In determining sentencing for crimes, the criminal court is supposed to take into consideration both specific and general deterrence. When the courts make a decision, they send a message not only to the offender, but to the victims and the public.
Which do you think should be more strongly denunciated by the courts: letting your pet cobra escape, or sexually assaulting children?
Helder Claro served the equivalent of a year in jail for letting his pet cobra escape.
He has just been convicted of sexually assaulting an 18 year old girl and sexual exploitation of a 16 year old girl. How long of a jail sentence do you think he got?
None. No jail.
That's right. It seems that sexual abuse of our young women is not nearly as serious in the eyes our system as the snake incident.
The snake incident was disruptive and frightening.
Sexual abuse of young people is disruptive and frightening.
The snake incident hasn't, as far as is known, scarred anyone or caused actual long-lasting harm to anyone.
Sexual assault leaves long-term wounds.
That's not to say that the snake incident wasn't important; It was.
Sexual assault and exploitation is a grave matter impacting many in our society.
Unrepentant thirty-nine year old Helder Claro will be receiving counselling. It's important that we make attempts to deal with sex offenders, but why do we have to leave the community at risk and send the message that sexual assault of young people is not serious while we try to help the offenders?
What kind of counselling is this guy getting? What counselling works effectively with someone who honestly thinks he did nothing wrong in spite of the fact that he was convicted of a crime?
Claro has been told that he is not allowed to be alone or in a position of trust with any child under 18.
Except his own children. He has five kids.
If he doesn't understand that his exploitation of a teenaged girl was wrong, will he understand what it means to be in a position of trust with a teenager?
One of the convictions was related to the sexual assault of an 18 year old girl. He still believes it was not wrong. If he's not allowed to be with children under 18, what of all the young women who are over 18? They're just on their own, then?
Claro believes he did nothing wrong and the court failed to send him the strong message to the contrary by giving him jail time. Do you think that this has deterred him from committing future crimes?
What message did the court send to the victims, their parents and our community? What message did the court send to others who are thinking about sexually assaulting young people?
Snakes, the kind that crawl on their bellies, not the two-legged kind, do not attack people for no reason. They do not hunt young girls.
For more information on the snake incident and this story, see the Toronto Star.