A Shiner, Texas father made the news this week after beating a man to death who was caught molesting his 4-year-old daughter. According to CNN, the father “caught the man in the act, and stopped him by striking him in the head several times.” The local sheriff describes the father as “very remorseful, adding that he didn’t know the man was going to die,” CNN reports. The identities of the parties involved have not been released, but Gawker notes that “the accused molester is said to be a 47-year-old ranch hand from Gonzales who was not well-known, if (at) all, to the father and child, and had no prior criminal record.” According to CNN, the abuser was with the family in order to help groom their horses.
Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon has not arrested the father in question, and he told reporters, “You have a right to defend your daughter. He acted in defense of his third person. Once the investigation is completed we will submit it to the district attorney who then submits it to the grand jury, who will decide if they will indict him.” But the court of public opinion is already holding trial in this case, with many hailing the father as a hero. Not so for our friend Jeanne Sager at The Stir, though. She says, “I can imagine that if this dad beat this man, he thought he was doing it for the right reasons.” But, she says, “Consider this: when you take justice into your own hands, what happens? You get in trouble. You, the person who, up until that very moment, was in the right. You may say it’s “worth it” because the other person got what you thought was “coming,” but you are forever marred by having sunk to the criminal level. You are what you profess to despise.”
Commenters on Sager’s post are conflicted, though most agree that the father in question is a hero. PeanutsMommy1 says:
What is it that we teach our children … that 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Yes, people can cheer that they would have done the same thing, but in the end a man was killed when he could have been restrained and the police called.
Murdering him is not justice for this little girl, it just means that she was twice victimized.
But HappyDad counters:
As a dad I know what I would have done if I found someone IN THE ACT of molesting my daughter, I would have tried to beat their year in!!!! As written in a previous article, the dad walked in and saw someone actively assaulting his daughter. At that point it becomes a case of defending a child against an assailant. Yes, it is tragic that someone died, but remember, if what the dad said is true, he died in the commission of an assault. If it happened the way it was reported, there should be no charges against the father.
It seems clear this accidental murder was a crime of self-defense. “A preliminary autopsy report indicated the victim died from blunt-force head and neck injuries,” but a full toxicology report won’t be available for six weeks. It’s unclear whether or not there were any other witnesses to the crime or the father’s reaction, but if this story is true, can you blame the father for his actions? I’m sure seeing your child be attacked stirs something primal in a person that would be very hard to manage in the heat of the moment. All one can likely think is, “Get off my daughter you disgusting scumbag!” I’d hit or scratch and claw an assailant pretty hard, too, I’m guessing. You?