Weirdness of the Day: Man Pleads Guilty to Offering Teens a Ride

Hi Readers — A bunch of you have been sending in this story, about an Illinois man who offered a lift to two 13-year-old girls. He just pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. According to The Daily Herald, the local newspaper in suburban Chicago where the incident took place:

An Arlington Heights man pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor disorderly conduct for alarming two 13-year-old girls in Barrington by offering them a ride home March 2, police said.

But Rodney T. Peterson, 33, continued to proclaim his innocence afterward, saying he agreed to a sentence of two years’ supervision and $400 fine so that legal proceedings would not hold up his family’s planned move from the Chicago area next month.

As far as I’m concerned, it should not be against the law to offer anyone a ride, otherwise we are outlawing human kindness on the assumption that any Good Samaritan is possibly a very bad Samaritan. It is the very definition of Worst First Thinking: “He’s nice to kids? PERVERT!”

On the other hand, I think the girls were very smart not to get into his car. That’s exactly the advice I give my own kids: You can talk to strangers, you cannot go off with strangers.

Did the man take the plea because he’s innocent and wanted to avoid further Kafka-esque twistings? Or was he actually guilty of evil intent and took the plea to get off light?

I really have no idea. To me, the biggest issues are the ones I stated above: Do not outlaw interactions between adults and kids, and DO teach your kids not to get into anyone’s car. – L.