Cop arrested in Abraham Shakespeare case

I wrote earlier about the disappearance last spring of jackpot lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare. Well, the police have made an arrest in his case, and it’s one of their own, a twenty-year veteran of the Lakeland Police Department. There’s a press release about it.

The story isn’t as exciting as it appeared from the headlines: the cop in question is only charged with taking bribes from DeeDee Moore, the main suspect in Shakespeare’s disappearance, and providing her with confidential information from law enforcement databases. She gave him license plate numbers and he gave her information about the car owners. So far, anyway, it looks like the officer, Troy Young, wasn’t involved in Shakespeare’s actual disappearance.

What strikes me about this: this article says Moore gave “a $200 check to Young and bought a roundtrip ticket for his daughter to travel from Texas to Florida.” That seems like an awfully pitiful bribe to me, seeing as how Young supposedly committed a felony and also risked his job (and a nice civil servant’s pension) for this woman. What an idiot. But this doesn’t seem like an idiot — another article says his “dedication to his job has earned him 16 awards and commendations” since he joined the department in 1990.

Was there something more, I wonder? Not necessarily money — maybe Young and Moore were involved romantically or what? Guys tend to go kind of insane when it comes to women they’re sleeping with. Or maybe Young really didn’t see it as that big a deal. Maybe he thought: I’m just looking up a couple of license plate numbers is all, she’s hardly asking me to destroy evidence or help someone escape from jail.

Well, whatever there was between Officer Young and Dee Dee Moore, I’m sure that by now he’s quite sorry he ever met her.

Child trafficking fears in Haiti

All sorts of nasty things have been occurring in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake earlier this month, as I’m sure everyone knows. Tens of thousands of bodies have been buried in mass graves. Many people remain missing. The true death toll may never be known, as the Haitian government couldn’t even keep track of their living citizenry before the quake. As if this most unfortunate of nations hasn’t suffered enough! My psychiatrist is from Haiti and went on the local TV with his wife (also Haitian) appealing for aid for his country. Fortunately, he told me, he knows his family survived.

And top of everything else, child traffickers may be swooping down trying to take advantage of the tragedy and chaos. I’m not sure how big the problem really is — so far it looks like there’s only 15 confirmed cases of children being removed from the country illegally — but it has the potential to be huge if not checked immediately.

There are a lot of well-meaning people out there who want to help out by adopting a Haitian earthquake orphan or two. Haiti also had a small international adoption program before the disaster. But international aid organizations and the U. S. State Department are advising the would-be adopters to hold their horses. Many of those “orphans” may actually have parents or other relatives alive and able to care for them, and time is needed to sort out the genuinely orphaned from the merely displaced. I am reminded of an incident during the Vietnam war when a few hundred Vietnamese children were airlifted out of the country and sent to the US. The people who took them in were under the impression that they were adopting orphaned children, but those children actually had living parents who were under the impression that their children were merely being fostered until conditions were better, and then they would be returned home. It was a terrible situation for everyone involved.

But non-orphaned children taken abroad to loving adoptive families may be the lucky ones. Haiti had a pretty big child trafficking problem of another kind before the quake — child sex trafficking and slavery in general. As the London Times points out, the situation in Port Au Prince is such that child traffickers now have their pick of victims. All these kids are running around the streets with nowhere to turn — fish in a barrel. And those who disappear will probably be assumed to be simply buried under the rubble.

What can I say? It’s a nightmare over there. It wasn’t exactly a bed of roses before the earthquake flattened Port-au-Prince. But we can help make things better. Or at least not make them worse.