More than two years after he was first accused, Thomas McGovern finally was convicted last week of repeatedly raping a 6-year-old Huron girl in 2006.
The outcome might have been much different if not for the persistence of the victim and her family. McGovern was almost given a free pass by Erie County officials after he was indicted. The Erie County Prosecutor's office issued a flawed warrant that allowed McGovern to be arrested only if he remained in Ohio. But McGovern was a transplant from California and he high-tailed back west shortly after he was accused.
If the victim's family had not been persistent by calling U.S. marshals, McGovern may never have been arrested. Erie County sheriff's deputies never looked at or attempted to serve the arrest warrant on McGovern. Arresting a child rape suspect was just not a priority for the sheriff's office. Thank God it was a priority for marshals.
The prosecutor's office never offered any explanation of the deficiencies that led to the mishandling of this arrest, and it's not the first one like this that's been lost in the bureaucracy. You can't fix a problem if you refuse to acknowledge it.
The one true hero in this whole sad tale is a tiny girl who was victimized when she was just age 6. She had the courage to tell her story in court and bring about justice. In doing so, she likely saved other girls from the fate that befell her.