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April 4, 2006 - 6:02 am

Can you imagine what would happen if the victims a href=”http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0402bennett02.html”in this case /awere young girls instead of young boys? (Thanks to the reader who sent this story to me.)br /br /blockquoteThe son of Arizona’s Senate president confessed that he and another counselor shoved broomsticks and flashlights into the rectums of 18 boys in at least 40 incidents at a youth camp in June.br /br /Now Yavapai County prosecutors say they will drop all but one assault charge and likely recommend little or no jail time if 18-year-old Clifton Bennett agrees to plead guilty. br /br /A similar agreement has been offered to co-defendant Kyle Wheeler, 19, who faces an additional assault charge for choking three of the boys until they passed out./blockquote br / br /Apparently, sodomizing a young boy with a broomstick and a flashlight does not constitute a sexual violation, merely a “hazing” (whatever that means). br / br /blockquoteProsecuting attorney James Landis explained the plea agreement in court, saying the “broomsticking” was a hazing ritual and a punishment, not sexual assault.br /br /….Landis said in court that the case was never viewed as “sexual in nature,” in part because prosecutors could not prove Bennett and Wheeler had sexual intent. Parents of the victims said Landis told them privately that the incidents occurred while the boys had on clothes or swimsuits and that there was no evidence the defendants are homosexuals.br /br /”We would certainly start from a different perspective if it was girls (as victims),” he said in court./blockquotebr /br /Wow, in a world where a man a href=”http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/09/AR2005100901506.html”can lose his job for being falsely accused /aof trying to sodomize a girl, young men can almost get away scot-free if they actually sodomize boys. What a fair and just system we have.br /br /Update: a href=”http://www.co.yavapai.az.us/departments/Aty/ConcernedCitizenBennett.htm”Sheila S. Polk,/a the Yavapai County Attorney, states that her office sees this case as a “hazing gone wrong” and not as sexual abuse:br /br /blockquoteThere is absolutely no evidence that this was done with a sexual motivation. No penetration occurred, either in the anus or rectum. The victims were not secreted away to a hiding spot while this was done to them. It was done in front of the other campers. In fact, several photographs were taken by other campers. This is hardly the work of sexual predators. Rather, it is the work of two young men repeatedly making poor decisions. We all have heard reports of this sort of thing throughout the United States over many years: hazing gone wrong.br /br /Was their conduct a good thing? No. Was it appropriate? No. Are they being held criminally responsible for their misdeeds? Yes. But to call this “sodomy” or “child molestation” when it clearly is not, harms these victims, unnecessarily taints these defendants and harms the criminal justice system in general. Quite frankly, it is slap in the face to child molestation and sexual assault victims everywhere to put this conduct in the same category./blockquote br /br /a href=”http://www.co.yavapai.az.us/departments/Aty/BennettWheeler.pdf”Read the police report/a and see if you agree with her or not.

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