Thursday, September 20, 2012


Until a few weeks ago you could probably Google Flagstaff, AZ Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Hatch (above) and very little information would come up. One could say she was flying under the judicial radar, and she probably liked it that way.  That all ended when she was called upon to adjudicate a case involving a police officer who allegedly groped a female customer in a bar.  The woman sued for sexual molestation and won…sort of.  The ruling came back in her favor, but when the judge handed down sentencing to the 43-year-old former Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Robb Gary Evans, (left)
he was let off relatively lightly with two years’ probation only.  The plaintiff, (identified only as a “Flagstaff area professional) on the other hand was given a severe verbal tongue-lashing in open court.  Let's keep in mind that Evans was convicted for felony sexual abuse. Here is what Judge Hatch had to say to the plaintiff:

“Bad things can happen in bars,” Hatch told the victim, adding that other people might be more intoxicated than she was. “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you. I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it,” Hatch said to the victim in open court. “You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.” Hatch said that the victim was not to blame in the case, but that all women must be vigilant against becoming victims.  “When you blame others, you give up your power to change,” Hatch said that her mother used to say.

So let’s review:  The police officer got his hands slapped, and the victim was dressed down for her decision to go out and have a cocktail.  To my way of thinking, something is wrong with this picture. First, the last time I checked, the job of a judge was to hand down legal decisions, not to moralize to victims of crime about their personal lives, and certainly not to condescend to victims of sexual assault and humiliate them in a public courtroom.

Of course what we do not know is how many times Hatch, appointed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (right),
has uttered similar personal judgments in her courtroom.  It is, without question, an abuse of power, and more importantly, such communication from judge to victim is likely to further discourage already embarrassed victims from coming forward to seek justice.   It is pretty much the same thing as telling a rape victim that she wouldn’t have been raped if she hadn’t worn such provocative clothing.

In this case, the plaintiff went public with the judge’s unacceptable behavior and demanded an apology. Caving only to extreme public pressure, Hatch ultimately did apologize.  It rang hollow, since clearly no apology would have been forthcoming had it not been made public that she preached her wholly un-judicial, albeit highly judgmental gospel in the courtroom.

Victims who are blamed by people in authoritative positions are usually women. I somehow cannot envision Judge Hatch telling a male plaintiff that had he just not gone out to watch a football game at the corner bar he would not have been punched by a drunk patron. And as for “bad things” happening in bars, I would just like Hatch to know that bad things happen also in grocery stores, movie theatres (remember Aurora, CO?), airports, schools, hospitals and just about every public place there is.  Should we all just stay home Judge?

Meanwhile, about the same time the uproar was happening in Flagstaff, a much higher profile authority figure was spouting off his own sexist nonsense, except this time it happened on national television.  Once again, evangelistic whack job Pat Robertson made headlines when he answered a query from a viewer who couldn’t figure out what to do about his difficult wife.  Watch:
This time the woman is presumably not a victim (yet), but Robertson would have the husband turn her into one. Remember, this is the same guy who once said, "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." 

I promise you he truly did say that.

Let’s keep in mind that this is also the man who said that if a man is married to a woman who has Alzheimer’s disease, “I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but to make sure she has custodial care, somebody looking after her."

All of this and so much more reminds us that despite years of feminist doctrine, legislative action for equality and institutional recognition of the relevance of equal rights, we are still evidently a paternalistic society that enables people in powerful positions to perpetuate raw sexism. Should Hatch remain on the bench?  Many say no. Petitions are circulating demanding her resignation. Should Robertson continue to spout his nonsense on national television? Maybe, maybe not. He has lost so much credibility over the years with his outlandish views that the thinking public pays little attention to his counsel now.  Still, it begs the question: Who is monitoring state-appointed and self-appointed authority figures, and if no one is on watch, do victims run the risk of being victimized all over again when they seek justice or solutions?

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