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OPINION: Are Our Children Safe? Predators Amongst Us?

| January 24, 2010, 01:07 PM | 10 Comments

Over the past few years, there has been a disturbing increase of people in authority becoming g involved is sexual abuse of minors and young adults. What is happening to our society when we can no longer trust our teachers, our police officers, our attorneys, our religious leaders, and sometimes our own family?

This is a hot topic right now and one that deserves discussion. Yet, in a curious move, our hometown newspaper is looking to dissuade discussion of the topic by censoring and deleting comments. This needs to be discussed out in the open, not shunned like some oddball relative.

Cifala And the 16 Year Old

Most recently, Anne Arundel County police Lieutenant James Cifala has been charged with the possession of child pornography by federal authorities. It appears that Cifala, 47, married, and a 27 year police veteran, has had an ongoing sexual relationship with a 16 year old girl. While the relationship is not “illegal” it is certainly immoral; and federal prosecutors know that–hence the charge of child pornography.  Cifala and his wife, own the Rita’s Water Ice franchise on Mayo Road. While little is known about the girl, one has to wonder if she worked for Cifala. One also has to wonder how Cifala could be so naive as to take photos of himself on his cell phone and include distinctive furnishings from his home in the background.

Did this girl have something to do with this? Absolutely. But having an affair with an older person is not a crime in Maryland. Did she realize what she was doing was illegal? Probably not? Will she be charged? And the question also needs to be asked, how many other people knew about this long going affair and kept their mouths shut? The County police department has been known to be a tight knit community and have protected their members in the past. Did this happen this time?

Sex For Drugs

The Capital also reported on a local attorney, Jeff Marcalus,  who traded a Vicodin (drug) for  a sex act.  Sleazy attorneys are nothing new, but this seems a bit over the line. However, it is not a unique situation. I have heard (and cannot personally confirm) that another local attorney is usually willing to trade legal services (usually divorce work) for sex with his clients. I have heard of another that offered to reduce his billing hours for a date to be arranged with a client’s married sister. And to boot, one of these attorneys actually had the gall to toss his name in the ring for the Circuit Court vacancy which now exists. With crooked cops, do we really need equally crooked lawyers and judges?

Schoolteacher Crush?

Well, it seems that the roles might be reversed. Over the past few years, there have been many national cases of teachers being involved with students. The most notorious was likely Mary Kay Letourneau. But a few weeks ago, right in our own backyard, we have Kristyn Breeds who had a sexual relationship with a 17 year old student. Breeds has been charged with a 4th degree sex offense. But is there a double standard at work here? In this technologically advanced age, are we to believe that over the course of a 9 month relationship with the student, there was no sexting going on? Sexting (and the possession of image of a person under 18) is what nailed James Ciafala.  Do we find ti somewhat less appalling that a boy was a victim and not a girl?

Cover Ups

Remember the tale of Officer Joseph Mosmiller? He was an Anne Arundel Cop who pulled over unsuspecting women and offered to let them out of a traffic stop (that he never radioed in) if they would allow him to see and photograph their breasts with his cell phone. Mosmiller ultimately got the traditional slap on the wrist for which judges in Anne Arundel County are famous–6 days in jail and 30 days at home watching Oprah. But there was a controversy surrounding this case and several other officers were disciplined for their knowledge of the incidents and their failure to report them. I am all for having a friend’s “back”, but at what point does it go too far?

Safe At Home?

One might think that the only place you are safe is at home. Not so much. Back in early 2007, Anne Arundel County retired (now) Judge Joseph Manck sentenced a Severna Park man to 4 months in jail and then allowed him to serve it at home so he could continue to work as a rel estate agent. He had an 8 year history of sexually abusing children including his own 7 year old daughter!

So where exactly are our children safe today? Certainly not in school (and this does not even address the sexual and physical confrontations amongst peers in schools). It appears that they are not safe from police officers. What is the solution there? Maybe we need to distrust all police officers and when pulled over continue to drive to a police station where there are other witnesses. We cannot trust the attorneys we hire to represent us in court. We cannot trust the judges to hand down appropriate sentences.

What happened to the days when a kid could come home from school and ride as far as his bike would take him until called for dinner?  What happened to the days when you felt in danger that you could trust a police officer to help you? Where are the days when parents looked out for everyone’s kids? What the hell is happening?

Editors Note: All comments will be published. Please keep them on topic. Do not personally attack others for their opinions.  Vulgar comments will be deleted. Other than that, play nice.

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  1. running with scissors says:

    well thought out and well written! John, I for one will be posting my thoughts over here more often in the future.

  2. MaryEllen says:

    the writer of this piece os unjustly critical of The Capital. They have a moral and legal right to edit out any comment they find to be irrational and poorly written. I would suggest that the whining writer of this blather ( the OBSERVER) is probably unable to spread his racially biased and extreme right-wing views on HOME TOWN ANNAPOLIS. Play by their rules, or go away. Not so hard to understand is it. I mean look at the fascist run right wing blog Red Maryland, they don;t even allow one to freely publish, they edit out ALL opposing view points.

  3. JWF says:

    FYI, this was not authored by me. It is by one of the contributors we have on the blog. I do agree with you however. JWF

  4. JWF says:

    MaryEllen–I am not so sure that is the “agenda” or even if there is an agenda. I suspect that The Capital being a newspaper may be subject to more stringent requirements. Being a traditional news source gives them certain advantages over new media including priority listing for search results in the online search engines.

    Congress enacted the Communications Decency Act and specifically Section 230 addresses the issue of comments, anonymous posts, etc. Essentially, it holds ISPs, publishers, and bloggers harmless for comments made by others. It has been tested and upheld as well in the DiMeo v. Max case in US District Court in Philadelphia.

    Quite possibly, the difference lies there. Sites are allowed to make their own rules and we do allow free comments as long as they are not ad hominem attacks, vulgar, or terribly off topic. Personally, I did not see any “racially biased and right-wing views” in this opinion piece. We do welcome ALL points of view–right wing, left wing and chicken wing.

    If you have an opinion yourself, we would welcome you to contact us and we will be more than happy to publish it–again, right, left or chicken. You can email me if interested.

    John (Editor)
    [email protected]

  5. fmartin says:

    I have heard plenty of rumors about Lt. Cifala (as well as Marcalus and Mosmiller), but the problem is they are only rumors. The Capital, the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, nor this blog have substantiated any of them.

    My point is, what the feds are saying about Lt. Cifala is already pretty bad, do we really need to resort to rumors and half-truths to make it even more sensational?
    I mean, do you have any proof Lt. Cifala was a swinger? Anyone who is willing to put their name on the line and say, “he propositioned me for sex”?
    If not, you might as well let people post how Lt. Cifala likes to have sex with animals, that Chief Teare knew about his Lieutenant’s relationship with the teen, that Rita’s knew about it too and quietly condoned the action.

    For all I know, that all may be as true as the swinger allegations.

  6. JWF says:

    I did not see where anyone said he was a “swinger”. But if you read the text messages it is apparent that he was indeed having sex with the minor. What I got out of this posting was that we have a cop who took advantage of someone vulnerable (youth), a teacher who did the same thing, an attorney who did the same thing, another cop who did the same thing. We used to be able to tell our kids to go to a teacher, priest, cop, firefighter, etc. if they ever were in trouble. Now, one has to wonder if that parental advice is valid.

  7. running with scissors says:

    JWF, I knew you were not the author, I was just pointing out how well it was written.

    FMartin was referring to a post on Capital website that Cifala and his wife were swingers. I think that post was deleted there.

  8. Jonas Monnet says:

    You made some good points there. I did an exploration on the subject and discover a lot persons will agree with you.

  9. Hi, Very nice, unique, and informative post. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work.

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