By on February 10, 2015

DISSTongueRed Top rape: The prosecution rests

The most difficult thing about writing this column is how alienating it can be. After a few years of writing an opinion piece, a journalist doesn’t have many friends left. But Props & Disses and its author are not in the business of making friends, and neither should Teton County Prosecutor’s Office be so inclined.

With all respect to Steve Weichman and the people who work for him, the reduced sentence for Emily Kathryn Yarbrough is a disgrace. The 28-year-old was offered a plea deal and sentenced to 30 days for statutory rape. Thirty days. I’ve had vacations that lasted longer.

I understand the inclination to view sexual battery and assault in a different light when stereotypical gender roles are reversed, and the victim is a consenting male close to the age when he is considered an adult by the state. I am fully aware that sexual relations between two consenting parties are not the same as forcible rape.

Still, the law is the law and it is not up to the prosecution to show compassion to the point of disproportionate leniency. It is the prosecution’s job to aggressively litigate on the public’s behalf in the same manner a defense attorney will fight tooth-and-nail to defend his or her client. Leniency and compassion are matters for a judge or jury. The Prosecutor’s Office has no business being in the mercy business.

Weichman is a caring man. He is a good man. He’s not wrong to feel that Yarbrough’s life would be severely tainted with a felony sexual assault conviction and the resulting damage to her reputation would limit her options in the future. She would be required to register as a sex offender. However, bringing this empathy to work can be detrimental to the state.

Too often Weichman’s office has offered plea deals and reduced sentences. I have accused the office in the past of doing so in order to save taxpayer money by avoiding long and expensive trials. There’s more to it than that, I know, and I don’t believe that is the case here. But whatever the motivation – and especially if it is driven by sympathy – the public is not served when criminals are cut a deal time after time.

Yarbrough was in a position of authority dealing with delicate minors who already are effed up enough to have landed at Red Top Meadows. To take further advantage of these vulnerable wards is unconscionable. How would you feel if you were the parent of a minor who entrusted your child to a facility like this only to learn the professionally trained staff is taking your kid to bed? How would you feel as a parent of a child enrolled in the next school Yarbrough teaches at when her history is wiped clean by the ramifications of Teton County’s wrist slap? And what now of Red Top’s tarnished reputation?

This county was intent to extradite a 94-year-old skeleton on his deathbed for similar crimes committed decades ago. For Yarbrough, who carried on a month-long relationship with a minor just last summer, the county was content with four weeks in jail and an expunged record. Not merely content, but county prosecutors had to work hard to wiggle around state statute to make their benevolence even legal. That’s not acceptable. That’s not justice.

Prosecuting criminals is not only about putting away defendants who take the stand and make the same teary-eyed admissions of guilt and promises to do better. It’s more about the next defendant, and the one after that. Too often they are the same faces sitting in the same courtrooms facing the same crimes because a prosecutor or judge had an attack of compassion.

Soft prosecutors make the job of law enforcement more difficult and dangerous. Our cops are being kicked, punched and sued when they make arrests. Does being tough on crime create overflowing jails and prisons? Too bad. Build more.

We wonder why we have an ever-growing number of heinous crimes being committed. We ask “what’s wrong with society?” while shaking our heads in disbelief at the headlines. What’s wrong is that a 15-year-old caught spray-painting graffiti on a stop sign is given probation. The bookkeeper that skims money off the top of a construction company’s books is handed a reduced sentence for restitution. And a rapist with the responsibility to help rehabilitate a minor who could very well be where he is for sexual assault himself, is meted a paltry punishment more suited for jaywalking. 

About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.


  1. David

    February 12, 2015 at 7:22 am

    A 26 year-old has sex with a ‘minor’. Not sure I care about that aspect of the case even thought it’s the primary focus of attention. People have sex. God didn’t give men & women puberty at that age so that they wouldn’t be interested in sex. Sex is a powerful instinct that traps many into unusual positions. Unlike Mr. Skeleton – or all those Catholic priests, she seemed to have a willing partner. The idea that her charge was in a seriously compromised mental state simply because he was at Red Top seems like a wild exaggeration. Could be. Could be that sex was therapeutic, too. Was it appropriate? No. Her mistake was having a relationship given her employment situation. Red Top’s mistake was hiring her at 26 for a job that is better suited to an older individual. A 26-year-old is rarely mature enough for that position.

    The County Attorney’s mistake was showing once again that there is unequal justice in Teton County. A man, or anyone who the County Attorney deemed uncouth, caught having sex with a girl at Red Top would have taken a different turn. The County Attorney’s decision to give her a ‘pass’, in my mind (with what little knowledge I have of the case), seemed appropriate in her situation. Justice should consider circumstances for all ‘perps’ but not social status. I didn’t get the idea that she was a sexual predator. She might be. It seemed like she was just someone who wanted to have sex and got involved with the wrong person due, mostly, to her employment position. I haven’t talked to the CA or the Judge or the ‘victim’ or the ‘perp’. I have no proof of anything so come to your own conclusion. It may have more value than mine.

    Her ‘record’ will not go away. The internet is here forever, as is her mug shot and news accounts. People make mistakes in life. The Jakes of the World want to hang them all, again and again. Perspective and forgiveness may be appropriate.

    Cops can shoot innocent young men and walk away. That’s a crime. She didn’t kill anybody. Cops have a difficult job – at times – but they aren’t judge and jury fro a reason.

  2. Age of consent

    February 13, 2015 at 7:13 am

  3. Erika

    February 13, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Sounds like you’re a sexual predator yourself, David. Or perhaps you have been “mistreated” by a police officer? Only someone as sick as a pedophile could have the opinion that a perpetrator of sexual assault was perhaps being “therapeutic” by doing so. Only someone as twisted as a criminal themselves would say that cops have a “difficult job AT TIMES.” What is it exactly that you do for a living, Dave? I think you need to take a step back and think very carefully about what YOU’VE just left out for the internet – you are saying that people make mistakes, RAPE MISTAKES, and that cops kill innocent people. You have a severely warped sense of reality going on there, buddy. It’s time to stop posting…

  4. Erika

    February 13, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Hey, sorry, I forgot to give you props on a great article, Jake!

  5. Pappy

    February 18, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Clearly, you have a problem understanding comments, Erika. Perhaps you were raped and abused by an evil woman at a mental health treatment center and you’re projecting your troubling experience onto to every situation.

    Stephen E. Weichman. Teton County and Prosecuting Attorney, had no problem thinking you & Jake are wrong. Why are you right? Lay it out. Prove your case since you are so certain Stevie got it wrong.

  6. Proof in the pudding

    February 18, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Add Red Top & the Judge to the folks who disagree with Jake and Erika.

  7. First Time

    February 20, 2015 at 6:59 am

    •Fewer than 2% of adolescents have had sex by the time they reach their 12th birthday. But adolescence is a time of rapid change. Only 16% of teens have had sex by age 15, compared with one-third of those aged 16, nearly half (48%) of those aged 17, 61% of 18-year-olds and 71% of 19-year-olds. There is little difference by gender in the timing of first sex.

    •On average, young people have sex for the first time at about age 17, but they do not marry until their mid-20s.[3] This means that young adults may be at increased risk for unintended pregnancy and STIs for nearly a decade or longer.

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