Saturday, January 14, 2006

Cast Adrift By Judge Cashman

The Anchoress calls him a judge Steven Spielberg could love:
In his “prayer for peace” Steven Spielberg’s film Munich reportedly draws a moral equivalence between Palestinian terrorists and Israel’s response…and he cautions that “fighting back” doesn’t work - it only leads to more violence.
The Associated Press claims that this story was “whipped into a frenzy via Internet blogs” — a snarky aside, showing the growing fear the MSM harbors about the ability of distributive information to change outcomes.

Michelle Malkin weighed in on the reason for last week’s fury:
There was outrage Wednesday when a Vermont judge handed out a 60-day jail sentence to a man who raped a little girl many, many times over a four-year span starting when she was seven.

Prosecutors argued that confessed child-rapist Mark Hulett, 34, of Williston deserved at least eight years behind bars for repeatedly raping a littler girl countless times starting when she was seven.

But Judge Edward Cashman disagreed explaining that he no longer believes that punishment works.

“The one message I want to get through is that anger doesn’t solve anything. It just corrodes your soul,” said Judge Edward Cashman speaking to a packed Burlington courtroom. Most of the on-lookers were related to a young girl who was repeatedly raped by Mark Hulett who was in court to be sentenced.
Before we analyze what this judge did, it is important to know who he is. According to that same editorialized story by the Associated Press, Judge Cashman is a Catholic conservative and a former Vietnam veteran. He is known as a tough judge and has handed down some harsh sentences.

On the other hand, he also been a volunteer for many years at a halfway house for prisoners who have been released and are attempting to start over.

He has won his state legislature’s confidence over the years and the Governor speaks highly of him.

So why were neither of these aspects of his persona — the tough judge, the fellow who understands the need for community — why were they not in operation in this case of the pedophile who was given sixty days for his four years’ of sexual abuse of a child?

Ignorance. That’s all it was. Judge Cashman has bought into the conventional wisdom that such men are “sick” and need treatment, not jail time. The judge is merely a man of his time, our time, a moment in history when perpetrators of crimes are seen as needing our help and not our censure.

Judge Cashman has probably never worked as a volunteer with the victims of crime, especially the child victims of sexual abuse. Had he done so, he would have put this man away for as long as possible. He would have put him on the same basis as John W. Hinckley, who is still in St. Elizabeth’s despite efforts to have him released. But then Hinckley didn’t rape a little girl over and over again. The permanent damage to a child simply doesn’t tip the scales of Justice when compared to an attempt on President Reagan’s life — even though it is more heinous and probably even less curable than Hinckley’s obsessions, Jody Foster notwithstanding. These two men chose different victims but their criminal obsessions are the same.

The Judge ought least to have read some of the studies which have been done on child victims of sexual assault. It changes the trajectory of a child's life; it is never gotten over; and the damage does not go away with time. What they’re beginning to understand is that trauma to children, but especially sexual trauma, actually changes the brain. The amygdala of such children is smaller than those of children who have not been victimized.

In a very long website article, Bruce Perry, M.D, notes that “states become traits” — i.e., the animal fear and loathing that arises during abuse becomes a permanent way of being in the world:
… Similar altered brainstem catecholamine and neuroendocrine functioning was suggested by a pilot study in sexual abused girls. Following abuse girls exhibited greater total catecholamine synthesis as measured by the sum of the urinary concentration of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine when compared with matched controls… In our laboratory, altered platelet alpha-2 adrenergic receptor number and cardiovascular functioning was demonstrated in children exposed to traumatic violence, suggesting chronic and abnormal activation of the sympathetic nervous system . In our clinic populations, evidence of brain-mediated alterations of cardiovascular functioning have been demonstrated in various ways… In both the acute and chronic post-traumatic period, resting heart rate is different from comparison populations. In other studies, clonidine, an alpha2 adrenergic receptor partial agonist has been demonstrated to be an effective pharmacotherapeutic agent… further suggesting altered LC functioning in children exposed to violence.
And what does this translate to in every day life? These girls (and boys) live in a persistent fear state and their cognitive, social and emotional functioning are ruled by fear. Try to imagine life lived in that state, try to understand what it does to your ability to think, to make responsible decisions, or even to maintain yourself in present time.

Severely abused children do not plan for the future. The future has been wiped as a potential space. Thus, they often function well below what would have been their potential. Underneath it all is the shame and humiliation which drive a desire for surcease from the emotional blankness or pain. Suicide rates are higher, but more importantly, such children feel they do not deserve a future so they don’t make plans for one. They simply drift.

That’s what sexual abuse of the order of magnitude this child suffered at the hands of Judge Cashman’s prisoner has left in its wake: she is now a child set adrift on an empty sea.

Will she ever “recover”? No.

Will she ever find a way to live with her suffering? Perhaps. It depends on what kind of help she gets and for how long. It depends on the environment which takes her in. It partly depends on how resilient she was before this happened…

And there, but for the grace of God, go you.

Meanwhile, this piece of human garbage, Mark Hulett, will be given the opportunity to do this again and again, setting more little girls adrift on a sea of pain and self-loathing.

What is wrong with us?


At 5:30 PM, Blogger Poet said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:04 PM, Blogger Dymphna said...

Judge Cashman may be "shining a light on the dearth of options that exist for prepetrators." And he can make it a thousand watt bulb without finding anything you think this is something people can be educated out of? This is like the old saw about searching for the house key under the streetlight because that's where the light is --not because the key is there.

I'm angry because the consequences for young victims are shattering and the consequences for perps just aren't that serious.

Anger is not corrosive if it results in a movement toward very strict laws re this kind of crime. Child molesters do not deserve a second chance because they can't change their behavior. No second chance, and my "corrosive" anger just disappears.

Medication, intensive therapy and years of support help the survivor -- just like skin graft surgery helps burn victims lead more normal lives. But they NEVER get back what they had.

This was four years of contant sexual abuse beginning at the age of seven. Seven times seven years and she'll still be dealing with the aftermath, as will her children's children, dealing with the family history of someone not quite there anymore. Read the clinical and biochemical research that's been done on child victims of sexual abuse. It's in a category all its own.

This isn't about "what I tend to like to hear." This is about what I know both as a victim and as someone who has read the research.

Let's say that there is a national resolution, based on the current research on these children and the lasting damage the abuse causes. Let's say there is a national resolution to construct a maximum security facility just to house child molesters. Put them all together, so they can use one another. Let them have chaplains, psychiatrists, visits from home, and all the necessities of life. Just DON'T LET THEM OUT. EVER.

As for deterrents, there aren't any. I'm only interested in prevention via life incarceration. One more incarcerated molester is a hundred or a thousand fewer scarred children. Pedophiles are busy, energetic monsters.

"Court-mandated treatment" is a farce, a joke. These men are not treatable by anyone. A forensic psychiatrist would dismiss the idea.

I don't care what happens to Judge Cashman because of his ignorant ruling. I care about that little girl and what message she got from the penalty Cashman doled out to her abuser. Surely justice, if not mercy, demands that Hulett have to serve at least one year for every year he abused his toy?

Sixty days...what an insult to that child and to all vulnerable children.

Reminds me of my daughter's rape trial. She was 17 and her rapist attacked her in her sleep. Even though he had scratch marks on him, and even though he confessed to the crime --dismissing my child by saying, ang signing to what he said -- that he didn't know why he bothered since he could "get better stuff at home." Only he didn't use the word "stuff" -- the jury let him off --even after hearing this -- because the DA couldn't prove that my child had fought him off "sufficiently." The state used that atrocious case to change the law. Do you think those well-meaning state delegates helped my daughter deal with the aftermath?

Anger doesn't corrode nearly as much as helplessness and injustice do. My child wasn't angry, she was numb. And she never recovered. Anger would've been an improvement over progressive dissociation.

Spare me your lectures on behalf of the judge. His decision was ignorant and harmful to many people. It will have an evil ripple effect.

Doubly spare me your lectures about anger. Anger is not a harmful emotion, is is a self-regulatory response to attack.

The most corrosive emotion is indifference. Surely as a victim you know that.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Dymphna said...

I just cut and saved a comment by a someone named "Poet." He left his URL and I went over and left a comment answering his assertions.

Since, for whatever reason, he hasn't published it or responded to me, it will remain deleted.

I don't do this very often, but a looong comment -- a hit and run -- without being given the chance to stand up and respond doesn't remain.

OTOH, perhaps his comment section isnt working. I had problems with it.

At 11:17 PM, Blogger Bruce Dearborn Walker said...

As a martial arts instructor, one of the most important things I do is help these victims develop their power and self confidence. I have heard some of the worst stories imaginable, and seen some of the greatest courage ever from these people.

These victimizers NEVER get better. The only thing that keeps them from reoffending is fear of going back to prison.

I can pity them for having a sexual orientation that they can only fulfill by injuring children, but I can't forgive them for injuring children.

You're not responsible for what you like, but you ARE responsible for what you do.

At 11:31 PM, Blogger Jerri Lynn Ward, J.D. said...

"On the other hand, he also been a volunteer for many years at a halfway house for prisoners who have been released and are attempting to start over."

I agree with everything you say here. When I wear my attorney hat, the above revelation about Judge Cashman bothers me quite a bit. I think that his volunteer work with convicts clearly affects his objectivity and ability to do his job. At the very least, I think that such volunteer work interferes with Canon 2 of the ABA Code of Judicial Conduct:A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge’s activities. Also Canon 4: A judge shall so conduct the judge’s extra-judicial activities as to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial obligations.

He should be considering only the evidence before him--such as the gravity of the acts and the evidence regarding recidivism and the impact on victims. Instead, his apparent compassion for convicts, developed through personal experience, is now outweighing, in his mind, the evidence put on in particular cases. Were he a juror, he would have been dismissed for cause--bias.

He's evidencing obsession, given his statements about punishment. He's also exhibiting self-righteous opposition to the intent of the law and the will of the people expressing that contempt.

He should be doing his volunteer work on a full-time basis.

At 12:54 AM, Blogger WI Catholic said...

Treatment for sexual predators was long ago praised and bandied about. And those (including our Bishops, etc) who trusted the 'experts' bought into it. The result? Many moved to other places, and more charges of sexual abuse from other teens, for more years.

Treatment does not work for sexual predators/pedophiles, etc. And if someone thinks it does, then it should be ordered to be given while serving a very long sentence in prison.

This was just another way to victimize the victim, and it was shameful. I also don't care what happens to Cashman, but I pray for the child...

At 8:15 PM, Blogger Headmistress, zookeeper said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Sorry about that. I hope you understand.


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