Daughters and the Law

When I first started out in sex crimes, I came in with the wrong state of mind. I am not your average cop. I didn’t go to the academy to join the SWAT team. I didn’t come here for the lights and sirens and shoot outs from television and movies. I came to talk. Not everything can be fixed with brute force. Sometimes, people just need to talk things out. I was a kinder, gentler Andy Sipowicz. I believed that given the choice between the letter of the law or the spirit of the law, I was there in spirit. Fix the problem and go home, no report necessary.

It’s this mentality that gave me the ability to not write you a ticket when I pulled you over that time. Sure, you were speeding, but is ten miles over the speed limit really that heinous a crime? I would much rather have you repeat ‘I will not speed, I will not speed, I will not speed,’ and then have you be on your way. I would be willing to bet that you would rather have that too. I mean, given the option, $180.00 ticket, or verbal warning with a little silly condescension, I’m take the condescension any day. And so did you, if I remember correctly.

So, back to my story in sex crimes. I considered myself to be somewhat worldly. Can we agree that a majority of the United States is somewhat prudish when it comes to sex and the naked body. By the time I reached my desk in the Criminal Investigation Division, I had been around the world, visited nude beaches, and come to understand the vast difference of opinion the rest of the world had when it came to what is or isn’t morally acceptable as far as sex is concerned.

Example: How many of you parents of teenage girls between the ages of thirteen and fifteen would be okay with your daughter wearing the latest Brazilian swimsuit to the beach? Anyone? No? Okay then. So it is fair to say that in comparison to just that one country alone, we look a little repressed. Agreed?

So, during the first month of my indoctrination into sex crimes, I was called out to interview a young lady named Jasmine. When I sat down in the interview room with Jasmine, I was struck at how grown up she was. She was tall, leggy, and didn’t want to talk to me. When I asked her what happens when you tell a lie, expecting her to say ‘you get in trouble’, instead, she calmly said “You have to tell another one.”

You see, earlier in the evening, thirteen-year-old Jasmine called a friend of hers to come pick her up in his beat-up chevy truck. Upon his arrival, Jasmine climbed out her bedroom window, climbed into his truck, and they went for a nice little drive. Eventually they stopped to “talk” and Jasmine somehow convinced her nineteen-year-old friend to have sex with her in the front seat of the truck. Okay, I know what you are thinking; she’s thirteen. I know. But this is what she told me. It was her idea. She called him. She started this whole chain of events. Who am I to pass judgement on her? I mean these things happens all the time in Brazil, right? How much convincing do you think there was on that one? Imagine the scene…


Jimmy pulls the truck into the parking spot and switches the key to the off position. Jasmine slides over next to him, put her arms around his, and leans into him. Soft HipHop music blares on the stereo.


You think maybe we could have sex?

Jimmy hesitates


Hot dog!

Underwear come off, and sex ensues. All is right in Jimmy’s world.

Am I right? And now here I sit with grown up, thirteen-year-old Jasmine, telling her that what she did, what she started, what she wanted, is wrong, and we need to put Jimmy in jail. She wasn’t hearing it. She was pissed that her mother dragged her down to the sexual assault treatment center to talk to me. And, frankly, I was on Jasmine’s side. Fortunately for me, I was in training. And fortunately again, my trainer was a tough female detective, and hard-headed mother of two girls.

When I asked her why we were wasting our time when it was clear that Jasmine had no issues about having sex at the ripe age of thirteen, not to mention how this case would never see the inside of a courtroom, she responded simply with this:

“Jimmy likes to have sex with thirteen-year-old girls. What happens if the next one isn’t as willing? At least we’ll get his DNA in the system.”

Fair enough.

Okay, I think it is important to say that at the time, my daughters were ten and one. The idea of them ever being in this position was completely foreign to me. The only real frame of reference I had for thirteen-year-olds was me. And at this time, broken as I was, I thought ‘where were all the Jasmines when I was thirteen?’ Like I said. Broken.

Fast forward six years and my daughters are sixteen and seven. While the seven-year-old is light years away from sex, the idea that I thought it was okay for someone my daughter’s age to have sex kills me. And here is the bad news, in the state of Florida, she can. In Florida, it’s only illegal for anyone under the age of sixteen to have sex. That’s right moms and dads out there, your sixteen-year-old girl is allowed to have sex. Not only that, the guy she has sex with can be as old as twenty-three and aside from taking away her cell phone (which none of you seem to want to do) there is nothing you can do about it. Well, there is something you can do about it, but if that happens, I doubt you’ll call law enforcement to report the knucklehead missing.

Remember all that noise I was making earlier about the spirit of the law? Take a guess how I feel about that now? Fair warning to all you girls under sixteen. If you think it’s okay to have sex right now, you’re wrong. And to all those nineteen-year-old knuckleheads out there who think it is a good idea to take advantage of the young girl spouting adult ideas about sex, remember this: nineteen-year-old boys look good in the prison showers. Make sure to bring some soap on a rope.


Mr. Miranda

Miranda Warning

1. You have the right to remain silent.

Twenty years ago, in fairly regular conversations with friends, I routinely expressed my thoughts about being interrogated by the police. This topic of discussion was up there with hypothetical conversations about what I would do if I won the lottery, or if I could choose to go back in time in my own life, when would I return and why? First, I would give each of my family members a cool million and then disappear from their lives for reasons that I have yet to be able to put into words. Second, I would go back to thirteen, just before puberty, where I could open up the deeply buried wall locker in my brain that carries my sense of insecurities, throw out all the candy and television, and replace it with a set of sit-ups, crunches, or push ups, so that I could look at myself in the mirror without a sense of loss and then perhaps to tell the ladies how I really felt when the moments presented themselves. And third, why not talk to the police. After all, I haven’t anything to hide, right?

My wife says these are conversations that only men have.

2. Anything you say may be used against you in court.

When I was six, my sister caught me sneaking into my father’s den to look at his Playboy magazines. They were in the bottom drawer of his desk. A ruler, manila envelope, and a copy of the more benign Panama Spillway magazine rested on top of them, hiding them from view. I looked at them every chance I got. But when I failed to do something requested by my sister, she quickly ran to my father to tell him my dirty secret. I stared him in the face, called her a liar, and started crying.

“It’s okay, bud,” he said as he hugged me. “It’s only natural to want to see those.” But I continued denying it. I was six, and I was a liar. My trust in my sisters waned and after a few more years and a few more broken promises, I learned to keep my mouth shut. It didn’t even matter if I wasn’t doing anything wrong; in the world of allegation, perception is reality. It’s all a matter of context.

3. You have a right to talk to a lawyer before and during questioning without charge.

When facing a true allegation, people experience a sense of fight or flight. If you did it, admit it. If you can’t do the time, run. I am a type-A personality, and with that dominating sensibility comes a little ego. Just a little. So, while it is unlikely to ever happen, I believed that if I were ever brought in for questioning and read my Miranda Warnings, my answers would be clear; of course I don’t need a lawyer. Only criminals need lawyers.

4. If you cannot afford a lawyer and want one, one can be provided for you before questioning without charge.

As I get older, I am still the good guy in the movie of my life, but there is a twinge of darkness. Given the right circumstance, say the rape or murder of a loved one, I could conceivably commit some crime of vengeance that, while justified in my own eyes, might not be seen as such by members of law enforcement. So, to that end, if I ever found myself as the subject of interrogation, I’d amend my previous conviction and state that if I refused to talk to the police, then that would mean I was guilty. I would still talk if I was not connected to any crime, but it is stupid to think that I would be able to compete with my own lies. If innocent, cooperation. If guilty, a lawyer couldn’t hurt.

5. Has anyone threatened you or promised you anything to get you to talk to me?

Now here I am today, a Major Case detective, having over a thousand interviews under my belt in Sex Crimes and Homicide combined, and my mind is changed once again. In my own experience as an interrogator—a word defense attorneys are eager to use when referring to me—I’ve discovered that when talking to the police about a crime, any suspect would be ill-advised not to get a lawyer. Context is king. What was I doing with that girl in the first place? Why is she accusing me of such a heinous crime? What possible reason would a detective have to help me out? After all, he doesn’t know me from Adam’s house cat.

6. Do you understand what I just read to you?