Sen. Slom explains controversial comment

Published On: Mar 15 2013 05:30:27 PM HST   Updated On: Mar 15 2013 06:41:17 PM HST

Sen. Sam Slom appeared on the FOX News show "The O'Reilly Factor" with Bill O'Reilly on Thursday to talk about Jessica's Law.

Forty-two states have the law.  Hawaii is one of the states that has not enacted the legislation that imposes high minimum prison terms for sex offenders.

O'Reilly asked Slom why the bill in Hawaii hasn't passed.

"Aloha, Bill.  The only thing I can tell you is basically what they say.  And I think it's a case of misplaced compassion, compassion for perpetrators and there's also an underlying cultural problem here where some of our diverse cultures actually don't see any problem or any crime in having sexual relations with young children," said Slom.

Slom's remarks are stirring the local community.

"No one is saying that it's acceptable to have sexual relations with children -- with minors.  And no one is saying we need to be more lenient on the perpetrators of these horrific crimes," said Sen. Maile Shimabukuro.

There was a much a stronger statement from University of Hawaii professor and Department of Sociology Chair Valli Kalei Kanuha.  She said, "Clearly the Senator was referring to racial, ethnic and national groups in his use of the term, 'diverse cultures' in the Hawaii context.  However, there is absolutely no evidence that child sexual abuse is viewed as acceptable in any social group or community, and is in fact considered an aberration across most societies in this and in every period in history."

Slom explained, "I said 'diversified cultures' because that's exactly what it was.  It would be all cultures here.  And it's not a question of trying to point fingers at or point out an individual culture because there are people within those cultures, and that's not to say every culture looks at that, but it does.  Some people have done it and the prosecutors will tell you, and the advocacy groups will tell you, that's one of the problems in trying to get tough prosecutions because they don't look at it as a crime."

Sen. Shimabukuro says the bill has good intent, but says it failed here because the language in Sen. Slom's amendment was too broad.

"The question was raised, 'What if you are talking about a 10-year-old child as the perpetrator,' or 'What if you are talking about a person with a developmental disability who doesn't even know what they are doing?'  And when Sam was asked those questions on the floor, he said that it would apply even to those people," said Shimabukuro.

Slom says he will continue to work with groups to get Jessica's Law passed in Hawaii and to be a voice for the victim.


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