Well, this is quite simply an appalling story. Robert H. Richards IV, an heir to the du Pont fortune, was convicted of raping his then three-year-old daughter and given only probation for the crime, because, as the female Superior Court judge wrote in her decision, “Defendant will not fare well in Level 5 [prison] setting.”
Judge Jan Jurden suggested that Richards would benefit more from treatment rather than prison time, but while it’s not unheard of for a judge to make that call, usually it’s done when sentencing drug addicts not child rapists. Defense attorneys have also been known to argue against prison time for clients who are frail or ill, but Richards is reportedly in fine health. Listen, I’m all for prison reform and making the living conditions inside meet a certain safety standard, but last time I checked, child rapists shouldn’t get off with just probation because prison isn’t pleasant. WTF is going on here? Keep reading »
Earlier today, Zerlina Maxwell, a feminist writer and political analyst, was inspired to start the Twitter hashtag #RapeCultureIsWhen in response to both TIME magazine and RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) claiming that feminists have overhyped the existence and impact of rape culture.
Last week, RAINN made their recommendations to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and for some reason decided to make a point of deemphasizing the impact of rape culture, writing:
In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campus. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important not to lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.
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In college, I was part of a tight-knit group of young women. There were five of us in the core group. Two were roommates and their room, 513, was our central meeting place. There was a lack of formality when it came to hanging out. It was totally normal to walk right in if the door to 513 wasn’t locked and downright mandatory to stop by if it was propped open. We were honest and comfortable with each other.
Or so I thought.
Rape doesn’t happen the way you think it will. I wasn’t drunk or drugged at a party, no one jumped me after dark while walking home alone; the attack didn’t even start as being physically rough. It was slow, insistent, and shocking. My rape was terrifying, uncomfortable, and incredibly confusing. The physical pain was as bad as the betrayal; the psychological injury of living in the same building as the rapist almost ended me entirely, but I still had my friends, I reasoned, so I was able to keep going with my collegiate career. Keep reading »
I feel for BuzzFeed writer Jessica Testa. While our blog may not get the massive traffic that BF does, I’ve still experienced brief bouts of hundreds of people being furious with me because I wrote something that genuinely held no ill-intent. I think that no matter how obvious it is that the Internet is full of millions of humans who disagree with you–who can and will let you know that in a heartbeat–it is still stressful when your words become a source of both brief and lengthy critical thought. Read more on The Gloss…
Trigger warning: this video and the text below contain accounts of rape and sexual assault.
On last night’s “Nightline,” three of Bikram Choudhury’s five sexual assault accusers bravely came forward to talk about the horrors they suffered at the hands of the yoga guru. Honestly, I had read about the charges, but the first-hand accounts were far more disturbing than I imagined. As a newly minted yoga teacher and a long-time yogi, these women’s stories rocked me to the core. To think of a practice that has been such a positive influence in my life being perverted by the most disgusting form of victimization is gut wrenching. As Sarah Baughn, the first woman to come forth in the media with her charges, says, “My daughter one day looked at me and said…’Mommy I want to be just like you. I want to be a yoga teacher.’ And all I could think was, ‘You can’t do that. You’ll get raped.’” Keep reading »
Frat-house accidents and sexual assaults are getting so common they’re impossible to ignore—but how did it get this bad, and why does it keep happening? In an extensive Atlantic piece, Caitlin Flanagan looks at the history of fraternities and their myriad ways of avoiding legal obligations for what goes on behind closed doors. Read more on Newser…
An 89-year-old woman is suing a Minnesota nursing home for punitive damages because she was forced to spend 72 hours in a mental health unit after she reported that she was raped by 30-year-old Andrew Scott Merzwski. According to court documents, the woman was a resident at Edgewood Vista senior living facility near Duluth the night that Merzwski entered her room as she was preparing for bed and began taking off his clothes when she invited him to stay and watch a movie. Though she refused his advances, Merzwski later admitted to having sex with her after the victim’s daughter called the police. Merzwski was eventually sentenced to 53 months in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for a period of 10 years.
But the remaining issue is Edgewood Vista’s egregious mishandling of the crime, which included not only failing to report the crime to police immediately, but mistreating the victim. After the elderly victim reported the rape, Edgewood Vista responded by sending her to a psychiatric ward at St. Luke’s Hospital for nearly three days, where, according to the nurse who eventually examined her, she was locked in a cold room with nothing but a blanket. When nurse examiner Theresa Flesvig finally was able to do a physical examination, she found the “biggest tear” as a result of rape that she had ever seen in her career. Keep reading »