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November 19, 2004
Judge Carter Broke Policy To Hand Child To Sex Offender

In a follow-up to yesterday's story on Judge Joseph T. Carter's decision to give permanent custody of an unrelated 9-year-old girl to a registered sex offender, the Pioneer Press reports today that Carter broke the rules by not appointing a child advocate in the process:

A court-appointed evaluator who recommended earlier this year that convicted sex offender Justin Farnsworth get custody of his girlfriend's daughter said Thursday he now wishes a Dakota County judge had appointed a child advocate to speak on the child's behalf.

Evaluator David Jaehne, a West St. Paul attorney, said he spoke with the girl and visited the Hastings home before recommending she permanently live with Farnsworth, 31.

"I always talk to the kids. I always go to the home. I interview neighbors," Jaehne said.

But Jaehne said he didn't appear in court. He filed his report to Judge Joseph T. Carter, who last month awarded custody to Farnsworth without appointing an advocate for the child.

On Wednesday, Farnsworth was charged with three counts of felony sexual misconduct involving the girl. Farnsworth is in the Dakota County jail in Hastings on $300,000 bond. ...

Minnesota statute requires judges to appoint guardians ad litem children's advocates for children involved in child protection cases where there is alleged domestic violence, child abuse or neglect. Judges can also choose to appoint a guardian in difficult custody cases. Guardians represented 12,500 children in Minnesota last year.

To recap, Jaehne recommended to Carter that custody of Farnsworth's two biological daughters be granted to him permanently after the mother abandoned the children, even though at the time Farnsworth had to register as a sex offender after raping a 13-year-old girl ten years previously. Inexplicably, Jaehne and Carter also gave custody of a third older girl to Farnsworth even though the two are not blood-related; all three girls share the same mother. This older girl ran to a neighbor three weeks later and told her that Farnsworth had been raping her for months.

Yesterday's story had no mention of any other option for placing the children, but today's article mentions a fourth girl who lived with blood relations:

It's not clear what other options the judge could have had, but according to Jaehne's report, Farnsworth's girlfriend had an older child living with her parents.

None of the girls should have been placed in the care of a sex offender, but placing a girl with no relation to the molester in his permanent custody when relatives existed and already had custody of one of the other children means that no excuses exist for the placement of the 9-year-old. Carter and Jaehne rushed this case through without pursuing any other options, without following procedures, in order to hand three little girls over to a convicted rapist.

Why? Both Carter and Jaehne described Farnsworth as a "success story." With the Dru Sjodin case heightening focus on jailing sex offenders for long prison terms, I think they wanted a case to show Minnesotans that sex offenders could be rehabilitated. They used the girls as pawns in a social experiment that went tragically and catastrophically awry. Either that or they're just so frickin' dumb that they couldn't see anything wrong with giving three little girls to a sex offender ... and I'm not sure which reason would be worse.

Minnesotans should demand the resignations of Jaehne and Carter immediately, and if they're not forthcoming, the state legislature should investigate their options for impeachment of Judge Carter.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 19, 2004 12:00 PM

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