Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Equal Justice?

"You can, however, wish the state of Texas had shown similar vigor in protecting the children of some other religious groups with sexual practices that seem out of touch with modern society. Say, for example, the church that prescribes celibacy for its priests. The state not only turned a blind eye for many years, but at times it actually abetted the Roman Catholic Church. ... The church quietly reached a settlement with the family. A judge ordered the terms of the settlement sealed. It was likely for a substantial amount of money, because the family told the district attorney it did not want the boy to testify against the priest. The district attorney acquiesced and dropped the charges. ... The majority's ruling meant we couldn't know for sure whether the secret agreement amounted to the family declining to prosecute the priest after receiving hush money from the church. Put another way, the sealing order may have masked the church paying money raised from the faithful to keep a child molester from going to prision", Rick Casey (RC) at the Houton Chronicle, 27 April 2008.

In some states, an agreement as RC describes would be illegal as "compounding a felony". It might be punishable under Texas Penal Code 36.05 as witness tampering. Under any circumstances, I think it bad public policy.

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