Our Case Watch program is modeled on MADD’s “Court Watch”, which has been very successful in keeping the justice system and the public aware of the serious nature of their cause (DUI). We hope to attain a similar level of success with the justice system and in our communities with regards to child molestation – sexual advances or sexual attacks on children including child pornography.
Although GrOW currently operates Case Watch only in Missouri we believe we have made a difference in the way that the courts we monitor view child molesters and the processing of these individuals.
We have in some courts successfully petitioned for the bench and participants to use microphones – we have stated that “an inaudible court is not an open court – too often the Judges consider the business of the court to be something carried on strictly between the parties with no regard for the community’s need to know of crimes and judicial outcomes. This is generally true in the processing of child molesters and, among other consequences, this enables Prosecutors to offer plea deals that should be unacceptable to the community if the community knew of them – we try to make sure the media and public know when a child molester gets off with little or no jail time or lax bench supervision.
Following the MADD model and the steep learning curve they experienced in dealing with a recalcitrant judicial with their cause decades ago, we follow cases of child molestation and attend hearings and sentencing. We sit quietly in court, and although our Case Watch volunteers wear an article of yellow clothing, we show nothing else to indicate our affiliation or cause.
In our role as GrOW representatives we do not interact or communicate with children, victims, or survivors of child molestation, their family members or counsel. We have a strict policy forbidding any contact whatsoever with accused, confessed or convicted child molesters including child pornographers.
We do closely interact with some of the public safety and social work organizations and individuals in our communities. We also periodically communicate with Prosecutors and the we often send notices to the court of our attendance after the sentence is handed down. We want them to know that we are monitoring and reporting outcomes to the media – with whom we interact extensively – and the community.
We are currently very concerned with the practice of Missouri Prosecutors of offering a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) as part of a probation plea bargain to child molesters. If the offender successfully completes probation then the trial record may be sealed. This practice is wide spread even though under federal law – the Adam Walsh Act of 2006 – even when the record is sealed the molester will still have to register as a sex offender. However the details of the crime causing the registration will be available only to the courts and police – not to, for example, a prospective employer. SIS is not allowed in Missouri in cases of forcible rape or forcible sodomy and should not be available in cases of child molestation – a crime which should always be viewed as premeditated and fraught with all of the elements of forcible rape or sodomy. GrOW will continue to bring this matter to front until that goal is achieved.
Those interested in volunteering for the Case Watch Program may do so through the contact form provided on the home page of this website.