UPDATE on "Where's Chester?"
While cops still hunt for Chester Arthur Stiles (left), the mother of his alleged rape victim -- a little 7-year-old girl named Madison -- is hardly cutting a sympathetic figure.
It turns out the videotaped rape of her 3-year-old daughter was committed while Madison was left with a babysitter -- possibly the unmolested older girl seen on the video or an adult friend who clearly were not as responsible as a typical mother might like. Mom is believed to have been working her two jobs 6 days a week and living in a friend's apartment when the video was made, but her own lawyer admitted Tuesday that the abuse had likely been going on even before the tape was made. But Mom has no inkling?
While America had been seeing Madison's face on the news for a couple days as cops tried desperately to identify her, Mom was oblivious. Does she notice anything at all?
And when her lawyer was asked if Madison's mother was at least grateful for the news media circulating photos that helped break this case, he replied: "Not really ... there's some things maybe you don't want to know." She would have preferred not to know of the trauma against her daughter? She would have rather just let it pass?
Say what you will about women's intuition, but she apparently had no hint that her child had been raped by a stranger in their midst. Then her distraction from the world around her allows crucial days to pass before police can get Madison's identity, a pivotal development in identifying her rapist.
My heart aches for little Madison, and every day that her rapist roams free my anger grows. But I'm beginning to get a picture of her mother as a disconnected, distracted and desperate woman whose own dysfunctions -- whatever they might be -- put her baby girl in the hands of exploiters.
The rapist must take all the blame -- and I hope there's plenty to be meted out -- for his crime against Madison. But the scant peripheral evidence is suggesting to me that Madison's oblivious mother unwittingly put her at risk, a pathetically common scenario in many molestation cases where predators focus like a laser beam on children whose parents have left them vulnerable to abuse.