Just Shoot Him
UPDATE (James Joyner): An excerpt from the story for those who can’t click through or in case the story goes away:
Matthew Freeman is struggling to move on with his life, six years after being convicted of having sex with a high school girlfriend who was one year below the legal age of consent. Freeman, who is required to register as a sex offender, is facing a new criminal charge that accuses him of illegally living within 1,000 feet of a school.
His latest trouble started as Freeman was shooting hoops in his Pittsfield Township driveway Aug. 3. According to a police report, a state trooper pulled up to Freeman’s house across the street from Ann Arbor’s Carpenter Elementary School, where children were on the playground at 7:30 p.m. Freeman told the trooper Pittsfield Township police told him “it shouldn’t be a problem” to live near the school. He had registered with Pittsfield police 27 days earlier using his family’s Dalton Avenue address. Freeman told the trooper he was on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry because he had “sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 17.” He also said his girlfriend’s mother got “upset with him and pressed charges.” The trooper aimed a laser gun at the school building and determined Freeman was living 326 feet away, the report said, breaking the law.
Freeman, 23, is charged with a school safety zone residency violation, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. He was arraigned Dec. 4 and is scheduled to return to court Friday. “I’m outside sweating hard, playing basketball, working on my drills,” he said. “I ain’t looking at no kids. I can’t even go outside and play basketball on my own hoop?”
Freeman pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving force or coercion and was sentenced to probation in September 2003, court records show. By pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge, he admitted to having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, who was two years younger. In Michigan, the legal age of consent is 16. Freeman violated his probation by going near his girlfriend and stealing some video games from a store, records show. As a result, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail in January 2004. The two are no longer dating.
Freeman will remain on the registry until Aug. 17, 2028, according to the registry’s Web site. Had he successfully completed his probation, he could have petitioned the court to be removed from the registry after 10 years and also wouldn’t have been subject to the school safety zone violation.
Truly a bizarre case.
We can argue, I suppose, as to whether a 15-year-old has the maturity to consent to sex. Granted, 15-year-old girls in our society were commonly married with children within living memory. But we’ve simultaneously pushed up adolescence and physical maturity through diet and lifestyle changes and delayed emotional maturation by coddling kids and extending a dependent relationship with parents well into their 20s. But it’s one thing to say that a 15-year-old isn’t equipped to give informed consent when dealing with pressures from a grown man and quite another to say she can’t do it with a high school boyfriend.
It’s worth noting that Freeman is not a model citizen. He violated his probation by committing an unquestioned crime (theft). But it’s hard to see how our chances of rehabilitating him increase by labeling him as the worst form of pariah.