Scumbag Criminology: Criminals Who Were Basically Rewarded
The flaws in the legal system are more than just 'kinks'. Not only are thousands of people wrongly imprisoned across America, but just as many guilty individuals walk free as well. Sometimes, a suspect's blatant guilt is overlooked despite overwhelming evidence against him or her.
Criminology may have correctly profiled the individual, or the criminal may have even confessed -- but a remarkably expensive defense team, the criminal's profession (i.e. law enforcement officer) or some other issue (such as a mistrial) may allow that person to go completely free, unpunished for their crimes. In this edition of Scumbag Criminology, we take a look at some of the people who escaped punishment for an awful crime, and look at when and why justice was derailed, aborted, squashed into oblivion. Through criminology, perhaps we can go beyond merely understanding why certain criminals are allowed to walk -- and use that knowledge to make changes which will prevent other guilty evildoers from escaping in the future.
Cheering on the Rapist
In one of the most outrageous rape cases in (possibly longer than) the last decade, a 16-year-old rape victim was not only forced to watch her attacker go free -- she was expected to cheer for him during one of the school's basketball games.
Known only as HS, the girl was apparently raped at a party by Rakheem Bolton. Instead of serving time in jail, Rakheem was able to escape punishment by pleading to misdemeanor assault and getting basically rewarded with time served, probation and some light community service. The sheer ridiculousness that 'misdemeanor assault' could ever even be an optional plea for rape was just the beginning of this horrendous justice system FAIL. HS was a member of the cheerleading team and present in uniform at a school basketball game after the rape.
Her coach actually asked her to cheer for Bolton, a member of the basketball team. She refused and was promptly kicked off the squad. In a final low-down insult, her appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was denied, telling us ominous things about the state of criminology in America today. The court stated:
"As a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams…This act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, HS was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily."
Wow, surprise! Casey Anthony's name appearing on another list about horrible people doing horrible things and getting away with it. So as not to waste your time or deter you from reading the rest of this, Anthony's section will be short and terrible.
She obviously had a hand (or two) in the death of her own daughter, but went free despite a mountain of evidence and expert testimony against her. The verdict was partially thanks to a prosecutor who was demanding the death penalty in a state that executes within a short period of time after sentencing, unlike many other states where inmates sit on death row for upwards of thirty years.
A criminology expert should have the capacity to also have knowledge about society's unspoken racist, sexist, and classist laws. She was, however, convicted of lying to police…but released with credit for time served.
Rich Murderers Can Buy Freedom
Robert Durst was a millionaire already suspected of two other murders when he became the prime suspect in the murder of a 71-year- old woman. In the early 80s, Durst was suspected of murdering his wife. He was never convicted, but the cold case was reopened 18 years later -- which is when Durst's friend was shot execution style.
It's widely believed that the woman, Susan Berman, had known about the woman's disappearance and was being pressed to help apprehend Durst. The multi-millionaire made little effort to live an inconspicuous lifestyle afterwards, and was arrested for the murder of neighbor Morris Black in 2001 when her limbs were found floating in the nearby bay.
Durst skipped his court date and brazenly made off to Pennsylvania with $37,000, two guns, and a bunch of pot.
He was arrested in a supermarket, caught hilariously attempting to shoplift a chicken sandwich and a bandaid despite the $500 in his pocket. Most likely because of his ability to hire one of the best, most expensive defense attorneys and criminology experts around, Durst was acquitted of murder -- even though he had admitted to killing Black (in self defense against the 71-year-old woman) and dismembering her body with saws and an axe before dumping her in the bay.
He was, however, convicted of tampering with evidence and bond jumping and spent a meager three years behind bars before he returned to his cushy lifestyle.
The criminology surrounding this case is a confusing and tragic one. Kaloyev lost his wife and two children in a horrible plane crash. He was devastated; they had been flying out to meet him for a holiday at one of his job sites. The plane had crashed into a larger jet, leaving no survivors.
Kaloyev was so devastated he flew to the crash site and found the remains of his family members himself, claiming to have "washed them and laid them to rest in their coffins." An air traffic controller, Peter Nielson, was blamed for the incident because he panicked when he noticed the collision course of the two planes and gave each of them disastrous instructions.
Although he never worked as an ATC again, Nielson was not convicted of any crimes and the airline's slow paced investigation and lack of apology began to anger Kaloyev. When he requested a meeting with airline officials but was denied, Kaloyev turned to the only other person he could think of -- Nielson himself. Kaloyev claims that he visited Nielson with peaceful intentions of asking for an apology after civil conversations, but that Nielson's dismissive attitude infuriated Kaloyev.
Kaloyev stabbed Nielson multiple times, and he died as a result. Kaloyev was sentenced to 8 years, which got reduced… and when he was finally released, the entire nation of Russia celebrated the man as a hero. Seriously.