The death of a child

Imagine how you would feel if you found out someone in class with you played a part in the murder of a seven-year-old. At the University of California at Berkeley, students are experiencing just that.

On May 25, 1997, Jeremy Strohmeyer, an 18-year-old from suburban Long Beach, Calif., befriended seven-year-old Sherrice Iverson at the Prima Donna Casino on the Nevada-California line. While the girl’s father was inside gambling, Strohmeyer got the child’s attention with games of hide and seek.

When the girl walked into the women’s restroom, Strohmeyer followed her.

There, according to a statement he gave police, he took the seven-year-old into a toilet stall, removed her boots and underwear and sexually assaulted her.

After he was finished assaulting her, Strohmeyer squeezed the child’s throat and snapped her neck. He left her in the bathroom stall with her feet dangling in the toilet water and just walked away.

Why would anyone do such demonic things to a child?

Because, according to his police confession, he wanted to “experience death.”

Strohmeyer was supposed to have gone to trial last week. But instead of risking a possible death sentence, he pled guilty to murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. He now will spend the rest of his life in prison.

But while Strohmeyer’s actions were inhuman, it is what his friend David Clark did – or rather, what he failed to do – that is cause for moral outrage.

While Strohmeyer was sexually assaulting the child in the bathroom stall, Clark, his 18-year-old sidekick, was in the adjacent stall.

From the next stall, Clark saw the events leading up to the girl’s murder. But he did nothing to stop the attack.

Clark watched as Strohmeyer picked up the 50-pound girl and placed one hand between the girl’s legs and the other over her mouth.

But Clark did nothing.

Clark watched as Strohmeyer carried the struggling girl into the toilet stall.

But Clark did nothing.

In fact, Clark climbed up on a toilet in the adjacent stall to watch Strohmeyer sexually assault the child.

But this time Clark actually did something – he tapped Strohmeyer on the forehead. Several times.

Clark told a grand jury he accidentally knocked off Strohmeyer’s hat and “he looked up at me, kind of in a stare, you know, like he didn’t care what I was saying.”

Then Clark climbed down from the toilet and walked out of the restroom.

After killing the child, Strohmeyer left the restroom and met up with Clark.

“I killed her,” Strohmeyer said.

Clark’s reaction?

He asked if the child had been sexually aroused, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Los Angeles Times later asked Clark if he was upset that his friend Strohmeyer had killed a child.

His answer should be enough to infuriate even the kindest of souls:

“I’m not going to get upset over somebody else’s life. I just worry about myself first. I’m not going to lose sleep over somebody else’s problems. Because I know (Strohmeyer), I feel worse for him. I know he had a lot going for him.”

Sherrice Iverson is dead. Strohmeyer will waste his life in jail. Clark is a sophomore at UC-Berkeley studying to be a nuclear engineer.

Iverson’s mother and other similarly outraged people are demanding Clark be expelled from Berkeley. But Chancellor Robert Berdahl says he can do nothing of the sort because Clark did nothing illegal.

Simply walking away from the place where a crime is being committed breaks no law.

But what Clark did was not about law. When he turned his back on the child as she was being molested by his friend, he turned his back on the basic essence of humanity.

Strohmeyer at least will be spending his days in jail where inmates reportedly give child abusers special attention. Clark, however, faces no punishment.

According to Time magazine, fellow students at UC-Berkeley say they are angry Clark is their classmate, but they won’t do anything more than merely not socialize with him.

Several years ago, a Central Intelligence Agency officer taught at GW as a visiting professor. A big debate ensued about the morality of having someone associated with the CIA and its dark secrets teach impressionable students.

What would our reaction be if someone like Clark came to GW? Would we just shrug off his presence like he shrugged off the memories of the death of a seven-year-old child? Or would we feel some sense of moral outrage?

Clark should not be allowed to continue his studies at Berkeley. He should be shamed out of college. His presence and history should be made known to neighbors when he moves to a new town. He should be made to experience a living purgatory for the rest of his life.

A heartless, soul-less creature deserves nothing less.

-The writer is associate editor of The GW Hatchet.

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