Oct 20 2012

Return to Polk County

A 14-year-old girl in Lakeland, Florida has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of her newborn infant. You probably know the story: secret pregnancy, birth in the bathroom of mobile home with mother a few feet away, dead infant in shoebox under the bed.

They’re trying her as an adult, which is moronic, since that’s just what she isn’t. But no surprise – this is Lakeland, Florida. It’s Polk County. It’s Sheriff Grady Judd.

Polk County, where Cassidy attended high school, teaches community-based abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula in its schools. Nurse Jamie Kress facilitates Polk County’s Prevention Program that brings registered nurses to schools to cover a variety of subjects that might fall under the category of sex-ed.

According to Kress, contraception is only addressed within the context of marriage, and instead, the program promotes abstinence from all sexual contact as STD and teen pregnancy prevention. A student thinking about having sex, or who is already sexually active, would not be advised to use condoms or other forms of birth control.

If a student were already under the impression that she has committed the one act that runs contrary to the basis of everything she’s been taught in school, I would argue that she would be less willing to approach adults at school with concerns that she is pregnant. Although little has been said about Cassidy’s character, or her home life, the facts of the case demonstrate that she was in dire need of support outside of her family regarding her pregnancy.

According to Sheriff Grady Judd, Cassidy’s mother was “in denial,” ignoring family members who said that Cassidy might be pregnant and the bulge likely visible on Cassidy’s 100 pound, 5’3” frame.

Polk County. Home of Polk Under Prayer, as I wrote last March after the secularism event in Orlando.

One of the first talks was EllenBeth Wachs, who explained what’s been going on in Polk County, Florida. Theocracy, that’s what. The mayor of Lakeland and the Polk County sheriff are involved in something called Polk Under Prayer.

Grady Judd, the sheriff who arrested EllenBeth because she pissed him off. Lakeland, whose mayor is teamed up with Grady Judd to christianize everything they can get their hands on.

Naturally Cassidy Goodson didn’t get sex education in school. Naturally Polk County is trying her as an adult. This is what theocracy looks like.


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  1. 1

    I wonder how much of the problem stems from the uniquely American idea of elected sherifs. This politicizes law enforcement and degrades the separation of powers. The danger is that politicians and law enforcement officers will collude in pushing a particular agenda, as appears to be happening in Polk County. Politicians are supposed to push an agenda; police officers, not so much. Not electing law enforcement officers doesn’t guarantee that the problem won’t occur, but I think it makes it less likely.

  2. 2

    Too bad you can’t sew the state for its horrible policies contributing to this.

  3. 3

    Sue the state? Nah. It’s too bad you can’t fucking arrest the state.

  4. 4

    Yes cough I can’t spell >.>

  5. 5

    Americans ELECT their law enforcement? Seriously?!

  6. 6
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    @5 Yeah. Isn’t that bizarre? And not just law enforcement, but their prosecutors and judges too. I recently read an account of the War of 1812 and the voluntary militias of the time elected their officers also. Very, very odd.

  7. 7
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    That poor, poor girl. She probably had little idea that she was pregnant until it was too late to do anything legally about it. I don’t think she ought to be charged at all. I wonder if there is any chance of a mistrial?

  8. 8

    That poor, poor girl. She probably had little idea that she was pregnant until it was too late to do anything legally about it.

    Even if she suspected, or was fairly certain, she might well have been unwilling to confirm or do anything about it…because of stigmatisation.

    Those loudly demanding “personal responsibility” (often until they get into some kind of trouble themselves) seem to refuse to accept that people don’t live in a social vacuum.

  9. 9

    The mother is also complicit in a way as I saw reports that family members were telling her the girl was pregnant but she was denying it. Then again she is also living under the same oppressive crap and probably wanted to live in denial as well. Strange how easy it is to see how the nasty judgemental atmosphere leads to incidents like this when I’m sure those involved in creating it are probably blaming the devil or anything but themselves.

  10. 10

    One wonders where is the compassion that the good sherrif of Polk should be exhibiting. Oh wait,……compassion? that’s buddhists innit? OK then, where is the legal system that should protect a fourteen year old from these kind of pitiless bastards?

    What is the point of having juvenile laws if local prosecutors can disregard them anytime they see fit? A fourteen year old is NOT an adult. Were these “christians” never fourteen themselves? And where are we going with this kind of injustice? Will they be satisfied when there are 200 capital crimes on the books and we start hanging eight year olds for petty offenses again?

    And First degree murder? WTF?

  11. 11

    There is nothing about this story that is good. Nothing.

    She used a pair of scissors to help deliver the baby FFS, then strangled it and put the body in a shoebox.

    Then instead of thinking about how to improve the system; the authorities are charging her with murder! As far as this child goes, try to forget about the past. Give her a chat for an hour or so and some birth control literature. Same for her parent(s) and then put some school administrators with some fucking humanity in charge.

  12. 12

    Tried as an adult? Why am I inexorably reminded of this?

  13. 13

    Sorry to fill up the screen; I didn’t realise it posts the huge thumbnail.

  14. 14
    No One

    This is exactly what they want to happen. “Out of wedlock pregnancy leads to murder. This is what happens. Told ya so. Enjoy jail hussy.”

    This is a plus form them. No sex without their permission.

  15. 15

    Does anyone know who the father is? Is anyone holding him accountable for having abandoned a pregnancy? Is the father even one of her peers, or is there a bigger crime against her that should be investigated?

  16. 16
    Ophelia Benson

    It’s statutory rape, even if the father is a peer. But anyway – it’s all her fault, in Polk County.

  17. 17
    EllenBeth Wachs

    What is the most despicable aspect of this story are the calls to execute this wayward, lost teen. The comments on the local newspaper make me want to crawl into a hole and pretend I am not related to these people by species.

  18. 18

    Jailhouse rumor has Sheriff Grady Judd got himself a 16 year old girl pregnant and paid off the family of the girl when she reported the pregnancy to her parents. Judd covered up all the evidence and concealed it from news coverage, but he spends $500,000.00 a year to bring supposed criminals to polk county to face legal action but for himself the law is not an option. Polk County residents no longer have civil rights because of Sheriff Grady Judd. They can now use what you say against you in a court of law without having to read you your Miranda rights or warnings.

    Polk County=No Civil Rights

  1. 19
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