This is a contemporary American story if ever there was one; if only because it’s hard to imagine it occuring at any other time in American history.
It says a lot about America today–what it says is up for grabs.
“Sex Offender Seeking Seat on School Board”
A Horatio Alger story–kinda–from the Denver Post:
A Delta school board candidate says his criminal record has been overstated publicly and is relevant only because it shows he overcame daunting barriers to become successful.
Dale Haag, 48, is a registered sex offender who also was convicted of starting a fire in Sioux Falls, S.D., that killed two women when he was 17. But a supporter said Haag’s rough start in life makes him uniquely qualified to be a board member of the Delta County Joint School District.
Haag, who is very open about his past, is undeterred by an onslaught of bad publicity and said he will not change his focus of strong discipline and encouraging more parental involvement.
“I’ll tell you up front, I’ve got zero to hide,” he said.
He turned out the way he did – going to 10 juvenile correctional homes and institutions before burning a Sioux Falls halfway house on Oct. 23, 1977, when he was 17 – because he didn’t get the discipline he needed, he said.
Kids need to be told: “You need to sit down and shut up and read,” he said.
Haag said he was angry at the world when he intentionally left a lit cigarette in a couch at the halfway house, intending to destroy the furniture but not kill anyone.
“The next thing I know, people were screaming and everything was crazy,” he said.
At first he was praised as a hero because he helped people escape the blaze, he said. But days later, he failed a lie detector test and was charged with murder.
Haag, who is a salesman, was released from a South Dakota prison in the early 1980s and became a health care aide at Hope Haven, a group home in Doon, Iowa, in the mid-1980s, he said.
He was convicted of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse after he touched a 19-year-old developmentally disabled woman at the group home for the disabled.
The plucky candidate explains his sexual offender conviction thusly:
“I pinched her in the boob and patted her on the butt. It was a flirtatious situation. She knew what she was doing,” Haag said. “It was blown way out of proportion.”
Haig had at least one support, a mother of two.
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