Typically, cops tell us, the first time someone is arrested for shoplifting isn’t the first time the person has stolen. The thief usually commits the crime two or three times before getting caught.
Cops also know those crimes are more likely to stop the sooner the shoplifter is caught in that cycle.
So it goes with other crimes, too. And in the case of Scott Dean, convicted Thursday on two counts of child molestation, prosecutors worked to establish that Dean’s criminal sexual history spanned more than two decades.
Many people heard about the “similar transaction” involving twin girls from West Virginia, who said Dean fondled them against their will when he was 14 and they were 12. No charges were filed in that case, and some court observers felt bringing it up was a cheap shot.
Be that as it may, put it in context with these other allegations:
• That Dean, as a substitute teacher, groped a student: We’ve looked into this rumor as far as we can go and can’t substantiate it, yet one person who I talked to this week swore to know it “as a fact” because he’d been told the story by someone who had been told the story. Neither the alleged victim nor her mother filed a complaint with the police.
• That a female cop, in uniform, said Dean inappropriately touched her: The person who told me this story claims the cop was “afraid” and took no action.
• That a language coach of the victim’s sister heard allegations against Dean: This one we know because it was in court.
Collect these together, along with the twins’ story, and there are two common themes. The first is obvious – women accusing Dean of touching them sexually against their will.
The other might be less obvious, but to me it’s just as glaring: In each of these cases, if we take the allegations entirely at face value, Dean was accused of a crime and adults involved took no action – even when a police officer was one of those making the allegation.
Think about that. Making the assumption purely for the sake of discussion that the allegations all are true and not just more of the fevered fantasies of Dean’s political enemies, what this means is that those with the power potentially to stop future crimes instead stepped aside.
The parents of the twins? They could have filed charges. Instead, they summoned Dean and his parents and gave them all a stern talking-to.
The student and her mother? Either could have gone to the cops. Instead, they complained to everyone but the police.
The police officer who says Dean groped her? She could have slapped on the handcuffs herself. More than any other person in these scenarios (again, assuming all of them are true), she allowed a convicted child molester to continue breathing free air.
The language coach who heard the allegations from Dean’s daughter? She admitted doing nothing except telling the girl she should “tell someone.” Someone else, apparently.*
Anyone who believes Dean guilty should be furious. Multiple people, for more than two decades, failed to take even minimal action that at any point could have derailed criminal activity. Instead, for whatever reason, they gave it a pass.
What’s that old saying – all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing?
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com. Follow at twitter.com/
* Addendum: The language coach in this case says that she told the alleged victim to contact law enforcement or school authorities, and the girl refused out of family concerns. The language coach did not believe she could report the comments herself, thinking it would be hearsay, so no further action was taken.