Sunday, May 22, 2011

Charge of sexual battery of nine-year-old girl is serious enough without immigration distraction

Matt Bors

Even before sex scandals blanketed the national media this past week (one of which seemed to blame the victim - see above), earlier this month WSMV reported on a Gallatin man arrested for aggravated sexual battery of a 9-year-old girl.  Such a crime is a horrible thing. Kudos to law enforcement and the justice system for stepping in to protect this child.

Because the accused is from Mexico and had previously been arrested for domestic assault and deported through Nashville's immigration dragnet called 287(g), a Gallatin police sergeant and Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall awkwardly tried to use this arrest to defend that program. Just look at their quotes - there is a gratuitous dig in there about mooching, combined with the argument that this arrestee's slipping through the dragnet somehow proves its effectiveness. (It would have been more transparent to have said that this man's previous deportation, although ineffective in this particular case as a crime prevention tool, was absolutely the right thing to do because deportation in conjunction with violent and dangerous crimes like domestic assault is noncontroversial.)

As far as sexual assault is concerned, and this is a case about sexual assault, prosecution and punishment should first focus on that crime, before immigration is taken into account. This man, if convicted, should not be deported "soon," as WSMV reports. A guilty verdict in this case should result in a long time behind bars before the government pays for a ticket to freedom across any border.  WSMV should follow up to determine whether this man was detoured into the federal immigration system before fully processed by the criminal justice system.

Outside the context of law enforcement, two ways you and I can make a difference is by promoting prevention education and by supporting the victims who have come forward.

In Nashville, one of the organizations that does this is the Sexual Assault Center ("SAC"). The SAC is trying to reach out more to the Hispanic community, and it has plans for a bilingual/bicultural contract therapist. You can donate to the SAC by going to and clicking on the box with the sunshine logo. To learn more about prevention, visit the SAC's two school-based curricula at

May God bless this little girl. May there be many people in her life who will be supporting her and focused on her well being.

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