Osborn Letter

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Settlement of case in chambers prompts call for harsher punishment

 To the Editor:

On July 28, I was in court in Batesville. I was there due to a person who was to have a trial for rape. Acquaintances had encountered the accused when they were very young. The investigator in charge of the case asked them to write letters regarding their experiences with the accused.

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Going back to their experiences, at a very young age, brought back  memories that had long been buried, but not forgotten. Two young ladies, under tremendous anxiety, wrote letters. They thought their involvement would help to put this predator behind bars. He would not be able to hurt any more women or young girls to satisfy his sexual desires.

Once in court, the judge delayed the trial for approximately an hour and a half, to take care of some business in chambers. I discovered, the business was to accept a “plea” agreement from the alleged rapist. He had previously pleaded “not guilty” and before his trial on July 28, changed his mind. Whether the letters these young ladies had written affected that decision is unknown to me. HOWEVER, I think it is terrible: these young ladies were instructed to write details of their experience with this man, then later be told it would be useless to pursue a case against the accused, because it was too late to prove their case.

 I have two complaints. These young ladies were given false hope of receiving some justice for the crimes committed against them. Second, they had to waste their time, suffer agony, and feel cheated because they were told their efforts could not proceed forward.

The convicted rapist (as it turned out) did not have to appear in “open court” but was allowed to have the case settled in the judge’s chambers.

Although he was not convicted of any crime against them, the young ladies thought it was horrible the man was allowed to plea down, to a sentence of eight years on probation and two years, (six months already served). He was to be listed as a sexual predator and required to register wherever he resides after prison.

The sheriff told these two young ladies, the felon would be out on the next bus to Rankin County. That bus should have left Batesville on Monday afternoon, or at least Tuesday morning. As of writing, the convicted felon was still in Panola County jail. Will the felon be in the Panola County Jail for his full time? If so, I think this would be grossly unfair to the actual victim, and these young ladies as well. He should be in prison ASAP!

July 30, 2008

Bill Osborn