The judge who placed convicted child molester Allan B. Hadfield on probation instead of sentencing him to a severe prison term should be held accountable to the public particularly in 1990, when he is up for retention election, an advocate of child and women's rights said Wednesday.
Lydia Walker, a national expert on victims of family violence, told 250 social workers, police officers and clergymen that the "outrageous" Hadfield sentence should stir the anger of those who oppose spouse and child abuse. The anger should be used constructively to make child abuse laws more firm and to demand increased accountability from Utah judges."The community needs to retain its anger. Groups should be formed to lobby legislators. Judges should be asked to explain their records on sentencing child abusers.
"Children should not be allowed to think that father is not responsible for his crimes against them," she said.
Hadfield, 37, was convicted in December of sexually abusing and sodomizing his 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. Fourth District Judge Cullen Y. Christen-sen sentenced him to six months in jail and 10 years on probation.
Although Utah laws provide for mandatory sentences of 10 years to life for sodomy on a child, Christensen ruled that Hadfield met each of 12 criteria necessary to qualify for probation under an incest exception to the mandatory sentencing guide-lines.
"It's a mistake to be lenient with men who are child abusers. They need to be sent to prison to protect other victims. Very few can be successfully treated," Walker said.
"The Hadfield case shows a denial of the reality of child abuse. The judge may wish Hadfield could be treated and change, but the reality is he won't likely change his behavior prison time should have been imposed."
It's absurd that an offender can get more time in prison for robbing a 7-Eleven store than for raping a child, she said.
From a national perspective, Walker said Utah is progressing in dealing with the devastating problems of family violence but has a long ways to go.
Utahns need to form community groups to keep pressure on government officials to provide more funds in the area of family violence prevention. Many shelters offer effective emergency care but not enough resources to follow up with counseling of victims.
"It's like having an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff without put-ting a fence at the top."
The conference, sponsored by the Utah Division of Family Services and held in the University Park Hotel, is a significant step in the right direction, she said.
Walker told the group that there is a serious misunderstanding about spouse and child abuse.
"Men don't abuse because they came from homes of domestic violence or were victims themselves," she said. "It's not because they have been in Vietnam or because of alcohol and drug abuse."
The keynote speaker said men batter women and children because the men are power abusers.
"They abuse to get a sense of power and control," she stressed. "They beat because it feels good that they can have that power and control and get away with it."
Walker said that because the majority of available victims are women and children, they are unlikely to leave the traumatic situation. Most often, the man isn't prosecuted, and people blame the woman as though she is part of the problem.