Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin spent some of his last days in office/2019 issuing pardons and commutations.
A fine gift of “peace on earth and good will towards men” if you ask me.
But there are grinches among us. Many people were not quite so happy with the Governor’s actions when word got out that some of those pardons and commutations went to those who had been convicted of violent crimes including murder and rape.
One of the most contested pardons, the one picked up by the major news stations, was that of Micah Schoettle, who was convicted of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse of a child in 2018. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
According to Gov. Bevins, he personally reviewed each and every case he pardoned.
In the Schoettle case, the Gov. focused on the lack of physical evidence in the case and the fact that he thought the case was investigated and prosecuted in a “manner that was sloppy at best” and that “all and any evidence that is available, refutes the allegations that were made.”
To paraphrase the words of Gov. Bevins, you shouldn’t be sent to jail based simply on the uncorroborated word of one individual, especially when there’s no medical or physical evidence to back-up their statement.
In this particular case, the victim’s hymen, often referred to as being “broken” during sexual intercourse, was still intact according to medical examination findings.
The Governor asserted that “if a small child was repeatedly sexually violated by an adult, there would be repercussions, both physically and medically”. He focused on the lack of physical evidence of examinations done on both the victim as well as her sister.
Prosecutor Rob Sanders said that his office will investigate the pardons in his county, including Schoettle’s. He was also quick to point out that since Schoettle had only been in prison for 18 months, he had not even begun to receive any sex offender treatment and that he remained a risk to other children.
The victim’s mother called the pardon “a slap in the face.”
Dr. James Crawford-Jakubiak, Medical Director of the Center for Child Protection at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland countered Gov. Bevins remarks by saying that merely by looking, a doctor can’t always tell if a child is being sexually abused. He also went on to say “the Governor had betrayed the trust that the girl had that the system was going to give her an opportunity to tell the truth and she would be listened to.”
Who and what do we believe?
Do we believe what the Governor believes, that Mark Schoettle is innocent, that the evidence against the guy was “sloppy at best”, and that he deserves to be pardoned?
Do we believe the victim, is she still referred to as a victim, now that Mr. Schoettle has been pardoned?
Do we believe Dr. James Crawford-Jakubiak and his medical background and studies he sites?
Who and what do we believe when cases that have been deemed one thing in a trial are deemed something else in a pardon?
It’s obvious from the public shock and outrage this pardon received, that the general public doesn’t believe the words “child-rapist” and “pardon” belong in the same sentence. Do they feel the same way when it comes to the pardons of the others who were deemed “violent criminals” and who received pardons?
The Governor believes he would welcome any person receiving a pardon as a co-worker, neighbor, at a public function or to sit beside he and his family in a church pew. In his words “no community is either more or less safe now, than it was before the pardons and commutations given over the past four years.”
It’s hard to know what to believe isn’t it?
Over the years we’ve been conditioned to “believe” children when they report sexual abuse.
But sometimes, and I’m not saying that’s the case here because I certainly don’t know, sometimes children lie.
What if Mark Schoettle was the one telling the truth, then he should receive a pardon, right?
Who and what do we believe?
There are no clear-cut answers.
But, for some, including Micah Schoettle, it looks like there are Christmas miracles.
May everyone who deserves these kinds of miracles, be this lucky in the coming New Year.