It is a sad indictment on society where a Good Samaritan can be charged for thinking about other people.
It’s nothing I haven’t done. You see a couple of teenage girls out in bad weather and you do the neighborly thing and offer them a ride home. But, if you are a male in the Barrington area, such thoughtfulness is ill-advised and, according to the local prosecutor, illegal.
It was during a March 2nd snow storm that the man pictured left, Rodney Peterson, had stopped for gas at a Shell station. While there, he noticed two teen girls leaving.
“I just noticed these girls, that they had no umbrella, no coats or hood or something of that nature and I just felt like I should help,” Peterson recalled.
So, he did what any decent person would do and pulled up to offer them a ride.
“How far do you have to walk?” he asked before one said, “We’re okay,” and signaled him to move along.
The father of three (with a fourth on the way) continued home to his family and thought little of the encounter. That is, until police showed up on his door step a few days later.
He was shocked to learn that, not only had the girls taken down his plate number and reported the incident to police, he was also being charged with disorderly conduct.
What Mr. Peterson may not have known is that his area has suffered from several similar incidents in recent months. This is one reason why police are applauding the 13-year-old girls for their quick thinking, as one girl recorded the plate number in her phone and the other memorized the vehicle’s description, leading to a quick arrest.
Mr. Peterson isn’t blaming the girls, who he says did the right thing. He isn’t even blaming police, who he knows were simply doing their job. He just wants to know why he’s actually being charged with something.
“It really was a good deed, just misinterpreted,” said Peterson’s wife of nearly a dozen years, who is visibly shaken by the charge.
Barrington’s Police Chief, Jerry Libit, is defending the charge, explaining that it is because the girls were “alarmed and disturbed” by the situation, leading me to believe that a woman would not have this problem. It also makes me wonder if this is the best possible barometer for whether or not a charge should be filed.
The chief adds that the proper thing to do when you encounter teen girls who could use a ride is to call police.
Mr. Peterson and his wife, who say they are a Christian couple and are always trying to help others, admit that this situation will force them to think twice about how they help people in the future.
Mr. Peterson is due in court today and faces a maximum penalty of a $750 fine.