Indecent judicial inboxes are about more than just dirty minds

MATT ROURKE / ASSOCIATED PRESS District Attorney Seth Williams (center, pre-weight loss) with Marc Costanzo (left) and Frank Fina.

WE INTERRUPT the latest deluge of disgusting emails coming out of some of the highest offices of our criminal-justice system to point out what should be stunningly obvious:

No amount of sensitivity training can fix a problem this deep.

It's not just about a few guys who like to look at T&A on government computers on the taxpayer's dime. It's about the judgment - or the appalling lack of it - exhibited by people whose very jobs hinge on their . . . wait for it . . . judgment.

Last month, three former state prosecutors - Frank Fina, Patrick Blessington and Marc Costanzo - got spanked for their part of an email chain of sexist, racist, homophobic and pornographic messages when they worked in former Attorney General Tom Corbett's office.

Others previously had gotten the boot from current Attorney General Kathleen Kane for their participation in the sometimes X-rated email exchange. But Philly's ever-merciful District Attorney Seth Williams decided that the three amigos, now employed by his office, would be fine with a little sensitivity training.

Oh, if it only ended there. Today comes my colleague William Bender's latest story (Page 3) about state Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin's indecent inbox that could implicate a circle of judges, state prosecutors, assistant U.S. attorneys and public defenders in what's become known as Porngate.

Seriously, at this rate it probably would be easier to figure out who wasn't sending or receiving this tasteless trash. Give that guy a raise!

It's easy to joke, but the damage here is serious, widespread and lasting.

Can you imagine the insidious culture that allowed this to happen among so many for so long? The emails date back to at least 2009.

Can you imagine putting your faith in the hands of juvenile jokers arrogant enough to think that this unbelievably unprofessional behavior wouldn't come back to haunt them?

Can you imagine being a victim of domestic violence or rape who has to trust the public officials charged with investigating sex crimes who thought it A-OK to swap photos of near-naked college-age women under slogans such as "Drunk college girls, this could become interesting"? (The D.A.'s office alone handles 1,000 sex-crime cases a year.)

You know what's really interesting? A recent national survey commissioned by the Association of American Universities showed that one in four women experience sex assault on campus.

The survey, one of the largest of its kind with 27 colleges and universities participating - including the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh - found that even in the most serious assaults, almost 75 percent of victims didn't report it to law enforcement. One reason was that they didn't think they would be taken seriously.

These demeaning emails among public officials certainly won't do anything to change that perception - not for sex-crime victims or for others who are already cynical of the criminal-justice system, including people of color who didn't fare any better than women in the emails these public officials passed around. One video in Eakin's inbox features a white man calling Mexican day workers "beaners" and "animals." Another portrays blacks who voted for President Obama as welfare recipients and freeloaders.

Arrested development is the least of the problems here, and I'm not just talking about a district attorney who seems more concerned about his pecs than his pervy prosecutors.

"I'd rather not have you asking me these questions, or NOW being mad at me, or the Daily News having a picture of me from before I lost 55 pounds on the front page of the Daily News," Williams told Philly mag's Holly Otterbein in an article explaining the findings of his investigation.

Between the binder full of porn released in August and the latest emails obtained by the Daily News, the sheer volume should make us all wonder how anyone in our judicial system has the time to do their jobs.

But then I viewed one email of 63 slides, titled "Motivational Posters," that made me think that maybe those involved skipped a few because if they hadn't they might have thought twice about continuing this behavior.

In Slide 63, a stern-looking Dr. Phil is shown pointing his index finger with this message:

"You need f---ing help."


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