Statutory rape is a heinous crime. The adults who commit it are violently abusing those too young to protect themselves. They are criminals stealing the innocence and childhoods of youngsters -- and often crippling the children's lives as adults, too.
You'd think all but the rapists would be horrified at the cavalier way some victims are treated, and at the too-often lax enforcement that allows victimizers to get off with light or no punishment.
You'd be wrong.
As two recent N.C. cases illustrate, children in our communities are being victimized sexually, and we're not doing nearly enough to keep them out of harm's way. The latest case is a maddening example. A 40-year-old Mooresville man who disappeared last week with his 12-year-old pregnant adopted daughter and her 11-year-old sister has now been charged with indecent liberties with a child, first-degree rape and felony incest.
Authorities haven't said a lot about this case. But the burning questions we have are these: How was a guy who is now charged with rape and felony incest allowed or able to get access to these girls? Why was he charged with statutory rape only after he disappeared with the girls? And how does a 12-year-old turn up pregnant without some adult raising holy hell?
This case follows the tragedy of 15-year-old Tiffany Wright of Charlotte. She was eight months pregnant when she was killed last month. Social workers had told police they suspected she had been raped by her 36-year-old adoptive brother, who had custody of her around the time she got pregnant. Police did not talk to him for seven weeks, and charged him with statutory rape only after Tiffany was dead.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.