Ethics Quiz: Peter’s Problem

40 years from now, would you book Kaitlyn Hunt for your Congressional campaign fundraiser? Should you...if she's become a famous and beloved singer?

40 years from now, would you book Kaitlyn Hunt for your Congressional campaign fundraiser? Should you…if she’s become a famous and beloved singer?

Shelly Stow, an occasional commenter here who blogs provocatively at With Justice For All about the harassment and persecution of former sex offenders, raised the topic of today’s Ethics Quiz. She  posted about the plight of Peter Yarrow, the Peter in Peter, Paul and Mary, now, thanks to cruel mortality, just Peter and Paul. I was not aware of this, but in 1970, when he was 30 and a rather significant star, he had sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl. Shelly is wrong to call this “consensual,” for 14 is statutory rape territory. The law declares that a 14-year girl is a child and not capable of meaningful consent, and fans of  Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and Kaitlyn Hunt notwithstanding, it is quite right. He pled guilty to something less than rape, and served a three-month sentence; he is also, as a result, a registered sex offender. President Jimmy Carter pardoned him in 1981.

Yarrow, as Sixties folk singers tend to be, is a social activist, and is politically active as well. Not for the first time, his child molesting past became an issue recently when he  agreed to sing at a campaign event for Martha Robertson, a Democrat running for Congress in New York against incumbent Republican Tom Reed. A spokesman for the RNC told the media,

“It is absolutely deplorable that Martha Robertson would kick off her congressional campaign by having a convicted sex offender headline her fundraiser. If Robertson’s judgment is so bad that she would even entertain the idea of raising money with a man who molested a 14-year-old girl, she has no business representing the people of the 23rd District of New York in Congress.”

He also said Robertson should cancel the fundraiser and return any money she raised with Yarrow’s support.

Shelly writes,

“What is wrong with this scenario? Our criminal justice system is comprised of one part punishment and one part rehabilitation. The purpose of the punishment is to bring about rehabilitation. Sometimes it works like it is supposed to. Mr. Yarrow committed a crime in 1969. That is over 40 years ago. He served his court ordered punishment, and in light of the fact that there has been no re-offense in over 40 years, I think we are safe in declaring him rehabilitated. Everything worked just like it is supposed to. What then is the problem? Is rehabilitation not good enough for some? Is there some other standard of measure needed?”

This launches the Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for this weekend, which I will phrase this way:

Is it unfair for Peter Yarrow to still face criticism, suspicion and condemnation based on his crime of 40 years ago, for which he has been both punished and pardoned?

For this one, I am not at all certain of the answer, and will be very interested in your responses, not that I am not always.

Here are some of the considerations that have me, to paraphrase the title of one of the hit pop songs Mr. Yarrow helped to write, “Torn Between Two Answers.

1. Yarrow, by any standard, has used his fame and celebrity to support and further admirable, mostly progressive causes, in a wide range of missions that include combating school violence, helping victims of Agent Orange, supporting hospices, freeing Soviet Jewry, promoting colonoscopies, and more. He was recognized for Congress for his work in human rights.

2. Subsequent good acts do not erase past bad ones. Nor does a Presidential pardon mean that criminal acts never happened.

3. Yarrow has acknowledged and presumably apologized for his conduct, presumably more than once.

4. I really hate the apology attributed to him in which he said, “It was an era of real indiscretion and mistakes by categorically male performers. I was one of them. I got nailed. I was wrong. I’m sorry for it.” Yechhh. In order, Yarrow points out that everybody was doing it, the granddaddy of rationalizations, trivializes child rape as “an indiscretion,” seems to suggest that sexual molestation goes with the territory of being a “categorically male performer,” whatever that means, and notes that he was “nailed,” a.k.a. “caught.” before he gets to being wrong and sorry. Lousy apology, at least a 7 on the Apology Scale, and maybe a dastardly 9.

5. The main thrust of Shelly’s blog, which I support, is to oppose paranoid and mean-spirited restrictions on the rights of registered sex offenders, as well as not lumping all offenses, from urinating in public (“indecent exposure”) to forcible child rape in the vague category of “registered sex offenders.”

6. I do not believe that anyone has the right to claim that past crimes must be permanently out-of-bounds when assessing their character.

  • Exhibit #1: Nathan Leopold, the thrill killer (along with Richard Loeb) who had his sentence commuted and devoted the latter part of his life to philanthropy. He was still a cold-blooded murderer, and I would not have voted for any candidate who trumpeted having his support. (Full Disclosure: In this I admit to being influenced by my father, who detested Leopold and, regardless of his admiration of Clarence Darrow’s famous plea for mercy that successful saved Leopold and Loeb from the electric chair, was adamant that Leopold should have been executed.)
  • Exhibit #2: Anne Perry, the best selling novelist who, as a confused teen, helped murder her friend’s mother. I’m glad she has turned her life around, but Perry is a multi-millionaire author with a new name whose readers, most of them anyway, are unaware of her crime. The friend’s mother is still dead, the victim of a premeditated slaughter, and all in all, Perry got off easy. No, I will not read her books, on principle. Is there nothing she can do to erase this old, old crime, then? No, not in MY book.
  • Exhibit #3: Ted Kennedy, who used his money, celebrity and influence to avoid criminal penalties for, at very least, negligent homicide, and quite possibly murder, and lived out the rest of his life as a privileged, powerful and admired U.S. Senator while  his young victim rotted in her premature grave. That is not justice.

7. Sex with a 14-year-old folk song groupie is a far cry from murder, and significantly less heinous than forcible rape.

8. Nobody is saying that Yarrow isn’t free to support whomever he wants to. They are arguing that a candidate for high office should be trumpeting the support of celebrities who never molested a child, even once. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable standard. Do you?

9. While Yarrow’s subsequent good works do not erase his past crime, they do enhance, or should, our assessment of his current character.

10. Still,  I would ask Shelly these questions:

  • Would she argue that Yarrow’s past should be irrelevant if he took a job as the coach of a teenage girls swimming team?
  • Would it be fair to raise such a conviction if Yarrow were himself running for elective office?
  • If Yarrow were vocally supporting Hunt, who was just sentenced, or Polanski, would Shelly still think his own statutory crime would be an unfair topic?
  • Would she consider him to be a valuable ally in an anti-child sex abuse campaign?


Sources:With Justice For All, Buffalo News

49 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Peter’s Problem

  1. People use crime history like a weapon against others, for political, monetary or personal gain. Like all weaknesses, it will be exploited.

    Peter Yarrow’s history is fair game, as are the 40 years that followed. YOu may not like his apology, but it sounds honest (and therefore ethical). People did a lot of things that were illegal back then, some of which are admired today (like opposing the War), some of which are no longer a crime (smoking pot), and some of which are now much worse (consensual sex with 14 year olds).

    If Americans (i.e. Dixiecrats now Republicans) have no problem with the racist, segregationist, murderous behavior of their favorite politicians from the 1960s and 70s, then how is it they cannot forgive someone of being a sex offender 40 years ago? Never mind, silly question…lol

    P.S. Don’t know where you are getting your info about Woody Allen. He’s never been accused of having sex with a minor (accusations by Mia Farrow about their 7 year old son was just divorce poppycock..)

    • “People use crime history like a weapon against others, for political, monetary or personal gain. Like all weaknesses, it will be exploited.”

      Isn’t that an “Inevitability Excuse?” (Sorry, I have not checked Jack’s list of rationalizations for awhile, but will re-visit there, as soon as I’m done here.) Or am I misunderstanding your next statement? (“…history is fair game.”) Is it merciful – which is ethical – to continually remind an offender of his offense of 40 years’ past with criticism and condemnation of him today, as if his offense is as fresh and unaccounted for as 40 minutes ago?

    • I do worry about you.

      1. I have laid out coherent standards and reasons why his apology is lacking—it’s not a matter of taste.
      2. “People did a lot of things that were illegal back then” : “Everybody Does it.”
      3. Opposing the war was never illegal, and the means used in many of the demonstrations have never been legal.
      4. Crimes do not become retroactively legal or ethical.
      5. Pot use and distribution is still illegal in the vast majority of jurisdictions. And so what? Are you really making a “it was OK to break drug laws because the laws were repealed 40 years later in Colorado?” Good one.
      6. “If Americans (i.e. Dixiecrats now Republicans) have no problem with the racist, segregationist, murderous behavior of their favorite politicians from the 1960s and 70s, then how is it they cannot forgive someone of being a sex offender 40 years ago?” Ethics Grade…F. “It’s not the worst thing'” (the most pathetic of all rationalizations), “Look over there!”, and a false dichotomy.
      7. “Never mind, silly question…lol” LOL is banned here, and its not a silly question, it’s a really dumb question, and horrible argument.
      8. Gee, in a current article, Dylan Farrow, the 7-year old Woody allegedly molested and now an adult, sounds pretty convincing. There is ample reason to believe Woody also had underage sex with his adopted daughter, now current wife, and he is by definition guilty of de facto incest. He was a celebrity, and has escaped civil and criminal consequences, but oddly, in you were right, he was denied any legal contact with Dylan or Farrow’s other kids. You choose strange people to defend.

    • Jack and Eeyoure have pretty much dismantled your comment thoroughly, but they both missed a mistake you made, although Jack mentioned it, he didn’t chew up the core of it.

      You’ve pushed this nonsense before, and had it solidly debunked. It is bad form to re-use ideas that have been demonstrated false.

  2. Maybe the distilled-down-to-its-essence version of this quiz is this:

    Is Yarrow’s crime of 40 years ago an example of Signature Significance when we evaluate his character?

    If so, then it is fair for him to face criticism, suspicion and condemnation.

    And based on the totality of what we know about him, I do not think it is.
    (It certain helps him that there are now 40 years worth of “what we know” to consider.)


  3. I do think that as a culture we are too unwilling to grant a second chance even after long example of long changes of behavior. I can understand one screw-up, I think most people have at least one of those in their youth that their older and wiser selves are horrified and embarrassed by. What he did was wrong, so I’m not saying everyone does it. Bur rehabilition and second chances are necessary too, and this type of permanent write off should be for habitual or more dire, not every case.

    There should be an expiration on some kinds restrictions, and forty years is enough for most everything.

    The questions hit that fuzzy area. No, coaching girls should be out of the question, but at his age I doubt that is an issue.
    Running for office. it is relevant. Because of the change in perceived power. (though as someone famous, he’s already had those temptations for the forty years, but still no)
    No, he should not support Polanski, etc publicly, though he might sympathize with the screw up. I suspect his own view has changed in the decades like society’s and raising a family. What good is done by attacking someone for an disavowed act that long ago and went thru the system?
    Maybe on the Anti-sex campaign, like a PSA to encourage recent idiots to stop might be a good thing, but he may not want to revisit that jackass period because of many who will never forgive no matter how long.
    Playing music at a fundraiser hits free speech issues and he should be able to do that. This hoo-hah happened before years ago too, so when do people think anyone is allowed forgiveness? Or are people to be forever branded for all errors? When is enough enough?

  4. Maybe Martha Robinson thinks that what’s good enough for John Kerry is good enough for her.

    Perhaps she can hire Jerry Sandusky to coach her kid’s football team, also, he made mistakes, how long are we going to punish him?

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about anyway, you know that 14 yr old was older than her chronological age…

  5. Imho “admirable, mostly progressive causes” is an oxymoron. That being said 😉 I agree with your seventh point: “Sex with a 14-year-old folk song groupie is a far cry from murder, and significantly less heinous than forcible rape.” Still it is pretty creepy. I’ll never buy anymore of his CDs or or download his music.

  6. Yarrow should be forgiven because he paid the price and owned up to his bad behavior. So sure, I would hire him to help raise money for a cause. His record (now 40 years long) shows that he is decent citizen. BUT, that doesn’t mean I would leave him alone with my daughters because why even take that chance?

    (I read Yarrow’s apology in a more sincere light — to mean that lots of rock stars engaged in this crime, but that he was caught and he was “wrong.” Pointing out that others do it too is not an excuse but rather to highlight that this crime was not limited to one individual.)

    Woody Allen and Polanski should not be forgiven because they never went to jail. The Kennedy incident always has troubled me — it made me distrust him, but there certainly was not clear cut evidence to convict, or perhaps even charge him with manslaughter.

    • The Kennedy incident always has troubled me — it made me distrust him, but there certainly was not clear cut evidence to convict, or perhaps even charge him with manslaughter.

      You mean aside from the fact that he got out of the car, went to a place of safety, and did not so much as notify anyone of what happened for many hours?

      The man who eventually pulled Mary Jo’s body from the car described her as having moved to a position to place her head above rising water.

      She survived the accident, and if the pile of shit Ted had bothered to go back after her, she very likely would have lived.

      He might as well have shot her – it would have been quicker and more humane.

      • I actually agree with you (shockingly) but there is no legal duty to rescue. He may have committed lesser crimes like failure to report an accident, but I doubt that comes with prison time. We can’t jail people for being piles of shit, but if we could more than one Kennedy would make the list.

        • Was drunk driving a crime back then? Was leaving the scene of an accident? Was getting into a wreck while drunk?

          If any one of those were a felony, then he is guilty of felony murder.

          If someone like Zimmerman can be considered by many here to be on some level ethically or morally culpable in the death of the guy that attacked him, then Teddy is absolutely morally responsible for the death of the person he left to die.

  7. Would [I] argue that Yarrow’s past should be irrelevant if he took a job as the coach of a teenage girls swimming team?
    Would it be fair to raise such a conviction if Yarrow were himself running for elective office?
    If Yarrow were vocally supporting Hunt, who was just sentenced, or Polanski, would [I] still think his own statutory crime would be an unfair topic?
    Would [I] consider him to be a valuable ally in an anti-child sex abuse campaign?

    Giving quick answers to the questions here, Jack; more lengthy ones may be worked into a future blog post….

    1. He isn’t taking a job as a girls’ swimming team coach, is he? But yes, even though “irrelevant” is your word, not mine, there is zero evidence to suggest he would be at risk of seducing a 14 year old girl today. The whole point is that people change. I did things when I was forty years younger that I blush to remember and wouldn’t do today on a dare or a bet.
    2. Fair?? If you want fair, you will have to look further than politics. But no, not appropriate, not–I’ll use it this time–relevant. Same rationale as above.
    3. Well, you had to throw in one I have trouble not agreeing with; this is much more relevant and not an unfair issue to raise under the conditions you posit.
    4. Absolutely. He would bring a perspective to the campaign that is seldom had. This would be akin to the fact that some child sex abuse advocate groups are allies in believing, along with groups advocating for reform of current sexual offense laws, that the current system isn’t working and that reform is needed, reform that creates a system of laws that are fact and evidence based. It is also similar to former drug users, reformed, being speakers to groups of kids at schools as part of an anti-drug campaign.

    • My answers:

      On the Quiz question: yes, I think, at this point it is unfair to keep pillorying Peter for his 40 year old crime.

      As for my hypotheticals, and your answers to them:

      1. He should not be allowed to coach a girl’s team, and would not. A parent would also have an absolute right to know of his prior conviction. How can you argue otherwise? Your answer: A. “He isn’t taking a job as a girls’ swimming team coach, is he?” Defensive response. The point of the hypos is to test whether you really believe the conviction and crime shouldn’t matter today. I take from this that you are not as certain as you would like to be. B. “…there is zero evidence to suggest he would be at risk of seducing a 14 year old girl today.” Wishful thinking. “Zero”? I’s say the fact that he did it once means that there is evidence that he is more likely to do it again than, say, me. Thus it isn’t zero—and if there are zero evidence candidates, why not flag and prefer them? c.”The whole point is that people change.” Yes, but rarely, and the amazing thing is how seldom people change. Thus the presumption should be that they do not and have not. People get older, and that’s a change, but personalities and character change remarkably little. d.”I did things when I was forty years younger that I blush to remember and wouldn’t do today on a dare or a bet.” But you are not Peter Yarrow.

      2. Wrong.Of course past crimes, no matter when they occurred, are relevant to the qualifications of candidates for high office, who must be held to higher standards, not the same, not lower. Yarrow’s crime is both a real and appropriate disqualifier.

      3. Right.

      4. I think he should be a good advocate for these causes, but in the real world, he would not be. Should O.J. be part of a campaign against spousal abuse?

  8. 1B. I think you have confused evidence and risk; no one is at zero risk unless he is in a permanent coma. I said zero evidence he would be at any significant risk of re-offending.

    No, statistically, after this many years with no re-offense, his individual risk is the same as yours. However, also statistically, since approximately 95% of new sex crime is committed by someone not on the registry, in a generalized, not an individualized sense, your risk level is higher than his.

    2. I disagree, but I do agree with the higher standard argument.

    4.O.J. is not a good comparison; he did not take responsibility for what he did; he has fallen afoul of the law and moral behavior since the original trespass. He has not engaged in activities that benefited society.

    • “No, statistically, after this many years with no re-offense, his individual risk is the same as yours. However, also statistically, since approximately 95% of new sex crime is committed by someone not on the registry, in a generalized, not an individualized sense, your risk level is higher than his.”

      I agree with Shelly Stow on the point of evidence and risk. However, I would argue that the offense is relevant but not for the reasons one might expect. While the chance of Mr Yarrow reoffending is effectively nil, the chance for hysteria rises dramatically, emotions run rampant, and everyone becomes vulnerable, especially Mr Yarrow. One false accusation and he’s toast. Because he has the conviction, I believe he has the responsibily to live his life in a way that leaves no one doubting his integrity or his intentions. It seems perhaps in the last 40 years, he has attempted to do just that.

      • You are seriously saying that an individual who has committed a crime once has no greater probability of committing the same crime again than someone who never committed the crime? Especially a sex crime, where recidivism rates are sky high? That’s ridiculous. To begin with, he hasn’t been CAUGHT in a similar crime in 40 years. We have no idea whether he has, in fact, been a model citizen. That alone makes your statistical argument fanciful.

          • Come on, Shelly—you’re changing the subject. How about addressing the argument in my response rather than quibbling about a parenthetical comment? That said, your linked article does nothing to dispute high recidivism rates among sex offenders—you just bolster my point by saying the people around the Thanksgiving table are as likely to be molesting kids as those on the sex offender’s list, which as I said in the comment, is ridiculous. Sex offender who have not been apprehended are as likely to molest as those who have, yes, but that table isn’t full of sex offenders, presumably.

            I applaud your blog and its purpose, which is to call attention to the harassment and persecution of former molesters and those on sex offender lists, who might have been guilty of lesser crimes. But having to account for one’s past when one’s character is involved is neither persecution, harassment, unfair, or unreasonable, and you weaken your main point by linking it to that contention.

            • Jack, I never thought I would say this, but I don’t think you are playing fairly. I was not changing the subject. I was challenging a point you made as at least a partial basis for your belief. And now you have done it again, inserting “parenthetically,” and misquoting me in the process, that it is “ridiculous” that, if a child is molested, the perpetrator is much more likely to be found at a holiday gathering than on the sex offender registry. That is a far cry from saying everyone at the table is a child molester.

              If you honestly do not know the statistics on this, about where the overwhelmingly greatest risk for child sexual abuse comes, as well as what official report after report–federal, state, university, private–show as sex offender re-offense rates, then the Jack Marshall I think I know will be doing some research.

              • Shelly, I apologize if I am misunderstanding, but I think you are changing the subject. The issue is not that many child molesters are not apprehended, and whether that is true or not, it has no bearing on the issue of personal responsibility and the legitimacy of using past crimes as part of the assessment of current character.

                My point remains: if you take individual A, who has a record of child sexual abuse, and individual B, who has no known record, who is more likely to engage in future child sexual abuse? You are arguing—correct me if I’m wrong– that there is no difference. Not only isn’t that true of child sex abusers, it isn’t true of any crime, from murder to shop-lifting to spousal abuse, and it it isn’t true of any other kind of behavior either, from drinking to smoking to eating oysters to being a soccer fan.

          • It’s obvious to me as an ex-felon who faces the same as Yarrow, I took mine to trial an lost because of a crooked system, but yet here I am twenty some years later still fighting the conviction and making a good life and work my butt off to prove those wrong who have said this happened. If you all look at statistics like you should you would see that over eighty percent of those who re-offend are not sex offenders and that in fact less than five percent ever re-offend so why not give us that are hard working and have families that support us a second chance?

        • “You are seriously saying that an individual who has committed a crime once has no greater probability of committing the same crime again than someone who never committed the crime? Especially a sex crime, where recidivism rates are sky high?”

          I am not saying that, Jack. The research and body of evidence says it for me. My impression of you is that you are a thoughtful, intelligent, studious individual, or you wouldn’t be seeking answers to these questions. So, please take time to read the work of Catherine Carpenter in CA, Jill Levenson in FL, Hanson from Canada, Richard Wright (not sure where he’s from but he has a book on such issues), Richard Tewksbury from KY. I’m not sure what your definition of “sky high” is, but I think you would agree that the body of evidence, if you take the time to read it, shows that recidivism is actually not “sky high.” And I have trouble with the notion of “he just hasn’t been caught.” Perhaps be hasn’t been caught because he has not done anything wrong. I suspect over a 40 year period, it would have come out. So the whole “not been caught” argument is weak. With that argument, we might as well presume that everyone is a criminal who hasn’t been caught yet.

          So, Jack, please do some investigation on the recidivism issue and the lets talk some more.

          • That’s not what the data says. You’re cherry-picking. About 40% of all those released from prison end up back in jail (Pew study), usually for the same crime. Is that higher than the percentage of those who have never been imprisoned? Of course. The approximate rate by crime:

            13.4% of released robbers
            22.0% of released assaulters
            23.4% of released burglars
            33.9% of released larcenists
            19.0% of released defrauders
            41.2% of released drug offenders

            Are all these higher than the rate for the non-jailed, convicted populace? Yes. The rate for RAPISTS (note—the post is not about repeat rape) is quite low 2.1%—but as any women’s advocate will tell you, that is a deceptive rate because rape is the least reported of the major crimes. Even then, 2% of a random selection of Americans are not rapists. Meanwhile, studies of recidivism of child molesters—which is what Yarrow was convicted of—show data like this, from an abstract of a longitudinal study:

            “We examined the long-term recidivism rates of 197 child molesters released from prison between 1958 and 1974. Overall, 42% of the total sample were reconvicted for sexual crimes, violent crimes, or both, with 10% of the total sample reconvicted 10-31 years after being released. Incest offenders were reconvicted at a slower rate than were offenders who selected only boys, with offenders against girls showing a rate intermediate between these two groups. Other factors associated with increased recidivism were (a) never being married and (b) previous sexual offenses.”

            Please note (b)…..

            • And modern rates for recidivism (read as “during my life-time”) are closer to 5.3% in the first 3 years, with not too great a change after that.

              The greatest cause for re-arrest is, IIRC, failure to register, failure to live within the boundaries of “allowable” places to live, and other crimes (like theft, because no one wants to hire a registered sex offender).

              I will point out that while I certainly don’t think a child rapist should live next to a school, I think the fact that they are forced to move when a new school gets built near them (they were their first, fuck you city) or when a bus route gets changed and a bus stop ends up too close to their home (again, they were there first, you have no right to force them to move).

  9. Time goes on and I had forgotten about this rape charge against Yarrow but reminds me back in the day how some folks were so disgusted with him that the whole group suffered; and folks threw out their music . I also considered the whole group war protesters which they were.

    Some folks felt he got off light and other’s said “there’s more in the woodpile”…meaning probably more little girls and a cover up.

    I always considered the protesters (Vietnam era) to be wimps and still do. If my hubby was snatched out of college for the war then protesters just needed to shut the F up but no Peter, Paul & Mary made everyone feel guilty while pushing their own agenda at making “musical” money.

    Everyone who attempts to make “second chances” and if successful deserves opportunities….but for 2013…why in world would anyone want an old “beat ‘nick or hippie” to sing old music that two generations have never heard?

    But maybe that Democrat just couldn’t find anyone with caliber who had a date available….just knowing he is on that stage might make some vote the other way….Yarrow can stay on that side. He makes money on his personal views and beliefs…I don’t…

    Remembering Ted Kennedy and the horrific fate of Mary Jo….as a kid I could not understand why he did not go to jail. It is said…”Well he is a Kennedy”….and that “golden” family was the start of this dysfunctional nation…my opinion.

  10. Well jail time can be a wonderful wake-up call for celebrities that think they are bulletproof. I don’t think there is much risk of him doin’ something like this again. So I suppose it’s still a free country and he can advocate for causes I am diametrically opposed to.

  11. May be I’m lacking in IQ points but what is Shelly really lamenting? That people still remember what Yarrow did or that said people criticise Robertson for using him for her campaign. Folks tend to have a long memory when it comes to shady pasts of the criminal variety – so, is she demanding that people forget or refrain from bringing it up or what? Now if someone did harrass Yarrow at that campaign – then may be she has a point. But doesn’t what the spokesman for the RNC said fall into the “freedom of speach” category…

    As an afterthought: I’m of the opinion that for some crimes for which one is convicted, punished and rehabilitated – you cannot truly be redeemed from a moral or ethical point of view. Those crimes will leave a mark on you until the day you die.

  12. I tried to get this from the DOJ site, but the government documents are not available online because of the government shut-down. Now there’s something to investigate. I admit to being off-topic, Jack, BUT it is an off-topic that you initiated, and it is important. Your comment that sex offender re-offense is “sky-high” is what the majority of people believe, and it isn’t true. Most offenders living in the community will not re-offend.

    “From the Department of Justice. It is a study based on convicted sex offenders who were released from prison in 1994.
    Here are some of the findings from the study:
    – Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. If all crimes are included, 43 percent of sex offenders were rearrested for various offenses.
    – Sex offenders were less likely than non-sex offenders to be rearrested for any offense –– 43 percent of sex offenders versus 68 percent of non-sex offenders. But sex offenders were about four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for another sex crime after their discharge from prison –– 5.3 percent of sex offenders versus 1.3 percent of non-sex offenders.”

    The last paragraph supports what you said, Jack; any given former sex offender is more likely to commit another sex crime than a non-sex offender. An exception to this is children; they are far more likely to be molested by someone they know in a close and trusted relationship. Also, notice that the total number of sex crimes committed by non-sex offenders will far exceed the number committed by former sexual offenders. In fact, studies are showing that 95% of sexual crime is committed by those not on the registry.

    Okay, I think I’m through with this subject, and I apologize for going off-topic for so long. Thank you, Jack, for providing this venue for meaningful discussion on a very complex subject on which there is a massive amount of misinformation floating around.

    • Shelly,
      It sounds like you are quoting from, “Recidivism of Sex Offenders
      Released from Prison in 1994”. The percentages are only the tip of the iceberg. My advice is to quit quoting them. Use the numbers instead. In that study 517 sex offenders committed an additional sex offense during the four years the study covered. What I do not see anyone talking about is that 3,328 other felons also committed a sex offense.

      To Jack,
      How does the sex offender registry prevent those 3,328 sex offenses? Which number should be more disconcerting, 517 or 3,328?
      I mean, maybe I am missing something here… Is the issue a question of “how do we get those bastards” or is it “how do we protect ourselves and others”? Because it seems that, if it is the second, we have not chosen well.
      Those numbers don’t even cover first time offenders with no prior record.
      Do you know how many “forcible rape” arrests occurred during the time of that study in the 15 states the study monitored?
      Are you sitting down? 237,286 (You can pull the numbers from “UCR Data Online”.) 517 of those crimes are attributed to registered sex offenders. You call that doing something about the problem? I call it a new problem, not a solution.

  13. I agree with the idea that he has paid his legal debt to society and he should not be harassed over his past actions. I feel this is a forgotten need to allow people convicted of crimes to have an end to their punishment when their punishment is scheduled to end. They need to be allowed to have a life afterwards or we might as well just execute them, it would be more humane.

    However, I feel there are limits to this. Mr. Yarrow is not asking us to just let him live his life. He is asking us to trust his endorsements. For this, I do think an evaluation of his prior decisions are fair game. If he wants me to vote for someone because he says its a good idea, it is perfectly valid for someone to say “Well, he thought statutory rape was a good idea too”. Now, I am not going to egg his car or burn nasty messages in his front yard, but I will question the judgement of anyone who seeks out the endorsement of such a man. If he wants to avoid criticism for his past actions, he needs to realize he has to realize that because of his past actions he has forfeited the right to counsel US on OUR actions. It may not seem fair in all cases, but life doesn’t have to seem fair to everyone.

  14. Yarrow’s indiscretion all those years ago continued. No, there wasn’t actual intercourse, but I was a minor and he preyed upon me. I was 16 and 17 at the time.

  15. There are a lot problems with this article. For one, your “Exhibits” are hardly parallel cases. Also, you should be aware that the female victim in the Roman Polanski case claims she was raped. If the 14 yr old girl who had sex with Yarrow claims it was consensual than these are two separate kinds of cases.

    I also strongly object to the world “child” being used when someone is post-puberty. All these years I kept hearing that Peter Yarrow was a “child molester” until I looked into this case further. The age of consent in the nation of Canada was 14, up until 2008 when they changed it to 16. If a modern, developed, well respected nation can designate 14 as the age of consent for over 100 years, then it is not a fringe idea that a 14-15 year old is capable of consent. Peter Yarrow is NOT a child molester, even if someone assumes that 14 is too young to give consent.

    • Wrong. You don’t comprehend the concept of informed, uncoerced consent…. or maturity, apparently.

      Rape is rape…if there is no consent, and a child is not deemed capable of consent in the eyes of the law in THIS country and culture, which is all that matters, then an adult having sex with a child is rape. Your distinctions are in your mind, not in law or ethics. If course a 14 year old is a child. The law says so, science says so, biology says so, experience says so, common sense says so. What Canada does, foolishly, is of no import. If Canada declared seven the age of consent, would that be persuasive to you as well? Based on your logic here, I’d have to assume so.

  16. The virgin mary was 13 or thereabouts when she was visitated upon by the god of peter paul and abraham. Because, you know, all women at that age back then were fully capable of deciding that sort of thing.

    So why does the prospect drive them insane now? A woman was an old maid if she was unmarried at age 18.

    Biology says that a female is a woman when she becomes able to conceive. And throughout all of recorded and unrecorded history, that is when she began conceiving.

    Ask Jerry Lee Lewis.

    Adolescence is a sliding scale meant to regulate the birthrate; nothing more. When this country needed filling up fast the legal age was 13. The country is now full and now accepts immigrants with their child brides with open arms.

    The bat and bar mitzvas are age 13 or before. The jews invented the ‘outgrow and overrun’ strategy of world conquest. Christians adopted and used it to great effect around the world. Moslems perfected it, and we watch floods of them now overwhelming euro borders… and 50% of these refugees are children.

    And so we can appreciate how vital restricting growth is to the future of civilization. ‘Children of our youth/quiverfull’ no longer applies. We can also appreciate how vital it is that people who violate reproductive mores be punished severely, tarred, and feathered. After all the most heinous sins in the holy books are those regarding reproduction. But theirs were all meant to maximize growth.

    The world has been filled.

  17. Everyone talks about Yarrow’s abuse as if it was a one time thing. It was not. I was a victim after a concert in Dallas in 1968.I was a very innocent and naive 14year old. I was not a “groupie”, I was a fan who asked for an autograph and was singled out by him. He very innocently asked if I would like to see backstage and I accepted. He took me on a tour of all of the dressing rooms. When we got to his he shut the door and said he needed to change clothes and started undressing. When he got to his pants he pulled me over and forced me to give him oral sex. I honestly didn’t know what to think. I had NO sexual experience. I was in shock as he silently walked me back to the stage. I was humiliated and embarrassed and too ashamed to tell anyone. In fact, I never told anyone until I was an adult. Looking back, the ease by which he did this tells me that he had done it MANY times before.

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