For a locality that consistently pats itself on the back for how well-educated and affluent it is, I've never been very impressed by the political leadership of Montgomery County. That's particularly true of a string of district attorneys there -- who race to KYW with a glowing press release every time they arrest some Joe Blow but aren't so big on prosecuting the powerful or the politically connected.
Still, none of that prepared me for the unbearable lameness of being that has been current DA Risa Vetri Fermanover the last 24 hours, in the wake of the horrific pedophile murder of a 9-year-old girl (and my condolences to her family and loved ones for an incomprehensible loss) and questions about her earlier encounter with the 25-year-old scumbag alleged killer. Which is worse -- the failure of police or prosecutors to do more after the first report or Ferman's inadequate and bloodless explanation of what happened?
The girls went willingly, but when they saw the pictures, when Troutman offered to show them his "bird," and when they realized that he had locked the apartment door behind them, they ran away and told their parents, according to court documents.
Police said that they responded and interviewed Troutman, but they never charged him with any crime.
Yesterday, Troutman, 24, was charged with the most heinous of crimes - the rape, beating and murder of a child whose tiny, broken body he allegedly discarded in a Dumpster behind their apartment building on Monday.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said yesterday that no crime occurred on April 18 that rose to the level of filing charges and that Troutman had no criminal history that would have led police to suspect that he was capable of something more sinister.
"It's one of those situations where everyone did what they were supposed to do, and, unfortunately, we couldn't prevent the death of a child," Ferman said.
First of all, I can't believe Ferman was so coldly dismissive of the idea that maybe law enforcement could have done more here. We live in the era of Megan's Law, where many public schools won't let a stranger in the front door without checking his driver's license against the pedophile data base, and also we all know that a prosecutor -- in the famous words of New York judge Sol Wachtler -- could indict a ham sandwich if she wanted to. But a society that is so harsh toward past pedophiles couldn't do anything proactive against a man who locked a door and showed two little girls dirty pictures and tried to show off his private parts? This doesn't add up. And Ferman (along with Souderton's suddenly mute chief of police) needs to explain herself here. Or else.
Or else what?