In all of the community outrage at the horrific crimes of Thomas G. Beasley, the man sentenced last week to 110 years in prison for serial child abuse, one important point shouldn't be lost:
Wherever Beasley committed his crimes, he was held accountable for them in Columbia County. Beasley was brought to justice here after years of kid-glove treatment from Richmond County courts that inexplicably returned the monster, again and again, to the home where he routinely and brutally tortured his two sons.
It is to a small degree understandable that the juvenile and family court systems in Augusta would be jaded by the volume of cases. Yet that doesn't make them immune to criticism when a beast like Beasley slips through their cracks.
Those cracks belatedly closed when Beasley, his wife and two abused sons moved to Evans. There, by the grace of God, school officials refused to ignore the abuse - even though, as former Greenbrier Elementary School Principal Michelle Sherman testified, they were told by DFCS officials to back off.
When Beasley finally sent his then-9-year-old son to the emergency room in March 2008 with severe head injuries, he landed in the court of Judge Doug Flanagan.
The abuse of those boys and of the criminal justice system stopped there. "Columbia County took him away the first time he came into court," Flanagan says emphatically.
That's after four times Beasley had been in court in Richmond County. Four times that he was returned to abuse the boys even more.
Though Beasley is out of their misery, there's still plenty of accounting needed for the sake of those boys. They were victimized not just by the man who sired them, but by the state that passed the buck and failed to protect them.
At least it is some small reassurance that the buck, and the abuse, stopped here.
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