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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Friendship confronts justice

What is astounding about the sentencing of admitted wrongdoers is how their friends rally around them. It's a testament to the power of friendship, but what does it say about their sense of right and wrong? Two cases on point within the past week:

Last Friday, a 29-year-old former teacher was sentenced to seven years in prison for official misconduct for having sexual relations with a 15-year-old student from April through June of 2005. The judge received more than 100 letters praising the teacher as a "great man.'' His victim weighed in, holding herself accountable. But the fact remains that he took advantage of his position of authority. As the prosecuting attorney said, "Great men do not have sex with 15-year-old girls.''

On Tuesday, Patsy Townsend, the former deputy Monmouth County fire marshal, was sentenced to six months in prison and five months of house arrest for accepting a $1,000 bribe from an undercover federal agent. Again, the judge said he received numerous letters attesting to Townsend's character. But the judge put it right by noting Townsend operated in a "culture of corruption'' where "officials thought they were untouchable.''

These letter writers were seeking leniency for their friend. Maybe that's what friends are for. But do they think less of the wrongdoing because they know the wrongdoer?

5 Comments:

Anonymous Nick Fera said...

I don't think they think less of the wrongdoing. Rather they want the judge and the public to know that this person has done many good things in his life. In court, the focus is only on the bad deed. The accused's friends want him to be viewed in his totality -- one bad deed mixed in with many good deeds.

5:56 PM, August 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no different than friends of people in high places who stonewall investigations, don't release investigative reports as required, are "still looking at the problem" etc., etc., etc.

the teacher & the fire marshal were wrong, but somehow, the higher ups hardly ever get charged due to powerful
"friends"

9:08 AM, August 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, Mr. Fera.

4:58 PM, August 04, 2006  
Anonymous Mary-jane said...

If I though letters would matter I would have sent one and asked that his pension be taken away along with all his ill-gotten possessions !every last one of them ,it is because of people like Mr Townsend that taxypayers are losing there homes ,or just moving OUT of NJ.KEEP HIM IN JAIL

9:28 AM, August 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said mary-jane

1:47 PM, August 15, 2006  

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