An Irish American sex offender has been spared extradition to the United States by a British judge who has no faith in the US judicial system.
“America’s most wanted pedophile” as the Daily Mail described him, Shawn Sullivan, fled to Ireland 20 years ago after being charged with raping a 14-year-old girl and molesting two boys in Minnesota.
Now 43, Sullivan was also accused of assaulting two girls in Ireland in 1997 but fled to London after receiving a suspended sentence where police finally caught up with him in June 2010.
Fox News reports that although he did time in Wandsworth Prison for crimes in Britain, a British judge turned down a request from U.S. authorities to have him brought to justice on American soil.
The judge justified his decision on his belief that the U.S. policy of committing repeat child molesters to civil confinement - where they are kept off the streets even after completing prison terms - is too barbaric.
The Fox News report claims that Sullivan is a fugitive and accused pedophile and a poster child for a European judicial system that often would rather let criminals roam their streets freely than see them subjected to American justice.
He served time in England but has escaped the charges in America after an extradition request was refused.
Lord Justice Moses of England’s High Court of Justice said in his ruling in June of last year: “Minnesota’s law is said to be more Draconian than many others.
“It is clear to me that were an order of civil commitment to be made, it would be a flagrant denial of this appellant’s rights.”
Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who is now managing director of Kroll Advisory Solutions, told FoxNews.com that European courts are increasingly shielding criminals from U.S. penalties they consider too harsh.
Cramer said: “The European courts are starting to view U.S. courts as being so Draconian that it violates human rights.
“They’ve always felt this way pertaining to death penalty cases, but now we are seeing it more in fraud and sexual abuse cases.”
The Fox News report says that Sullivan’s case is one of several instances in which European courts have substituted their idea of justice for America’s without regard for extradition agreements.
The report highlights the following cases:
- In November, Moses denied extradition for former Iranian Ambassador Nosratollah Tajik, who was arrested in London in a 2006 international sting operation conducted by U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents. After six years of delays, Moses discharged Tajik, who was trying to smuggle night vision goggles to Iran, saying extraditing him to the U.S. could hurt relations between the UK and Iran and endanger embassy staff in Tehran.
- A month earlier, Great Britain’s high court also blocked extradition of alleged hacker Gary McKinnon to the U.S., where he is accused of hacking into NASA and Pentagon computers. The ruling cited McKinnon’s battles with Asperger’s Syndrome and depression in determining that imprisonment in the U.S., where he faced up to 70 years in prison, could constitute a violation of his human rights. He is now free.
- In perhaps the most high-profile case of a European court denying U.S. access to a fugitive whose crimes were committed on American soil, filmmaker Roman Polanski avoided extradition from France on charges he raped a 13-year-old girl more than three decades ago. Swiss authorities finally nabbed him in 2010 at the request of U.S. prosecutors, but when it came time to send him to the U.S. to face justice, a judge there overruled it, citing a technicality.
The report adds that under the rule of non-inquiry, nations that have extradition agreements typically are not supposed to second-guess one another on procedures and due process.
Bruce Zagari, an attorney with Washington-based firm Berliner Corcoran & Rowe who specializes in international white collar crime including extradition issues, explained the anomaly to FoxNews.com.
He believes that the policy of civil confinement and the U.S. policy toward detainees at Guantanamo Bay has prompted this new attitude from European judges.
As a result Sullivan, who has been accused of molesting children on two continents and married a British Ministry of Justice worker while in prison, can now roam free so long as he stays out of the U.S.
Zagari said: “The British court has nevertheless denied the U.S. extradition request because of its concern that, if returned, Sullivan would not receive fair treatment because the Minnesota civil commitment program for sex offenders could deprive him of his freedom and fundamental rights if the UK was to extradite him.”
Cramer still believes Sullivan should be brought to justice in the U.S.
He added: “I think any rational person would say that he Sullivan should come back. After all, he absconded.”