By the middle of September, a convicted sex offender will arrive in Iceland. In 1997, Aron Pálmi Ágústsson, who molested a young boy in Texas when he was 13 years old, was arrested, charged, convicted of sexual abuse and sentenced to ten years in prison. Since then, coverage of the case has been decidedly one-sided in Iceland. A great deal of voice was given to Ágústsson, who contended that he was “just playing doctor” with the young boy, and he’s had a considerable number of supporters, including the Church of Iceland who, on their website (www.kirkjan.is), called the drive to free Ágústsson “a human rights battle.” Yet the strongest group clamouring to free Ágústsson is an organization calling itself the RJF Group.
This is RJF Group’s second project; their first was to free former world chess champion and raving anti-Semite Bobby Fischer from a Japanese prison and bring him to Iceland. In fact, while the group contends that “RJF” stands for “Rights, Justice and Freedom,” this also happens to be the initials of Robert James Fischer, another person of questionable character that a small but loud minority was able to bring into this country, to the embarrassment of everyone else.
For the record, Ágústsson is not exactly sitting in prison at the moment; he’s under house arrest.
He goes to high school, gets out to exercise regularly, spends time on the Internet, and has said himself that he’s made a lot of friends in Texas. And while Texas is not exactly world famous for being a bastion of fair and balanced justice, trust me – being under house arrest for child molestation in Texas, USA is getting off pretty light. All the same, RJF Group and others have managed to convince Texas governor Rick Perry to have Ágústsson extradited to Iceland to finish his sentence here.
In all the shouting and chest beating, the voice of Ágústsson’s victim has been all but absent from the discussion here. “Just playing doctor” is probably one of the more common defences that child molesters give for their acts. In addition, I wonder if the church, RJF, or any of Ágústsson’s other supporters have considered the human rights of the victim in this case. Apparently not. I sincerely hope Ágústsson himself never finds himself in the position of having to listen to a group of supporters defend the “human rights” of someone convicted of molesting his own child.
I guess the rights of victims, and their families, have been on my mind a lot lately after having the unfortunate task of investigating the case of US Air Force Airman First Class Ashley Christine Turner’s murder for this issue’s feature. What we uncovered about the Keflavík NATO base’s chain of command’s handling of this case has been very disturbing. My thoughts and my prayers go out to Turner’s family, who contacted The Grapevine themselves and have relied primarily on us for news of the case’s progress, which is tragic – that should be the job of the Keflavík chain of command. Here’s hoping that changes are made at the base that prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.