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Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia

Worse Than a Dog



By Igor Dunaevskiy and Maksim Makarychev

When bringing up the issue of the level of punishment in the U.S. for those who abuse innocent children, what shocks is the inadequacy of the pronounced sentences.

Translated By Aleksandra J. Chlon

20 December 2012

Edited by Lydia Dallett


Russia - Rossiyskaya Gazeta - Original Article (Russian)

Recently, the media has been actively discussing the subject of Americans adopting Russian citizens. Arguments for and against are being brought forth. In the heat of emotions, one essential matter is being forgotten: the fact that the U.S. often demonstrates an incapacity to adequately punish “its own” and “somebody else's,” especially when it comes to children. Rossiyskaya Gazeta wrote at one point in time about the “blindness of American justice,” about “double standards” in terms of sentencing its citizens and foreign nationals.

When bringing up the issue of the level of punishment in the U.S. for those who abuse innocent children, what shocks is the inadequacy of the pronounced sentences. In many cases, when wrongdoings are done against children born in Russia, American “disaster-parents” receive two- to three-year sentences, or they get away with nothing but a fine, a reprimand and community service. There's no denying that there have been cases of adequate punishment of such tormentors. In the ‘90s, an adoptive mother who abused a child from Russia was imprisoned for a whole twenty years.

Nevertheless, statistics from recent years show that those found guilty stay in prison for not even half the duration of the sentence. And yet, according to official information alone, in the last ten years 19 Russian children have been killed by U.S. citizens. Perhaps the loudest case has been that of Vanya Skorobogatov, who was adopted along with his sister Dasha by Mr. and Mrs. Craver, who took him from the Russian Urals to the U.S. when he was one year old. In 2009, Vanya ended up in the hospital with more than 80 wounds on his head and body, in a state of complete emaciation. The boy died without regaining consciousness.

Having spent 19 months in a local prison, after being accused of murdering Vanya, the Cravers were released — all because the judge sentenced them to 16 months imprisonment. So, it turns out that those “poor people” even spent a whole three months too long in prison. The cynicism of the situation also lies in the fact that the other day, the couple demanded that the girl, Vanya’s sister, be returned to them, and that the court's sentence be re-examined. They will attempt to prove that the murdered boy inflicted the 80 wounds himself.

Robert and Brenda Matthey spent an incomplete duration of their sentence in prison. Their 7-year-old adoptive son from Russia, Viktor Tulimov, died. Many bruises and signs of beating were found on his body, also emaciated. Originally, the criminals were sentenced in 2004 to ten years of prison. However, the sentence was twice revised. As a consequence, the couple was released as early as 2008.

In July 2007, the married Leshinsky couple, who made a deal with investigators, was given a suspended sentence of four years and sentenced to 400 hours of community service for torturing three adopted children from Russia. Last year, Jessica Beagley, who was found guilty of violent treatment of her adopted 7-year-old son from Russia, Daniil Bukharov, was sentenced to 180 days of conditional imprisonment and a fine of $2,500 dollars.

When it comes to “their own,” things work differently. In 2002, 37-year-old Andrea Yates was sentenced to life imprisonment. She had drowned five children in order to “save them from the devil.” In 2005, 51-year-old Vernon Brown was executed in Montana. He had strangled two under-aged girls. In 2009, sentenced to life in prison with no right of mercy was 25-year-old Jose Castaneda, who had strangled his girlfriend's 2-year-old son. Justice did not spare the boy's mother, either: She received 17 years in prison for criminal and violent treatment of the child.

And now let's talk about the prison sentences that those in America who torture animals receive. According to the law, crimes against animals are no more and no less than a felony. For instance, in Arizona, for torturing a dog you can go to prison for five years.

In Louisiana, cruel treatment of animals, done under aggravating circumstances, is punished with a prison sentence of one to ten years, not to mention the fines, amounting to many thousands of dollars. That's where the punishment begins. Currently, the entire U.S. is intently following the pursuit of knackers who, for the past few months, have been torturing and killing dolphins in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You won't envy the criminals: If they get caught, they await “all-around damnation,” a huge fine and a prison sentence of one year. It would appear that Russian children in the U.S. are on the same footing as dolphins, but are “worse than a dog”?



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