Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Mayor Gary Becker of Racine Wisconsin Is Entitled To A Presumption of Innocence Until Otherwise Proven
There are probably only a few things worse in life then accusations of child molestation or child pornography. Such allegations should never be thrown around lightly. Gary Becker, former mayor of Racine Wisconsin is charged with soliciting someone he believed to be a minor girl. Becker has plead not guilty. He was arraigned on Tuesday and if convicted, could face up to 164 years in prison. District Attorney Michael Nieskes indicates that the state is actively pursuing the case.
Becker was still mayor at the time of his arrest last month. According to allegations, Becker was allegedly meeting a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl. The two had chatted on line. However, the alleged "14 year old girl" was actually an officer posing as a teen according to Bill Kosh, a spokesman for the Wisconsin attorney general's office.The investigation begin after Becker brought his personal computer into the mayor's office for repair. A computer technician allegedly discovered six pornographic images of girls possibly under age according to the criminal complaint. The technician discussed the photos with local law enforcement officers, and they turned the case over to the state's child Internet crimes task force.
Further investigation apparently uncovered other pornographic images of girls believed to be underage. At some point during an Internet chat with the officer posing as a 14 year old girl, Becker allegedly agreed to meet the girl at a shopping mall. Becker resigned from office after his arrest. He faces the following charges: child enticement, possession of child pornography, exposing a child to harmful materials, attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child, use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and misconduct in public office.
Gary Becker is presumed innocent until otherwise proven by a court of law. These are serious charges and there may be defenses such as chain of custody, others having access to his computer and even entrapment. If guilty, he should be punished. But given the stigma and penalty for such crimes, the presumption of innocence should not be abandoned.