Justice & Judge Liberace
But for the life of me, I don’t see what the point is of putting a 69-year-old former magisterial district judge behind bars.
That’s what happened this week when former longtime Haverford D.J. Gerald Liberace was whisked out of a Media Courthouse courtroom in handcuffs. Today the judge is getting a view from the other side of the bars, as a “guest” of the Delaware County Prison.
I don’t for a minute challenge that what Liberace did was wrong. He was convicted of endangering the welfare of a child and corruption of a minor for fondling a 12-year-old girl. He was acquitted of the more serious charge of indecent assault.
I don’t mean to diminish what happened to that young girl, or the anguish she has gone through since. I certainly don’t condone what Liberace did.
But what exactly is the purpose of putting him in jail? Is he a danger to the public? I don’t think so.
Instead, what I think Liberace is, is a symbol.
In fact, visiting Judge John L. Braxton of Philadelphia, who was brought in to hear the case because of Liberace’s long ties to the Delco bench, pretty much said the same thing.
“I don’t take lightly sending judges or former judges to jail,” Braxton said as he sentenced Liberace to six to 12 months in prison. The former judge had been free on bail. “A slap on the wrist would send the wrong message.”
I guess so. But I’m not sure putting Liberace in jail sends the right one, either.