By Jason Menard
Some lawyers need to obtain a sense of perspective before they start throwing around accusations – after all, the bigger the glass house, the more shards can come crashing down. And, in the case of a St. Thomas man charged with sexually assaulting his child, this so-called lack of restraint may help to prevent similar episodes from occurring.
Bob Upsdell, the lawyer for a St. Thomas man who has been charged with sexually assaulting his own child live on the Internet – an act which allegedly was witnessed and acted upon by an undercover officer – is tossing the word restraint a little too loosely when it comes to castigating the police for releasing information about the trial.
Restraint? Restraint? Perhaps, if the claims are true, his client should have shown a little more restraint when it came to abusing his own offspring. Instead of chastising police and superciliously stating that they need to “restrain their need for validation of the work they do,” perhaps this lawyer should realize that he’s dealing with a client that allegedly should have shown more restraint in his need to validate his need for sexual gratification by fondling his own child.
When treading through filth like this, one must tread lightly. Upsdell instead has jumped in with both feet – and now those feet are lodged firmly in his mouth.
As repugnant as the charges may be, everyone is entitled to a fair trial. But the nature of this crime – allegedly willfully violating the parent/child trust for sexual gratification – is so abhorrent that the normal rules of decorum need to be thrown out. When one has seemingly shown so little regard for one’s humanity, it’s hard to take a position of moral superiority, but that’s what Upsdell has done.
Yet Upsdell is simply trying to protect the rights of his client. As any good lawyer should, he has his client’s best interests at heart. And in an attempt to ensure a fair trial, he’s well within his right to argue that police comments have the potential for tainting the jury pool. But knowing public sentiment for the crime his client has been literally seen doing, he should have come out in a less accusatory tone.
In the end, all Upsdell has created is more animosity for his client. I would think that one’s hard-pressed to find someone who sympathizes with his client’s plight. In fact, I would think the only reason that people are in agreement with the generalities of Upsdell’s argument. If all the reports are true, then it’s safe to say that no one wants to see the accused go free. As such, the general public are just as invested in making sure that all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed.
Sympathy for his client is in short supply, and appealing for that is a wasted effort. However, appearing conciliatory and co-operative will help ensure that public image only stays at the repugnant level. Actions like this only move it closer to the abhorrent category.
The fact of the matter is that you’re never going to find a virgin jury pool — and, honestly, do we really want to have a group of people who are so removed from the news and realities of the world that they are unaware of this case deciding the fate of anyone, anywhere?
All you can hope for is that a jury of this man’s peers – and thankfully that doesn’t mean a pool of other alleged sub-human child molesters – will be able to execute their responsibility with all the respect and attention it deserves. We don’t live in a vacuum, so the reality is that we have to trust that people are able to separate speculation, emotion, and hearsay from the cold, blunt facts.
The jury pool’s already been tainted by Upsdell’s client’s alleged actions. If true, he has no one to blame but himself for that. And when you’ve shown a complete disregard for the rules and regulations of our society – and, in fact, the very essence of human decency – then taking a stand based on human rights is one that’s not based on the firmest of footing.
Could the police have shown a little more restraint in releasing the evidence? Maybe. But I, for one, am happy that their actions may help to prevent actions like this in the future. Knowing that there are police acting undercover in chat rooms and watching the going’s-on may give just one person pause to reconsider his or her actions. It’s not going to solve all the problems. And if the Net becomes too unsafe, people who are of the mind to commit these atrocious crimes will simply find another venue.
But if only one child has been saved from just one incident of molestation, then I for one applaud the police’s lack of restraint. If only Upsdell’s client practiced the same standard of restraint that his lawyer expects of others.
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