Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thirteen Year Old Utah Girl Confesses To Making Up Story About The Attempted Abduction In Riverton

This story may strike some as marginal in relevance, particularly in comparison to the lurid tales of endless TNB in Detroit presented by the Detroit Is Crap blog. However, it offers the opportunity to promote the idea of one-on-one personal restitution in cases where teenagers commit certain offenses in order to promote personal responsibility and greater societal understanding amongst teenagers. Besides, Utahns should be grateful that Detroit is not a part of Utah.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a 13-year-old girl who claimed a man tried to grab her while she was baby-sitting in a Riverton home last weekend confessed she made up the story, the Salt Lake County sheriff's office announced on Tuesday November 13th. Additional stories published by KSL Channel 5 and by the Deseret Morning News. Note: Riverton, despite a population of over 30,000, is one of the few cities in the Salt Lake Valley that doesn't police itself; it's policed by the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.

The girl had told police that a man tried to grab her as she walked out of a house near 12300 South and 1300 West on Saturday. She gave police a vague description of the man, offering a approximate height and saying he wore muddy work boots, and further claiming that she was able to fight back and escape, spokesman Lt. Paul Jaroscak said.

Comnpounding the sense of urgency was a report of the attempted kidnapping of Bertha and Lillaqway Hudspeth in Salt Lake City on Thursday November 8th. Despite a vehicle description including a license plate number (shown above left), the perp has yet to be found.

While the Sheriff's Office took the report seriously, they soon found that there were "things that didn't add up". Detectives received information about either an e-mail or text message sent to the girl the next day, prompting even more resources from the sheriff's office to get involved. And that's when the girl's story began to unravel.

After investigators declared their intent to start seizing computers and going through phone records, the girl, apparently feeling pressure from the investigation, decided to fess up and admit to her father that she made up the story. "She began to realize the serious nature of what she had done," Lt. Jaroscak said.

Once the Sheriff's Office learned the story was false, Lt. Jaroscak issued a statement, saying, "While we in law enforcement are disappointed in the false report that concerned many, many people in our community, we are grateful that she had the courage to come forward and stop the investigation at this early point". Officials have now said they will not press charges against the girl because of her youth, but they plan on ensuring that the girl fully understands the potentially serious consequences of her actions.

Commentary: While it is commendable that the girl quickly regained her sense of conscience, the fact remains that she caused an emergency services agency to unnecessarily jump through hoops and divert its resources in response to her report. In other words, she caused harm, and it remains unrequited. Mercy is commendable, and mercy mitigates justice, but mercy can never be permitted to rob justice.

The "therapeutic lobby" will probably come out with some gobbledy-gook about it being a "cry for help" or how this girl had "issues". They'd probably want to sic an army of child-welfare bureaucrats on the family and turn them inside out in a witch-hunt for latent "child abuse". Mercy without justice for the girl. The Democratic solution.

The "zero-tolerance lobby", with its equal addiction to "processes" and a cold-blooded obsession with the bottom line, would probably want to send the parents a bill for "services rendered" based upon some abstract, nonsensical calculation on how much it cost the Sheriff's Office to respond to the call. Or they might want to subject this mischievous 13-year old girl to the full "judicial process", forcing her parents to spend money on lawyers, and wasting some judge's valuable time. Justice without mercy for the girl. The Republican solution.

This girl is neither a neurotic head case nor a hardened criminal. She's obviously a mischievous 13-year old who got bored and decided to call the cops to spice up her life. She needs neither therapists nor judges. What she needs is a lesson in personal responsibility and restitution. Neither a "Democratic" nor a "Republican" solution, but a good old-fashioned common-sense American solution.

Here's my solution. Have her spend eight hours each Saturday working at the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office for the next three months. This course of action not only forces her to sacrifice some of her free time making symbolic restitution to the precise agency to whom she caused harm, but will also educate her on the activities of a typical law enforcement agency. Who knows, this might uncover a hidden talent, and she might grow up to be a law enforcement officer.

Taking her allowance would be too easy and commodify the issue by insinuating that one can buy their way out of accountability and responsibility. Taking away a teenager's free time, on the other hand, gets their attention. Teenagers love their free time and endlessly scheme to get more of it. Taking it away promotes personal involvement, which will increase understanding. Keep the lawyers, therapists, and other pseudo-professional quacktards out of this if at all possible.

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