It's a black eye on an entire justice system that should turn all of our stomachs.

A litany of high-profile cases in recent weeks and months show just how badly our Region's justice system can minimize crimes against women:

  • A suspect facing trial in connection with a brutal sexual assault was allowed to post bond and then broke free from authorities by cutting off an electronic monitoring bracelet.
  • A scant $2,500 bond set a low bar of freedom for a 41-year-old man accused of fondling a 14-year-old girl.
  • Dozens of untested rape kits were tossed on police evidence shelves, essentially discarding some victims' claims of the most heinous sex crimes imaginable.
  • A former public official, twice convicted of beating women in separate domestic violence cases, walked free and allegedly assaulted another woman last week.

We've seen woeful examples of authorities and society minimizing crimes against women throughout our country.

A new public spotlight on that good-old-boy culture of victim shaming helped launch the #MeToo movement in 2017.

Look no further than Northwest Indiana's justice system for more glaring examples of deplorable trends.

The latest example came Tuesday when the Porter County courts set bond for jail inmate Joshua Johnson, 41, of Highland.

Johnson is charged with felony counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, child solicitation and sexual battery for an incident that occurred at a children's slumber party.

A 14-year-old girl said she was sleeping on a basement couch at her friend's Washington Township residence when she awoke to Johnson fondling her and trying to kiss her.

The girl rolled over and feigned going back to sleep, hoping to make it stop, police said. But the abuse reportedly progressed, including Johnson allegedly proposing to perform a sex act with the child.

The frightened child texted her father, desperately seeking help, police said. Her father called police, and an alleged predator was taken into custody.

It's a text that no child should ever have to send.

It's a message that no loving father should ever have to receive.

Now the culprit charged with orchestrating the horror can easily buy his freedom from jail with a $2,500 cash bond, pending trial.

The horrid examples of a system that seems to shrug off crimes against women didn't begin or end there.

Last week, we all learned former Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington, now a candidate for Gary City Council, was charged with five felonies for assaulting his girlfriend, Gary City Councilman LaVetta Sparks-Wade, in the Glen Park home they shared.

Those felony charges followed an alleged 16-hour period in which Washington is accused of beating Sparks-Wade and holding her captive.

The recent allegations came just weeks after Washington was convicted of misdemeanor battery in his second case of domestic violence in as many years.

In 2016, Washington pleaded guilty to battering his wife. Late last year, he was convicted of battering his cousin in a separate domestic case.

He served no real jail time in either conviction, and he was free to become embroiled in allegations of beating another woman, Sparks-Wade, last week.

In an unrelated case last month, we learned Elias Costello, 19, of East Chicago, was allowed to post bond and was released from jail pending trial in connection with an alleged July 18 home invasion and gang rape in Hammond.

Costello is accused of conspiring with his girlfriend, Alexis M. Lietz, 20, and two of his friends to break into Lietz's family's home in Hammond.

According to court records, Nathaniel J. Asbury, 21, and Isiah Barboza, 16, raped Lietz's 19-year-old relative at gunpoint during the burglary.

Costello is accused of holding the victim down and groping her during the assault.

Today, he is running free after posting bond and cutting away an electronic monitoring bracelet that was supposed to track his movements, police said.

In yet another embarrassment, many Times readers will remember a rash of untested rape kits — evidence collected by police departments following sexual assault claims — that were allowed to stack up in police evidence lockers in the Region and throughout the state.

In Lake County, a newly formed special victims unit in the prosecutor's office is doing an admirable job of trying to sift through and bring some of these cases to justice.

But it should never have gotten to the point in which a special victims unit was needed.

What is it going to take for our justice system to take crimes against women seriously?

It's up to all of us to remind our police, judges, prosecutors and others just how seriously we take it.

Our wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters and mothers deserve so much better.

© Copyright 2019,, Munster, IN