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Vasectomy requirement included in man's plea deal

Vasectomy Plea

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Virginia man who has fathered children with several women has agreed to get a vasectomy to knock up to five years off his prison term in a child endangerment case that has evoked the country's dark history of forced sterilization.

None of the charges against Jessie Lee Herald, 27, involved a sexual offense. Shenandoah County assistant prosecutor Ilona White said her chief motive in making the extraordinarily unusual offer was keeping Herald from fathering more than the seven children he has by at least six women.

"He needs to be able to support the children he already has when he gets out," she said, adding that Herald and the state both benefit from the deal, first reported by the Northern Virginia Daily.

Though Herald willingly - if reluctantly, according to his attorney - signed on to the deal, the agreement immediately calls to mind the surgical sterilizations carried out in Virginia and dozens of other states during the 20th century under the discredited pseudoscience called eugenics, said Brandon Garrett, a University of Virginia law professor.

"This takes on the appearance of social engineering," said Steve Benjamin of Richmond, past president of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who said he has never heard of a case like Herald's.

Some 8,000 people deemed genetically inferior or deficient were forcibly sterilized in Virginia from the 1920s to about 1970. Many other states also had eugenics programs but abandoned them after World War II when forced sterilizations became closely associated with Nazi Germany's racial purity efforts.

The movement resulted in the sterilization of tens of thousands of people, primarily the mentally disabled, minorities and the poor. North Carolina, the lone state to offer compensation to victims of its program, is allowing people until June 30 to apply for such payments.

Herald's attorney, Charles Ramsey, and White, the prosecutor, disputed any suggestion that the plea deal for Herald, who is white, has similarities to eugenics.

"I would never agree with that line of thinking. That was nowhere in my thought process," White said.

Said Ramsey, "I understand the comparison, but I don't think it's fair. That's kind of exaggerating it."

Herald, of Edinburg, was sentenced this month to one year and eight months in prison for child endangerment, hit and run , and driving on a suspended license in a crash in which authorities said his 3-year-old son was bloodied but not seriously hurt.

The agreement requires Herald to undergo the operation within a year of being released from prison and prohibits him from having the vasectomy reversed while he is on probation.

Herald will have to pay for the vasectomy, which can cost from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000. Ramsey said the reason for giving his client a year to get the surgery was to give him time to come up with the money.

Charles Herald said he believes his nephew, who has worked as a roofer and in a poultry plant, has financially supported at least some of his children. But he could not say exactly how many there are.

"I don't think even he knows," Charles Herald said.

The Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office declined a request for a telephone interview with Herald, who is in the county jail.

Ramsey said he had an ethical duty to pass along to his client the prosecutor's highly unusual plea offer.

"It was not a no-brainer for him," Ramsey said. "It was a difficult decision. I had some reservations as well, but I don't want to get too much into my opinion of it because it's not my decision."

Benjamin, who said he was speaking in general terms and not about a specific case, said a vasectomy simply should not be a factor in plea negotiations.

"Sentencing conditions are designed to prevent future criminal behavior," he said. "Fathering children is not criminal behavior."

Said Garrett: "There's a question whether certain options should even be on the table."

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diabmang June 23 2014 at 5:51 PM

This guy is NOT being forced to get a vasectomy, he has agreed to it. I can't think of any good reason for him fathering another child and I would imagine he doesn't WANT any more children.

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14 replies
gloriaaddeum June 23 2014 at 6:06 PM

Fathering children you cannot support, and expect your neighbors (i.e., taxpayers) to support them should be criminal behavior. We need to pass laws to make begetting stray children a crime. As this guy's brother said, "He doesn't even know how many he's had." Despicable.

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5 replies
grtsch6134 June 23 2014 at 5:59 PM

too bad this program isn't practiced all over the world...........

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4 replies
nneola June 23 2014 at 6:07 PM

He has a choice if he wants to have this done or not. The innocent babies have no choice of donors.

A year to get this done? Are you kidding me? He could have several more women knocked up by then. Should be done BEFORE he leaves jail.

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6 replies
Beverly Doyle June 23 2014 at 5:42 PM

This is not the same as "involuntary" sterilization, and I concur that he has had far more than his fair share of children already, especially since he probably cannot support that ones he already has. Gimme a break - this one is a slam dunk! I wouldn't mind seeing this kind of item included in many cases for both men and women.

Flag Reply +27 rate up
2 replies
kingofswords72 Beverly Doyle June 23 2014 at 6:52 PM

The biggest reason he might not be able to support his children when he gets out of prison is because it is 3 times as hard for an ex felon to find a job as it is for the average person without any convictions. Granted, he cooked his own goose getting in a hit and run accident without a valid drivers license while having a child in the vehicle (possibly even drunk - which is the main cause of hit and runs) but there was no indication in the article that says at present he was not supporting the children he already has.

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Kate Beverly Doyle June 23 2014 at 7:58 PM

That is a very dangerous way of looking at it. That kind of thinking can easily lead right back to eugenics and the thinking of the Nazis.

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flyingfortresb17 June 23 2014 at 6:13 PM

This has nothing to do with eugenics. It has to do with the fact that like a lot of other men they cannot keep the penis out of another woman's vagina and producing another child. He probably cannot care for the seven he has fathered already. There is the case of a man in Reno doing the same thing but the courts there have yet to deal with his promiscuity.

Flag Reply +17 rate up
1 reply
bigfile4 flyingfortresb17 June 24 2014 at 8:39 AM

I guess these guys prey on women who have had their brains scooped out. Seems like there are plenty out there just lining up to be knocked up by these guys.

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martinezpeter1 June 23 2014 at 5:30 PM

Should have done us all a favor and had him cut off his head instead. This guy doesn't appear to have the capability of supporting one child let alone six.

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1 reply
nneola martinezpeter1 June 23 2014 at 6:05 PM

Which head?

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1 reply
rocker nneola June 23 2014 at 6:43 PM


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Denny June 23 2014 at 5:56 PM

he should be castrated instead!

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2 replies
kingofswords72 Denny June 23 2014 at 7:48 PM

He should be castrated because he drove away from the scene of an accident, without a valid drivers license, with a child in the car? You people only see the fact that he has 7 children and was convicted of a crime that has nothing to do with his having 7 children, not the fact that he hasn't been convicted of child neglect/non-payment of child support. Grow up and grow a pair. I had 5 children when my wife decided to divorce me simply because she didn't love me any more. I had to pay $220 a week in child support for years simply because I made enough money during the relationship to support my family. He shouldn't have left the scene of an accident (more than likely because he was driving on a suspended license) but he shouldn't be punished for the crime he committed because he might not be able to support his children when he gets out of prison. Sounds more like a vindictive, man hating prosecutor than anything else.

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1 reply
scribe2me kingofswords72 June 23 2014 at 9:18 PM

Yes I thought it odd as well. I was thinking the story was going to be he molested a child. This is kind of strange.

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xanadutu Denny June 23 2014 at 11:51 PM

Better than that -- BE-HEADED!!!!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
MICHELLE June 23 2014 at 7:30 PM

"Sentencing conditions are designed to prevent future criminal behavior," he said. "Fathering children is not criminal behavior." --- I have to somewhat disagree with this statement. I believe it is criminal to have so many children and not take care of them.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Mike June 23 2014 at 7:04 PM

The type of women who would date this guy would manage to get pregnant anyway.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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