03 July 2009

What would Thomas More do?

Were you curious to know exactly why the dean of Villanova Law abruptly resigned this week?
Police investigating a prostitution ring in Chester County relied on two customers, including the dean of Villanova Law School, to provide information that culminated last week in a no-contest plea by the man promoting the business, documents show.

Mark A. Sargent, who was appointed dean in 1987, resigned suddenly Monday, citing personal and medical reasons.

According to a report by the Pennsylvania State Police, Sargent was a customer at a Kennett Township house suspected as a site for prostitution when police raided it Nov. 25. He was not charged.
Classy! He's married, he's Catholic, and he's a co-founder of a blog on Catholic legal thinking. Here's what the police caught the married, Catholic, legal scholar doing:
Sargent paid [one of the defendants] $170 for 35 minutes of sexual contact between noon and 1 p.m. on Nov. 25, according to the police report. Sargent said he saw an ad on Craigslist, "got curious," and responded to it, the report said.
Yeah, right, "got curious." He'd heard of the Craigslist on the Internet, and he was curious to know if those news stories about the sex ads were really for true. And then he just happened to decide to drive 30-odd miles from Villanova to somewhere in darkest Chester County for lunch a couple of days before Thanksgiving.

In any event, however implausible his "how'd that happen" defense, he's not going to be prosecuted. Apparently, in most prostitution cases like this one in Pennsylvania,
[c]ustomers are not charged or identified in prostitution busts. [Rather,] authorities use them to build their case and they often testify if the case goes to trial.
And in fact, Sargent was treated with kid gloves when he was arrested:
"If you watch the taped interview, the police are almost apologetic with this guy," [alleged pimp Stephen] Clark said of Sargent. "They told him, 'You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,' and they agreed to contact him at his office, not his home."
And as for the woman whom Sargent paid for a half-hour of sex, she pleaded guilty and got 8 to 23 months.

From Villanova Law's mission statement:
Villanova is rooted in the Catholic tradition that emphasizes the unique value of individual human lives and our endowment with free will. It inspires us to provide a professional education emphasizing honesty, integrity, and responsibility. This aspect of the tradition is embodied in St. Thomas More, whose figure graces the main entrance in Garey Hall, and whose principled resistance to corruption has been an exemplar of integrity for centuries.
What does this mission statement mean to Sargent? Well, a few years ago, when asked to justify Villanova's not providing fellowship money to law students doing pro-choice legal work, he declared, "[Villanova Law's] Catholic identity is not casual, sentimental, or merely historical."

I never did get around to reading Utopia. Maybe I'll put it on my reading list for August.

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