Precinct 333

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Somehow I Can’t Bring Myself To Feel Sympathy

Rudy Michael Romero used to have it all in prison. He had plenty of cash in his prison account, friends and family on the outside, and respect as a tough guy from his fellow inmates. He was just a short time from parole last year for his string of robberies. Then his world came crashing down – because of a DNA sample he was required to give while in prison.

You see, Romero was the Parkway Rapist, the long-unidentified perpetrator of a series of 13 Salt Lake City area rapes. His victims were mostly teenagers, but included one 9-year-old girl.

"They took away everything": Romero's father still speaks with his son. "It's my duty as a father not to abandon him," Michael Romero says. But most other members of Romero's family have ended their support.

A longtime girlfriend cut off contact when she learned of the DNA match. She even offered to aid police in the investigation.

Rudy Romero's square jaw trembles and his hands shake when he speaks about his children. There are eight in all, and he doesn't even know where most of them are.

"They took away my family," he says. "They took away everything - every last bit or respect I had."

Somehow, this piece of filth doesn’t understand that he doesn’t deserve any respect. He is one of the lowest of the low – a sexual predator who preys on children. Those who have turned their backs on him are better off for putting him out of their lives.

And then there is this complaint, one which made my blood boil.

With each move, he has been strip-searched - his body probed for contraband. The searches are unwelcome, invasive, emasculating. Prisoners who resist are searched by force.

"It's sexual assault," he cries, noting that he has never been caught with any contraband. "It's rape. Don't you understand? I don't deserve this."

Suddenly, silently, the man accused of sexually assaulting 13 females - most of them not even old enough to drive - raises his shaved head and wipes the tears from his eyes.

Somehow I just can’t find it in me to find a bit of sympathy. Part of me would really like to see him put in the general population, where he could mix with fellow inmates like the one quoted in the article, though my better nature knows we don’t punish people in this manner.

"Now he's getting a taste of the world he created for his victims," says one inmate who was incarcerated for several months in the same unit as Romero at the Utah State Prison. "He still tries to act tough, but he's no more liked in here than he is on the outside."

Unfortunately, Romero can never be charged with his crimes. The statute of limitations ran out long ago. Fortunately, he was back in prison after a parole violation when the DNA match was made. That meant that the parole board could take note of the match and stop his release – and set a 25 year date for his next parole hearing on the five-to-life sentence he is serving for robbery. Civil libertarians are, of course, outraged.

But I’m not, nor should any other person with a sense of decency.


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