Today’s moral outrage story of the day comes from Vermont:
A Williston man who admitted repeatedly sexually assaulting a young girl for four years was sentenced Wednesday to spend 60 days in prison — a punishment that angered the victim’s family but was defended by the judge as the only way to provide counseling for the perpetrator.
Mark Hulett, 34, pleaded guilty in August to two counts of aggravated sexual assault and one charge of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, all felonies. He faced up to life in prison on the charges.
The problem, agreed the judge and attorneys, was that the state Corrections Department decided it would not offer any sex-offender treatment for Hulett while he is in prison. The department determined that Hulett presents a low risk of committing a similar crime, and therefore he qualifies for counseling only after his release, lawyers said in court Wednesday.
Judge Edward Cashman’s sentence, which he handed down after a two-hour hearing in Vermont District Court in Burlington, could incarcerate Hulett for the rest of his life if he fails to obtain counseling or otherwise follow instructions once he is freed in 60 days.Apparently in Vermont judges cannot order prisons to provide treatment for incarcerated inmates, and the judge choose treatment over penalty.
Prosecutors wanted Hulett incarcerated for at least eight years, and in impassioned pleas the girl’s family members asked for a stern sentence. Cashman, though, told the crowded courtroom that punishment was not his priority in sentencing Hulett, but rather finding treatment for the man to prevent future abuse.
“This is not a situation where I’m doing this for the family,” he said. “My heart goes out to this family, and I would hate to be in the situation this family is. But there’s other families out there, and there’s other people who could be victimized, and I’m trying to take the long view.”
Later, Cashman added that a lengthy prison term “will accomplish nothing but to harden this fellow.”Well it too would keep him from raping other children. The man engaged in this conduct for FOUR YEARS, and will spend just 60 days in jail.
It’s amazing how a little negative publicity can affect situations like this. I bet that some constituent pressure (starting with Governor Jim Douglas) could accomplish what everyone involved appears to have actually wanted, jail time AND treatment.