In 2012, Ohio preacher Jason Brothers stayed at the home of a family in Georgia when he was giving a guest sermon at North Mt. Zion Church of God in Hiawassee. When the family’s 14-year-old girl got up for a drink of water that night, Brothers, who was in a wheelchair due to his cerebral palsy, asked her for a hug… then raped her.
The girl only told her parents what happened after they caught her trying to end her own life.
This week, Jason Brothers was sentenced for his crime. The punishment involves no prison time, going back home to Ohio, and remaining on probation for another four years. In other words, nothing of any consequence even though he admitted to two counts of felony sexual battery on a minor.
The reason for that has everything to do with his attorney: Republican House Speaker David Ralston.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ralston took advantage of a legal loophole that allowed him to delay the trial as many times as he wanted as long as he said he was on state business.
Ralston did that at least eight times, dragging the case on for more than six years.
By the time a jury finally heard the victim’s story, she was a 21-year-old woman trying to recount a traumatic incident that happened several years earlier. Her memory wasn’t perfect. Same could be said of the other witnesses. The testimony would’ve been far more powerful if she was, say 15 or 16.
The delay-at-all-costs strategy worked.
And what was Ralston doing when he requested these delays for state business?
Two complaints with the State Bar of Georgia filed by victims in other cases have accused him of campaigning and fundraising when he told judges he couldn’t come to court; Ralston has defended that practice, too, telling The Augusta Chronicle he’d think about stopping “if George Soros will promise that he will not send any more money into Georgia.”
The law allowing for these delays has now changed — a judge can deny the request depending on the circumstances — but Ralston was able to use it with this client and his previous ones.
Ultimately, the victim’s family agreed to the plea deal only after they decided they couldn’t keep fighting if the trial kept getting pushed back.
The victim’s mother, Laurie Wilson, said the family agreed with the plea deal because her daughter can’t handle a trial or a possible litany of appeals. Her daughter suffers seizures, uses oxygen and a feeding tube and has developed thyroid problems and an iron deficiency.
“I feel like he got just a slap on the wrist,” Wilson told the AJC on Thursday. “I think that’s what all Ralston’s clients intend to get, which is why they hire him.”
A Republican lawmaker helped a child molesting priest avoid the consequences of his actions, all while a victim and her family endure life-long suffering with no sense of justice. An immoral political helped an immoral priest. It’s a match made in Hell.
The AJC and Channel 2 also note that, since Ralston became House Speaker in 2010, “he cited his legislative responsibilities to delay 226 cases a total of 966 times.” They also note that he expanded the legal loophole so delays could be granted year-round instead of just when the legislature was in session.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)