Our judges need to be tougher on sexual predators

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I had recently turned 13. Although I was disappointed that I did not wake up with hair on my chest or with a five-o’clock shadow, I knew that it was a milestone in my life, leaving the kid behind and heading into the world of a teenager. Little did I know at that time, that at 13-years-old, my life would change forever.

I had recently turned 13. Although I was disappointed that I did not wake up with hair on my chest or with a five-o’clock shadow, I knew that it was a milestone in my life, leaving the kid behind and heading into the world of a teenager. Little did I know at that time, that at 13-years-old, my life would change forever.

I went to my first overnighter with the youth group at my church. It was a fun time, the youth directors were much younger and cooler than my parents and for me, it was one of my first teenage experiences, being away from home other than a sleep over at my friends house a couple of houses down the street.

We stayed up late, played games, sang songs and as a group had a wonderful time. I was one of the youngest, but I felt comfortable and older being able to hang out with the teenagers. We all buckled down for the night’s sleep, spreading ourselves out on the floor throughout the fellowship hall. I fell asleep happy and content.

Then in the middle of the night, I awoke to someone pressing against my body and touching me in ways that I never thought possible. In that moment in time, I froze. Even today, I do not know whether it was pure fear or survival instincts, but I could not utter a sound, nor did I want to. So I pretended that I was still asleep and lay there while my youth counselor molested me. In looking back, I am fortunate that we were in a setting with many people. I dare think what could have happened if we had been alone.

I got up the next morning and acted as nothing had happened, but was never so ready to leave a place. This time, there was a dramatic change in me overnight, and it haunted me for a long time.

At that time, and at that very young age, I felt there was no one to turn to. My parents had not even had “the talk” with me—much less did I have any real understanding of sexual behavior. I had learned how babies were made from the teenager that lived next door, and after confirmation from my older sister, thought it was gross because the only way I could relate to it was with my parents. So I told no one.

That night, I lost an innocence that never found its way back home, the loss of trust with someone you look up to and the feeling of sanctuary in a religious institution. What I never understood was why he chose me. About the only thing that helped me get through this time is that miraculously, somehow I knew inside that I had done nothing wrong. Wrong had been done to me.

As much as I have harped about our overcrowded prison system and how it is killing California’s economy, it is good to hear that non-violent drug addicts are being released, many that had sentences that span more than 20 years while sexual predators get away with a little more than a slap on the wrist and credit for good behavior. Although I cannot profess that I understand laws that govern judges, I do know that there is something terribly wrong with this picture. Our prisons were built for people like this and our legislators need to close the loopholes that allow these criminals to get away with these unredeemable acts. This has to stop and we need to do our best to do everything to keep our children safe. One way to begin is by evaluating the decisions made by our local judges before checking their name on a voting ballot.

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