Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

On his way out of office earlier this month, former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin pardoned or commuted sentences for 428 prisoners in the state. Among them were a raft of seriously violent crimers, including a murderer whose family happened to have been huge campaign donors to Bevin. He also pardoned a few people convicted of sexually assaulting children, mostly because he decided all on his own that the juries had gotten the decision wrong. In an interview with a talk radio station yesterday, Bevin explained he had no regrets over pardoning a guy convicted of repeatedly raping a 9-year-old girl, because in his expert medical opinion, there was no forensic evidence she'd been raped. Matt Bevin, we must emphasize, is not a doctor.

Just a quick warning: What Bevin said was horrifying, and of necessity, we need to discuss the details of rape in this story. You may decide a story on contaminated pork more tolerable this morning.


WHAS radio host Terry Meiners asked Bevin how he could justify pardoning Micah Schoettle, who was convicted in 2018 of rape, incest, sodomy, and other related charges and sentenced to 28 years. Bevin claimed it was an easy call, because -- and we should emphasize he's talking out his ass here -- "There was zero evidence." Which isn't true; Bevin simply decided that he prefers Old Testament forms of "evidence." The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that while he was at it,

Bevin also revealed publicly for the first time the victim's relationship to Schoettle and said that the victim's sister was present during the alleged assaults. The sister has denied the assaults took place, Bevin said.

"Both their hymens were intact. This is perhaps more specific than people would want, but trust me. If you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically," Bevin said.

No, not true, and good on the Courier-Journal for its very next sentence in the story:

"Bevin's claim is flatly incorrect," Dr. George Nichols, who was Kentucky's chief medical examiner for 20 years and later started the child abuse evaluation system at Kosair Children's Hospital, told The Courier Journal.

The paper goes on to detail exactly why the former governor is full of shit, and Jesus God, let's hope no one ever gives him a position of authority over people's lives ever again:

"Rape is not proved by hymen penetration," Nichols said. "Rape is proved by phallic penetration ... where the vaginal lips meet the outer surface of the vagina.

"He not only doesn't know the law, in my humble opinion, he clearly doesn't know medicine and anatomy."

For good measure, Nichols added that while he'd worked for six consecutive Kentucky governors as medical examiner, "fortunately I didn't have to report to that asshole." (We have removed the Courier-Journal's dainty hyphens in the cuss.)

The paper also points to a peer-reviewed study in Forensic Science International which notes that a review of child rape cases found "only 2.1% of subjects examined had lesions consistent with abuse." The authors emphasize the research findings highlight a discrepancy between the expertise of medical experts who working with child abuse victims and common assumptions held by "parents and the general practitioner" -- not to mention rightwing evangelical elected officials. In reality,

Approximately 90% of child victims of abuse do not show evidence of physical damage. These were found in less than 10% of abused children. Physical signs of abuse often are difficult to recognize and should not be the only indicators.

In lay terms, go fuck yourself, Matt Bevin. Your "common sense" is wrong and could have horrible consequences for justice.

Rob Sanders, the Kenton County commonwealth's attorney who prosecuted Schoettle, said Bevin "is ignorant of the medicine and science in child rape cases," adding that even expert witnesses called by Schoettle's defense

testified they would not expect to find an injury in the victim's sexual assault exam [...] This was the subject of an eight-hour court hearing Matt Bevin obviously never watched.

And then there's this: When Meiners asked Bevin why he'd rushed through a pardon for a child rapist, Bevin had to ask, "Which one?" The paper notes that Bevin also pardoned Paul Donel Hurt, who was "serving a life sentence for sexually abusing and sodomizing a 6-year-old girl 20 years ago." In that case, at least, the judge who presided over the case agreed Hurt had been wrongly convicted.

In addition, Bevin pardoned two other guys who pleaded guilty to sex crimes involving kids. One assaulted a 16-year-old boy and possessed child porn; the other pleaded guilty to possession of child porn and witness tampering.

We should note one more detail from the interview which isn't a horror: Bevin also called on Gov. Andy Beshear, who defeated Bevin in the November election, to institute a "sentencing integrity unit" to make sure innocent people aren't imprisoned. It's a good idea, and maybe Bevin, who didn't bother consulting prosecutors or experts directly involved in the cases of those he pardoned, might have benefited from such a commission.

Let's just add one more horror: Now that he's a free man with a clean record, Micah Schoettle -- who was convicted of raping a little girl multiple times over two years, starting when she was nine -- doesn't have to register as a sex offender, and can apply to have his record expunged, because Matt Bevin has a medieval understanding of medicine. (Our apologies to medieval scholars. It's also clearly a 21st-century American Christianist understanding, too.) Fortunately, in case you're wondering, the background checks used to screen applicants for childcare jobs does include even expunged records.

The victim's mother told Cincinnati TV station WCPO that the pardon felt like "a slap in the face."

It feels like we're going through it all over again ... we just got to the point where we felt safe leaving the house and not looking over our shoulders [...]

[Bevin has] met my daughter, and now he's saying that my daughter is a liar ... Shame on him. Shame on him.

She says she's looking into moving out of state and getting a protective order for her daughter. She also said she had a difficult time telling her daughter that Schoettle had walked out of prison:

"Well, it figures. They always get away with it," she recalled her daughter saying.

Sharp girl. She probably noticed who's president, and who he appointed to the Supreme Court.

Reminder to Readers: The Commenting Rules remain in effect. Rape is horrible, which is why, no, we do not wish it on anyone. Not even scumbags. If you're tempted to make a joke about Matt Bevin meeting with a horrible fate, then wish upon him a full realization of what he's done.

[Louisville Courier-Journal / WaPo / WCPO / WLEX / Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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