Less judgement, more understanding

In case you haven’t noticed by now, there is a sex offender attending Bellevue College. His name is Joaquin Garcia. As a Level III offender, his risk to re-offend is high according to kingcounty.gov. My first reaction to this news was terror. Regardless of the weird crimes that have taken place at or around BC, how could they let a rapist on campus?

As I began to investigate Garcia’s history, two very important pieces of information were brought to my attention. I learned the date of his conviction, October 27, 1994. That means he was around the age of 13 when the crime was committed (currently age 29). I also learned through Icrimewatch.net the description of his offense, 9A.44.073-Rape of a child in the first degree.” The law states: (1) A person is guilty of rape of a child in the first degree when the person has sexual intercourse with another who is less than twelve years old and not married to the perpetrator and the perpetrator is at least twenty-four months older than the victim.

What we don’t know is the age of his victim. We don’t know anything else about Garcia except that he has cooperated with Bellevue College and he is not listed as non-compliant on the icrimewatch website. We don’t know what his life as a child was like. Hypothetically, should we be so quick to judge someone harshly if as a child they were sexually abused from a very young age? What if they started a relationship at a young age, and mistakenly repeated the same sexual abuses toward that person that they once experienced? How should that person know what is right and wrong if they were taught such atrocities to be normal?

Society is more intolerant when faced with a situation of a grown man raping a child. All human beings are prone to error. Even if people are programmed to mess up every now and then, however, there is a line between what is right and what is wrong.

I feel bad for this guy, but the truth is that once people make a choice to do something – anything – they are then labeled by society. Once you cross a line with alcohol or drugs, you’re an addict. Once you cross the line with sex, you are no longer a virgin. Choices reflect who and what we are.

Although it may be sad that society is so judgmental, and labeling seems detrimental for an evolving community, the fact is that people will always label other people. Prejudice is one thing, and an obnoxious one at that. But, when you know a person’s actions, and they’ve ventured into a place that they can never come back from, labeling is a way of protection. We protect ourselves by denouncing people as sex offenders because if they can rape or molest one time, they can do it again. They crossed that line, and we don’t want to be hurt.

All I can say is that I recognize this man was young and naive when he committed the rape. Whatever his past holds, I feel that there are no excuses for what he did. However, after learning more about his information, I find myself less terrified, and slightly more forgiving in a society that can be so judgmental.