Shawn Sullivan is a fugitive and accused pedophile, and to some, he's also a poster child for a European judicial system that often would rather let criminals roam their streets freely than see them subjected to American justice.
Nearly 20 years ago, Sullivan, who is now 43, fled to Ireland after being charged with raping a 14-year-old girl and molesting two boys in Minnesota. Sullivan, who had dual citizenship, was accused of assaulting two girls in Ireland in 1997, but fled to London, where police finally caught up with him in June 2010. Although he did time in Wandsworth Prison for his crimes in the United Kingdom, when U.S. authorities sought to have him brought to justice on American soil, a British judge refused.
The reason: The U.S. policy of committing repeat child molesters to civil confinement -- where they are kept off the streets even after completing prison terms -- was deemed too barbaric.
"Minnesota’s law is said to be more Draconian than many others,” Lord Justice Moses of England’s High Court of Justice said in his ruling
in June of last year. "...it is clear to me that were an order of civil commitment to be made, it would be a flagrant denial of this appellant’s rights."