Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reynolds, the one-time “lotto” winner, faces sex-related charge in Africa

No, one-time member of Congress Mel Reynolds never actually won the Illinois lottery, or any other game of chance.
REYNOLDS: Won't go away!

It’s a reference to Reynolds’ alleged response (which came out during his criminal trial on charges that he had sexual relations with an underage girl) to the idea of getting involved with a Catholic school girl.

WHICH CREATES THE image in all of our minds of an adult male who can’t keep his hands off the young girls. An image that Reynolds seems to have reinforced this week with his arrest in Zimbabwe.

It seems that Reynolds, who represented the Far South Side and surrounding suburbs in Congress from 1993-95, got himself arrested in Harare. Local newspapers reported that Reynolds brought models and other women to his hotel room, where he used his camera to take pictures and video of them.

Technically, he has run up a hotel bill totaling the equivalent of $24,000 since arriving in Zimbabwe back in November. And his visa wasn’t authorized for such a lengthy visit.

But the charge that will draw the international attention will be the pornography possession charge – which is particularly harsh in Zimbabwe because the laws prohibit any kind of material that could be construed as sexually explicit.

FOR ALL I know, this very weblog has published things that could be construed as pornographic – under the standard that is being used in this particular case. Where it is questionable as to how consistently it is enforced by local officials.

A part of me wonders if local officials think Reynolds is trying to get out of paying his hotel bill, and they turned him in to ensure that he coughs up some cash.

A part of me also expects that he’ll spend a couple of days in a jail cell in Zimbabwe, before ultimately being deported from the country.

So much for the idea that he’s some sort of U.S. business executive who is advising other officials in this country about how to make money in Zimbabwe. He’s now going to be the U.S. sex offender who used an African sojourn as an excuse to take dirty pictures.

THE SAD PART of all this is that Reynolds seems to walk right into these incidents. You’d think he’d realize he’s in a life situation where his every miscue is going to get international attention.

We may not really care much about what happens to the one-tie Oxford-educated man who rose to a brief stint in Congress before his downfall in Chicago. But we are the type of people who will gladly use his gaffes to give ourselves a cheap giggle.

Which is what this latest story is about.

Personally, I think the story in and of itself is cheap, and that Reynolds wasn’t a significant enough figure (barely one term in Congress, would we care as much if it were Michael P. Flanagan who got arrested for something?) to deserve to last in our memory so long.

EXCEPT THAT IT allows us to recall his trial in Cook County Circuit Court, where the most interesting aspect was that the girl in question tried to refuse to answer questions about her involvement with Reynolds – which led the state’s attorney’s office to play legal hardball and have her put in jail for a few days for contempt of court; before she finally admitted what the Congressman did to her when she was younger.

There also are those of us of a certain generation who will always get a giggle from the phrase “Peach panties.”

All of which is why it becomes impossible for Reynolds’ memory to wither away into nothingness – which is what we really wish were possible.


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