Not a peep out of the Spector jury – I guess they are watching their movie and noshing on popcorn. Maybe one of them smuggled in their own movie to watch – maybe “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” or even “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” Or maybe Michael Bay sent them over “Transformers”.
In the well of the courtroom we had some slight action – Donna Clarkson’s lawyers again came before Judge Fidler, case law in hand, to request that the Judge seal Lana Clarkson’s records and personal papers that were given to the court for the trial. Of course, anything entered into evidence is now considered “public record”, but as the attorneys pointed out there were over 5,000 emails alone taken from Lana’s computer, and that’s not counting the utility bills, the medical records, the photographs. The attorneys pointed out to the judge that these things belong to Donna Clarkson, and they were very concerned that they not be released or proliferated.
The judge said he would again take the matter under advisement.
Meanwhile, over in Utah, Jeffs has been found guilty on both charges of being an accomplice to rape. It’s encouraging that after announcing a deadlock, the jury went back in, got rid of one of the jury members, replaced her with an alternate and then came to a unanimous verdict. Of course, it was the wrong verdict, but you can’t have everything. I do though, hope that the Spector jury can follow suit and reach a verdict after deciding they were “at an impasse”. Maybe the trick lies in replacing a juror. If so, let’s hope the Spector jury replaces that foreman. He doesn’t exactly seem to be quite in touch with his fellow panel members – he announced that there was just no way for them to reach a conclusion, and when polled several jurors disagreed with him. Hopefully the foreman, juror number 10, took some notes about that.
But hopefully the Spector, if they come back with any verdict at all, come back with a more fair verdict than the Jeffs jurors did. This verdict was more an indictment of the Utah laws that set the age of consent at 14 years old and an indictment of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints than it was an indictment of Jeffs himself. Is Jeffs an unlikable guy? Yup. Should he be locked up for *something*? Yes. But how you can convict a guy of being an accomplice to rape when the alleged rapist himself hasn’t even been convicted – or even charged – with the crime is astonishing.
And after seeing the 19 year old cousin who supposedly raped this girl testify on the stand, it’s clear why no one has charged him with the crime. Is it possible to commit rape when you have no idea what sex is, let alone “consent” or “rape”? This guy’s idea of courting the alleged victim was to unzip his pants and expose himself to her. He is as much a victim of the FLDS cult as his “wife” was. It’s really like putting a 6 year old on trial for rape – this guy had about as much knowledge of girls and sex as an average 6 year old would.
The jury got this one wrong – they didn’t like the cult, they didn’t like marrying off 14 year old girls and they didn’t like the indoctrination tapes they heard that encouraged girls to “do their wifely duty”, “go forth and multiply” and “submit and obey”. But being oppressive to women and brainwashing women isn’t a crime. And neither is spiritual counseling. This is a verdict that sits at the top of a slippery slope. The FLDS is a fringe group that most anyone who has evolved past the values and mores of the 1950’s – and lives outside of the Middle East – will find alarming and abhorrent, but what happens when these laws are used to prosecute unpopular priests and rabbis who counsel their followers to stay in unhappy marriages? Will they, too, be accomplices to rape?
Hopefully the one good thing that comes out of this is that Utah will wake up and change the age of consent to something more appropriate and in line with the values of the residents. This verdict seems to indicate that at least one jury thinks the age is too low.