Congratulations to District Attorney Dan May, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kim Kitchen and defense lawyer Ann Kaufman for bringing a responsible resolution to a difficult case involving a girl who shot and killed a man charged with routinely raping her for three years, since she was 12 years old.
The girl, now age 16, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter for shooting Jon R. Hazard June 1. In return for her plea, the girl can expect a sentence of two years probation and mandatory counseling; no prison time.
Police said they found sexually explicit images of the girl on Hazard’s computer. Nine days before Hazard’s trial, the girl shot and killed him in Palmer Park.
Anyone inclined to think prosecutors were too lenient on the girl should consider the odds against a local jury so much as slapping her on the wrist. Children may be safer because she killed him. The community doesn’t feel threatened by the girl.
The public has rightfully grown weary of horrible crimes against children. Society doesn’t pity sex perverts, and is willing take on some of its biggest and most valued institutions — up to and including the Catholic Church, if necessary — in order to rid our world of those who prey on kids. Penalties are increasing for molestation throughout the country. South Carolina has the option of imposing the death penalty on second offenders who rape children. Oklahoma has the death penalty for predators who rape children under the age of 14.
If the girl had shot Hazard as he raped her, or prepared to rape her, the shooting would have been in obvious self-defense and she would face no criminal repercussions at all. Police have reported no indication Hazard was attacking his victim at the time of the shooting, but it is easy to believe the girl viewed him as a constant threat who would harm and torment her for the rest of her life — even in the courtroom, perhaps.
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Children, listen up: Do not shoot those who violate you sexually unless you have no better choice. This girl was lucky. Not all defense lawyers can do what Kaufman did for her. Not all prosecutors handle these matters with the common sense and decency shown by May and Kitchen. If someone molests you, tell other adults immediately. Tell parents, teachers and the cops. Don’t stop telling until the pervert is in jail. Use force only as a last resort to protect yourself, if the system fails to protect you.
Now perverts, listen up: Children can become frightened and desperate when adult freaks have sex with them. Understandably, they may take matters into their own hands. Remember Jon Hazard. He was the suspect in a young girl’s rape and the girl shot him dead. Pay extra-special attention to the most important fact of this case: Some say good riddance, and others don’t care. The girl will walk free, and most are likely to support that decision.
— Wayne Laugesen, editorial page editor, for the editorial board