Inner City Diary
< ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->
'Diddlers' ...'skinners' and the justice system
January 13, 2002
Usually it’s music to a preacher’s ears when a parishioner says they liked the sermon. But not always.

“I liked when you talked about how God feels about people who hurt kids. I felt like I understood when Jesus said that if someone hurts one of his little ones it would be better if a rock were tied to their neck, and they were thrown into the deepest sea. It made me feel better about what I did.”

I was getting more nervous as he spoke. Craig was the kind of guy who sometimes picked odd verses to apply literally.

Craig was new to the church thing. Having spent much of his life in prisons across Canada, he often saw the world from a different perspective than those who have spent all their time on the “outside.”

There were times he would talk about “diddlers” and “skinners,” prison parlance for those who sexually abuse children or rape women. Even among convicted criminals, there is a special scorn reserved for those sexual offenders.

I guess prisoners are no different from the rest of us who sometimes boost our self-image with the occasional focus on those who are even worse. Expressions of this contempt from fellow convicts are such that these sexual predators usually seek refuge from the general prison population.

My nervousness was justified. Craig told me about several late night raids with friends to “teach a few diddlers a lesson.”

I know how I’m supposed to respond. I knew I should try to convince him that justice should be delivered by cops and courts, not ex-cons in a late night house call with a scalpel.

But I was also aware of a part of me that didn’t want to correct him.

It’s the part of me that has lost faith in our legal system. Lawyers play games with words, levering technicalities, cutting deals. Courts seem to feel that it’s okay for adults to have sex with 14 year olds and that taking pornographic pictures of children is okay as long as the pictures are for personal consumption, not distribution.

So legislators molest the intent of the law while predators continue to molest children. Equally disgusting in my eyes!

One of these predators was recently highlighted in the news. I’ll call him “Sean” – not his real name.

He tried attending our church years ago. He came for awhile, and several people with keen intuition on abuse issues kept close tabs on him. We’ve learned that not everyone who comes talking “religion” is interested in spiritual things.

We started asking the questions which begged to be asked. Why did his children behave more like victims than family? What about that bruise? Who are these preadolescent girls that are always hanging around? We asked if there was any area in his life where he could use some help to change.

He resented the questions, and his answers rang hollow. He stopped attending our church. We contacted other professionals about our concerns.

Months later, I got a call from a friend in the North End who wanted advice on whether it was a Christian thing to administer street justice. Apparently Sean had molested a young niece of this fellow, promising an eventual long-term relationship. I told him what he was supposed to do, according to the law of the courts. I also told him how I would be tempted to resort to the law of the streets if Sean abused a niece of mine.

More months passed and I heard Sean’s kids were apprehended by Child and Family Services.

Months later, I heard he was finally locked up. Then I heard he was one of the diddlers attacked by other prisoners during the Headingly riot. I still remember having some unpastoral reactions.

I met him in a store once and he assured me his life had changed as a result of his incarceration and his brush with jailhouse justice. Looking into his eyes, I saw the same liar I met years ago. Next I read newspaper accounts of him stalking young teenaged girls on the internet. More parole violations, sob stories and lies. More leniency by the courts.
Copyright 2001
Rev. Harry Lehotsky
Rev. Harry Lehotsky is Director of New Life Ministries, a community ministry in the inner-city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Return to Index
New Life Ministries
West End CIA
Contact info:
New Life Ministries
514 Maryland Street
Winnipeg, Mb R3G 1M5
(204) 775-4929