It is often said that in America, we have a “legal system,” not a “justice system.”
Chrystul Kizer, a 19-year-old sexual abuse and trafficking survivor, is learning that the hard way.
According to The Washington Post, Kizer confessed to fatally shooting Randall Volar, burning down his Kenosha, Wisconsin home, and escaping in his car back to her home in Milwaukee.
Volar had been abusing not only Kizer, but at least a dozen other underage girls. Before his death, Volar had been arrested after an unnamed 15-year-old girl called the police from her house and reported that Volar had given her drugs and threatened to kill her.
The girl told police that Volar knew she was underage because, when she suggested he find women his own age, he explained to her why he preferred the bodies of young girls like her.
That 911 call took place on February 12, 2018.
Ten days later, police searched Volar’s cramped, 360-square-foot house. They confiscated laptops, hard drives, and memory cards, as well as several women’s pajamas, bikini bottoms, and underwear.
Volar was arrested and charged with child enticement, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, and second-degree sexual assault of a child, a felony punishable by up to 40 years in state prison.
According to Miriam Falk, a veteran sex crimes prosecutor in Wisconsin, Volar’s charges typically come with massive cash bail. If the accused is particularly wealthy, their bail can be set upwards of $100,000. The fact that Volar’s confiscated tech revealed virtual stacks of video evidence of him abusing underage girls, Falk says, makes the case a “dream” for prosecutors. “That would be a very difficult case to defend,” she told The Post.
But for reasons that are, at this time, appear to be unknown and are certainly indefensible, Volar was released without bail on the same day he was arrested. Volar was told he would be summoned to court but, as the Post indicates, the court summons never came:
Volar spent $20,000 to hire a criminal defense attorney, but three months passed before police sent the case to the district attorney’s office. The file showed what was found in Volar’s house: “hundreds” of child pornography videos, featuring girls who appear to be as young as 12, and more than 20 “home videos” of Volar with underage black girls.
Still, Volar was not taken into custody. No sex crimes case was entered into the Wisconsin court system.
Twelve days later, Volar was dead.
The Post, as well as a growing body of advocates calling for Kizer to be released, suggests that Kenosha police’s fumble was due largely to their erroneous understanding that children like Kizer and Volar’s other victims are consenting “child prostitutes.”
“In the case against Volar, the lead investigator described the 15-year-old who ran from his house as ‘prostituting herself out’ in his report,” the Post notes.
A “child prostitute” doesn’t exist. Neither does “child pornography.” Children who engage in sexual acts with adults are victims. End of story. Had the Kenosha legal system understood this basic fact, or done a little more digging into Volar’s finances, we’d be reporting a very different story today.
According to the Post, an official at Volar’s bank called the police to flag that between November 2017 and May 2018, Volar had almost $1.5 million in transfers “in a pattern of activity the bank associated with human trafficking.”
Still, nothing was done.
Kizer, like many trafficking victims, found her way into Volar’s influence after a life of abuse and neglect at home. Volar, who she said was “nice” to her, took her shopping, and told her she “deserved better,” stood to make obscene profits off of Kizer and other girls’ tragic upbringings.
When Volar bailed Kizer out of jail for an unrelated arrest, he told the girl that she “owed” him certain specific sexual repayment. He then proceeded to sell her for sex to several other men.
The night of Volar’s death, Kizer got into a fight with her abusive boyfriend, who she says bought her a pistol for self-defense. She then went to Volar’s house, where he fed the then-17-year-old drugs and alcohol. When Kizer denied his sexual advances, he reminded her of what she “owed” him.
“I tried to get up, to get away from him but I had tripped, and I fell on the floor, and he had got on top of me,” she told The Post. “And he was trying to like, rip my pants off, my jeans that I had on. … I was, like, wiggling. Cause once me and [Kizer’s boyfriend] had fought, he had tried to pin me down, but I’ll wiggle to get loose.”
Kizer says she does not remember grabbing her gun, but she does remember the “popping” sound it made as she shot him.
After finally confessing to detectives that she shot Volar, Kizer was charged with first-degree premeditated murder. Her bail was set at $1 million.
Prosecution points to social media messages in which Kizer allegedly told her friends she was going to “get [Volar’s] BMW” and that she “didn’t want to kill” anyone else.
Kizer’s case bears a remarkable resemblance to that of Cytonia Brown, a woman who was freed four months ago after serving fifteen years of a life sentence for killing Johnny Michael Allen, the man who was selling her for sex when she was just sixteen.
Although there are laws in place that allow sex trafficking victims to walk free when it can be proven that they had committed their crimes as a result of being abused and trafficked, Judge David P. Wilk ruled that such a defense for Kizer would lead “to an absurd result.”
Wilk ruled that Kizer did not have a valid defense using the law. Kizer’s public defender plans to appeal the ruling, which could delay her jury trial for months.
“Women who are victims of abuse and defend themselves should not be punished for saving their own lives. This is tantamount to a ‘stand your ground’ situation,” said one signatory of the 80,000-name petition to free Kizer. “Free this woman, a minor at the time of the crime, so that justice may prevail.”
“As district attorney, I cannot condone vigilante justice, and when presented with evidence of premeditated murder, I do not believe it is appropriate for prosecutors to weigh the value of the victim’s life,” said District Attorney Michael Graveley in a statement according to The Kenosha News, referring to Volar as the “victim.”
This is absurd. This man abused this girl repeatedly and, when she tried one final act of self-defense, she wound up facing the charges that Volar most certainly should have himself been facing, if not worse.
While Christians can trust that God’s justice will rain down upon the earth on some glorious day in the hopefully not-too-distant future, we know that earthly justice can be an incredibly fallible system and needs to be held accountable when it fails so miserably.
Pray for this heartbreaking situation and for God’s justice to prevail.
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