Friday, October 06, 2006

"I never touched her!"

It was just phone sex. It’s not like I really touched her.

That was the position of former Congressman Mel Reynolds (D-IL) while being tried on sexual assault charges 11 years ago.

Reynolds was a great story. He was one of those rare finds in American politics: someone who worked his way up and succeeded because he had skill and talent – and a few breaks. Like the president he served under at the time, Reynolds was a Rhodes Scholar who likely had a bright future in politics.

In fact, had he kept his sexual desires at bay, he might very well occupy the U.S. Senate seat that’s held by Barack Obama.

But his desires and fantasies got the better of him.

As a result, he was convicted in August 1995, of criminal sexual assault, stemming from a recorded telephone conversation he had with 16-year-old Beverly Heard, one of his campaign workers.

”He maintained that he and Ms. Heard had only fantasized about sex in telephone conversations,” reported The New York Times. “Mr. Reynolds, who is black, said he was the target of a racially biased, politically motivated prosecution.”

The Times went on to report that “prosecutors built their case on graphic tape-recorded telephone conversations in which Mr. Reynolds discussed sex acts with Ms. Heard.”

The interesting thing about the trial was that Ms. Heard spent 13 nights in jail because she refused to testify. She later told the jury that she and Reynolds had a consensual sexual affair.

Keep all of that in mind as you consider the case that should be made against former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL). Like Reynolds, it doesn’t appear that Foley actually touched someone, but he certainly engaged in behavior that’s out of line – for anyone!

The problem here is that the age of consent in Washington is 16. So there’s a good chance that Foley will never see a day in prison.

But, like Reynolds, he should. And if does go to prison, he should be forced to display a sign by his house or apartment that tells everyone he’s a sexual predator.

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