Yesterday my wife called me at work to say that there was a television crew at our neighbour’s house. Last night we watched the news and the lead story involves our neighbours. And it’s a troubling story.
According to the news, a police officer who lives in our neighbourhood took it upon himself to photocopy photos of a man and distribute them to our neighbours, warning them that he lives nearby. The man has been accused of sexually assaulting a minor. The man is our next door neighbour.
I’m trying to keep this thing in perspective. I see myself as being a fair person and want to be fair in my assessment of this situation. I don’t know the man personally other than to see him come and go from the house. He hasn’t even been charged with a crime, just accused and I like to think that we live in a society where you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and not in the court of public opinion or sensational media coverage. And when you dig into the details of the sexually assaulting a minor charge, you find out that our 20 year old neighbour is accused of sexually assaulting a 17 year old boy. Again, trying to keep this in perspective, who knows what other social dynamics have gone on between the two? It’s conceivable that they might be a couple and this whole thing could be a relationship gone south. 20 to 17 is not a huge gap in terms of age and they could be part of the same peer group. The gap is even smaller if you consider that he just turned 20 and the 17 year old is a few months away from being 18. I’m not saying that is the case – the math could work the other way, but these are factors a court should be deciding IF this guy is even charged with assault and things I am trying to keep in mind as I weigh how I feel about this.
Personally, I think the police officer overstepped his bounds. And apparently so does our local police force who are conducting an investigation into how the photo got leaked and distributed. But still, it has been quite a disconcerting evening and morning at our house as I grapple with some big issue things – the safety of my family, the rights of a (still innocent) accused man and how I balance the two.