For those that are finding the seemingly endless saga of the probation service privatisation a bit tedious, I thought I'd take time out to comment on the Jeremy Forrest case, mainly because I've found the response in some quarters a bit disturbing to say the least.
It came as no great surprise to me that the Jury took little time to convict Forrest of child abduction, even though a significant element of his defence was that the victim was potentially suicidal at the time and he took her to France because he feared for her safety if he had not. Of course a minor cannot legally give consent to such a thing, nor sexual activity with an adult, and therefore Forrest was sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment both for abduction and several counts of sexual activity with a minor.
Now given that Forrest breached his position of trust as a school teacher, and almost certainly used his privileged position in order to 'groom' the victim, I don't think many probation officers will be surprised at the length of sentence that was handed down. Others however, both on blogsites and twitter, seem to feel very differently indeed. Amazingly Frank Chalk, the former teacher and author of a hugely popular blog, just had this to say:-
So 30 year old Maths teacher Jeremy Forrest got five and a half years. Whilst we probably agree that what he did was wrong, should he really spend more time in prison than a mugger, a burglar who attacked a woman in her own home, or a robber who almost killed his victim?
Blimey - just 'probably agree that what he did was wrong'. Where is Frank's moral compass pointing exactly? Comparing the sentence with other serious but completely dissimilar offences is another matter entirely and not at all helpful I would suggest. But Frank is not the only one to raise doubts about whether Forrest has done anything wrong at all.
For some time I've been reading a very popular blog by John Ward. He writes what appear to be extremely well-informed pieces on a range of topics that could be broadly termed as providing evidence of conspiracies. One of these concerns historic sexual abuse of children in care by members of the British Establishment. In particular he feels that the recent spate of historic sex offence prosecutions involving geriatric celebrities is a deliberate distraction in order to protect members of the Establishment from a similar fate.
He is also highly suspicious of the appearance of a number of what might be termed 'apologists' for sex offending and I happen to share this view and have referred to it previously. So it is with considerable dismay that I read his recent somewhat hysterical piece on the Forrest case that serves to effectively give support to the apologist agenda (I have removed a photo and reference to the victims name so as not to be in breach of a Court Order):-
Now probation officers would straight away spot the cognitive distortions contained in these quotes and that are so typically employed by many of our sex offending clients in order to try and justify their actions. But alarmingly many commentators on the article are completely supportive of the hypothesis that Forrest hadn't really done much wrong, so I was moved to add my dissenting voice:-
John – This is the first comment I’ve been tempted to make publicly, although I’ve been an avid reader for some time.
May I respectfully say that you are in danger of conflating two separate issues and in the process are in danger of appearing to be an apologist for sex offending – a situation I know you would wish to avoid.
The trial Judge noted that the evidence by the victim in court differed considerably to that initially given to the police and collusion is suspected. It's entirely possible that further charges of Perverting the Course of Justice might result. Evidence has also come to light indicating that Forrest had attempted to 'groom' other female pupils.