Sympathy for the Devil

Who does that judge think he is? The Catholic Church?

Pedophile Legislation
Bill Harris and Steve Austria commit a mortal sin by allowing adults to make their own choices.
Bill Harris and Steve Austria commit a mortal sin by allowing adults to make their own choices.
Just to clarify, only Republicans and the Catholic Church are allowed to give free passes to child rapists.

That was the message delivered last week, when GOP leaders attacked Franklin County Judge John Connor, who sentenced Andrew Selva to probation for raping little boys over a three-year period.

Governor Bob Taft called for the judge's impeachment. The Laziest Man in Law Enforcement™, Attorney General Jim Petro, appeared on The O'Reilly Factor to denounce Connor. Auditor Betty Montgomery hasn't been this mad since McDonald's got rid of the Arch Deluxe.

Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted (R-Kettering) promised to do everything in his power to get Connor off the bench, before relenting later in the week. "The safety and security of our children is paramount," he said.

Well, not really. It seems Republican leaders also have a soft spot for pervs.

Since last May, Husted's been sitting on a bill that would require clergy to report pedophiles. Following the lead of other states, the bill would also extend the statute of limitations for filing an abuse claim to 20 years after the victim turns 18, and create a one-year window for anyone who turned 18 after 1970 to file a claim.

Yet Catholic bishops have lobbied against the measure. Remember all those homilies about loving thy children? We were just kidding. And the legislature's exhibitionist Christians have been more than happy to cover for them. That's what Jesus would do.

So Husted has suffocated the bill for nearly a year. Meanwhile, Taft, Petro, and Montgomery have all remained conveniently silent.

"If Jon Husted was a decent man, he would call for a vote," says state Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). "If the church or religious institutions weren't involved, this would be a no-brainer."

(Husted didn't respond to repeated calls from Punch. Wuss. )

Just to complete the We Have No Sense of Irony trilogy, Petro decided to denounce pervs on a show hosted by a highly decorated perv. As you may recall, Fox's Bill O'Reilly paid top dollar to settle a suit claiming that he was a serial sexual harasser and that he repeatedly made unwanted phone sex calls to a female underling.

Can you say "degenerate," boys and girls?

Vengeance of Dad
Parental Rule No. 326: When plotting to kick the ass of the teacher who slept with your teenage daughter, timing is everything.

Angel Montanez learned this lesson last week after former Rhodes High teacher Michael Gonzalez pleaded guilty to having sex with Montanez' 14-year-old daughter ("Head of the Crass," December 14).

As Gonzalez, 37, walked out of the courtroom, Montanez flew up from his seat and charged the teacher. But Dad jumped too early.

Prosecutors were able to restrain him, and Gonzalez retreated toward the judge's bench. His attorney then escorted him out while prosecutors held back Montanez. "You're lucky!" Dad hollered.

"I told the prosecutor . . . I don't want to see him in front of me five feet, because I'm gonna beat the shit out of him," Montanez tells Punch. But he failed to follow his game plan. "I got up from the seat too early. If I would have waited until he was right in front of me, I would've got ahold of him."

No sunshine here
Last week was Sunshine Week, when newspapers go through their annual ritual of trumpeting the need for greater public access to government documents. To celebrate, state Auditor Betty Montgomery is hiding information related to the massive Coingate scandal.

Ohio law allows the work papers of public audits to be kept from public view if the audit is done by a private company. Since state government isn't especially enthusiastic about work, and since state officials get campaign kickbacks for farming said work out to private companies, the people who pay for it -- that would be you, dear reader -- don't actually get to see what they're paying for.

Though you picked up the $779,000 tab, Montgomery (R-Whoever Gives Me Money) refuses to release the work papers from a Coingate audit conducted by Crowe Chizek & Co. Senator Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township) has a sneaking suspicion that the secret papers will reveal which morons turned a blind eye to the $50 million fiasco.

But since those morons are likely to be Montgomery's GOP colleagues, she'd prefer that voters keep their checkbooks open and their mouths shut.

"I don't think the auditor should be able to keep something in the dark when the taxpayers paid $779,000 to get real answers," says Dann.

A rare act of bravery?
Ohio Senate President Bill Harris (R-The Edge) is living dangerously.

In October, he tabled a bill that would place a statewide ban on lap-dancing, force strip clubs to close at 11 p.m., and single-handedly decimate Ohio's glitter-manufacturing industry.

It was a gutsy move for a Christian Republican, considering that the bill was the brainchild of Citizens for Community Values, a Cincinnati group known to have Christ on speed-dial. (He's No. 3, after Ken Blackwell and Hunan Express.)

Then again, maybe Harris was simply abiding by conservative theology that says over-regulation is bad and people should be allowed to make their own choices.

So last week he let fellow Republican Steve Austria sponsor a substitute bill that significantly weakens the original one, leaving cities to make their own decisions. "Communities can determine for themselves what their standards are on these kinds of issues," Harris spokeswoman Maggie Ostrowski says.

The bill passed the Senate in a romp. But CCV is pissed.

Harris and Austria "conspired together to gut this bill," says CCV's David Miller. He says Harris promised that he wouldn't remove the statewide restrictions and never called "no takebacks."

Two sides to tough love
When a 16-year-old in Brook Park was brought to the police station for violating local curfew laws, officers called the girl's mother to pick her up. Mom agreed. But three hours and three phone calls later, the mother was still MIA. So at 3 a.m., officers drove the girl home, where they were promptly greeted by the mother.

"What happened to you?" the officers asked.

Mom said she left her daughter at the station to "teach her a lesson."

Officers responded with their own version of tough love: They cited the mother for child endangerment.

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