Two stories that recently shared space in the Bloomington Herald Times newspaper caught me eye because of their strange juxtaposition.
The first story was about how two Martinsville coaches have been charged with “child seduction” after their separate “relationships” with a 17-year-old student was revealed.
Timothy Wolf, 65, resigned as the Martinsville, Indiana boy’s basketball coach after being charged with “public indecency” after police found him “partially nude” with a 17-year-old female student in his car parked at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis in February of this year. A second man, Jeff McGown, the Martinsville High School’s girl’s tennis coach and a second grade teacher in the school system, was charged after a police investigation. If convicted, each man faces from six months to three years in prison.
On the same page was a story about Marion County Prosecutors seeking to try a 14-year-old girl as an adult for the stabbing murder of her four-year-old-cousin while they were at their grandparents’ home in Indianapolis. The girl’s grandparents were her legal guardians and it was reported that she had threatened other neighborhood children with knives. The girl was found outside the home covered in blood and seemingly “in shock.” No motive has been released but neighbors report that the girl was often seen watching the four-year-old. She reportedly stabbed the four-year-old sixteen times while he slept.
Now I am in no way advocating for sexual relationships between teachers and students, it shows appallingly bad judgment and lack of impulse control on the part of the teachers and illustrates that teenage promiscuity is linked to far deeper problems as evidenced by the 17-year-old’s explanation that she originally had gotten with the 65-year-old Wolf because he was “a good listener,” but there seems to be a glaring disconnect here. In Indiana a severely damaged child can be tried as an adult at the age of 14 and sentenced to an adult sentence in an adult jail, potentially for life, but can consider a 17-year-old a “child” for the purposes of seduction.
It seems much the same for Indiana’s parental consent laws regarding young women and abortion. Not long after Indiana’s Parental Notification law take effect, a 17-year-old named Becky Bell died after a botched illegal abortion. Becky, a “good girl” from a “good family” was too embarrassed to talk to her parents when she became pregnant and too intimidated by the Judicial Bypass procedure to apply for consent from the court to have an abortion. Studies have shown that it is very difficult, and in some places impossible, to obtain a judicial bypass in Indiana though these same Courts who just two years before Becky Bell’s death sentence a 15-year-old girl, Paula Cooper, to death though that sentence was later commuted to 60 years in prison.
It just seems inherently wrong to consider a sexually active, 17-year-old woman a “child” who must get the consent of her parents, or worse yet, the Courts, before obtaining an abortion but to consider a much younger girl an adult for the purpose of putting her in prison. As Becky Bell’s parents, Bill and Karen Bell have stated, if Becky had lived they could have worked it out, whatever Becky’s choice had been, but Indiana’s Parental Consent law was a death sentence for her daughter, one with no possibility of reprieve.