Amari Dean, who was 17 when the abuse occurred, was given a deferred judgment and probation. That did not sit well with about two dozen others in the courtroom who are the victim’s relatives and friends of the family. The judge called for back-up and the father of the three-year-old victim was among those ordered to leave the courtroom.
“Things need to change,” the child’s father said outside the courthouse, his voice wavering with emotion. “Through this whole process, we felt like we were the ones that were the criminals — from all the police guards here yelling at us or trying to calm us down and the attitudes we’ve had towards us. No little girl deserves to go through this.”
The girl’s father said Dean should have been sent to prison.
“Our justice system proves that it’s o.k. to do this to do these things to a three-year-old that can’t speak,” he said. “My daughter was deaf until she was two and when she was three, she’d only been speaking for a year — and he chose his victim.”
Several officers from the Woodbury County Sheriff’s office and the Sioux City Police Department were summoned to the courthosue to deal with the disturbance. Woodbury County Deputy Deputy Cliff Moodie was in the courtroom and responsible for taking Dean from the county jail to the court hearing.
“Understandably, the family was upset and so, out of an abundance of caution, we called in more officers to make sure that things didn’t get out of hand,” Moodie said. “There were no assaults, no physical alteractions…just a lot of comments back and forth to let us know they were displeased with the verdict, but other than that, everything did go very peacefully.”
Dean was escorted out of the courthouse by authorities.
(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)