Awaiting trail, Mr. Parini is still a part of our community under the rule of law. And that's why he needs to be treated, first, as an innocent man.
In America's legal system, the presumption of innocence must be foremost. It is the first legal right of the accused in any criminal trial. Without it, the law breaks down and we become a mob. The burden of proof is now with the FBI. Government prosecutors will have to present compelling evidence to convince the jury.
What that said, this is also not the time to point fingers at school administrators or other teachers for any perceived failures. Yes, parents in Starksboro of Bristol feel violated, but they need to learn more about the FBI's claims. That is why the court will decide this matter.
Since first viewing Alfred Hitchcock's 1957 film "The Wrong Man"-based on a true episode of an innocent man charged for a crime he did not commit-I have found myself being thankful for ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat, the legal idea that you and me are considered innocent until proven guilty.
How this case unfolds will be painful for everyone. If convicted, Mr. Parini could face up to 25 years in prison. If found innocent, he would likely have to endure the side glances and gossip of community members for years to come.
It's worth pausing and extracting what wisdom there is in an ancient and often overlooked Jewish poem, Psalm 109. This psalm has been read for centuries by both the guilty and the innocent. In it can be heard the anguish of victims and the heartbreak of the accused.