Matt C. Abbott
Mississippi burning again; teens and birth control
By Matt C. Abbott
April 11, 2015

Some far too lenient prison sentences were handed down in Mississippi on April 9.

From an FBI press release:
    The Justice Department announced today [April 9] that Shelbie Brooke Richards, 21, of Pearl, Mississippi, and Sarah Adelia Graves, 22, of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Jackson for their roles in a federal hate crime conspiracy involving racially motivated assaults, culminating in the death of James Craig Anderson, an African-American man, in the summer of 2011. Richards had previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of misprision for her role in the conspiracy and the cover-up. Graves previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for her role. Richards was sentenced to 96 months in prison and Graves was sentenced to 60 months in prison. A restitution hearing will be set for a later date.

    Six other defendants in related cases, Deryl Paul Dedmon, 22, John Aaron Rice, 22, Dylan Wade Butler, 23, Jonathan Kyle Gaskamp, 22, and Joseph Paul Dominick, 23, all of Brandon, Mississippi, and William Kyle Montgomery, 25, of Puckett, Mississippi, were previously sentenced to 600 months, 220 months, 78 months, 48 months, 48 months, and 224 months, respectively, for their roles in the conspiracy. Two other defendants involved in related cases – John Louis Blalack, 21, and Robert Henry Rice, 24, both of Brandon, Mississippi – are awaiting sentencing....

    In prior court hearings, the defendants had admitted that beginning in the spring of 2011, they and others conspired with one another to harass and assault African Americans in and around Jackson. On numerous occasions, the co-conspirators used dangerous weapons, including beer bottles, sling shots and motor vehicles, to cause, and attempt to cause, bodily injury to African Americans. They would specifically target African Americans they believed to be homeless or under the influence of alcohol because they believed that such individuals would be less likely to report an assault. The co-conspirators would often boast about these racially motivated assaults.

    Richards and Graves admitted their involvement in two racially motivated assaults, including the beating and killing of James Craig Anderson. Specifically, they admitted that in the early morning hours of June 26, 2011, they and five other co-conspirators agreed to carry out their plan to find, harass and assault African Americans. At around 4:15 a.m., Montgomery, John Aaron Rice, Blalack, and Butlers drove to west Jackson in Montgomery's white Jeep with the understanding that Richards, Graves and Dedmon would join them a short time later.

    At approximately 5:00 a.m., the four occupants of the Jeep spotted Anderson in a motel parking lot off Ellis Avenue. They decided that Anderson would be a good target for an assault because he was African-American and appeared to be intoxicated. Rice and Blalack got out of the Jeep to distract Anderson while they waited for the Richards, Graves, and Dedmon to arrive. After Richards, Graves and Dedmon arrived in a Ford F250 truck, Rice and Dedmon physically assaulted Anderson. After the assault, the four occupants of the Jeep left the motel parking lot in the Jeep. Dedmon then deliberately used his truck to run over Anderson, causing injuries which resulted in Anderson's death. Richards initially falsely told law enforcement officials that she did not know the reason for the assault and did not encourage Dedmon to hit the victim with the truck. Richards later admitted that she knew that the assault was racially motivated and that she and Graves encouraged Dedmon to commit the fatal assault.
The perpetrators who were sentenced to only a few years in prison for this heinous crime should have been given far lengthier sentences.

From Healthline News (April 7):
    The number of teen pregnancies in the United States continues to drop, but health officials say more can be done to increase use of the most effective forms of birth control.

    Officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Tuesday that 90 percent of teens say they used birth control the last time they had sex.

    While that's a promising number, Ileana Arias, principal deputy director at the CDC, says teens are still mostly relying on condoms and birth control pills, two of the least effective methods.

    The most effective kind, the CDC reports, is long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), which includes implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
I asked Brian Clowes, Ph. D., director of research and education for Human Life International, to comment on the story.

Dr. Clowes' response is as follows:
    This article credits the huge drop in teen pregnancy to increased use of long-acting reversible contraceptives, or LARCs. But the numbers don't add up, so the headline is incredibly misleading. The article admits that 'teens are still mostly relying on condoms and birth control pills, two of the least effective methods.' It also says that LARC use among teens has increased from almost nothing in 2005 to 7 percent in 2013. This single factor cannot possibly account for the magnitude of the drop in teen pregnancy we are witnessing.

    What must be a large factor is one that the family planners do not like to acknowledge: a significant increase in teenagers practicing abstinence. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of teens aged 15 to 17 who have never had sex increased from 63 percent to 73 percent among girls during the time period 1988 to 2010, and the figures for boys 50 percent to 72 percent. No other factor could logically lead to a large decrease in teen pregnancy.

    Regardless of what role LARCs play in this trend, we do not see any mention of their incredibly long list of side effects, some of them deadly (just Google 'Highlights of Prescribing Information' for any of the methods to read this list). But even LARCs can fail, especially with teens. As we have always said, the best way to stay healthy and to avoid unwanted pregnancy is to wait until marriage to become sexually active. It tells us a great deal about our modern 'sex educators' and the public health establishment that such common sense is considered so controversial.
© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 'Unsolved' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other media outlets. In 2005 and 2006, he was among the first writers to expose former cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of power with and sexual harassment of seminarians. He can be reached at

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