sociopaths is keep 'em locked up for as long as humanly possible to protect the rest of us. Very few
psychopaths of any age can live peacefully with the rest of humanity. We could do an extensive family analysis to see how they got that way but it doesn't really matter. They are that way and they are not ever going to change. Somehow
the wiring in their brains got messed up somewhere along the way. Sociopaths are often the result of severe childhood abuse of some kind but not always. But mostly, the result is complete lack of empathy for anyone's suffering but their own. My God, I would hate to be the parents of these three. What a horror.

these coaches & that principal are dumber that catshit
there is no limit to reciprocity to bring comfort to those victims
may all you ignorers, and ostritch people rot in hell withg the rest of them
zero tolerance, and that is
bill

these coaches & that principal are dumber that catshit
there is no limit to reciprocity to bring comfort to those victims
may all you ignorers, and ostritch people rot in hell withg the rest of them
zero tolerance, and that is
bill

these coaches & that principal are dumber that catshit
there is no limit to reciprocity to bring comfort to those victims
may all you ignorers, and ostritch people rot in hell withg the rest of them
zero tolerance, and that is
bill

these coaches & that principal are dumber that catshit
there is no limit to reciprocity to bring comfort to those victims
may all you ignorers, and ostritch people rot in hell withg the rest of them
zero tolerance, and that is
bill

these coaches & that principal are dumber that catshit
there is no limit to reciprocity to bring comfort to those victims
may all you ignorers, and ostritch people rot in hell withg the rest of them
zero tolerance, and that is
bill

these coaches & that principal are dumber that catshit
there is no limit to reciprocity to bring comfort to those victims
may all you ignorers, and ostritch people rot in hell withg the rest of them
zero tolerance, and that is
bill

these coaches & that principal are dumber that catshit
there is no limit to reciprocity to bring comfort to those victims
may all you ignorers, and ostritch people rot in hell withg the rest of them
zero tolerance, and that is
bill

HAVING WORKED AT SPORTS CAMPS, AT LEGITIMATE COLLEGE PROVIDED FACILITIES, NOT IN THE WOODS, THERE IS A LOT TO ACCOUNT ON BEHALF OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT WHO WILL ULTIMATELY PAY THE PRICE, WHICH IF THEY CAN AFFORD TO STAFF THE SCHOOL WITH 6 COACHES FOR FOOTBALL OBVIOUSLY HAVE NO CONCERN FOR FINANCES. WHO MADE THE PROFITS FROM THE OPERATION OF THE CAMPS, THE SCHOOL DISTRICT PROBABLY BORE THE EXPENSE OF INSURANCE AND THE LIKE WHILE SOMEONE INDEPENDANTLY REAPED THE PROFIT. THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY SHOULD HAVE PROVIDED SECURITY IN THE ABSENCE OF COMPETENT PERSONNEL IN THE FACT THAT THIS WAS NOT A HAZING INCIDENT BUT A VIOLENT CRIME AGAINST INDIVIDUALS. THE LACK OF OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT TO ACT RESPONSIVELY AND ACTUALLY SHOW DEFIANCE OF THE PARENTS OF THE VICTIMS DEMONSTRATES A LONG GOING POLICY OF NEGLIEGENCE IN THE MEPHAM H.S. IN ASUMUCH AS IT RECGONIZES ATHELETIC ACCOMPLISHMENT OVER ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE. MANY FORMER STUDENTS HAVE DECLINED RECEIVING AWARDS AT PUBLIC ASSEMBLIES AS IT IS A HUMILIATION TO RECEIVE LITTLE APPRECIATION OVER THE OVERWHELMING REACTION TO A CLUMBSY IGNORANT BRUTE PUSHED THROUGH THE SYSTEM AND CHEERED FOR HIS OVERSTUFFED ATHELETIC PROWRESS.

IF AMERICAN EDUCATION IS TO SUCCEED, ONE NEED CLARIFY ITS OBJECTIVES. TOO MUCH MONEY IS SPEND ON SPORTS AND LITTLE ON ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE. OUR CHILDREN TODAY WOULD RATHER SIT ON A CHAIR AND PLAY COMPUTER GAMES OR ROLL AROUND ON ROLLER SKATES OR ICE BLADES PLAYING SOME SENSELESS SPORT FOR HOURS AND HOURS ON END. AFTER TIREING OF BOREDOM THEY THEN SIT IN FRONT OF A T.V. FOR HOURS WATCHING OTHER SPECTATOR SPORTS EVENTS EATING JUNK FOOD AND WALLOWING IN BEER UNTIL THIER
SIZE INCREASES TO THAT OF KING KONG.

WELL ENOUGH SAID, IT IS TIME TO CONSIDER THE CRIMES AS CRIMES, THOSE RESPONSIBLE ARE THE SUPERIORS WHO HAVE FAILED TO ACT IN LIGHT OF WARNINGS AND PREVIOUS INCIDENTS WITHIN THE DISTRICT AND HAVE DEFENDED THEIR OWN INCOMPETENCE WITH ARROGANT AND UNCOOPERATIVE COVERUPS OF THE INCIDENT.