This is a breaking news story.
First it was the Air Force sexual assault prevention office, now it’s the Army. From USA Today: Fort Hood assault prevention officer under investigation
WASHINGTON — A sergeant in charge of sexual assault prevention at Fort Hood is under investigation for sexual assault, the Pentagon announced Tuesday night.
The soldier, whose name has not been released, is being investigated for abusive sexual contact, pandering, assault and maltreatment of subordinates.
The soldier has been relieved of his duties and no charges have yet been filed, according to the Pentagon. He oversaw the program at the battalion level, a unit of about 800 soldiers.
The solider is being investigated for among other things forcing a subordinate into prostitution and sexually assaulting two others, according to a Capitol Hill staffer who has been briefed on the case and spoke about it on condition of anonymity.
“Forcing a subordinate into prostitution?” And this guy is in charge of preventing sexual assaults?! Wait, it gets worse.
Two senior Pentagon officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation, also confirmed that the sergeant is being investigated for running a prostitution ring.
The Army said a sergeant first class, whose name was not released, is accused of pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates.
He had been assigned as an equal opportunity adviser and coordinator of a sexual harassment-assault prevention program at the Army’s 3rd Corps headquarters at Fort Hood when the allegation arose.
I’ll update in the comment thread if I get more information. Meanwhile, use this as an open thread.
Friday Reads: Why Media Must Examine Record of Cleveland Police Dept. in Violence Against Women CasesPosted: May 10, 2013
Yesterday I read something that infuriated me. I usually admire Amanda Marcotte’s writing on women’s issues, but I have real problems with her take on the neighbors of Ariel Castro who claim they called 911 over the years to report suspicious activity at his house on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland. Marcotte can’t believe that the Cleveland police would ignore such reports especially “considering Castro’s frightening history of domestic violence and child abuse.” She even provides links in the opening paragraph to a post at Slate in which she suggests that Castro’s neighbors must be “creating false memories”
As more details emerge from the bizarre kidnapping case in Cleveland, people are beginning to wonder how Ariel Castro could have kept women locked up in his house for a decade without anyone actually noticing that something strange was going on. Enter the neighbors,some of whom are telling the press that they did, in fact, see all sorts of weird behavior—and that they called the police, who did nothing about it. The police, however, are denying these reports, saying that the two visits made to the house in the decade were unrelated to any suspicious activities. Considering Castro’s frightening history of domestic violence and child abuse, it’s hard to imagine the police would just ignore it if the neighbors kept complaining about him doing things like dragging naked women around on leashes in his yard.
So what’s going on? Are all these people lying? Are the cops? Or is this a case of lost records or unrecorded police calls? One possible explanation is that the neighbors are simply caught up in the excitement over a national story unfolding in their backyard, and they’re misremembering their pasts because of it. False memories, particularly regarding incredibly emotional situations, are easier to develop than many realize.
This makes no sense to Marcotte, so she dredges up Elizabeth Loftus’ research on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony and the human ability to create “false memories.” For Amanda Marcotte, who seems to really care about the treatment of women who have been raped and otherwise abused, to excuse the Cleveland PD on this basis is a terrible mistake, in my opinion. Doesn’t she realize that Loftus is an expert witness who testifies almost exclusively for defendants accused of sexual abuse and assault? Couldn’t Marcotte at least look at the history of the Cleveland PD before dismissing accusations against them?
But no, she assumes that surely the Cleveland police department did the best they could, so any neighbor who worried about something being wrong at Castro’s house with it’s high fences, boarded up and trash-bag-covered windows must be “inadvertently” making up past concerns in order to alleviate their guilt or make themselves seem more important. I won’t go into a long essay on the problems with applying Loftus’ research in this case; I’ll just agree that anything is possible. But we need to ask ourselves: what is the most likely explanation in this particular case?
In another post at Slate, Justin Peters “explains” why he thinks the Cleveland PD “did everything they could and it still wasn’t enough.”
No. No, they didn’t. Let’s keep in mind that the Cleveland PD didn’t in fact find Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus. What happened is that
Berry noticed the front door of the home was unlocked but the outer storm door remained bolted. She was reluctant to attempt an escape because Castro was known to test the women by leaving doors in the house unlocked. He would beat them if they attempted to leave the unlocked rooms, police sources said. Berry made the decision to try to break through the storm door after seeing people on a neighbor’s porch. She gained the attention of neighbors such as Charles Ramsey, and they helped her and her 6-year-old child get out. She called 9-1-1 from a nearby home. [Ramsey was aided by another neighbor Angel Cordero, who wasn't as good an interview as Ramsey]
When Berry called 911, she got an operator who tried his best to blow her off by saying
Dispatcher: We’re going to send them as soon as we get a car open.
It took Berry’s continued urging to get him to act immediately. Even Charles Ramsey said in his interview with Anderson Cooper, “Bro, this is Cleveland,” seemingly calling attention to the fact that in Cleveland missing women don’t get found in neighborhoods like his. This is a fact that all of Cleveland is aware of, which is why there is a lot of anger toward police in the city right now.
This is a morning reads post, so I’m not going to rant on and on about this. Instead I’ll give you some links to articles that support what I’m saying. But first let me ask a rhetorical question for Slate and Amanda Marcotte: Were the women who claimed they were attacked by now convicted Cleveland serial rapist and murderer Anthony Sowell “creating false memories” when they call 911 and were ignored? Were the neighbors who reported the smell of rotting corpses emanating from Sowell’s house and yard “creating false memories?” What about the thousands of rape kits that Cleveland PD never had tested? Why is the Cleveland Police Department currently under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department?
Violence against women is huge problem in this country, and the Cleveland PD is not alone in treating it as a lower priority than other crimes. IMHO, it’s very important not to forget that. Not ever.
Now I’ll end my rant and give you some links to click on. I know this is a distasteful subject, a painful subject, and I understand why no one really wants to read all the gory details. But sometimes gory details are necessary to wake people up to the reality of what happens to women in this country every fucking day–especially poor women, drug-addicted women, sex workers, and others whom society sometimes sees as “disposable.”
I’ll begin with a video from Democracy Now–an interview with Cleveland reporter Eric Sandy.
Here is Sandy’s article, The Long History of Ariel Castro, Cleveland Kidnapper and Monster. Please note that Castro did come in contact with law enforcement over the years because of his horrific abuse of his wife and children. None of his violent behavior was really taken seriously or adequately dealt with. I apologize for this long excerpt:
Once again, Tomba’s words at the Tuesday morning press conference hang in the air: “Every single lead was followed up no matter how small,” he said. Unavoidable thoughts hearkening back to Anthony Sowell’s 2011 serial murder convictions hang in the air, as well. The rescue at the Seymour Avenue house will bear out a legacy on the backs of all involved, much like Cleveland’s other high-profile crimes.
Stories revolving around Castro’s work as a bus driver and his interactions with family members fill out characteristics about the man – elements of his personality that may have led to both the kidnapping and to his evasion from law enforcement.
In 1993 and 2005, Castro was accused of domestic violence from his one-time wife. The former charges were reduced to mere disorderly conduct, while the latter incident offered grisly imagery of a fractured marriage still capable of wreaking havoc. Castro broke his ex-wife’s nose and ribs, dislocated her shoulders, knocked out one of her teeth and battered her so hard that a blood clot formed on her brain, according to filings in court. In an interview with investigators after the fact, Castro denied ever being abusive toward her.
That filing effectively killed Castro’s chances at even partial custody of his children. Nevertheless, as sources familiar with the man report, his penchant for manipulation pulled Emily and Arlene back into his gravitational pull at times.
Several years after the gross sexual imposition conviction of Colon blew over, Emily Castro gave birth to a girl. It’s unclear who the father was – though speculation points to either a former boyfriend who now lives in Cleveland or, according to the private investigator, something much more untoward, evil, and incestuous.
Emily was living in Fort Wayne, Ind., where she attempted to murder her 11-month-old daughter by slashing her throat four times in 2007. She was later convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
“It is certainly a mystery as to how this happened or why this happened,” Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck told The Journal Gazette at the time.
It is indeed a mystery that may yet hold more clues as to who Ariel Castro has been all these years. Any answers that lay within may illuminate a gap in local law enforcement’s own investigations.
More articles to ponder:
Note the padlocked door in the background of the photos, which were taken in 2001–before the abductions of Knight, Berry, and DeJesus took place. Who or what was in those locked rooms at that time?
Daily Telegraph: ‘Ariel Castro locked my sister in a box and beat her’
CNN on the similarities with the Anthony Sowell case: Cleveland abductions a chilling reminder of ‘House of Horrors’
19 Action News: “Note of admission” written by Ariel Castro in 2004
KNYC.com: Police Report
Joan Walsh on the media sliming of Charles Ramsey: Charles Ramsey is still a hero
Note that the stepfather tried to get police and FBI to investigate Ariel Castro in the disappearances. They ignored his pleas, and Castro was used as a source against the stepfather and allowed to testify against him–even with his history of domestic abuse! Did you know that Castro repeatedly abducted his own daughters?
The Daily Beast: My Neighbor the Monster
Doug Parker owns the home next to Cleveland suspect Ariel Castro. In his first interview, he recalls 20 years of confrontations, a bitter court case, and more red flags….
Parker says the police have been to the house more than they claim. For one, he says, he called the police in May 1996 when Castro pulled fence posts out of the ground and rolled up a chain link fence that ran between the two properties.
“He did it while I was at work, so I couldn’t stop him,” Parker says.The posts had been buried 18 inches, leaving holes that DeaAna, 6 years old at the time, tripped over while playing and injured herself. “The cops came, we talked, and one of them suggested I go to court on this,” Parker says. “And that’s what I did.”He was awarded $900 in damages and Castro was ordered to put the fence back up.
I guess those court records must have gone missing…
If you are stunned that three Cleveland women could be held captive for a decadewithout being discovered, then you are unacquainted with the case of Anthony Sowell, also known as the Cleveland Strangler.
Sowell was a registered sex offender who remained at liberty despite a series of sexual-assault complaints against him, until the police finally acted and discovered the bodies of 11 murdered women in his house and backyard.
At least some of those murders and rapes could have been prevented if the police had not reacted so indifferently when a distraught woman called them in September 2008, after being repeatedly raped, beaten, and choked by Sowell. She had at one point sought refuge in a bathroom, where she saw a headless body wrapped in plastic and positioned in a sitting position in the bathtub.
After managing to get away, the woman had stumbled as far as a bus stop before she could go no further. She would later testify: “I couldn’t walk no more. I was tore up. My body was tore up … My face, my female parts, my butt.”
She called the police. “They told me I had to come in and make a report,” she would testify. She further testified that she asked the dispatcher, “How do I get there?” The dispatcher told her: “Come in and make a report. We can’t take a report over the phone.”
She told the court that after the call, “I felt less than human. I didn’t know who to turn to.”
Cleveland police removed Michelle Knight’s missing person entry from an FBI database 15 months after she was reported missing in 2002 — and nearly a decade before she was rescued from her captor’s home on Cleveland’s West Side.
City spokeswoman Maureen Harper said Thursday that police followed proper procedures by removing Knight’s name from the database in November 2003 because they were unable to contact Knight’s mother by telephone to verify that her then-22-year-old daughter still was missing.
However, the police department’s written policy on investigating missing adults, at the time of Knight’s disappearance on Aug. 23, 2002, describes a different verification process. It states that an officer must go and see that a missing person has been found, then inform the FBI within two hours for removal from the National Crime Information Center database.
Kym Pasqualini, a national advocate for missing adults, said in an interview Thursday that the removal of Knight’s name and description from the database helped the case fall through the cracks.
She got pregnant from the rape and that victimization probably set her up to be revictimized when she learned her son was to be taken away from her. Sadly, she left home angry and upset and Ariel Castro offered her a ride.
NY Daily News: Michelle Knight’s twin brother talks about their history and his happy reunion with her.
This one is heartbreaking but speaks beautifully to me about human nature and our need for connection.
I guess this is enough for now. I’ll provide other links in the comment thread. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.
As always, this is an open thread and you are welcome post links on any topic in the comments.
Again, I understand this is a painful and distasteful subject. But please be aware that violence against women is truly endemic in the U.S. and it still isn’t treated with the necessary seriousness by law enforcement, the courts, or the media.
I’m going to start the day’s reads off with two really good articles on modern capitalism. Both actually have titles that ask questions. I’ll start with the first one written by Richard Wolfe at The Guardian as reprinted by RS. ” What’s efficiency got do do with capitalism?” The answer is absolutely nothing.
What’s efficiency got to do with capitalism? The short answer is little or nothing. Economic and social collapses in Detroit, Cleveland and many other US cities did not happen because production was inefficient there. Efficiency problems did not cause the longer-term economic declines troubling the US and western Europe.
Capitalist corporations decided to relocate production: first, away from such cities, and now, away from those regions. It has done so to serve the priorities of their major shareholders and boards of directors. Higher profits, business growth, and market share drive those decisions. As I say, efficiency has little or nothing to do with it.
This is what we call a “positive” economic discussion on policy in that that the data leads one to the conclusion and values don’t play a role in the argument until the end of the article when the author makes a case for democratization of the economy. This is called making a “normative” case. For a “normative” economic discussion from the get-go, turn to this article in WAPO by Steven Perlstein. “Is capitalism moral?”
Note the Gordon Gekko-like logic here: Because pursuit of self-interest is the essential ingredient in a market system, it somehow follows that individuals and firms are free to act as greedily and selfishly as they can within the law, absolved from any moral obligations. And it’s not just in the movies. The same amorality was on display at those Senate hearings in 2010 where Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre and the team from Goldman Sachs tried to explain to incredulous lawmakers why it was perfectly reasonable to peddle securities to clients that they had deliberately constructed to default.
Free-market advocates have a stronger moral case against government “confiscating” the money earned by one person to give it to another.
The traditional liberal defense of redistribution, of course, is that a lot of what passes for economic success derives not only from hard work or ingenuity but also from good fortune — the good fortune to be born with the right genes and to the right parents, to grow up in the right community, to attend the right schools, to meet and be helped by the right people, or simply to be at the right place at the right time. A market system should reward virtue, they argue, not dumb luck.
The problem is that we don’t really have anything resembling textbook market capitalism because all markets don’t exhibit characteristics that make them amenable to an unrestrained market. Also, we have a political class that is easy to capture via donations and lobbying who set up laws that allow already dominant industries to become more monopolistic and less ‘free’ through preferential legal treatment and taxation. The worst of the folks that scream about the virtues of ‘capitalism’ are the ones that really know nothing about Adam Smith or the origins of the system and its simple agriculture and industrial roots. For a real life example of the failures of unchecked capitalism, check out BB’s post last night outlining what’s going on in Cyprus. The overall mismanagement of lending and under-evaluation of risk by British, American and German banks has cost the citizen’s of many countries a lot of wealth. The Cyprus situation is unprecedented and sets an especially dangerous precedent. You can see how the powerful can co-opt the system in this play that takes savings from depositors. Markets all over the world are responding. Asian markets were the first to tank.
I spent a lot of time yesterday in an absolute rage over the rape apologia rampant in coverage by two of CNN’s women journalists who seemed more concerned with the lasting impact the verdict of the trial would have on the convicted rapists than the victim and possibly more victims of their out-of-control male libidos. There was also more discussion of the role of teen alcohol abuse in the incident that the attitudes and privileged treatment of the male athletic stars by the media. It was totally disgusting!! I posted some of this down thread in the Sunday Reads but feel strong that it needs to frontpaged and repeated. The judge got the verdict right while CNN turned into a rape apologia factory.
CNN’s Candy Crowley began her breaking news report by showing Lipps handing down the sentence and telling CNN reporter Poppy Harlow that she “cannot imagine” how emotional the sentencing must have been.
Harlow explained that it had been “incredibly difficult” to watch “as these two young men — who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.”
“One of the young men, Ma’lik Richmond, as that sentence came down, he collapsed,” the CNN reporter recalled, adding that the convicted rapist told his attorney that “my life is over, no one is going to want me now.”
At that point, CNN played video of Richmond crying and hugging his lawyer in the courtroom.
“I was sitting about three feet from Ma’lik when he gave that statement,” Harlow said. “It was very difficult to watch.”
Candy then asked CNN legal contributor Paul Callan what the verdict meant for “a 16 year old, sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16 year olds.”
“What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially?” Crowley wondered.
“There’s always that moment of just — lives are destroyed,” Callan remarked. “But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law.”
“That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
The purpose of a justice system is to make sure those guilty of heinous crimes pay for their crimes. I’m still livid about this and so are most of the folks on my twitter stream. You can look down stream on Sunday’s thread for videos and links. I found Dan Wetzel’s post particularly compelling as it describes the entitlements given to male athletes in Steubenville and elseville.
The Big Red players were disorganized crime. No secrets. No code words. No shame. They neither grasped the depth of the crime nor the unrelenting pressure of true authority – not their compliant parents or ball coach, but a legal system that didn’t care a whit about Steubenville High football.
Steubenville’s football program has long been a source of pride in the community. (Reuters)For all the rumors and speculation around town of cover-ups and favoritism being played, the authorities did their job. There is zero indication the Steubenville police did anything but aggressively and swiftly investigate the charges.
When understandable conflicts of interest – only 18,000 people live in the city and everyone knows everyone – arose in the local prosecutors office, the case was handed over to the state’s attorney general out of Columbus. A judge was brought in from across the state, near Cincinnati. And it was Judge Lipps, not anyone around Steubenville, who granted immunity to the witnesses.
Meanwhile, attorney general Mike DeWine called on Sunday for a grand jury to continue an investigation into the case.
“This community desperately needs to have this behind them,” DeWine said. “But this community also desperately needs to know justice was done and that no stone was left unturned.”
It’s still hard to say if Mays and Richmond ever grasped the trouble they were in until Sunday.
Mays knew enough to grow concerned. The girl was never sure whether to press charges, but once her parents found out, there would be no doubt. They culled social media for clues and walked into the Steubenville Police Department with a flash drive of evidence.
Just prior to that, Mays became panicked and texted the girl.
“I’m about to get kicked off my football team,” Mays wrote.
“The more you bring up football, the more pissed I get,” the girl wrote back. “Because that’s like all you care about.”
They had no idea about the severity of what they had done which means there’s an awful lot of parents, teachers, and clergy that need to sit down with some girls and boys and define sexual assault. They also need to make sure that everyone knows that the laws apply to every one.
I know there are many ‘recovering’ Catholics that read this blog so I thought I’d link to this article in Salon by Andrew O’Hehir entitled “Is Pope Francis a Fraud?” He makes some valid points about looking at each parish or archdiocese as distinct. He focuses on the recent purge by the Jesuits of their liberal coherts and the position of the new Pope in a church in turmoil.
But the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio emerges from a Jesuit order that has been largely purged of its independent-minded or left-leaning intellectuals, and his reputation at home in Latin America is decidedly mixed. While Francis seems to be an appealing personality in some ways — albeit one with a shadowy relationship with the former military dictatorship in Argentina, along with a record on gay rights that borders on hate speech — it’s difficult to imagine that he can or will do anything to arrest the church’s long slide into cultural irrelevance and neo-medieval isolation. His papacy, I suspect, comes near the end of a thousand-year history of the Vatican’s global rise to power, ambiguous flourishing and rapid decline. It also comes after 40 years of internal counterrevolution under the previous two popes, during which a group of hardcore right-wing cardinals have consolidated power in the Curia and stamped out nearly all traces of the 1960s liberal reform agenda of Pope John XXIII and Vatican II.A handful of intellectuals, both inside and outside the church, quietly believe that means Pope Francis isn’t a legitimate pope at all.
I can’t speak to any of those being a WASP turned WASB, but I thought I’d share it all the same since I read the article knowing the role of Popes and the church in history.
Perez, 51, is the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Hilda Solis, who resigned in January.
The White House portrayed Perez as someone in line with Obama’s sense of social justice. An official lauded Perez for settling the nation’s three largest fair lending housing cases, boosting enforcement of human trafficking laws and protecting rights of veterans and students. He also led the Justice Department in challenging voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina.“Tom is a dedicated public servant who has spent his career fighting to keep the American dream within reach for hardworking middle class families and those striving to get into the middle class,” the White House official said.
I’d say that’s enough of me writing things. Now, it’s your turn. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I’m really trying to enjoy the perfect New Orleans weather and the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities. However, it’s hard to avoid the twitter streams on two really horrible reminders of the darker side of American Life. CPAC continues to reach new bottoms every year. That, however, is not the worst thing to watch at the moment.
The Steubenville Rape Trial is currently streaming live and the Defense Closing argument is a good example of everything that is wrong with how men view rape. The defense attorney just basically said the victim threw herself at “that child” and gee, she drank a lot of vodka so probably said “yes” and forgot about it. ABC News just stated that the rape victim “made plan to meet” attacker and characterized it as “incriminating.” The defense strategy is that “date rape” doesn’t exist. So, basically all of our young women that go on dates have just automatically placed themselves in the position of saying yes to whatever their date wants. Looks like we may have to bring back chaperones if this guy’s arguments succeed.
The defense stayed quiet with its date-rape-doesn’t-exist strategy, even as many of those following the case so closely finally saw the two accused high-school football players for the first time.
“There will be challenges for everybody in this case,” Special Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter told Judge Tom Lipps during a packed session at Jefferson County juvenile court, with a silent protest from Occupy Steubenville carrying on outside. “Holding these two responsible for what they did — that will be the easiest you will make.” Hemmeter’s opening salvo was unflinching — she named the victim as a courtroom video feed sent it around the Internet, she repeated the word “degradation,” and she spared no details about how suspects Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond “repeatedly violated” the victim (who will likely not be named by the media, as is custom with alleged victims of sexual assault).
As we reported in our in-depth trial preview earlier on Wednesday, Hemmeter and her fellow prosecutor have been silent in the press and about the investigation, even as hackers tried to piece together clues. But within the first 30 minutes of the trial picking up in earnest after an hour-long recess, Hemmeter introduced evidence beyond what a rapt nation has seen on Instagram (above) and YouTube: she submitted as evidence and projected onto the courtroom wall two naked pictures of the victim, one allegedly taken and sent from the phone of Mays, the suspect facing multiple charges. “The person ushering her [to the bathroom] was Trent Mays,” said Hemmeter, insisting that the Steubenville High quarterback was present when the alleged victim realized she was inebriated beyond control. There is also a blanket with the alleged victim’s DNA.
Hemmeter also reiterated the controversial pre-trial testimony from three Steubenville High athletes who said that the alleged victim was not conscious while being attacked. Hemmeter said, rather graphically:
You heard the testimony that in the car, Trent Mays unzipped her shorts and slipped his finger into her vagina … They [witnesses] will tell you that Trent Mays tried to put his penis in her mouth and you’ll hear that Ma’lik Richmond was down by her feet and inserted two fingers into her vagina while she lay motionless.
So it’s now finally clear that the prosecution will rely on the pre-trial testimony and on social-media evidence we haven’t yet scene, all in an effort to discount the increasingly strong — if increasingly vile — strategy from the defense for Mays and Richmond. The defense was granted a last-minute appeal on Tuesday night to subpoena three of the alleged victim’s friends who apparently made incriminating statements to police that she had made plans to meet up with Mays and that she “was completely fine” the morning after. That would seem to give the defense its own trio of star witnesses from West Virginia, testifying against their “best friend,” to counter the prosecution’s three star athletes, who appear to be doing the same.
Rape will never be treated the way it should be until men in this country learn about and rebuke “Toxic Masculinity”.
Toxic masculinity has its fingerprints all over the Steubenville case. The violence done to the victim was born out of the boys’ belief that a) sexually dominating a helpless girl’s body made them powerful and cool, and b) there would be no consequences for them because of their status as star athletes (If you want to see stomach-churning first-hand evidence of this, check out this video of one of their friends gleefully talking about how “raped” and “dead” the victim was). The defense is basing their entire case on it, arguing that this near- (and sometimes totally) unconscious girl’s body was the boys’ to use because “she didn’t affirmatively say no.” The football community’s response—by which I mean not just the coaches, school, and players, but the entire community of fans—is steeped in the assumptions of toxic masculinity, treating the athletes and the game as more important than some silly girl’s right to both bodily autonomy and justice. Steubenville residents have been quick to rally around the team, suggesting that the victim “put herself in a position to be violated” and refusing to talk to police investigating the assault. The two players who cooperated with police were suspended from the football team, while the players accused of the rape have been allowed to play. The coach even went so far as to threaten a New York Times reporter asking questions about the case. (No surprise there: When it comes to male-dominated sports, toxic masculinity is the rule, not the exception.)
But sports is hardly the only breeding ground for toxic masculinity. Witness the recent, vicious bullying of Zerlina Maxwell by fans of Fox News. Last week, Maxwell was on Hannity and dared to opine that the best rape prevention isn’t about what women can do to protect themselves, but instead focuses on raising men who don’t rape. She also personally identified herself as a survivor of rape. What followed was a nearly inconceivable onslaught of misogynist and racist attacks, including repeated threats of rape and death. All because a black woman insisted that the work of stopping rape—“women’s work” if there ever was such a thing—requires men’s labor. Under the influence of toxic masculinity, the logical response to a man being forced or even encouraged to do something coded “female” is always violence.
An expert testifying for the defense today said a teen girl reportedly raped by two Steubenville football players could have had an alcohol-induced blackout after drinking last August, but still could have made the decision to leave a party with the athletes.
However, a prosecutor said the expert had not been shown all the evidence, pointing out that the person had not seen three photos in which the girl appears to be passed out.
Kim Fromme, a professor of clinical psychology at University of Texas, who conducts research on the effects of alcohol, said her analysis shows the girl might have no memory of the night, but based on her evidence the girl was still moving, walking and talking, and could have consented to leave a party with the two defendants.
“It seems pretty clear she made a voluntary decision to leave with (the 17-year-old defendant),” Fromme said.
Much of her testimony focused on the difference between a blackout and being passed out. Fromme said the brain essentially shuts down if a person is passed out. However, a person experiencing a blackout from drinking can still function, but will have little or no memory of what they did. She said people have performed surgery or flown a plane while experiencing a blackout.
She said if the girl was doing things such as voluntarily walking unassisted down stairs, she was capable of engaging in voluntary decisions.
On cross-examination, prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter showed Fromme a picture of the teen girl apparently passed out and being carried by the defendants. Fromme said she had not seen the picture. Fromme also had not seen pictures of the girl laying naked on a couch and on the floor of a basement.
Hemmeter said testimony from other witnesses that Fromme had not heard indicate the girl might have drank more than Fromme’s evidence indicated. Fromme estimated the girl’s blood-alcohol level at between .18 to .25, based on witnesses who saw the girl drinking. (Motorists in Ohio are considered under the influence of alcohol if they have an 0.08 blood-alchohol level.)
“So if she was sexually assaulted during that blackout, she wouldn’t remember, right?” Hemmeter asked.
“Yes … nor would she remember if she consented,” Fromme said.
Fromme appeared as a witness for lawyer Walter Madison, who represents the 16-year-old defendant.
It’s a damned shame that things are going down like this. I have no idea–at this point–if the young victim will see justice but I do believe that this will discourage reporting.
I’m afraid if you’re looking for a cheery Monday morning set of reads that I am not going to fill your bill today.
I’m not sure if you’ve been following the story of Zerlina Maxwell who suggested that we consider teaching men not to rape since we’ve got so many incidences of rape in so many places here and around the world. This is a timely question given the awful Steubenville Rape Trial that is scheduled to start today in Ohio. In many ways, the videos and tales from Steubenville show that rapists are more common than the psychopathic sexual predator that many want to conjure up to gloss over the problems we with have with rampant male entitlement. Get ready for this week in rape culture and apologia. It will be coming to media near you.
With the trial scheduled to start this week and after a judge refused to change the trial location, officials are again prepping for the glare of the media spotlight to descend on the town.
In a press conference last week, DeWine told reporters that additional charges may be brought against the other teenagers after this trial concludes. He estimated the case would last between three to four days.
DeWine also met with protesters lead by Jacqueline Hillyer of the Ohio chapter of the National Organization of Women, who called for the arrest of Nodianos and the other teens involved for failing to report a crime.
“The worst thing about the crime in Steubenville and it was a crime, it was not that it was so ugly and horrible and disgusting but that it was ordinary,” Hillyer said. “It happens all the time across the state, across the country in high schools and people don’t intervene.”
Rape is all too ordinary. So, to many of us, Maxwell asks a legitimate question. She even braved Hannity–the patron saint of white male entitlement–to begin a conversation on why rape is so pervasive and how we might try telling boys that it’s not okay to rape girls instead of telling girls to be in a constant state of alert and fear. She got way more than she bargained as a result.
As Maxwell, a rape survivor herself, told Salon on Friday, “I don’t think we need to be telling a rape survivor that statistics are not on your side. That’s insensitive.” But where she drew outrage was in her suggestion to Hannity that “I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there.” She told Hannity, “You’re talking about this as if it’s some faceless, nameless criminal, when a lot of times it’s someone you know and trust,” adding, “If you train men not to grow up to become rapists, you prevent rape.”
The mere notion that maybe men need to be involved in the conversation about sexual violence earned Maxwell instant disdain, anger – and a lot worse. The Blaze called her remarks “bizarre” and the Washington Times reported that she’d “argued against women arming themselves.” Deeper down on the Internet, the responses got even more scathing, from bloggers who said she’d been “oversimplifying” to the Twitter trolls who told her she ought to get raped. Thanks for the feedback, Internet dopes. Why would anybody think that you need some sensitivity training?
“I knew going in I was going to get a lot of pushback,” Maxwell says. “I didn’t think I would receive rape threats. I can’t even go on my Facebook page; it’s full of people wanting to rape me. It’s too triggering. The amount of insensitivity is shocking.”
As Maxwell tells Salon, her point to Hannity was not about self-defense; it was about how we look at the big picture. “Telling every woman to get a gun is not rape prevention,” she explains. “The reality is that we need to be changing how we train and teach young men. We need to teach them to see women as human beings and respect their bodily autonomy. We need to teach them about consent and to hold themselves accountable.” And when we do, things change. After Canada launched a “Don’t be that guy” consent awareness campaign in 2011, the sexual assault rate dropped for the first time in years — by 10 percent.
“I’ve tried to show my girl that not all men are like this, but only a despicable few,” and their mothers that ignore the truth that they gave birth to a monster”
while Hannity told Maxwell that “evil exists in the world”. I don’t think mothers give birth to monsters. I think most cultures teach men that women and children are prey and property and can be brought into control in whatever ways it takes.
One in three women will be raped in her life time. Rape is all too ordinary.
I suppose I should backstory this by letting you know that I’ve never been raped by a stranger but I sure as hell have had to fight off bosses and high school and college peers to varying degrees. I am not a rape survivor. I’m a girl who got lucky many times. I was ‘volunteered’ by a Junior League neighbor when I was a junior in high school for a rape and violence line they were establishing in Omaha. There were very few things like that at the time. It’s now a major program staffed with professionals. The program resides with the local YWCA. Back then, it was a few psychologists and concerned women. They got volunteers where they could and trained us with what little they had.
Two years of answering that phone one night a week morphed me into an advocate for changing rape laws by the time I got to university. By that time, I fully understood the threat of date and acquaintance rape. We succeeded in getting most Nebraska police departments to take officers responding to rape out of the property crimes division and asked for trained, women police officers. Sex crimes are now properly placed into the major crimes divisions. We also got the law changed so that a women married to her rapist could be legally recognized a a victim. We fought the clause that said two people had to witness the rape and testify in order for it to be ‘rape rape’. We also worked to block a woman’s previous sexual history as well as things like where she was or what she was wearing or had been eating or drinking.
Then there were changes that had to be made by the hospital and police responses to rape victims too. I remember when one of my friends got raped by a stranger on campus. She told me she thought she couldn’t report it because she’d been smoking pot before she was ambushed in the library by this criminal. She was afraid no one would take her seriously. I told her hell no and let’s call a police woman right now. But, of all the times I went to speak about rape at high schools and sororities, it became apparent to me what is apparent in the numbers. The majority of women are not raped by ski-masked, gun wielding strangers that could be taken care of with the careful aim of the right caliber of gun. I learned that was a myth of the old west about 40 years ago. I still want to strangle any one that says women make up rapes or ask for it. It’s obvious there needs to be some education out there otherwise this crap would go away instead of showing up in US Senator debates and on major news shows.
No one would ever blame a man for being the victim of a burglary or hold up. But, our rape culture gives many folks the idea that women are always at least partially to blame for the aggressive sexual behavior of men. No matter how old we get, how dowdy we dress, or how careful we are about the locks on our doors or where we park, the fear and danger is there. It’s not about our behavior, it’s about theirs.
Think about what kinds of things we teach children not to do via school. These things include not engaging in consensual sex, not stealing, not fighting, and a lot of other things. Check out these statistics on sexual assault and tell me it’s not a pervasive problem in this country. Many children–of both sexes–are not even safe in their homes, churches, or social groups. Anyway, I know that we have many rape survivors here whose stories are more compelling than anything I could write. It’s just that it’s going to be a week of watching this trial and listening to the same old canards. I’m prepackaging my hugz already because I’m aware that were going to hear rape apologia along with the facts of the case.
Anyway, if you want to see how cruel the world can be to victims of crime, here’s a look at some of Maxwell’s twitter stream via TPM. It’s awful beyond words. That she’s a rape survivor makes it more than awful beyond words.
So, here’s a few other things that you might want to read this morning that are slightly less traumatizing.
A favorite saying of Official Washington is that “the cover-up is worse than the crime.” But that presupposes you accurately understand what the crime was. And, in the case of the two major U.S. government scandals of the last third of the Twentieth Century – Watergate and Iran-Contra – that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Indeed, newly disclosed documents have put old evidence into a sharply different light and suggest that history has substantially miswritten the two scandals by failing to understand that they actually were sequels to earlier scandals that were far worse. Watergate and Iran-Contra were, in part at least, extensions of the original crimes, which involved dirty dealings to secure the immense power of the presidency.
There’s an amazing piece of cinema out on America’s Hunger Epidemic called ‘A Place at the Table’. It couldn’t be more timely given the impact of the sequester on basic programs like WIC. I watched it On Demand so I’m sure it’s probably there for you too if you have access to that or some other on-line movie source.
Table’s statistics are overwhelming, but they are intended to overwhelm. Whether it’s the 50 million Americans who are living in food-insecure households (which means they are struggling with hunger), or the fact that 1-out-of-2 kids in America will, at some time in their childhood, have to rely on federal assistance for food. This is happening in the richest country in the world, and the problem is only getting worse. Under President Reagan there were 20 million Americans living with food insecurity. We’re well over double that figure now.
Table’s stories will overwhelm too. Whether it’s the fifth grader who is so hungry that she envisions her teacher as a banana and her fellow students as apples, or the single mother of two who finally gets a fulltime job only to realize that she is no longer food stamp eligible, a loss of $3-per-day that puts her family into serious food insecurity. That means her kids no longer have breakfast or lunch at daycare, and her youngest is already developmentally disabled due to improper nutrition. Lest we think she’s living large off her new job, food stamp eligibility ended once her salary passed $23,000, a figure hardly sufficient to pay for rent, utilities, insurance and transport, let alone food. (Most Americans are surprised to learn that the parents of hungry children typically have fulltime jobs.) Those who think food stamps breed dependency are wrong. As a child, raised singly by my mom after my dad died early, I too depended on food stamps. For many of us, they are critical lifelines of support while we get back on our feet.
I’ve got one last suggestion for you to ponder and then I’m off to finish coffee and work with students. How do you redefine etiquette in the Digital Age?
Some people are so rude. Really, who sends an e-mail or text message that just says “Thank you”? Who leaves a voice mail message when you don’t answer, rather than texting you? Who asks for a fact easily found on Google?
Don’t these people realize that they’re wasting your time?
Of course, some people might think me the rude one for not appreciating life’s little courtesies. But many social norms just don’t make sense to people drowning in digital communication.
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?