Little Girls in a Sick Society

How sick is this?

An assistant United States Attorney is being held without bail on charges that he flew from Florida to Detroit with the intent of having sex with a 5-year-old girl.

Days before taking the flight, he told the undercover FBI agent posing as the girl’s mother to tell the 5-year-old, “You found her a sweet boyfriend who will bring her presents.” When he got off the plane, he was carrying a Dora the Explorer doll, hoop earrings and petroleum jelly.

Between Aug. 29, when the agent first made contact with him on the internet, and Sept. 12, the “mother” and the man were in contact almost every day. The prosecutor, who described himself as “very much a family man,” assured the mother that the little girl would not need medical attention because “I’m always gentle and loving; not to worry; no damage ever; no rough stuff ever, ever,” and said he was certain of it because “I’ve done it plenty.”

In his MySpace page, according to the criminal complaint, he described himself this way: “I love younger girls. Like everything about you ... how you think, talk, act. I’m very understanding and supportive ... never ever judgmental.”

It also said he liked to “pamper, spoil, change and take care of” girls.

Need I add that he is indeed a family man, married with children, and the community is shocked.

If convicted, he could face life in prison. And should. Does anyone disagree?

Now if that’s sick, perverted and disgusting, as I think we can all agree it is, what do you say about the real life mother who is defending her 12-year-old daughter’s right to front one of the largest fashion shows in the world, wearing women’s clothing?

Maddison Gabriel is 5'7" tall, with blonde hair and blue eyes. At the age of 12 -- just seven years older than the little girl in the first story -- she fits in women’s clothing, and has modeled what have been described in the press as a number of revealing outfits at the Gold Coast Fashion Week in Australia, which chose her as its official ambassador.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Josh Howard, termed the decision “outrageous,” arguing that “we do have to preserve some notion of innocence in our society.”

Not according to the girl’s mother. Michelle Gabriel has denounced the Prime Minister for his comments, and demanded an apology from him.

"I believe the Prime Minister is getting very doddery," she said. "He does not know exactly what 13 and 14-year-old girls are like.... We're trying to get our teenage daughters to act older. I am so happy that I've got a daughter who has got a good head on her shoulders."

Of course Maddison was not chosen for the head on her shoulders, but the body underneath it. Even she knows that. “I believe that I can fit into women's clothes. I can model women's clothes, so I should be able to do it," she said.

What fits is not the issue, in the case of the prosecutor or the model. Standards and ethics are.

A 12-year-old (she turned 13 this week) is not a grown woman. She should not be dressed in women’s clothing. She should not be tarted up as a sex object. If her mother doesn’t want her to be having sex, she shouldn’t be dressing for it. If she doesn’t know that, the rest of us should insist on it.

The sexualization of girls, 12-years-olds as well as 5-year-olds, is deserving of punishment, not modeling contracts.

When my daughter was younger, I used to despair evey time we went clothes shopping. The outfits in the “girls department” weren’t for girls, they were for little women, cut for little women’s bodies, designed to reveal what was not yet there, or not appropriate for showing, even if it was.

Slut-wear is the only word for it; bad enough for women, horrendous for little girls. Now, when I go to the mall, I notice whole stores devoted to selling nothing but that, aimed at the pre-teen set. My daughter is as disgusted as I am, which is not enough to put these stores out of business.

What is wrong with these people? What is wrong with these mothers? Why can’t we let children be children?

Not all of us are trying to get our teenage daughters to act older, if that means acting sexually. If 12-year-olds are dressing like women, and children are dressing like teenagers, where does it end? With a Dora doll and petroleum jelly?

Miss Gabriel, no doubt with her mother’s signature, has signed a lucrative contract and hired a celebrity agent to take advantage of the furor her selection has caused. Hopefully, she’ll avoid chat rooms.

Click here to link to Susan's new book, "Soulless. "

Susan Estrich is the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California. She was Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the first woman President of the Harvard Law Review. She is a columnist for Creators Syndicate and has written for USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

Estrich's books include the just published “Soulless,” “The Case for Hillary Clinton,” “How to Get Into Law School,” “Sex & Power,” “Real Rape,” “Getting Away with Murder: How Politics Is Destroying the Criminal Justice System” and "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women.”

She served as campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' presidential bid, becoming the first woman to head a U.S. presidential campaign. Estrich appears regularly on the FOX News Channel, in addition to writing the “Blue Streak” column for

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