There is an interesting case out of Florida where a dispatcher for the Palm Bay Police Department is accused of having a sexual relationship with an 11-year-old boy. Amanda Chandler, 40, is married and a mother of two young children ages 10 and 8. What caught my eye was the account of her husband.
Chandler reportedly tried to commit suicide with pills and ended up in the hospital. It then came to light that she was allegedly having sex with the boy and possibly other children. She was arrested Monday night at a local hospital and charged with eight counts of capital sexual battery and five counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. That could give her life in prison due to the aggravating element of having sex with a child under 12.
In the coverage, the following line struck me as a bit odd: “Her husband told police he would sometimes catch the boy in Chandler’s bed, kissing each other on the cheek and as he put it ‘hanging all over her.'” What I fail to understand is how you can “catch the boy” in her bed and not be a bit more than suspicious. He is also quoted as saying that he would come home occasionally finding his wife resting or sleeping in her bed with the boy and at least once believed that he came in after they had been kissing. News stories also report that the husband grabbed her iPad and found various suspicious messages between his wife and the boy. However, he still expressed shock when the charges were brought against his wife.
There is really too little in these stories to judge the husband and he may have only reached these conclusions in hindsight. However, putting aside this case, there is an interesting question of what inaction can be viewed as culpable conduct in such cases. If a husband or wife believes that a spouse may be raping a child, the question becomes when that knowledge is significant enough to make the husband or wife a co-conspirator or criminal actor through inaction or a failure to report.
Once again, there is too little information to accuse the husband of any collusion or conspiracy. Indeed, he may have simply been clueless. This is a very difficult thing to believe about any person, let alone your wife. I think that there has to be substantial evidence of both knowledge and collusion to support a spousal charge in such a case. The husband has been open about his concerns and has clearly cooperated with police. As for Chandler herself, her counsel is likely to immediately explore the possibility of a plea. If not, there could be a fight over whether the prosecution can introduce her attempted suicide in the trial. It is clearly prejudicial since jurors will assume that it is an effective admission of guilt. Yet, I cannot see how they would be able to keep it out, particularly since she was arrested at the hospital. A plea seems the logical move for the defense in light of such evidence.