Hannah Graham – Part Two: Systemic Failure

Hannah Graham – Part Two: Systemic Failure

Part One:  Original post-Part One

You may ask yourself how the 48 Hours report on the murders of college-aged women ties into A Child’s Tears which focuses on sexual crimes against children.  The connection is that regardless of the age of the victim we have offenders working in our schools, in our daycares, and with our youth groups without the public’s knowledge that they are offenders.  More often than not, across the country, our system refuses to file charges against sexual offenders.  This failure to charge offenders is part of the silence that keeps predators hidden and thus enables them to keep on offending.

Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. was free to stalk his prey and free to murder Hannah Graham because of this fault in our legal process.  In the second part of the 48 Hours report “Hannah Graham: Dangerous Connections” Charlottesville Attorney Lloyd Snook stated, “When there is no actual prosecution that’s where the system fails”.  If there are no charges filed, then no prosecution occurs and there is no requirement to report concerns about an offender — to anyone.  Snook’s statement reflects a truth across the United States.

The laws in place and the parameters of our current system failed to put Jesse Matthew on record as an offender and he walked among us free to rape and free to murder.  This man openly worked in schools and with youth.  Similarly, the laws in place and the parameters of our current system fail to put on record sexual offenders against children and adolescents.  They too walk among us free to rape and free to murder our children.

Let me start with a definition.

Reason To Believe (RTB): Abuse or neglect occurred based on a preponderance of the evidence. This means when all evidence is weighed, it is more likely than not that abuse or neglect occurred (https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/child_protection/about_child_protective_services/investigation.asp).  This is also known as a “Determination” against an offender.

Throughout the United States, these persons with RTB Determinations do not have charges filed against them.  Therefore, just like Jesse Matthew, there is no requirement to report concerns about those predators of children– to anyone.  Additionally, those predators with a Determination of RTB where officials failed to bring charges do not have to register as offenders.  Therefore, they are free to work with children, they are free to ingratiate themselves, they are free to offend,  and they are free to murder.

The extent of Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. crimes has yet to be revealed.  However, looking at his history we can see where, were warnings in place, we may have prevented some of his crimes.  At the very least, the public would have had access to information about him.  Moving forward, we can stop those like him from accumulating victims by taking a stand.  We can do this by educating ourselves.  We can do this by staying informed.  We can do this by staying vocal.  We can change the laws and practices about public knowledge and about prosecuting sexual offenders.  In doing so we can empower our Child Protective workers, our Law enforcement, and our District Attorneys to be proactive against predators and to file charges without fear of reprimand by their superiors.  As a society, we should move toward the idea that the number of cases won against predators is not the measure of an effective system.  The measure of an effective system is the number of children we put closer to safety by both allowing Determinations to be put on record without prosecutions, and by strengthening officials’ ability to file charges against predators so we can prosecute.  Remember, lack of prosecution is, as Snook stated, “Where the system fails”.

Stay informed, make phone calls, and send letters or emails to your elected officials.  Let them know your concerns and that you are following their voting record.  You can be the difference.  JDP

Get Involved:

Gil and Dan Harrington’s determination to seek justice for their daughter, Morgan Dana Harrington, generated a new kind of online community that created dialogue and sought information about Morgan’s murder and the person who committed the crime.  That community “Help Find Morgan Dana Harrington” generated interest and awareness beyond the area of Virginia and eventually encompassed more than their daughter’s case.  Just like John Walsh revolutionized the willingness and ability of society to report the whereabouts of known criminals, Gil and Dan have now revolutionized the ability of unrelated persons to effectively work together to solve a crime.

You can find their page on Facebook:  Help Find Morgan Dana Harrington


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