There’s no defense for rape. And there’s no defense for defending rape — be that minimizing the crime, blaming the victim or focusing so exclusively on the perpetrators that the victim is rendered invisible, as in CNN’s coverage of the Steubenville guilty verdict. As I read over the case, the verdict, the media response and the backlash to it, I feel sick and I feel sad. Like the rest of you, I want these boys to be made to understand exactly what they did. I want everything that was taken from the victim to be restored to her, somehow. There is no defense for the crime of rape.
There is, however, a good argument against sex offender registries. Keep reading »
UPDATE: It turns out MSNBC and CNN also did not bleep out the victim’s name when showing clips of Trent Mays’ statement in court yesterday. I’ve changed the title of the post to reflect that and my ire at Fox News in the text below is now directed at them as well. Additionally, I have pulled the video from my previous post about CNN for the time being, as I believe at one point in the eight minute segment, you can hear Mays use her name. I’ll try to replace the video with a version where her name is bleeped out ASAP.
To quote my good friend Ice T, Fox News can eat a hot bowl of dicks. The conservative news network has rightfully come under fire today for airing the name of the accuser in the Steubenville rape case, which concluded yesterday with a guilty verdict for both of young men accused. During yesterday’s sentencing, both Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were given the opportunity to apologize and plead for leniency. “I would truly like to apologize to [redacted], her family, my family and the community. No picture [of the rape] should have been sent around, let alone even taken.” Those who were watching the proceedings on the live feed could hear the name, but TV news networks are typically expected to bleep out a rape victim’s name, as it is considered journalistically unethical to reveal the identity of those who have come forward with sexual abuse and assault allegations, given the stigma associated with such crimes. This is particularly true when the accuser is a minor, as Jane Doe in the Steubenville case is. Print news outlets have followed the same protocol.
Yet in a segment today, Fox News [UPDATE: And CNN and MSNBC] showed Mays’ apology and did not bleep out the victim’s name. Jane Doe has already been the target of harassment in her community — revealing her identity on national news opens her and her family up to further harassment and threats. It is absolutely unconscionable that Fox News would expose Jane Doe’s identity, adding further injury to what has already been a deeply traumatic experience, one that the teen has faced with more bravery than I could imagine. Keep reading »
UPDATE : Okay, I’ve put the video back, in two parts, minus Trent Mays’ testimony.
UPDATE: I have pulled the video from this post for the time being, as I believe at one point in the eight minute segment, you can hear Mays use the victim’s name. I’ll try to replace the video with a version where her name is bleeped out ASAP. Further info on how Fox News, MSNBC and CNN did not bleep out the victim’s name here.
Yesterday morning, I watched with knots in my stomach as the Steubenville rape verdict was delivered. The evidence — including three key eye witness testimonies, photographs and incriminating text messages — against Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond was vast and it seemed hard to imagine that Judge Tom Lipps wouldn’t convict. Because there was so much evidence that physical contact had occurred between the victim (Jane Doe) and the defendants, the defense focused on trying to prove that while the victim was drunk, she wasn’t so drunk that she couldn’t consent to these acts. Therefore, the verdict in this case, which has drawn international attention, would do much to define when consent can be given in the eyes of the law. And given that this is hardly an isolated incident in one small football-loving town — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine emphasized that rape is a societal problem that is happening in towns and cities all across this country and the world — the decision in this case would be sending a clear message to victims and perpetrators far and wide.
Luckily, Judge Lipps rendered a guilty verdict on all three charges, sentencing Mays to a minimum of two years served consecutively and Richmond to a minimum of one year. At maximum, both could serve time in jail until they are 21. Both will have to register as juvenile sex offenders. Considering the pair could have been tried as adults and thus could have faced much harsher sentences, Judge Lipps ignored their parents’ and attorneys requests for further leniency, saying the sentences were practically a slap on the wrist.
That didn’t stop CNN, however, from being all torn up about it.
Keep reading »
***Trigger warning in video for simulated rape***
This week began the trial of Trenton Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, two teenaged boys in Steubenville, Ohio, who were charged with the rape and kidnapping of a 15-year-old girl at a high school party this August. The boys are members of the Steubenville High School football team, local celebrities in a football-obsessed culture. Other members of the team witnessed the alleged sexual assault by Mays and Richmond of the girl, who was blackout drunk and vomiting on herself. Partygoers snapped pictures of her being carried around by her arms and legs and tweeted and texted pics of her degradation; another student at the party filmed a video where he joked about the “dead girl.”
Ever since the Steubenville rape began getting press coverage, the former porn star Traci Lords has been vocal about the local culture’s misogynistic culture. She herself was raped in Steubenville at age 10 by a 14-year-old boy. Yesterday, Lords, who is now a musician, released a song called “Stupidville” — a slang term for the town that the locals use — about sexual assault. Keep reading »
A new defense secretary has just been confirmed and already he has a big issue to address: sexual assault in the military. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Full disclosure: I used to work in her office), and Senator Janeane Shaheen (D-NH) recently sent a letter requesting Chuck Hagel immediately review a decision by an Air Force Lieutenant General to dismiss all charges against an officer who had been convicted of sexual assault.
Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson, a fighter pilot, had been charged with aggravated sexual assault on former colleague Kimberly Hanks at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Hanks had been socializing with Wilkerson and his wife at their home and stayed the evening in their guest bedroom; in the middle of the night, she woke up to find Wilkerson on top of her. He was found guilty and sentenced to a year in the brig (AKA military prison). But he never served any time in prison because his superior, Lieutenant General Craig A. Franklin, dismissed the jury’s conviction and reinstated him. Senators Boxer and Shaheen and others are rightfully concerned that a troop charged with sexual assault was let off scot-free.
Keep reading »