Former ABC weathercaster Heidi Jones was sentenced yesterday to 350 hours of community service for her misdemeanor plea to filing a false police report last year in which she lied about being sexually assaulted in New York's Central Park and specifically identified her imaginary attacker as a middle-aged Hispanic male. This is in stark contrast to the certain hard jail time that would face her attackers if they were found guilty of the accused crimes.
There is a bright side. The diligence of New York Police Department detectives in uncovering and pursuing inconsistencies in the accuser's story helped prevent innocent men from being falsely accused, arrested and convicted. And at the very least, while this commentator criticizes the Manhattan District Attorney's decision to make and accept a generous no-jail plea deal for a crime equivalent to perjury -- for which people from Barry Bonds to Martha Stewart have faced or served prison time in the federal system for perjury charged as obstruction of justice -- it should be recognized that, sadly, in many jurisdictions no prosecution would have been brought or even considered for this crime.
Where the Hispanic and Latino community organizations and bar associations -- which have been publicly silent -- stand on this shameful action is and remains a mystery.
Eric Dixon is a New York investigative lawyer who runs often in New York's Central Park and fits the profile of the imaginary accuser.