Broward News

Sleep With 16-Year-Olds, Get 30 Years. 15-Year-Olds? Probation!

I hope Denise Harvey is too preoccupied with her own ongoing legal to dramas to keep abreast of the ones unfolding back home. Remember Denise? She was the 42-year-old Vero Beach baseball mom who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sleeping with a 16-year-old. Thusly sentenced, she did what any sane person would do: She hit the road. Early this year, authorities found her hiding out in Saskatchewan, where she's now fighting extradition. She may win. Good for her! (And bad for her bail bond company. Just yesterday, Barnett Bail Bands coughed up $150,000 on Harvey's account.)

If she's keeping abreast of the goings-on in Florida, what might she make of this story, published in Tuesday's Sun-Sentinel: "Drummer gets probation for sex with teen girl from band camp"?

The subject of the story, 23-year-old Clinton Tyquiem Simmons, engaged in an affair with a girl between the age of 13 and 15. (The precise age is redacted from the police report.) She was a "youth counselor" at a band camp; he was an assistant director and therefore in a position of authority over the girl. Even in countries with more liberal ages of consent than this one -- Canada, say -- there are usually special prohibitions against trans-generational relationships with significant power differentials. The average Joe can sleep with 16-year-olds; a 16-year-old's teacher, counselor, and band camp director cannot. Too much potential for coercion.

Though his victim was younger than Denise Harvey's, and though he was in a position of power over the girl, Simmons will not go to prison. He will serve seven years' probation and perform 100 hours of community service.

What a relief for him! And what miserable news for Denise Harvey, reading the news in unseasonably cold Saskatchewan, knowing that if she ever goes home, she'll be tossed into prison till she's an old, old lady for committing almost exactly the same crime in almost exactly the same state at almost exactly the same time as Mr. Simmons. Justice is blind, maybe, but it's mostly just capricious.

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Brandon K. Thorp