Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another Library Rape Case. How is the ALA Not Partly Responsible? Investigations are Needed.

A 16 year old girl was raped in the parking lot outside the Lone Tree Public Library, CO, by a criminal who spent the day in the library, picked his victim, then followed her out. The library likely bypassed local law that created the library and limited its uses, though I do not know that for certain yet. But I do know the library follows American Library Association [ALA] guidance that causes many libraries nationwide to exceed the bounds of local library laws. For example, the library flat out misleads the public by falsely claiming, "Douglas County Libraries has no control over information accessed through the Internet."

Along comes the media report, "DNA Was the Key in Lone Tree Rape Arrest," The Denver Post, 15 July 2008. The article says the police chief reported the rapist "rode the light rail from Denver to the south metro community and spent the day in the library before picking a victim and following her out...."

I called the library and found out only the children's computers are filtered.

I call upon the police and the media to investigate further:

  • Police: Obtain all library computer records regarding the Internet web sites viewed on the day of the rape. Gather any security camera evidence, if any, or any other evidence that is relevant to showing whether or not the rapist was viewing pornographic web sites that day. See if it is possible to directly tie in the rapist to computer porn, or generally, if the records are not complete enough to establish a direct link. I called the police and left a similar message.
  • Media: Obtain all legal instruments used to create the library to determine what scope it has regarding library content. Compare that law with the library's policy in force to see if the policy is in compliance with the law or if it is acting outside the law (ultra vires). If the library is acting outside the law, determine what efforts, if any, have been made by the government to ensure the library is acting within the bounds of the library's legal creation instrument. If none, find out why. I called the Denver Post and left a similar message.

If the police can tie in the rapist to the use of unfiltered computers for viewing pornography, and if the media can establish the likelihood that the library has and is acting outside the law, then the library may be partly responsible for the rape, and such incidents will likely continue. If the library is acting outside the law, and if it is doing so as a result of adherence to ALA policies or the like, then how is the ALA not also partly responsible for the rape of the girl? If it is true as I contend that the ALA is aware its policies result in increased criminal activity in public libraries, how are punitive damages not appropriate?

I urge the victim's family to consider contacting me for further information in this regard.

"Man Gets 336 Years in Prison for Lone Tree Rape," by Howard Pankratz, The Denver Post, 3 September 2010.

DNA Was the Key in Lone Tree Rape Arrest

The Denver Post

Scott J. Sylvia was arrested Monday after a DNA test linked him to the rape of a 16-year-old girl in a library parking lot.
Investigators say Sylvia, 25, followed the girl to her car, forced her in at knife-point and assaulted her July 7.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation expedited a DNA investigation.
Sylvia has a criminal record for violent assaults, robbery and drug-related crimes, said Lone Tree Police Chief Stephen Hasler.
Sylvia has never been charged with sexual assault, but Hasler said investigators across the metro region are checking whether he might be connected to any unsolved rapes.
Sylvia rode the light rail from Denver to the south metro community and spent the day in the library before picking a victim and following her out, Hasler said.
Sylvia took the girl's driver's license so she would know that he knew where she lived, Hasler said.
"He picked the wrong girl," the chief said. "She's a very strong young woman who has a great recall. She's going to be a fantastic witness."


  1. Dan, rather than urging an unecessary investigation into one particular instance of rape just to further your cause, you might want to investigate the research that exists on the general affect pronography has on the propensity to commit rape.

    My understanding is that pronography helps to diminish the incidence of rape. Pronography leads pretty directly to masterbation, and masterbation leads directly to a diminishment of sexual drive. Therefore, the more pornography, the less necessity to engage in actual sex, forced or not.

  2. Alan,

    Good to hear from you.

    "Furthering my cause" is not what I am doing. I am, however, furthering the cause of communities learning for themselves things that the ALA has mislead them to think by act or by omission. So let's set aside your typical "turn the tables and make SafeLibraries the issue" argument. Fortunately, your next paragraph is more meaty.

    SafeLibraries does not oppose pronography. It is a legal product. If that is a sad reality, there is little I can do about it anyway. In part for that reason, I do not know the answers to your questions. I suspect, however, rape is more of a control issue rather than a pronography issue.

    Be that as it may, my observations of the numerous public library child rapes and molestations nationwide leads me to the conclusion that pron viewing is almost always involved. Actually, I think always.

    Further, where the media does not report a direct connection initially between pron and a crime, twice now such a connection was made only after my personal intervention. Indeed, the entire state of Iowa may get filtered computers in public libraries as a direct result of my intervention. See Media-Wake Up to Library Crime Source.

    Along comes this Lone Tree rape case. The media makes the connection between the library usage and the rape, but not between pron viewing and the rape. That aspect is just absent from the article. And that is exactly what I am zeroing in on. That is what I am saying needs investigation. That is why the investigation is necessary despite your saying it is not.

    I see nothing wrong with suggesting an investigation is called for. Indeed, if the connection is made, the community can act to correct the underlying issue and perhaps prevent further criminal activity.

    And that is not "furthering my cause." That is acting to reduce criminal activity that may be occasioned by ALA policy in public libraries. I know you believe that to be a legitimate goal, right?

    By the way, many comments in an Annoyed Librarian blog discuss this matter as well. See Summertime, And the Livin' is Easy.

  3. Safe libraries is advocating an expensive and legally unnecessary investigation into the circumstances of this crime, focusing on safe library's pet peave - unfiltered access to the Internet through the library facilities.

    One wonders why you would want such an investigation to take place, when it would not have any use in prosecuting the crime. So I object to your suggestion as a waste of time and effort simply to validate your own alarmist preconceptions at other's expense.

    The question of any potential cause and effect relationship between rape and pornography is a far more general question than the issue of "safe" libraries. It is a question that would have to be answered through careful sociological studies at a national level, not an ad-hoc fishing expedition at one library focusing on one event.

    In fact, such studies have been conducted and if you want others to share your concerns and set aside their freedoms, you do have the responsibility to become much more familiar with the issue before you make policy recommendations that affect other people.

    As you say, pornography is not illegal. In as much as it is a legitimate form of entertainment, I think libraries should help their patrons to access it.

    As Ms. Krug has said - Look the other way, sweety, it isn't any of your business.

  4. Well, it appears we'll agree to disagree. Your argument sounds like the one that says rapes occur all over the place but rarely in public libraries, so why waste time focusing on public libraries.

    And you said, "As you say, pornography is not illegal. In as much as it is a legitimate form of entertainment, I think libraries should help their patrons to access it." I think that pretty much tells everyone where you are coming from.


    "Man Gets 336 Years in Prison for Lone Tree Rape," by Howard Pankratz, The Denver Post, 3 September 2010.


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