The main reason that I did not apply to become a public defender after law school goes back to one client I assisted with while interning at the San Francisco Public Defender. From the attorney I was assigned to (Mark Iverson, an excellent attorney and someone I thought of as a mensch when I was there) I learned alot about how to handle difficult clients. Unfortunately, I also got to assist in representing a man who had molested and raped one, and possibly second, teenage boy.
The crime was bad enough, but what made it worse was the fact that this client simply did not see that there was anything wrong with what he had done. And that was the scary bit.
And the reason I bring this up today is because there are two cases, one that just ended and one just starting, that are particularly disturbing. The first is the case of Gary Engles. Mr. Engles is a member of a fundamentalist sect of Mormonism that still practices polygamy. Polygamy, in my opinion, would not be so bad if it did not frequently involve child brides. Mr. Engles had sex with his third wife, whom he married under the sect's law, at the age of 16. For this, the judge sentenced him to a grand total of .... 45 days.
The second case is that Phillip Distasio. Mr. Distasio is being charged with 74 counts of rape, pandering obscenity to minors and corrupting another with drugs. His victims were young boys, only one of who was over the age of 13. Among them were seven autistic boys and two disabled boys. Not only is he not denying that the rapes took place, he proudly told the court that he is a pedophile and has been for 20 years. Furthermore, he states that his acts are protected because he is a minister and leader of a religious group called Arcadian Fields Ministries and that the acts were sacraments of his religion.
Hopefully the judge in Ohio, in the Distasio case, will not look to Arizona court for assistance in sentencing.
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