Prosecutions for groping

Oct 16, 2009 Prosecutions for groping

Bill of Rights. (From the public domain.)

As I consistently say, I am sickened, to say the least, by many crimes that my clients are alleged to have committed, if indeed they were committed. I am not talking about drug, theft and drunk driving crimes. I am talking along the lines of murder, rape, child pornography — which often involves prepubescent children — and other sexual abuse.

One abhorrent practice that apparently is very common in the world — particularly bars and other crowded nightspots, and subways and buses —  is non-consensual groping, also known as copping a feel or frottage. People’s bodies are temples, and nobody has a right to violate them.

Rodney Wayne Bible was prosecuted in Washington County, Maryland, for touching a minor’s (under fourteen years old) intimate area (here, her buttocks) for sexual arousal, gratification or abuse. The sole eyewitness was the minor child, who said that Mr. Bible came to her as she played with toys at a retail store, and touched her buttocks for two seconds.

The jury convicted, and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed the conviction. Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, in a plurality 3-2-2- opinion, held that the buttocks is an intimate area. Rodney Wayne Bible v. Maryland, ___ Md. ___ (Oct. 14, 2009). However, the Court of Appeals also ruled that there was insufficient information to convict without more than that Mr. Bible touched the minor’s buttocks for two seconds, and at first lied to the police about his whereabouts at the time of the incident.

Assuming for argument’s sake that Mr. Bible did touch the minor child’s buttocks. Does that mean he did it for sexual arousal or gratification, because the store was crowded and made passage difficult, because he stumbled or for some other reason? We will not know. That is the point of reasonable doubt and acquittal orders. If insufficient evidence exists to show that Mr. Bible touched the minor child’s buttocks for sexual arousal or gratification, then a conviction should not be permitted.

With all of the above said, this is my public service announcement for non-consensual copping feels, groping, and frottage to stop, now. Jon Katz.


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