Sex Offender Ruled Too Short for Jail


Richard W. Thompson had repeated sexual contact with a 12-year-old girl over a period of two months. He was convicted of two counts of felony sexual assault. In most cases, that sort of crime results in a long jail sentence; Thompson, however, received 10 years probation with no jail time at all.

Since Thompson stands only 5-foot-1, District Judge Kristine Cecava felt he would be endangered in prison because of his height. There was no suggestion that this might be a fair outcome; rather, Cecava said Thompson deserved a long sentence, but let him go free anyway: “You are a sex offender, and you did it to a child. … I truly hope that my bet on you being okay out in society is not misplaced” (cbs News, May 25).

He was ordered to dispose of his pornography. He was to be monitored electronically for the first four months and ordered never to be alone with someone under 18 or to date or live with any woman with children under 18.

Neither the federal constitution nor the state constitution of Nebraska provide any protections based on height. A spokesman for the prison system said Thompson’s height would not put him at risk and that Thompson would not be the shortest person in prison.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers was baffled: “If shortness is an excuse and protection from going to prison, short people ought to rob banks and do everything else they would wind up going to prison for,” he said. “We’re talking here about a crime committed against a child, and shortness is not a defense” (, May 26).

This is another example of judges making rulings that have no basis in law or morality. When the Prophet Isaiah warned about a lack of leadership in the modern nations of Israel and Judah, he specifically warned that God would take away the “judge”—the men who would interpret the law and properly administer justice (Isaiah 3:1-3).