A grassroots lobbying effort has been launched in New York called “People Against Lenient Sentences” (PALS) after David Saladin, who pled guilty to sexually abusing two children, ages six and four, was released with no jail sentence on a plea deal offered by the state. In exchange for pleading guilty to five counts including first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child for sexual contact, he received probation of ten years and a $1400 fine. Unbelievably, he was also granted a special accommodation from the judge that allowed him to be near children at his wedding at his request despite his status as a level-three sex offender.
According to the Warren County Sheriff’s office, Saladin molested the two children at a daycare facility where he worked called Child Care at Willow Bend. The case never went to trial because Saladin agreed to a deal that allowed him to plead guilty to the charges without admitting guilt.
PALS formed the lobbying group after the mother of one of the victims came forward on social media to share her heartbreak over the injustice to the victims of the heinous crime. She published the statement she read to Judge John Hall which said in part,
When my daughter was six years old, she believed in magic. She believed in fairies, and unicorns, and the goodness in people. When she was six years old, she was in first grade, learning how to spell, and how to add, and how to read. When she was six years old, she believed that if she only wanted it enough, she could fly with the birds. When she was six years old, she smiled at strangers, and she sang all the time, and when she dreamed, those dreams were sweet, and uncomplicated, and pure.
When she was six years old, I sent her to Child Care at Willow’s Bend daycare with Mary Chris Dennett, a woman I believed when she said that she would keep my daughter safe. When she was six years old, a shameless, bold, brazen predator whom she had just met, who didn’t even yet know her name, [graphic description of sexual abuse] and stole her innocence for his perverse pleasure. When she was six years old, this monster [graphic description of sexual abuse] and he wouldn’t stop when she said stop. When she was six years old, she learned that she was not safe, that people are scary, that the world can hurt, that just because someone is bigger and stronger than she is means that they can violate her, that her body doesn’t belong to herself, that her small, child’s body can be used for someone else’s sexual gratification.
In February of 2018, after my daughter found the courage to tell me that she had been sexually abused at Child Care at Willow’s Bend, the monster was questioned and gave a full confession. I felt relieved; I thought it was over. I had no idea that the monster and his attorney would further victimize my daughter and our family by stretching out this process for 602 days, forcing her to retell the story of her repeated sexual abuse again and again, forcing her to begin trial preparations just days before she started third grade, and forcing her to feel scared and vulnerable over and over again, preventing her from truly beginning the healing process for 602 days.
602 days we waited, we lost sleep, we tried to give my little girl answers when there weren’t any. 602 days we were forced to wait while the monster and his attorney played the system, exploited the young age of the monster’s victims, and took advantage of their legal upper hand. 602 days we waited before the monster and his attorney, Mr. Montgomery, finally, at the last minute, forced our hand, forced us to agree to allow this monster to roam free simply because we could not bear the prospect of forcing my little girl to endure yet another trauma of being ripped apart at trial.
I would give anything for this monster to have sexually assaulted me instead of my sweet little baby girl. I would give anything to have had the opportunity to fight back as an adult, to take him to trial, and to make him suffer the consequences that he so very much deserves. He is getting off virtually scot free because he chose to victimize the most vulnerable among us, small children who couldn’t speak up, and who couldn’t fight back, and who didn’t have a voice. He chose to be weak, and cowardly, and make tiny children his chosen victims. And then he chose to take the coward’s way out, again and again, to take no actual responsibility for his choices, to portray himself as the victim, and to manipulate the system to avoid paying for his crimes against helpless, terrified, forever scarred little children. 602 days this monster refused to take personal responsibility for his actions.
Her full statement can be read on the PALS Facebook post.
Light sentencing for child abusers is a common problem. Less than one-third of convicted child-sex offenders go to prison (Marsh, Patrick & Hopfenbeck 2001-2007).
The United States Sentencing Commission Report put out last January studied sex-offender sentencing in the year of 2016. The results of that study are stunning, showing that in all the federal convictions for statutory rape, criminal sexual abuse, and abusive sexual contact in 2016, no jail time resulted.
State courts are no better. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2003 that the average sentencing for child molesters in America is seven years and actual time served is just three years. More recent numbers did not break out those who assaulted children versus adults, but even when lumped together it shows that the average sentence for these crimes is between two to five years.
One of the reasons for this could be what the victim’s mother in the Saladin case noted. Testifying is extremely hard on children. The Shreveport Times reported in 2017.
Defense attorneys surveyed by The Times said they often encourage clients to plead guilty to reduced charges to avoid a trial and in exchange for less prison time. Prosecutors and victims’ families often accept those pleas to prevent further trauma to the children involved, said Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney Monique Metoyer.
Many young children simply are not emotionally equipped to testify in an open courtroom, Metoyer said.
Sources told PJ Media that Saladin is headed back to court in early December to ask for a reduction in his sex-offender status from a level-3 high- risk, to level-2 medium-risk. We reached out to his lawyer, William Montgomery, to confirm, but as of publishing time did not hear back.
PALS asks for members of the public to hold lawmakers accountable for the light sentencing of child sex abusers.
We stand united as a community to say ENOUGH. We take our cues from these brave young people who are strong enough to stand up and speak out and stop their abuser. We cannot sit idly by while these predators are returned to our communities with little to no consequences. We will fight for the children; we will be their voice.We will change the laws so that child sexual predators will be punished appropriately. We will change testimonial guidelines to minimize the impact on children of providing testimony in a criminal trial. We will hold our elected officials accountable to these children, and we will not rest until we see real, quantifiable results.
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