The ACLU and the ACLU’s Women”s Rights Project are not normally terribly friendly to fatherhood advocates, but Fathers & Families believes in giving credit where credit is due. Sarah Wunsch, Esq., Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s Women”s Rights Project, deserves credit for her commendable legal actions in the Massachusetts case Commonwealth v. Bernardo B., a juvenile.
In that case, a 14-year-old Massachusetts boy has been charged with various sex crimes for his involvement in sexual game-playing with three girls aged 12 and 11. Although he too is a minor, the state declined to charge the girls with any wrongdoing.
His attorney moved the court for an order requiring the state to produce documents showing that its prosecution of the boy was not sexually motivated. That is, he’s claiming that the state discriminates against boys in its decisions about prosecution in sex cases involving minors.
The state vociferously objected to the defense motion, but the trial court ruled for the boy and the Supreme Judicial Court agreed.
Wunsch told the Boston Globe:
“We should not be enforcing the law based on stereotypical notions about girls as not being capable actors in the same way that boys are,”” Wunsch said. “They are doing what teenagers are doing today — they are fooling around sexually and the girls are participants in the same way that boys are.””
Fathers & Families‘ letter of commendation to Sarah is seen above and reprinted below:
February 25, 2009
Sarah Wunsch, Esq.
ACLU of Massachusetts
211 Congress Street, Third Floor
Boston, MA 02110
Dear Ms. Wunsch:
We represent Fathers & Families, a national family court reform organization based in Boston. We write to commend you on your Friend of the Court advocacy for the 14-year-old Massachusetts boy in Commonwealth v. Bernardo B., a juvenile.
For many years Fathers & Families has promoted gender equality in family and criminal courts. Your advocacy in support of equal treatment of male and female minors charged with sex offenses is admirable. Your sensible remarks quoted in The Boston Globe are a breath of fresh air in a debate that is often distorted by the mythology of female innocence and male corruption.
Thank you, and thanks as well to the American Civil Liberties Union”s Women”s Rights Project and Reproductive Freedom Project for your effective advocacy.
Robert A. Franklin