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Service time doesn't change the crime

A pre-trial diversion handed down by the Stark County Court last week is an insult to all veterans.

Charles Rousseau, 47, Walhalla, a member of the Army National Guard, will be on supervised probation for two years for allegedly molesting a girl in a Dickinson hotel.

The gross sexual imposition charge he was facing will be dismissed after five years if he complies with conditions set by the court.

Everyone has their demons -- veteran or not -- and it does not excuse his "alleged" behavior. "Alleged" because of what the county assistant states attorney says are unusual circumstances, which are confidential.

What about a 47-year-old man inappropriately touching a girl younger than the age of 15 is not unusual? How would you feel if this was your daughter?

Not only is the ruling an insult, it is unfair to others who are sitting in jail for similar crimes and to this girl who will likely suffer distrust and bewilderment -- forever. Unlike Rosseau's charge, her recollections of being molested will not be dismissed and likely will not go away in five years. The court did the right thing by consulting the alleged victim before using a pretrial diversion, but it doesn't lessen the "alleged" crime.

Rousseau served two military tours in Iraq and that contributed to the court's decision. "Technically, he's not sentenced either," the county assistant state's attorney said. "Technically the prosecution has been put on hold."

We have great respect for those in the military, but when it comes down to it, a crime is a crime no matter who you are. Time spent in the service is not a reason not to prosecute. -- Dickinson (N.D.) Press