Putting our faith in the justice system
After the announcement of nine men being arrested in the province last week (see page A1) the lives of many Newfoundlanders were shaken at the thought of their brothers, neighbours and friends potentially possessing and distributing child pornography.
Charges of possession, distribution and accessing child pornography have been laid in a majority of the nine cases, while one also has charges of voyeurism and making child pornography.
After hearing the charges, some residents of the province began questioning how well they know their acquaintances.
A former Baine’s Harbour resident and father of two young children said it made him physically sick to know his former classmate (who has not yet been named) was being charged with such “disgusting” behaviour.
Whether the accused claim they “accidentally” clicked a link or someone sent it to them, many excuses will make their way through the grapevine by those being faced with these child exploitation charges, especially when few specifics have been released.
Who wants to admit they are involved in something so grotesque? And based on the explanation from RCMP of the photos so far, grotesque is an understatement.
In these cases the excuses will not hold up because of the charges of making child pornography available — also known as distributing.
Besides looking bad for the crimes they may have committed, there are other reasons why accused people create excuses for illegal behaviour. It is hard to prove innocence when the world knows a name and face. Many people may have already determined someone’s guilty before a trial.
Anyone with their eyes and ears open have probably heard about the child exploitation investigation involving the arrest of 22 men —the nine from Newfoundland and 13 others —from across Atlantic Canada.
When Gull Island resident Kyle Clarke had his name plastered all over the news and through social media, the message spread like wildfire that he was guilty, which still may prove to be true.
When a name gets listed on a court docket, the jury pool shrinks. It shrinks even more when news outlets cover the case, especially in a high profile or widespread situation. But when social media gets a hold of it, there may not be a big enough jury pool left without some kind of bias.
Also, very few locals would want someone they may see as a predator in their neighbourhood. So these accused men — who are innocent until proven guilty — must carry on with their daily lives, at least until the end of their trials.
Some may say these men are scum or perverts and do not deserve to be integrated into society, but justice is one of the benefits of our democracy.
The names of six of the nine accused from this province, their birthdates and hometowns have been plastered for the world to see. Investigators could have withheld the names of the accused, knowing the lifelong stigma that such charges will bring, regardless of guilt or innocence. But in our legal system, charges are not brought forth unless there is a strong likelihood of conviction.
We can only trust that the police have investigated these cases to the fullest, and hope that true justice is served.
The children who are victims in these and other similar cases deserve no less.