15-year-old deserves some compassion
Arica Blair, at this writing, is soon to be on her way home. She is described as safe and unharmed.
We hope only the best for her. Truth be told, her eight-day odyssey may be behind her but tough times are still ahead. When you’re the subject of so much attention it’s difficult to cope. When you’re only 15, it’s even tougher.
Arica has been at the center of an emotional storm since last Wednesday when she left home with 23-year-old John David Allen, a convicted sex offender for whom she professed love. Her sister told us that Blair has acted uncharacteristically since meeting Allen some two years ago and couldn’t be talked out of her relationship with him.
That relationship, for the moment, has come to an end. Allen is in custody of federal authorities who tracked the pair down to Pueblo, Colo., on Wednesday night. Allen has got a lot of answering to do in terms of the law. It’s a serious matter, taking a minor across state lines, no matter how cooperative the arrangement.
A lot of effort was put into finding Arica, and authorities are to be lauded for their efforts. The Jerseyville Police Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Department, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshal’s Office all worked hard in this matter.
Now comes the sticky wicket of prosecution. Because Arica Blair is only 15, she has fewer rights to determine her course. In the eyes of the law, she is in a protected class and the law must represent her interests. It’s different when you’re 18 and can call your own shots. Still, how the law proceeds in this case will depend greatly on her level of cooperation.
What happens from here is anyone’s guess, but there’s one thing we’d like the public to remember: This is a 15-year-old girl, and she is entitled to equal parts compassion and understanding in the months ahead.