A recent story out of Logan, Utah got me thinking about how those who are wrongly accused, whether a registrant or not a registrant, are treated so vastly different in the eyes of the world.
On April 23, 62 yr. old Michael Fife (not a registrant) was killed after being accused of a sexual assault aboard a Cache Valley Transit District bus. A 16 yr. old female called her 17 yr. old brother and told him that she had been sexually assault by Fife. A few minutes later, the brother met Fife’s bus as Fife exited at his bus stop. Fife exited the bus and was “linebacker-charged” by the 17 yr. old, knocked to the ground, hitting his head on the sidewalk and sustaining what would turn out to be fatal injuries. Michael Fife died at the hospital on April 27 from his injuries. A GoFundMe page was set up to help cover expenses.
The suspect left the scene while Michael Fife lay on the ground.
Once investigators reviewed surveillance video from the bus, it showed Fife walking past the girl but no sexual assault taking place.
Because the two young people involved, one the accuser and the other the instigator of the assault, are juveniles, their names have not been released and there is no mention of the type of charges either might be facing. According to the police,” even if the girl’s story were true, it’s never an excuse for something like this.”
Mr. Fife‘s son, Michael Fife Jr. said he had no idea why this happened but was glad that the accusation isn’t hanging over his father’s name. “I don’t even know why he was being hit, he said. Something definitely needs to be done because this stuff can’t happen. I mean, especially over an allegation.”
But this stuff does happen. It happens to registrants all the time. Allegations, accusations, are made all the time.
Imagine if the accused had been a registrant. The news story would have been written a lot differently.
The news media would have had a field day with the headlines, “sex offender, sexual predator, re-offender, child molester”, even though the registrant was innocent.
Police and John Q. Public would immediately assume that a sexual assault had taken place because after all, it’s a registrant and the only information about registrants that the public has heard over and over is from Supreme Court Justices who still believe that registrants are “highly likely” to re-offend.
The video from the transit bus would have “accidently on purpose” been lost or somehow irretrievable, making it impossible to prove the registrant innocent of the accusation.
And when the accusation was finally determined to have been false, would anyone care that the registrant’s “good name” had been cleared? Alive or dead, does a registrant ever get their “good name” back?
How likely is it that anyone would have started a GoFundMe page for a dead or dying registrant?
If a registrant had been accused, people reading the article would most likely assume there was more to the story than meets the eye, some might even say “he got what he deserved”.
What would a 16 yr. old accuse a stranger of a sexual assault that never happened? Why would anyone at any age make any accusation like that? Do we blame it on age, call it a prank that went too far? Accusations like this come from all different age levels, no rhyme or reason for them, just people being stupid, vindictive or malicious.
In this case, accusations with no basis led to the death of an innocent human being who was not a registrant, a man who was minding his own business taking the bus. A man doing nothing more than trying to live his life was murdered because of an accusation.
It happens to registrants every day.