our accountant gambles, or our clergymannlives too well, and we are entitled to knownwhat we need to know that is relevant tonjudging the character of those who seeknto be entrusted with the fate of thenRepublic. It is reasonable to assume thatnthe people are smart enough to distinguishnbetween a youthful indiscretion,nwhich few have escaped, and a real characternproblem, or whether a particular failingnis relevant to public performance.nWhen we judge Mr. Warren Beatty as annactor or Mr. Magic Johnson as an athlete,nwe should perhaps pay attention to theirnprofessional performance and not theirnprivate lives. But if they endorse a presidentialncandidate or are held up as anmodel for our youth, then we are entitlednto enquire into questions of character.nIn the old Republic private and publicnlife were distinct, but it was also understoodnthat a successful govemment of thenpeople depended upon private virtue, innthe people and the leaders. The office ofnthe presidency, after all, was designednwith George Washington in mind.n—Clyde WilsonnTHE CRIMINAL, on the eve of sentencing,nreceived as heartfelt a display ofnsupport as I’ve ever read about. Morenthan fifty people filled the courtroom tonplead for leniency. It happened in RhodenIsland, but such things happen in courtroomsneverywhere. This man, the supportersnsaid, does not deserve jail. Theyncalled him an asset to society. Many,nwith tears in their eyes, spoke of hownthey’d known him through AlcoholicsnAnonymous, of his struggle to get sober,nand please, they said, he has sufferednenough. There is no reason to put himnbehind bars. The name of the defendantnwas Leo Langlais. Actually, defendant isnthe wrong word; criminal is correct. Henadmitted to the charges of sexualnmolestation.nAfter reading of all these souls whongave all this effort to speak in behalf ofnthis man, I could not believe when Inread the age of the victim. She is nown16—^but during the time Langlais molestednher, she was between three and thirteen.nFor so many to turn out to pleadnfor leniency, I figured there had to be circumstancesnshowing the crime was notnthat bad. So I called the prosecutor andnasked: as these things go, was this a minornform of abuse? No, he said. Langlaisnadmitted to having oral sex with the girl,nforcing her to have oral sex with him, andn6/CHRONICLESnactual rape: intercourse. I asked hownoften it happened. On and off throughoutnthis ten-year f)eriod, he said. How didnLanglais know the gid? A close familynfriend. “You’re not saying he did somenof these things when she was age three?”nI asked. Yes, the prosecutor said, the firstncomplaint of oral sex was at that age.nI told the prosecutor that Langlais’snsupporters say he has reformed. Whatnthey said, he corrected, is that he’d gottennsober through Alcoholics Anonymous.n”But he has yet to look himself in the eyenand say, ‘I am a child abuser,'” he added.nBut this nuance didn’t occur to those whonfilled the courtroom. They insisted onnseeing the accused as victim. There wasneven a local school committeewomannwho spoke for Langlais. She said he hasnalready served his own private hell, so wenshould have sympathy.nBut I’d like to ask: did any of those fiftynpeople in the courtroom think of the othernprivate hell being endured in this case?nSpeak with any expert on child molestationnand they will tell you there are fewnthings that damage a psyche more. Theynwill tell you it leaves scars that can ruinna child’s chance of ever leading a happynand adjusted life. It is a crime, one victimntold me, that strips a woman’s soul.nAnd the damage is even greater when thenmolester is someone the child trusts.nIt is the ultimate betrayal.nSo why would the courtroom fill withnsupporters of the accused? Why is therenan instinct to protect those we’venbefriended despite evidence showing theynare criminals? We perhaps see thatninstinct most blatantly when politiciansnare prosecuted. Almost always, the faithfulninsist their transgressions should benforgiven. They insist the accused are innfact victims—usually of political vendetta.nI think of Marion Barry of Washington,nand of another Rhode Island case:nonly months ago, the mayor of the state’snsecond largest city pleaded guilty tonextorting up to $1 million in kickbacksnfrom contractors. But when one lonencontractor—a landscape designer—^wentnpublic disclosing it, he was vilified onnradio talk shows. The crooked mayor wasnpainted as victim. Several callers echoedna disturbing theme: even if he’s guilty,nhe’s done a good job—^he’s a nice man—nso why pick on him?nAnd so it was with the Rhode Islandnmolester. Even after he’d pleaded guilty,nhis lawyer kept calling him a victim—anvictim who was stmggling nobly to overcomenan unhappy upbringing. He sex­nnnually assaulted a three year old, butnbecause he had a tough childhood, andnwas burdened by alcoholism, he’s supposedlynthe real victim. This was whatnhis supporters said in the courtroom.nBecause they knew him, and liked him,nhis past evil was called irrelevant—notnhis tme character. The real Leo Langlais,nthey insisted, was the nice guy at the AAnmeetings. But they failed to see a tmthnabout most criminals: that their realnnature lies not in the face they put on butnin the wrong they have done.nIt is a truth for judges, above all others,nto ponder. And perhaps they mightnalso ponder this: what message would itngive to other molesters, other criminals,nto allow the accused to walk free simplynbecause friends have expressed their support?nPerhaps this message: if you cannfind a few naive souls to testify that you’rena likable, struggling soul today, then youndon’t have to pay for the evil you did yesterday.nThe supporters of the Rhode Islandnmolester insisted he get no jail. The prosecutionnasked for 12 years, but thenjudge—apparently affected by the characternwitnesses—gave him six. Notnenough, judge. Not enough.n—Mark PatinkinnTAMMY WYNETTE mjected thenonly note of reality into the race for thenDemocratic nomination, when she lashednout at Governor Glinton’s wife for sayingnshe was not “some little womannstanding by my man like TammynWynette.” Knowing nothing of countrynmusic—or of the country itself—thenestablished press was quick to ridiculenWynette and quote the lyrics of “StandnBy Your Man” as evidence against her. Asnusual, they got everything wrong. “StandnBy Your Man” was not a paean to feminine,nnonresistance but an anthem of loyalty.n”But if you love him, you’ll forgivenhim, even though he’s hard to understand.”nThe name for this sort of relationshipnused to be marriage, and it workednboth ways. Loyalty did not include, fornexample, putting up with a tomcat whononly comes home for R&R, and Tammyndid not shrink from throwing husbandnGeorge Jones out of her life. Unhappily,nit has been the reckless and irresponsiblenJones who has emerged as thenmost consistently satisfying singer inncountry music, if only because he has thenbest taste in picking songs that seemn