Just Shoot Him

And be done with it for God’s sake.

UPDATE (James Joyner):  An excerpt from the story for those who can’t click through or in case the story goes away:

Matt Freeman Sex OffenderMatthew 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.

FILED UNDER: Bureaucracy, Government, Law and the Courts, US Politics,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. PD Shaw says:

    The story is confusing, it suggests that he was charged with statutory rape (she was 15, he was 17), but he confessed to “Criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree involving force or coercion.” Age is irrelevant to that charge. She could be 50, and he could be 40. But the story also reports states that the police report says the victim was “not forced to commit any act” nor “did she ask him not to commit any act.” “My daughter was a willing participant,” Scott said.

    Did the kid get bad advise from his public defender? Does the reporter understand what happened? Has the law changed? (I followed a link embedded in the story)

    The only reason I looked at it is that sex between 15 and 17 year olds is not statutory rape in most places. Apparently not in Michigan either (someone between 13 and 16 can consent to sex with someone within five years of age).

    Confusing.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    On further review, I am mistaken.

    In Michigan sexual contact (touching) is legal between 13-16 years olds no more than five years apart. But sexual penetration is illegal under 16 years of age, irregardless.

    So apparently the kid was guilty of a felony under Michigan law, and his public defender got him to plead to a lesser misdemeanor based upon force/coercion that wasn’t evidenced.

    The kid should get a pardon from the governor.

  3. The kid shouldn’t need a pardon from the governor. Legislatures should stop pandering to yahoos by passing stupid, Draconian laws, prosecutors should get their heads out of their asses and the general public should grow the f**k up.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    michael, he was convicted of (and admitted to) the crime of forced sexual conduct. Unless you want to champion the cause that misdemeanor rape is something that women should grow up about, your remedy isn’t going to help.

    Anyway, the power to pardon and give reprieve from convictions and sentences deemed unjust is with the executive, not the legislature. I don’t think you can pass a law to help him now.

  5. PD,

    Even if we set aside the question of whether that act itself should have been criminal, the question at this point is whether someone who committed said offense ought to labeled as a “sex offender” for the rest of his life–hence Steve’s original post in the first place.

    Whatever the young man might be, there is no evidence presented here that his a paedophile or even way a threat to small children.

  6. Franklin says:

    Some yahoo will probably come here to mention that:
    a) he did break a law, and
    b) he violated the terms of his parole by stealing some video games, extending his sex offender status from 10 to 25 years, and
    c) his mom moved the family to across the street from a school, which she should have known was a bad idea.

    That’s all true, but there’s all sorts of wrong here. I understand “terms of parole”, but to have a petty theft result in you being banned from living in certain places for an additional 15 years is, to be polite, not proportional. The biggest problem, as Mr. Taylor points out, is that he is not a pedophile so far as we can tell from the article.

    He does appear to cause his share of problems, although I could have been convicted of worse in my teenage years if they had only caught me. In his case, the errant laws and CJS is probably going to make a full-blooded criminal out of a slightly rambunctious teenager.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    FWIW, I don’t like these sex offender registries; I think people should serve their punishment and then be accepted back into society.

  8. anjin-san says:

    Part of the function of our criminal justice system is to put young black men in the system and keep them there, so in a twisted way, the system is working here.

  9. Eric says:

    Part of the function of our criminal justice system is to put young black men in the system and keep them there, so in a twisted way, the system is working here.

    Anjin, your cynicism is dragging me down and it’s only 9 AM. 😉

    Even if we set aside the question of whether that act itself should have been criminal, the question at this point is whether someone who committed said offense ought to labeled as a “sex offender” for the rest of his life–hence Steve’s original post in the first place.

    Agreed. This case also reminds me of the various “Three Strike” laws around the country, where stealing cookies can get you a life sentence if you’ve been convicted of more serious crimes before.

    As with many of the previous posters above, I agree that there needs to be more proportion between crime and punishment, at least in this case. It’s hard to see how we can rehabilitate someone so young (but troubled) when we keep bringing him back into the criminal justice system like this.

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    Granted, 15-year-old girls in our society were commonly married with children within living memory.

    And it was the girls’ parents who consented rather than the girls themselves.

  11. anjin-san says:

    And it was the girls’ parents who consented rather than the girls themselves.

    Sounds like one more way that society was telling girls/women that they do not own their own bodies…