Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 07/11/15

Suffer The Children, #n+1

Dearborn is a town of some 500-odd residents just off the main highway between Kansas City, Missouri (yeah, Southern logic: Kansas City should be in Kansas; a few parts of it are, I believe) and St Joseph.

Until a few days ago, it was the home of one Darren L. Paden (52, father of seven). He was the typical small-town-American Good Guy: former chief of the town's volunteer fire brigade, served in the Air National Guard in The Gulf War (that was the Bush I war, not the Bush II syndicated re-run) and was - you won't be surprised to hear - one of the most upstanding members of one of his local churches.

Well, he's not a resident of Dearborn, Mo. any more; nor is he likely to be again. Last Friday week, a Circuit Court judge in Platte County sentenced Paden to two consecutive 25-year sentences. For why? Because he had repeatedly raped a girl from the town. If you want a definition of 'repeatedly' in this case, try 'two to three hundred times over more than a decade, starting when the girl wasn't even five years old'.

Outward normality and just-plain-folksiness excuses no-one the freaks' roll-call, of course, and Paden is far from being unique in managing to combine the veneer of respectability with a hidden hinterland of fœtid depravity. Such cases are - if not ten-a-penny - at least prevalent enough no longer to surprise the more worldly reader.

In this case, however, what caused the eyebrows of even the most cynical to levitate towards the light-fittings is the reactions of most of the 500-odd residents of Dearborn to the case. And, more to the point, to the victim of Paden's crime spree.

Now, bear in mind where we're talking about here: Missouri is far from being the thickest, most leathery, most studded and rivetted part of The Bible Belt; but it is still part of that famous South that Believes with all its might. And so, given that most of that 500-odd no doubt espouse their faith to the extent of having Facebook pages which boast of how they "...let the love of Jesus into our hearts every day", or some such self-marketing phrase, one might reasonably suspect that Paden would be seen as almost beyond redemption, and his victim deserving of the greatest outpouring of Christian love that it is possible for mere mortals to offer.

Wouldn't you?

Don't be dumb: this is America we're talking about.

As soon as Paden was convicted back in August, the Good Christian Folk™ of Dearborn rallied round in support of...the convicted multiple child-rapist. A dozen or more letters were filed with the court from Paden's friends, fellow-'Christians' and relatives pleading (or even demanding) clemency, yea even unto a sentence of probation thereupon.

A trustee of Paden's church (called the New Market Church; I wonder what that nice, young Jewish boy would have made of that name) pulpitated:

"I feel Darren may have admitted to things he did not do after hours interrogation and all the pressure..."

(According to the County Prosecutor, Paden confessed after less than two hours of questioning, His church has - natch - held things called 'prayer circles' on his behalf).

One of Paden's aunts said:

"I want the judge to be aware that Darren had had a lot of good, positive things in his life."

(I'm sure that Dr Shipman was a great comfort to a lot of his patients, too.)

Paden's uncle duly rah-rah'd:

"He went overseas during the Gulf War and served in mobile hospitals to help wounded soldiers"

A friend added that:

"Darren holds fast to his morals"

(So did Mephistopheles, dear)

Another supporter - who, admittedly, suffers under the grievous disability of being called 'Darla' - sobbed compassionately thus:

"I truly believe that Darren has already suffered extensively..."

(Yeah, like 'suffering extensively' the terrible burden of having spent a whole decade slaking his perverted sexuality on a child? Still, at least he wasn't one of those terrible homos, was he dearie?).

Perhaps the most emetic of all was Paden's great-aunt, one Dixie Wilson, 82 years old and no doubt still coming to terms with not being able to use the word 'nigger' in public any more:

"My opinion is, most people don't believe it happened...I don't think we're talking about a child molester."

Well, we sure ain't talking about the Royals' World Series win, honey. She went on:

"I don't believe it happened"

So, you will believe that a Palestinian chippy rose from the dead and that those nasty faggots are responsible for that tornado the other day, but you refuse to believe that a superficially-respectable man carried out a series of sexual assaults on a kid for ten years even when he has confessed to doing just that under minimal pressure?

Anyway, whilst a significant proportion of the 500-very-odd inhabitants of Dearborn found it in their hearts to insist on compassion for a condign serial abuser of a child, what was their reaction to someone who has been left out of this narrative so far, viz. the victim (now aged 18)?

Well, she has told us, firstly in a statement prior to the sentencing, in which she said:

"Before this, there were people who would come up and talk to me and have conversations with me...Now they won't even look at me or talk to me"

Before adding - during a statement to the court before sentencing - that she had resorted to self-harm and suicidal thoughts during her High School years, and that the case had created such stress for her that she had left her job for three months, adding (for the benefit of her 'neighbours' there present):

"To say you support someone who had done this sort of thing makes me wonder how some would react if a son/daughter told you they were a victim of these behaviors...Never will I stop having flashbacks and nightmares, and never will I be able to have a normal relationship with anyone."

Even the County Prosecutor - not a breed for going against the firmly-expressed will of the terminally-ignorant portion of their local electorate - has expressed himself shocked by the reaction of the Just Plain Folks of his town:

"If it takes a village to raise a child, what is a child to do when the village turns its back and supports a confessed child molester?"

What indeed? To be scrupulously fair, some people in the town have been very supportive to the victim, although one suspects that they have had to do so largely by stealth due to the flock-think which is embedded deeply in the social DNA of small-town America. But they still seem to be the minority of the 500-extremely-odd denizens of Dearborn, Mo.

As for the rest, I can only express myself in a somewhat direct manner:

People of Dearborn, Missouri: if your religion compels you to show compassion for the perpetrator of a long series of egregious crimes against a child, but simultaneously leads you to withhold any of that American Christian Lurve from the victim of them, I have only one rather bald remark to make:


(Thanks to Lauren Nelson at The Friendly Atheist for the link to this article at Raw Story and The Kansas City Star's report).