Adamek, 15, hanged himself after getting in trouble for doing something that
wasn't evil, wasn't a threat to anyone's safety, and wasn't a big deal to any
rational person. Christian landed himself in big trouble for streaking across
the field during a football game at his high school.
Christian's death, the school's principal said the teen's stunt could warrant
legal charges atop school discipline. "There's the legal
complications," the principal told a news station. "Public lewdness
and court consequences outside of school with the legal system, as well as the
school consequences that the school system has set up."
death is tragic. Was it prompted by the prospect of an overblown reaction to
his schoolboy prank? We don't know for sure.Regardless, Christian deserved detention, not to have his name slapped
on a sex offender registry along with rapists. If Christian took his life over
the prospect of having his life destroyed by vindictive adults who think
streaking is on a continuum with rape, then we've all got blood on our hands.
zeal to protect women and children from predatory men, we've enacted a
multitude of laws that, among many other things, put high school streakers,
guys who pee in the alley after imbibing a little too much, and guys who have
sex with their slightly younger girlfriends, onto sex offender registers. The
majority of states now register streakers, an indication of why the number of
registered sex offenders in America
has exploded. If they were all crammed into a single state, it would be more
populous than Wyoming, Vermont
or North Dakota.
It's a cottage industry, with lobbies and powerful interests behind it, and it
won't let up any time soon because not enough people give a damn about the
Christian Adameks of the world.
tolerance policies excuse people from doing something we are loathe to ask
people to do any more: think for themselves -- to use their discretion, to
exercise common sense, to employ mercy, and to look at things with balance.
It's a lot easier to hide behind a zero tolerance policy so we don't get in
trouble for exercising our discretion contrary to the common consensus. The
problem is, zero tolerance polices are written for a black and white world, and
the world is mostly gray. Sometimes the result of zero tolerance policies is
We are beyond saddened by Christian's tragic
death. The world has gone mad.
ago federal prosecutors won a delinquency finding against a boy accused of
engaging in sex acts when he was 10 years old with other young boys on an Army
base in Arizona—one of the youngest defendants ever pursued by the U.S. Justice
The case, now being reviewed by the Ninth Circuit U.S.
Court of Appeals, could open a new front in a long-running debate about how to
handle juvenile sex offenders, whose cases generally have been tried in state,
not federal, courts. The records are sealed because the defendant was tried as
a juvenile, but the case came to light in September at an appellate hearing in San Francisco that was
open to the public.
The boy's appeal involves a thorny legal question: Should
children be prosecuted for sex acts with other children under a federal law
that the boy's lawyers say was designed to target adult predators? The fight
also highlights a broader debate over tagging juveniles as criminal sex
offenders, a label that can land them a spot on registries that track offenders
and limit where they can live.
was found delinquent—guilty in juvenile-court parlance—on charges of aggravated
sexual abuse against five boys between the ages of 5 and 7, under a statute
that makes it illegal to engage in a sexual act with a person younger than 12
regardless of whether physical force is involved. The boy was sentenced to five
years' probation, including mandatory psychological treatment, lawyers on the
case said. He must also register as a sex offender in certain states, according
to his lawyer.
"I think this is really overreaching on the part of
the government," Keith Hilzendeger, a federal public defender representing
the boy, said in an interview. He added that he had "never heard of a
federal case where a person is 10."