Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Legal Nightmare

A friend of mine just called to tell me that a friend of his is in jail because his wife told the police that he molested their 3 1/2 year-old daughter. He says he's innocent and that his wife made these allegations because she's been cheating on him and wanting a divorce and he wouldn't agree to it. He says he has no money to hire a good attorney because, irony of ironies, his cheating wife spent it with her boyfriend.

I don't know my friend's friend, and I have no idea whether he's telling the truth. Virtually everyone accused of a crime like this is going to deny his guilt as long as there isn't overwhelming evidence against him, and, even if there is, he's likely to deny it anyway. It's awfully difficult for me to believe that the police would arrest someone and throw him in jail for something like this unless they had some pretty strong corroborating evidence to the wife's accusation.

But suppose, just suppose he's telling the truth. My friend knows him pretty well and seems to believe him, and he had this man and his young daughter over for dinner just the night before the man was arrested. What can this poor guy do, if formal charges are filed against him, except have some overworked and underpaid public defender assigned to his case? And suppose he is charged and can only be released on bail that he can't afford to pay? What can he do except languish in jail where accused child molesters are reviled by all and live in constant mortal fear, and lose his job when he can't go to work next week? Even if he's released before or after charges are brought, isn't he in danger of losing his job anyway? And then what?

If what he says is true and his wife has done these terrible things to him, I don't know how he could keep from exacting swift and terrible revenge, unless it were out of selfless love for the very person he's accused of having selfishly abused. In the absence of such motivation, I don't know how I could refrain from it.

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