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April 15, 2010

A life sentence for a woman who forces a teenage boy to touch her breasts!?!?!

The exclamation/question that titles this post is my initial response to this remarkable local press story that a helpful student sent my way.  This press report discussed a remarkable local sentence handed down earlier this week in Nevada under the headline "T.F. woman sentenced to life for lewdness charge." Here are the remarkable details:

A Twin Falls woman convicted of forcing a 13-year-old boy to touch her breasts was sentenced Monday to life in prison. Michelle Lyn Taylor, 34, was convicted of lewdness with a minor under 14 in November after a week-long trial in Elko County, Nev., District Judge Mike Memeo’s courtroom.

With the conviction, Taylor faced a mandatory life sentence, and Memeo set parole eligibility after 10 years, the minimum sentence. If released on parole she must register as a sex offender and will be under lifetime supervision.

The district attorney’s office did not offer a plea agreement in the case, said public defender Alina Kilpatrick, who argued the sentence is unconstitutional and doesn’t fit the crime. “The jury was not allowed to know the potential sentence in this case and the Legislature doesn’t know the facts,” she said, alluding to the minimum sentence set by the Legislature in Nevada Revised Statute.

Kilpatrick said despite the parole eligibility after 10 years, there should be no mistake that it’s a life sentence for Taylor.  “She is getting a greater penalty for having a boy touch her breast than if she killed him,” she said.

After he sentenced her, Memeo said he was bound by state statute to impose the life sentence, but said he isn’t sure why the prosecution chose to charge her under that statute. District Attorney Gary Woodbury could not be reached for comment.

Taylor, who lived in Jackpot, Nev., at the time of the crime, kissed a friend’s child, forced him to touch her breast and asked him to have sex with her in February 2008.  Taylor claimed she was intoxicated and doesn’t remember what happened that night.  She told jurors she roughhoused with the boy, but didn’t force him to touch her inappropriately.

Based on the facts stated here, this case sounds like a remarkable test case for the reach and limits of the Eighth Amendment in non-capital punishment settings.  But I cannot help but think there must be more, perhaps a lot more, to this story.

April 15, 2010 at 03:52 PM | Permalink

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Comments

She can appeal this sentence for violating her right that she cannot get cruel/unusual sentences right? Just please tell me she can...

Posted by: N/A | Apr 15, 2010 4:02:05 PM

Her chances of getting this sentence overturned on Eighth Amendment grounds are about the same as her chances of winning the lottery.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Apr 15, 2010 4:16:47 PM

This is a travesty...Its hard to believe that the charge wasn't amended as the trial progressed.
Doesn't say much for the prosecuter. But as Doug indicated, there most likely is a lot more to this case than what we are seeing...So condemning
someone may be inappropriate....Even if she slept with a boy, a life sentence...How many 14 yr olds today, might jump for glea at the opportunity and this lady gets a Life sentence, with a chance at parole after 10 yrs... Ouch....

Posted by: Goodyr | Apr 15, 2010 4:38:34 PM

At least you can't very well argue that this outcome would be incredibly different if the convict were a guy.. Good job Nevada.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 15, 2010 4:44:05 PM

the outcome would not be different, but the evaluation of the appropriateness of the sentence very well might be...

Posted by: nc atty | Apr 15, 2010 5:47:01 PM

Goodyr's comment reminds me of a South Park episode where the police, when discussing a teacher having relations with a kindergarten student, said "Oh, he got with Ms. Smith? Nice...."

There are certainly good reasons to argue that this sentence was excessive. But I don't think the oft-used (and ridiculous) 13-year-old-males-want-to-screw-anything-including-middle-aged-women justification is a good one. Females reach puberty before males, yet I don't imagine anyone would argue that forced sexual petting is not that bad because a 13-year-old girl would leap at the opportunity to have an experience with an older male.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Apr 15, 2010 6:13:43 PM

In this crime, the victim likely experienced pleasure, rather than harm. It is a malum prohibitum with a life sentence. Thank the feminist lawyer and its male running dog. In order to go after the male, the productive male, especially the feminist lawyer must present the appearance of virtue and impartiality. So a small sample of females must be prosecuted for fulfilling a young male fantasy (need to see the picture of the defendant to determine, pleasure or horror show).

Feminism is a hate group. There should be no more tolerance for feminism in any responsible position than for the Klan making decisions about black folks. They must be purged from all university positions, benches, legislative seats. A feminism registry should be started to warn potential neighbors. These neighbors should have the right to exclude these hate mongers from their neighborhoods, and to rezone their homes with a flic of Bic if the vile cult criminal forces them on unwilling neighbors. The word FEMINIST should be printed on their driving licenses to warn police making a stop, or anyone else providing a service or a product. Feminist utterances should be facial evidence of a hostile work environment, and employers not providing anti-feminist training should be deterred with ruinous investigations and litigation.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 15, 2010 6:16:10 PM

It does not appear that justice was served in this case.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 15, 2010 6:32:23 PM

When I was 13, I would have regarded sex with a 34 year-old as about the grossest thing I had ever heard of.

I agree with Doug that "there must be more, perhaps a lot more, to this story." Given the facts as recounted, this is not something I would have charged as a life sentence offense. The conspicuously missing thing is what the boy had to say, although, given his age, that is probably not going to make the papers.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 15, 2010 7:44:09 PM

I wonder if her relative attractiveness and the victim's need for therapy had anything to do with the sentnece. http://www.kolotv.com/home/headlines/90976314.html

Posted by: anon | Apr 15, 2010 8:01:10 PM

Gross injustice.

Obviously she acted wrongly. But I can't imagine any possible "much more to this story" facts that could possibly justify a life sentence. Most *murderers* don't get life.

Posted by: Praga | Apr 15, 2010 8:10:02 PM

Bill.

Just because you are a sexual freak doesn't mean that everyone should bow to your freakishness.

One of the problems is that we have created a legal fiction called "force" that has nothing to do with physical or psychological reality. Then we come to believe that it is actually descriptive of reality. When people say that the law is nothing but a moral pose, this is a great example of that reality.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 15, 2010 8:39:28 PM

i have the agree. the REAL criminal act in all of this seems to be the actual sentence.

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 15, 2010 9:11:31 PM

Daniel --

I am no longer surprised by ad hominem stuff from the Excuse Factory, but I am surprised at it from you.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 15, 2010 9:28:56 PM

Daniel,

Can you make the argument without attacking Bill personally? Do you really have to abandon logic for Republican style tactics?

Posted by: E | Apr 15, 2010 9:56:06 PM

And yet the steelers quarterback will face no charges uuumh!

Posted by: Marine | Apr 15, 2010 10:12:41 PM


Are you scared of Ms. Taylor or just mad at her? A life sentence says you are scared of her.

Memeo is ridiculous.

Posted by: K | Apr 15, 2010 10:50:30 PM

It does seem that the power is in the charging authority. This is a perfect example.

Posted by: beth | Apr 15, 2010 10:51:01 PM

"I agree with Doug that 'there must be more, perhaps a lot more, to this story.' Given the facts as recounted, this is not something I would have charged as a life sentence offense. The conspicuously missing thing is what the boy had to say, although, given his age, that is probably not going to make the papers."

Unless she castrated him in the process of getting felt up, I cannot imagine any set of circumstances which would have even remotely justified a life sentence in this case.

Posted by: JC | Apr 15, 2010 11:19:57 PM

How about we set the nominal life sentence aside. How would the 10 years certain sit with everyone? That does not necessarily seem out of line to me and is likely much closer to the reality anyway.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 16, 2010 12:22:56 AM

Bill. I regret that I shot from the hip and called your sexual history freakish. I apologize for that remark.

The point that I wanted to get across was that our personal histories often inform what we perceive as "normal" sexual behavior. I would hope that as adults we would be open minded enough to realize that not everyone's life experiences mimics ours. That sentiment is not a thin justification for raping and molesting. It's a hope that our judgments would not be so harsh if we were more willing to say that but for the grace of God, there go I.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 16, 2010 12:41:55 AM

If the defendant is a repeat violent offender, and this gotcha is a pretext to get her off the street, then the sentence is just. It is still a false use of the law, but everyone is better off.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 16, 2010 3:14:56 AM

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and
needs to be appreciated by everyone.
Personal Injury

Posted by: Personal Injury | Apr 16, 2010 5:09:36 AM

How about we set the nominal life sentence aside. How would the 10 years certain sit with everyone? That does not necessarily seem out of line to me and is likely much closer to the reality anyway.

On the stated facts, even 10 years seems out of line. I agree with Doug and others that there is likely more to the story, but we don’t know that, and there might not be.

What’s more, the life sentence isn’t merely nominal. She has an opportunity to be considered for release after 10 years, but in practice, I’ll bet she serves longer than that. Parole these days is far from automatic.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Apr 16, 2010 9:33:47 AM

Daniel --

Thanks. It didn't sound like you. You're not the only human being known to shoot from the hip every now and again.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 16, 2010 10:52:04 AM

Udder insanity. Do the men involved in making and enforcing these laws have no recollection of what it was like being a 13-year-old boy?

Bill says: "When I was 13, I would have regarded sex with a 34 year-old as about the grossest thing I had ever heard of."

Not to attack Bill personally, but this does support my long-held suspicion about why conservatives are the way they are.

Ten years is no less preposterous...even if it were likely she'd be released after that. Liability-limitation sentencing considerations make it unlikely any parole board or governor will risk (their phony-baloney jobs by) freeing a woman who might subsequently victimize other teen-age boys by, gasp, letting them touch her breasts.

Outcomes like this make a laughingstock of our legal system.

Posted by: John K | Apr 16, 2010 10:58:25 AM

John K --

Teenagers want sex with other teenagers. This is not exactly a big secret.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 16, 2010 12:13:49 PM

John K --

"Outcomes like this make a laughingstock of our legal system."

Outcomes like OJ Simpson make a laughingstock of the system, and edanger future victims to boot.

P.S. When you were a teenager, did you REALLY want sex with someone your parents' age? Maybe so, and to each his own, but I most assuredly did not.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 16, 2010 12:20:14 PM

Why do you assume there is more to the story? If you know something, say it. If not, dont speculate.

Posted by: Jim | Apr 16, 2010 12:24:03 PM

hmm SC shame on you!

"If the defendant is a repeat violent offender, and this gotcha is a pretext to get her off the street, then the sentence is just. It is still a false use of the law, but everyone is better off.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 16, 2010 3:14:56 AM"

So basically your saying if there is a history here and since it wasn't mentioned obviously it was never PROVEN in a court of law. legally it doesn't exist.

that the ends justify the means. Guess that means ath 1,000,000 sex offenders have every right to KILL every politician out there so they can be left alone.

sorry that one's a non-starter.

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 16, 2010 12:57:09 PM

Significant other to the wrongfully charged and unquestionably wrongfully sentenced Michelle Taylor!

Its seems interesting to me considering what I have see, heard, and read in newspapers, radios, and blogs about Michelle Taylor that so many could judge her and her case so harsh and hastily with out knowing any true facts or having any true knowledge of said case. Do I know Miss Taylor? Yes I do! Do I know most facts pertaining to her case? Yes I do! Are all the facts in the article? ...Not even close!

"Based on the facts stated here, this case sounds like a remarkable test case for the reach and limits of the Eighth Amendment in non-capital punishment settings. But I cannot help but think there must be more, perhaps a lot more, to this story."

To the person that posted and commented on the story, I must question what you mean by remarkable! Remarkable isn't exactly the word I would chose for it, maybe a gross injustice. As for there being more to the story there very much is... I should know, I seen the case first hand and seen the judge and jury and knew what the the sentence was going to be before she was charged, as for the boy, I did not see him or his mother.

The appeal as for what I know about said case should be pretty good considering the flaws in said case against Miss Taylor, FYI there was more then just the 8th ammendment being violated here, such as wrongfull arrest, Miss taylor was awaken by a police officer and arrested on no charge or warrent of arrest but by the words of said boys mother! Illegal search and seizure (a cellphone) 8 months before a warrent for said seizure was even released... just to name a few flaws in the case!

A travesty is an understatment, As per the words of the public defender "She was rail roaded!"

Considering I don't normally blog about... well anything I will have to end it as such. I must conclude that Michelle Taylor must infact be inocent concidering the evidence(no creditable evidence found) and witnesses(most of said can not be found to be creditable) and the fact the case was simply a he said she said case... his word against hers, it was a complete and gross waist of tax's!

Posted by: R Friel | Apr 16, 2010 1:36:07 PM

The DA says that the defendant "did not want to negotiate a plea deal because she did not want to have to register as a sex offender" and that she "felt her life would be over if she had to register (as a sex offender) so it wouldn't matter what she was convicted of."

http://www.kolotv.com/home/headlines/90976314.html

Sounds like the DA charged the max & was looking to get the case resolved at some sort of reduced charge when the defendant refused to plea bargain for a sentence that would involve registration. At some point, you have to let defendants make their own choices -- she must've thought that no jury would convict her of a crime on the facts of this case. She gambled and lost.

Having said that, I think this looks like one of those cases that was made for executive clemency. Eventually.

Posted by: NCProsecutor | Apr 16, 2010 2:07:54 PM

Wait, so you concededly overcharge just for leverage, expecting the defendant to deal. But then the defendant for whatever reason stands her ground and goes to trial and is convicted of the excessive charge. And this is supposed to be a just outcome because she is only getting what she deserved for not pleading out?

That seems squirelly to me. I guess I can think of one (former) NCProsecutor who might think that was a fair and proper way to conduct the State's business, though. Hey Mike, that you?

Posted by: Nc atty | Apr 16, 2010 2:33:48 PM

Guess what Attorney Gary Woodbury is a bald face lier!!!
(in my personal opinion)
As per the words of Michelle Taylor, Public defender Alina Kilpatrick no plea agreament was ever put forth
Why I'm not sure

Posted by: R Friel | Apr 16, 2010 2:36:25 PM

NC atty:

I don't remember saying that the DA overcharged -- just that he was clearly looking to make a deal at some point in the case and the defendant refused. You're the one who inserted words like "leverage" and "overcharge," not me.

You seem to want to argue about what this defendant "deserved" without any reference to more of the facts of the case than the few we have in this blog post. My comment was responsive to Professor Berman's statement that there must be more to the story.

Finally, you seem to want to ascribe to me the tactics you presume were used by the DA in this case. Upon what basis do you make this assumption? I merely pointed to the prosecutor's statements about the case as a means to try to explain how the defendant received the sentence she did. Nowhere in my comment do I endorse the idea of charging a defendant with a crime with a mandatory life term on these facts (admitting, of course, that I don't know all the facts). In fact, you can infer something of my opinion of that kind of charging decision from my suggestion concerning executive clemency. But in your fantasy world, all prosecutors are Mike Nifong and all criminal defendants are Greg Taylor, so there's no need to think that maybe a prosecutor might want to do the right thing.

Posted by: NCProsecutor | Apr 16, 2010 2:53:11 PM

R Fiel:

The DA never said he offered a plea -- merely that the defendant refused to discuss a plea that would have required registration as a sex offender. If the DA wasn't willing to offer such a plea, then none would have been put forth.

Why assume that someone is lying when there is a completely reasonable explanation in which each party is telling the truth? If you want to criticize the DA, I would recommend that you start with the charging decision.

Just my two cents.

Posted by: NCProsecutor | Apr 16, 2010 2:56:04 PM

If its "cents" you wish to talk about here is a quarter!

Considering my relation with Miss Taylor and knowledge of said case, sadly Michelle Taylor would have accepted a plea bargain... but nothing was put forth!
Even the judge didn't know why a plea bargain wasn't given! But I am sure it had nothing to do with wether or not Miss Taylor would or would not have accepted one!

So I'm pretty sure Attorney Gary Woodbury is infact not being truthfull!
by the way its FRIEL

Posted by: R Friel | Apr 16, 2010 3:14:44 PM

One million sex offenders declaring war on politicians? It gets much worse with retroactive application of laws, that very well could be what happened. I personally think those who have the most to hide are often the ones crafting these ridiculous ex post facto laws. As far as this woman goes.. no slap on the wrist because she was not hot?????? That's America for you.. I recommend everyone watch the 'SOuth Park' episode where Ike is having sex with his K2 teacher. The cop's response: "You mean the blonde teacher who is really hot?.....NICE." If she was a looker, I bet you a million to a penny she would have gotten probation only, and a plea bargain to a non-sex offense.

Posted by: tbucket | Apr 16, 2010 4:14:55 PM

Bill writes -- "When you were a teenager, did you REALLY want sex with someone your parents' age? Maybe so, and to each his own, but I most assuredly did not."

Since you asked, Bill, yes. When I was 13, any receptive post-13-year-old female whose hair wasn't yet gray would have been treasured as a gift from god. Well, OK, gray hair would have been alright, too.

As a 15-year-old working a summer job at Disneyland, I had a thing with a waitress from a Main Street restaurant who was probably in her late 20s or early 30s. It was a highlight of my young life.

The difference between you and me, Bill, is that if you'd had a similar teen-age adventure, I wouldn't be sitting here scratching my head wondering why the object of your youthful affections wasn't doing a life sentence in a federal prison.

Posted by: John K | Apr 17, 2010 12:17:26 AM

...or a Nevada prison.

Posted by: John K | Apr 17, 2010 7:03:12 AM

John K --

"Since you asked, Bill, yes. When I was 13, any receptive post-13-year-old female whose hair wasn't yet gray would have been treasured as a gift from god. Well, OK, gray hair would have been alright, too."

As I say, to each his own desires. If you wanted sex with someone Grandma's age, that's up to you.

I will repeat, however: Teenagers want sex with other teenagers. That doesn't make them repressed, which is what you're implying. That makes them normal.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 17, 2010 9:15:35 AM

http://www.cfcamerica.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1661:life-sentence-for-copping-a-feel&catid=3:news&Itemid=96

According to this site she spent 10 months in jail 2 years back for "sexually abusing two young boys over the course of at least a year".

I would say that changes things a bit though I still find a life sentence absolutely absurd.

Posted by: Jon | Apr 25, 2010 3:32:03 PM

Some California cases have addressed these kinds of cases under a Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clause analysis that basically hold that it is unconstitutional to punish a lesser included offense more seriously than a greater offense. That argument may have more merit on the law than the 8th Amendment argument.

Is there prior criminal history here, or is this sentence merely a first offense sentence that applies in all cases.

Most of the extreme 8th Amendment cases involve recidivist sentencing, so the 8th Amendment argument, while difficult, may not be quite as difficult in this case as it is in many cases.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Apr 27, 2010 5:41:20 PM

If the genders were reversed there would not be one person that would not be calling for the guy to be castrated.

Don't worry though women get off with first degree murder in the united states.

She will be out of jail in a month if not sooner.

Unlike a man she will have the entire media pouring sympathy on her and demanding her release.

Also I think this sex offender stuff has gone completely insane.

Posted by: Ann | Apr 29, 2010 6:21:06 AM

I am amazed, I don`t know who controls this legal system.

Posted by: Tyciol | Jul 28, 2010 4:59:58 AM

The judge and DA must be removed or recalled immediately.

Both should go to counseling on humanity!

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Posted by: pandora bracelets | Nov 4, 2010 10:50:31 PM

Student,

This is like Islamic Sharia justice. Stoning her to death would have been more humane than letting her rot in a jail.

I'm willing to bet half of all women on earth have had a 13 year old boy touch their breasts at some point in life And I promise you that kid was not the least bit 'traumatized' or 'required therapy'. I guess the young man and his parents will have to live with that.

It seems as though the actual 'crime' here is the lifelong incarceration of a slightly disturbed woman for a dubious crime.

Where is the petition to overturn her unconstitutional conviction?

Posted by: Fred | Jul 4, 2011 11:47:12 PM

Just out of interest, does anybody know the outcome of the appeal?

(Interested lay reader)

Posted by: dipster | Jun 3, 2013 6:02:28 PM

OK, this post and the comments are a bit out of date, but in reference to this in justice, I would like to add something. A male police officer in the same town in the same state got caught having sex with his 17-year old relative (his daughter from what I understand) because he was filming it and then sharing it. Police found the video of this officer and his "relative" having sex on someone else's computer (I believe I read somewhere that it was a potential burglary suspect maybe) and downloaded it and then arrested him for incest and using a minor to make pornography. He managed to plead guilty to incest, get the pornography charge dropped, and avoid a public trial that would get all of this out in the open. For him, the "mandatory" sentence was supposed to be life in prison with possible parole in TWO years (not ten!), but the judge will allow him to "undergo a pycho-sexual evaluation" and if he is reported to be a low risk for repeat behavior, they will drop prison time altogether and be given probation instead. Now, think about these two cases ... it just doesn't seem anywhere near justice to me. Here is one URL with information about the man's story, I have more for both cases if you want.

http://elkodaily.com/news/local/former-officer-pleads-guilty-hughes-to-be-sentenced-on-incest/article_b93150d6-5942-11e2-9912-001a4bcf887a.html

I am just a musician and computer geek, but this seems like a way unfair way to handle punishment. Thanks! Laz

Posted by: Laz Long | Jun 21, 2013 2:41:56 AM

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