Eight years ago, the fourteen year old Florida schoolgirl Cassidy Goodson was pregnant, but didn’t look it. Not only did she conceal her pregnancy but somehow she concealed the birth. The baby boy weighed nine and a half pounds, nearly a tenth of her body weight. What happened next was horrific; having delivered the baby by herself in the toilet, she strangled him and stuffed his body in a shoe box.
Unable to conceal everything, she told her mother she had been pregnant but had miscarried. Her mother took her to a medical center, but shortly the truth came out. What can anyone say about a fourteen year old who commits such a terrible crime? Sheriff Grady Judd knew exactly what to say; on September 28, 2012, using the official Polk County Sheriff YouTube channel, he delivered a near eight and a half minute sermon to the world, telling all and sundry she was guilty of murder.
Cassidy Goodson was set to be tried as an adult, but a deal enabled her to plead guilty to manslaughter, and she was sentenced to an extraordinarily lenient eighteen months with strings attached. Can this be justice? Evidently Sheriff Judd didn’t think so, all the same he should have kept his big mouth shut. In the UK, a police officer who did what he did would have been sacked and lost his freedom as well as his pension. America’s civil and criminal justice systems are extraordinarily open, but at times they are too open. This can be especially distressing for the families of victims, whether those victims were murdered or died from other causes. How would you like to see the mutilated body of your loved one displayed for all the world to see?
Even more important though is the damage to due process, and late this month, Sheriff Judd was back at the podium damaging it even further. On July 17, three friends on a fishing trip were murdered at Frostproof, Florida. The perpetrators were TJ Wiggins, his brother William, and a female accomplice, Mary Whittemore. We know they are the perpetrators because Sheriff Judd told us, told the entire world. Not only that, he told us that TJ was the triggerman, told us all about the forensics, and even why they did it: they are pure evil in the flesh.
Having spared the expense of a trial, how about some restorative justice then as advocated by the Black Lives Matter crowd? Perhaps they could be made to confront the victims’ families and tell them how sorry they are? Or perhaps we could allow the law to take its course. That won’t be much comfort to the families of the victims, but it is the best America or any country has to offer.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.