Contentious oral arguments end sex abuse reporting trial

Wichita, KS — Federal Court Judge J. Thomas Marten heard closing arguments in a Kansas Federal Court today that grew often contentious during the defense summation in a case involving whether or not abortion clinics and other mandatory reporters must adhere to state laws ordering the reporting of illegal sexual conduct in children under 16 years of age.
Bonnie Scott Jones of the liberal, pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, presented closing arguments in which she asked the court to enjoin the “Kline Opinion” and return the reporting of underage sex back to the discretion of health care providers. She also noted, with great fervor, that health care providers would have to live in fear that they may be charged with non-reporting and prosecuted criminally if they do not prevail.
Judge Marten questioned her on the recent decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down Marten’s preliminary injunction against mandatory reporting of all illegal underage sexual conduct. Jones told Marten that his hands were not tied by the appellate court’s decision
Asst. Attorney General Steve Alexander did not fare so well with Judge Marten. The Judge interrupted Alexander’s oral arguments a number of times to lecture him extensively about his disagreement with the way that Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and District Attorney Nola Foulston interpret the law.
“This calls into question your ‘holier than thou’ approach,” Marten told Alexander. Marten said that value judgments were being made by the Attorney General, and that those value judgments are to be made by the legislature, and not law enforcement. “That is why I say your approach is ‘holier than thou,’” Marten scolded.
Marten indicated that the Kline Opinion on the Kansas mandatory reporting law was no longer the issue, but rather what discretion can be used in deciding to report.
Operation Rescue’s observer, Cheryl Sullenger, noted that the Judge’s comments seemed to miss the obvious. “Kansas has a mandatory reporting law for child sex crimes, not a discretionary law. Judge Marten told the attorneys that it was his job to determine the intent of the Legislature. I think their intent was made perfectly clear when they purposefully used the term ‘mandatory reporting’ and chose not to use the term ‘discretionary reporting.’ If the plaintiffs are uncomfortable following the laws of the State of Kansas, they may seek to change the laws in the legislature, where such change is appropriate, or they may break the law and pay the just consequences of doing so. ”
Earlier in the day, rebuttal witness Dr. Vaughn Rickert, testified that consensual sexual activity in children below the age of 16 is a normal part of adolescent development and can be beneficial in helping the child learn how to demonstrate love, communicate his or her needs or wants, and can build confidence and self-esteem.
“That was one of the most shocking things I had heard in the two weeks of testimony,” said Sullenger. “The man was clearly a homosexual, and I could not help but wonder if his testimony wasn’t for the purpose of attempting to ‘normalize’ underage sex. I would be willing to guess that an infinitesimally small percentage of parents who actually have children under 16 would agree with him.”
Rickert later testified that he believed that in order to determine if underage sex is consensual, both parties should be interviewed, something most health care professionals do not have the capacity to do. He also begrudgingly admitted under cross-examination that children under age 16 having sex is “not a developmentally normal milestone.”
Asst. Attorney General Alexander discredited his expert report submitted in this case when he produced an e-mail communication between Jones and Rickert in which Jones told Rickert that she had made all the changes to his expert report as they had discussed and was sending the document back to him for approval. Alexander told the court that 39 lines had been deleted from his report, among other changes apparently made by Jones.
Judge Marten indicated that he would not issue a decision in this case until possibly the middle of next week. He told the attorneys that he wanted his opinion issued in writing so there would be a clear understanding of what that opinion is.