Loophole: Fix problem that lets child rapists walk free

In 2010-2011, Ona, W.Va., resident Michael Joe Adkins had sex with an 11-year-old girl, apparently multiple times. He impregnated her. Later, Adkins and his wife, Amanda, forced the girl to have an abortion, in an attempt to cover up the crime.

Adkins will not spend a day in prison for what he did. His now-estranged wife escaped incarceration, too.

How could this happen?

Earlier this month, Cabell County Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell sentenced Adkins to five years’ probation and 50 years of supervision after that. The next day, Amanda Adkins was sentenced to 18 months’ probation and 10 years of supervision.

After sentencing Michael Adkins, Farrell told him this: “I just hope you screw up during those 50 years, then the court can send you to prison — and I’m hoping that’s the case, because you should go to prison for what you did.”

Why aren’t either of the Adkins going to prison?

Apparently, because of a plea agreement reached between the prosecution and Michael Adkins’ defense attorney in 2015. It specified no prison time for the defendant — a deal one circuit judge refused to accept. He removed himself from the case rather than preside over such a miscarriage of justice. His successor, Farrell, apparently had no choice.

Another judge, saying it would be inappropriate to send the former Mrs. Adkins to prison in view of her husband’s big break, settled on probation and supervision for her.

The Adkins’ victim, now 18, was so traumatized that she continues to live in fear, a family member told the judge. No wonder.

West Virginia legislators should close whatever loophole(s) Michael Adkins and his attorney used. Horrific crimes were committed against a helpless little girl.

Yet the punishment, in effect, has been to tell the Adkins to go and sin no more.

Never mind that a man who raped an 11-year-old girl is now free to prey on other children, should he choose to do so.

What about punishment for what he and his then-wife did to one little girl?

Many words come to mind regarding what happened in his case.

Justice isn’t one of them.