Two trials

by Neil Rickert

I don’t normally comment on trials, though I did in a recent post. And now I’ll comment again on another two somewhat high profile cases. These are the case of Josh Duggar and the case of Jussie Smollett.

Duggar

The Duggar family is known for their roles in the TV reality show “19 kids and counting”. That TV show came to an abrupt end, when it was found out that Josh Duggar had been molesting his younger sisters. And then, more recently, Duggar was charged in connection with child pornography. On Thursday, a jury found him guilty.

We do not know what sentence he will receive, though this was a serious crime. I do not rejoice at the idea of him spending a long time in jail. Yet it seems that Duggar needs to learn some lessons of life. He had the opportunity to turn his life around after the molestation became known. But apparently he failed to do that.

Captain Cassidy is perhaps a bit heavy handed in her post “What Finally Stopped Josh Duggar”. But she correctly points out that evangelicals have attempted to shield Duggar instead of demanding that he face the consequences of his actions. Conservative Christianity has an unhealthy attitude toward sexuality, and one wonders how much that played into this sad affair.

Smollett

I had never heard of Jussie Smollett before the events of January 2019. But then I don’t watch much TV. Apparently he was star of “Empire”. In that fateful January, he reported that he was the victim of a hate crime, an attempted lynching because he is black and gay.

The Chicago police investigated. And they began to turn up evidence that Smollett may have actually set this up himself as a publicity stunt.

I remember seeing him interviewed after the police had charged him with making a false report. He came across to me as having an air of smug entitlement, in effect saying that the police should not have charged him.

A month or two later, the states attorney decided to drop the case. The police asked him to reimburse their costs for this investigation, but Smollett refused to pay.

Some time later, a judge appointed a special prosecutor to look into the case. I’m not sure which group brought that option to the judge. I’m guessing that the people who asked for a special prosecutor were incensed at what I saw as an air of smug entitlement, and were incensed at his refusal to reimburse the police for their costs.

The jury found Smollett guilty. The apparently believed the police testimony, and the testimony of the people who claimed that Smollett had paid them to stage this. Smollett appeared as a witness in the trial, but the jury apparently did not believe his denials.

For myself, I would have been okay with the case being dropped. I’m inclined to think that if Smollett had agreed to reimburse the police for their costs, that would have ended the whole episode. It seems likely that Smollett’s own actions are what forced this to come to trial.

The jury found him guilty on 5 of 6 charges. Smollett says he will appeal. I doubt that his appeal will be successful. Most court observers think it unlikely that he will be required to spend time in jail.

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