What a crappy few days it has been… such terrible stories in the news lately. Yeah…text messages, popcorn, penis pumps, poor dead children, (that should be dead poor children), rich GOP dead-beat dads, murdering cops, and judge’s decisions. Oh boy, and let me tell you, things are Fukushima’d up!
Let’s start with Fukushima: The Nuclear Disaster That Won’t Go Away
On New Year’s Day (nearly three years after the initial incident) operators of the Fukushima plant reported that “plumes of most probably radioactive steam” had been seen rising from the reactor 3 building. According to RT.com, “the Reactor 3 fuel storage pond still houses an estimated 89 tons of the plutonium-based MOX nuclear fuel composed of 514 fuel rods.” Unfortunately, high levels of radiation inside the building make it nearly impossible to determine the source of the mystery steam. Although TEPCO, the plant’s operator, claims there’s no increased danger (small comfort from the people who admitted to the world that they have no control over the situation), most agree that the plant is just seconds away from another disaster.
The latest on the Shooting down in Tampa: Profiles Of Man Allegedly Shot For Texting And His Suspected Killer
They say the gun jammed when the killer tried to shoot a second time. Who the fuck was he going to shoot the wife of the man he just killed?
After officers read him his rights, Reeves told the detective that Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that’s when he removed a .380 caliber gun from his pants pocket. The report said Reeves fired the gun and struck Oulson once in the chest and that he “was in fear of being attacked.”
The sheriff said at a news conference that Reeves’ son — who was off duty from his job as a Tampa officer — was walking into the theater when the shooting happened. Nocco said Reeves briefly struggled with an off-duty deputy but released the weapon. The gun was jammed and unable to fire again.
I want to know where Reeves went and who he talked to and what was said…what was the son doing there just as the shooting occurred? The management probably to Reeves to move to another seat, I mean how ridiculous was his complaint. It was the damn previews.
Devon Detrapani and her husband Joseph were friends with the Oulsons and that the men worked together at Sky Powersports, a motorcycle and off road vehicle dealer.
Chad Oulson was the company’s finance manager and a hard worker, Detrapani said. He rode dirt bikes on the weekend and “liked” several motocross stars on Facebook, but his true love was his baby daughter, Lexi.
“They are awesome parents,” said Devon Detrapani. “They love that little girl so much.”
Detrapani said that Oulson was texting with his daughter’s daycare on the afternoon he was shot. She said that Oulson was a kind man with no anger issues.
“He is a very nice guy,” she said. “He would give the shirt off his back to help someone.”
Oulson had Monday off and his wife, Nicole, worked at USAA Insurance and took the day off so they could go to the movies together.
Detrapani said she and her husband, who attended kids’ birthday parties with the Oulsons, are in shock.
“This does not make sense. I don’t understand,” she said. “It should have never happened. Now poor Lexi has to grow up without a daddy and Nicole doesn’t have a husband.”
And…on that shooting in New Mexico:
A 12-year-old boy entered his middle school gym, pulled a shotgun out of a bag and opened fire on students waiting for school to start Tuesday, wounding two, authorities in Roswell, New Mexico, said.
A girl, 13, was in stable condition Tuesday night following surgery, authorities said. A boy, 11, was in critical condition after surgery.
The bloodshed rattled students and other citizens of Roswell, a city of just under 50,000 people 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque. Monique Salcido, a Berrendo Middle School student who saw two of her friends get shot, admitted she is “in shock.”
“I don’t want to go to Berrendo again because of what happened,” she told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “Because I’m afraid it’s going to happen again.”
The horror might have been much worse if not for one staff member. “(He) walked right up to him and asked him to put down the firearm,” said New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
For some thoughts on this, Charlie Pierce: Gun Shootings January 14, 2014 – Two Days In Gun America
As it happens, I’m sitting in a hotel room a few exits east up I84 from the town of Newtown in Connecticut, where a crazy man named Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 26 people including 21 children. In the immediate aftermath, it was decided by elite opinion leaders that the country had reached a Teachable Moment in its insane attachment to its firearms. And this is what we’ve learned — people are coming to get our guns and we must buy more and better and bigger guns and carry them everywhere so that we can fight off the gun-grabbers and the insane people who we still must allow to have guns because the Second Amendment has no exception for insane people and therefore freedom.
That’s what we’ve learned.
And, in the past couple of days, we’ve had a school shooting in New Mexico, the killing of a man in a movie theater for the crime of texting his daughter, and a Republican group in Oregon which thought the best way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln was to raffle off a rifle. I mean, why not? Only one of those two guys was murdered with one.
It doesn’t end there. News of the acquittal of cops who beat Kelly Thomas to death is another nugget of shit from the past two days that has pissed me off and Digby has some good coverage of the story here: Hullabaloo
So they found the police not guilty of a crime in the torture and beating death of Kelly Thomas. I haven’t heard what the jury thought they were doing but the defense was based upon the idea that the officers were fighting for their lives.
Take a look at the victim after the beating he endured…
Go…go and look at it and read the rest. I could not bear to put the picture up on the post it is that graphic and disturbing.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out rules from the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, that required Internet service providers to treat all Internet traffic equally, a principle known as “net neutrality.”
The decision in the case, which pitted telecommunications giant Verizon against the FCC’s Open Internet rules, might open the door for ISPs to charge major companies like Google or Facebook for speedier access to content, edging out smaller content providers.
This next one really takes the fucking cake: Judge Rules That ‘No’ Means ‘Yes’
Last week, a Swedish judge ruled that a man who proceeded to have sexual intercourse with a woman who was screaming “NO” so loudly that she went hoarse was not guilty of rape. People were understandably upset. And so, today, the judge wrote an op-ed clarifying that what he MEANT was that rape really depends on whether or not the rapist feels like they’re raping someone. Much better!
The case that’s causing forehead slaps across Sweden involves a 27-year-old woman who met a man at a restaurant and
invited him back to her homeaccompanied him back to his home. After some consensual kissing, the man attempted to push for other sex acts, which the woman declined. The man proceeded to have sex with her, anyway, as she screamed “NO” loudly enough for the neighbors to hear. Which, you know, is rape. Pretty obviously rape.
Hmmm…..of course, you know…no means not no.
Lund district court judge Ralf G. Larsson, who listened sympathetically to the rapist’s claim that he didn’t think the woman actually meant that “NO” (which she was yelling); rather, she meant YES, which is a common synonym for NO. The woman countered that she most certainly did not mean YES, as she was screaming NO, but the judge ruled that because the rapist doesn’t know what NO means and thought that his victim was kind of into it, that thing he was doing to her as she was yelling NO, no rape was committed.
Today, he explained his big strong man judge logic with an op ed column that was both condescending and idiotic. Larsson wrote,
If the thought had not occurred to him, that she did not want to have sex with him, then he didn’t have any intention to do what he did.
He should have been acquitted. That’s how the rule of law works and that’s how the rule of law should work if I’m going to be a part of the justice system. […]
The woman had made very clear to the man at least six times that she did not want to do what he wanted to do. For example, oral and anal sex came up, and at each such incident the man did not proceed with what he wanted to do.
In other words, because he didn’t every kind of rape, he therefore could not have committed one form of rape. Rock solid logic.
If what is happening right now in mass and social media has the potential to scare less experienced judges, we’re on a dangerous path.
Raise your hand if you think Rolf Larsson has NO business being a judge. And by NO, I mean NO.
I will second that and add a NO and I mean FUCK NO!
In other ridiculous rape news: Anonymous Hacker Who Exposed the Steubenville Rapists May Get More Prison Time Than Rapists : Political Blind Spot
Deric Lostutter, the 26-year-old “hacktivist” who leaked the evidence that led to the conviction of two of the Steubenville, Ohio rapists is now facing more time behind bars than the rapists he exposed. The Steubenville Rape Case made national headlines when a video made by the rapists themselves, and their friends, proved that their victim was unconscious and unable to consent.
Instead of giving Lostutter thanks for exposing these criminals, however, the FBI raided his house last April. At first, Lostutter had denied that he was the man in the video, but he decided to come forward after the appalling reaction of the rapists after they were exposed.
Lostutter is now facing ten years behind bars if indicted for obtaining tweets and social media posts which revealed the details of the rape as well as for threatening action against the Steubenville rapists and school officials who helped to cover up the crime. Lostutter posted the video to the Steubenville High School football team website, bringing national attention to the case and the cover-up.
Word of Lostutter’s 10-years comes just as one of the rapists themselves, Ma’Lik Richomond, 16, was just released from prison for “good behavior.”
I think we need a new Superhero…make it a SuperShero. She is defender of rape victims everywhere, and she pulls a Bruce Wayne ala Peter Parker con Clark Kent on your ass if you rape or attempt to rape a person. Fuck yeah…this is gonna be good. Someone has to help me come up with a good name for her. And a good cover story and job and superpower.
She could be the Sky Dancer mascot…no that won’t do, it doesn’t go with the Buddhism thing. The idea of kicking someone’s ass to a pulp is not very peaceful is it. (I guess that is why the 5th season of Dexter resonated so much for me…not to mention the film Thelma and Louise.)
And while we are on the topic of Women’s Issues and how bad the situation is in the United States: America Gets An Embarrassing C- In Women’s Reproductive Health
The Population Institute has released its annual State of Reproductive Health And Rights report card, and it seems that in the opinion of the massive educational nonprofit, America isn’t doing so hot. If America were a high schooler, America would be grounded until America gets its grades up, otherwise America won’t be getting into any colleges.
The report consolidates information most people who have been paying attention to the news probably suspected: as the federal government attempts to expand access to reproductive health care, right wing ideologues at the state level are working busily to ensure that women can’t physically access the care the federal government is trying to expand. It’s like the federal government built a dream house halfway up a mountain and handed women the keys, but states were like, let’s make it illegal to build a driveway and then put a fence around the house and remove all the doors. And the women of states run by conservatives are like, hey, why can’t I get into my house? And the state legislators are like, use your bootstraps to get in. Monday morning analogy!
Because of this, the United States still lags embarrassingly behind other developed countries in women’s reproductive health (half of pregnancies in the US are “unintended,” which is absurdly high) and, if social conservatives at the state level get their way, could slip even further.
Well, nothing else would be more depressing then the attitude of those right-wing assholes once those pregnancies come to fruition. They just don’t give a damn. Like this next story out of Indiana, which is so upsetting, I can’t even tell you how it disturbed me to read about it. Three Children Died During The Polar Vortex After Their Heat Was Cut Off | ThinkProgress
Like the rest of the mid-west, the town of Hammond, Indiana, spent the first part of last week plunged below zero degrees. But while some families tried to shut out the cold by turning up their heat and staying under blankets, the bitter temperatures turned deadly for the family of a man named Andre Young.
The house that Young was renting for himself, his wife, and five children had its electricity cut off since March, gas since April, and water since October, according to records obtained by the Chicago Tribune. On that fateful night last week, the family was getting by on propane space heaters. Authorities suspect that’s what sparked a flame that engulfed the house around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8th.
According to witness accounts, Young ran in to the house to try to rescue his five children inside. He successfully saved two — a two-year-old and a six-year-old — before the flames caused serious injury and he collapsed into the snow. Another man tried to kick in the door and save the three children who remained inside, ages four, three, and seven months. But the attempts were unsuccessful; when first responders arrived, they found the three and the four-year-old holding on to one another, just feet from the door. The seven-month-old was nearby. All three children died.
Young, who remains hospitalized in critical condition, works in lawn care, according to the Tribune. His wife worked at Walmart, but most recently was a stay-at-home mom. As is the case with so many low-income families across the U.S., neighbors say the money was not enough to make the utility payments. On two occasions, he had tried to take electricity from meters hooked up to other houses.
Turns out the house had not been inspected and the landlord was ignoring officials and refusing to pay fines, in fact the landlord was supposed to be in court this past Thursday, but did not show. The mother worked at Walmart, the father was in lawn care.
“We inspect every rental property and this one was not inspected,” City Attorney Kristina Kantar told ThinkProgress. “No water, no power, no electricity, that’s bad. But we can’t tell that from the outside of the property.”
Kantar said that she sees cases like this “every day.” Sometimes people are squatters, or sometimes, like Young, they’re just behind on utilities, and no city officials realize there is a family inside. “It’s only because there’s a fire that you even know about this,” Kantar said.
There are some programs meant to assist families like Young’s. In Hammond, Indiana, the North Township Trustee administers the federal money provided by the federal low-income energy assistance program (LIHEAP). The office can give amounts between $100 and $500 starting in October to individuals and families within 125 percent of the poverty line. Indiana’s utility, NIPSCO, also offers a hardship program and a discount program. NIPSCO spokesperson Kathleen Szot confirmed to ThinkProgress that Young was on some form of assistance, though she did not specify which kind.
Read the rest of this story. It is heartbreaking. These fucking Republicans have so much blood on their hands. Real human being blood, and not a zygote clump of cells. PLUB assholes.
After Michael Eisenga, a wealthy GOP donor and Wisconsin business owner, failed to convince several courts to lower his child support payments, he came up with an inventive plan B—he recruited a Republican state legislator to rewrite Wisconsin law in his favor.
A set of documents unearthed Saturday by the Wisconsin State Journal shows Eisenga and his lawyer, William Smiley, supplying detailed instructions to Republican state Rep. Joel Kleefisch on how to word legislation capping child support payments from the wealthy. Kleefisch began work on the legislation last fall, weeks after an appeals court rejected Eisenga’s attempts to lower his child support payments.
For example, in a September 13 letter, a drafting lawyer with Wisconsin’s legislative services bureau complained to a Kleefisch aide, “It’s hard to fashion a general principle that will apply to only one situation.”
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Eisenga’s current child support payments for the three children he has with his ex-wife are set at $216,000 a year. (Per the couple’s prenuptial agreement, the divorce settlement left his $30 million in assets untouched.)
The balls on these guys!
In 2010, Eisenga donated $10,000 to Kleefisch and his wife, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, according to the Journal Sentinel. Eisenga also donated $15,000 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
The drafting documents, available on the Wisconsin legislature’s website, leave little not doubt that the bill was written to Eisenga’s specifications. According to the documents, on September 5, Eisenga’s lawyer briefed him on changes he was suggesting to a draft of Kleefisch’s bill. “We focused only on the portion that would require the court to modify your child support order based solely on the passage of the bill,” Smiley wrote. Eisenga then forwarded that letter to Kleefisch and one of his aides, saying, “Please have the drafter make these SPECIFIC changes to the bill.” The next day, Kleefisch’s aide forwarded the letter to the legislative lawyer drafting the bill.
A hearing for the bill is scheduled Wednesday before the Assembly Family Law Committee.
Eisenga and Smiley declined to speak to local news outlets about their emails with Kleefisch. On Saturday, Kleefisch told the Journal, “I do a gamut of legislation with the help and assistance of many, many constituents, and whether they gave a contribution or not has not made a difference.”
Oh…I think Kleefisch is full of Bullshit!
While on the subject of inflated dickheads: Medicare Is Grievously Overpaying for Penis Pumps – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic
Perhaps you had assumed that penis pumps were merely novelty items, sold mostly by email spammers and in a few musty sex shops. If so, you might be interested to learn that they’re actually considered a medical fallbackoption for men whose erectile dysfunction cannot be cured by drugs like Viagra—and that Medicare has been vastly overpaying for them for years.
So says a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, descriptively titled: “Medicare Payments for Vacuum Erection Systems Are More Than Twice As Much As the Amounts Paid For the Same or Similar Devices By Non-Medicare Payers.”
A “vacuum erection system,” in case anybody’s unclear, is just a penis pump. Between 2006 and 2011, Medicare spent a total of $172 million to purchase 473,620 such devices, at an average cost to the government of $360 each. The Veterans Administration, by comparison, pays just $185 per pump. With a little Google searching, the OIG found options available for an average of $164.
Had Medicare paid those sorts of prices, it could have saved $14 million during each of the five years the report examined.
Ugh…go and read the rest of that shit too.
This next link is full of information, and it is just neat. 40 more maps that explain the world
Maps seemed to be everywhere in 2013, a trend I like to think we encouraged along with August’s 40 maps that explain the world. Maps can be a remarkably powerful tool for understanding the world and how it works, but they show only what you ask them to. You might consider this, then, a collection of maps meant to inspire your inner map nerd. I’ve searched far and wide for maps that can reveal and surprise and inform in ways that the daily headlines might not, with a careful eye for sourcing and detail. I’ve included a link for more information on just about every one. Enjoy.
And I will end with this wonderful tweet from NYC:
Innit it great to see the two of them outside that familiar diner once again?
Have a great day and stop by for a comment or two.
The RS story is by Stephen Rodrick, author of the new book The Magical Strangerand this great Dennis Rodman profile that you can read at The Stacks. He visited Serena in Florida three months ago, and she gave him, well, a few pungent quotes.
Here, for instance, is Serena with an unfortunate “she wore the dress” take on Steubenville:
We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV—two high school football players raped a 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
Now Serena has publicly apologized for her insensitive comments, and according to ESPN she also
spoke to the victim, her mother and a family lawyer for about 30 minutes Wednesday….”Serena was very nice, very sincere and it was a very well-received conversation among two women and a young lady,” attorney Bob Fitzsimmons said Thursday….
The victim’s family welcomed Williams’ apology in its own statement Wednesday, saying it was “proud of her” for the updated remarks.
“We are sure Serena has & will continue to use her God given talents to advance women’s equality and send the message that rape is never acceptable under any circumstance,” according to the statement released by Fitzsimmons.
“We are fans of Serena and will continue rooting for many more championships but more importantly watching her advance the cause of rape victims who are never to blame.”
Unfortunately, the ladies of the View decided to discuss Williams’ remarks yesterday and managed to dredge up lots more victim-blaming stereotypes. Whoopie was the worst, but some of the other women said offensive things too. Luckily Margaret Cho was there to counter some of the nonsense. Here’s the video:
In the segment’s intro, Whoopi says that the Steubenville victim was “allegedly” raped, later in the clip, Sherri Shepherd says that boys who rape are “just as culpable” (not more) than girls who go out and drink too much and Barbara Walters, when discussing convicted rapist Mike Tyson, feels the need to qualify that Tyson is now “a wonderful performer.” (Thank the powers that be that Margaret Cho was there to act as a voice of reason and empathy, otherwise our collective head might actually explode.)
As a closer, Whoopi — she of the infamous rape-rape comment — turned the conversation into a discussion of women’s personal responsibility in situations like the Steubenville one. While she would like for boys to better respect women and maybe not rape them, she put more emphasis on what girls should do — which is always wear clean underwear (???), carry cab money and avoid getting drunk. Congrats, Whoopi! You just solved rape!
“Neither party comes out of this well,” she says at the end of the segment. “So we have to do a better job with our young women.”
What is wrong with these women? None of them even seemed to notice that the Steubenville victim was an underage child! Isn’t it bad enough that we have to put up with these kinds of excuses for rape from a lot of men? But let’s face it, plenty of women buy into the rape culture. I can almost understand it from Barbara Walters who is older than dirt–but even she was more in touch with reality than Whoopie Goldberg who is quite a bit younger than I am. How does someone move in 21st century entertainment circles and hold onto such 1950s attitudes? I just don’t get it.
Please discuss or use this as an open thread.
There is some news coming out of Steubenville, Ohio in the buildup to the the grand jury investigation, which begins hearing from witnesses on Tuesday.
From The Columbus Dispatch: School, other sites searched in wider Steubenville rape probe
Police officers and investigators yesterday were searching the eastern Ohio high school attended by two football players who raped a 16-year-old girl after an alcohol-fueled party last summer, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.
Searches also took place at Vestige Ltd., a digital-evidence company in northeastern Ohio, and the offices of the Steubenville school board in addition to Steubenville High School, DeWine said. The searches are part of an attempt to learn whether other laws were broken in connection with the rape.
“What I hope people will believe when we’re done is that we did everything we could to find the truth and that justice was done,” DeWine said in an interview. “What you’re seeing today is just part of that effort.”
Using warrants, police officers and investigators began the searches about 2 p.m. and possibly would work into the night, DeWine said. There was no immediate word on what the searches turned up…
Judges sealed investigators’ requests for the search warrants at the request of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, ruling that disclosing them “would be detrimental to the ongoing criminal investigation,” according to the judges’ orders.
The Atlantic Wire asks: What Is Steubenville Still Hiding?
Toward the end of the school day Thursday, more than eight months after a Steubenville Big Red pre-season game turned into a serious of house parties and a series of attacks on a 16-year-old girl, local police and investigators showed up — as if out of nowhere — at Steubenville High. They stayed on campus into the night, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told the Associated Press, executing search warrants that were either new or unheard of — and certainly fascinating. “Steubenville Police assisted the Attorney General in the search warrants,” said William McCafferty, the local police chief who “begged” for evidence when the initial crime was reported. Officials for Steubenville city schools, who have been publicly silent (save for one brief statement) since that fateful August night that brought a social media and judicial storm upon the Ohio town, confirmed the search in a a statement released Friday reading in part that “we have been from the beginning and are continuing to fully cooperate with the authorities in this investigation.”
But this is a new investigation, and this week’s search appears to have an urgency of its own, as DeWine’s grand jury prepares to convene on Tuesday. The attorney general said the searches at Steubenville city schools were “just part of that effort” — an effort he announced after two Steubenville High students and football players, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, were found guilty of rape. “We cannot bring finality to this matter without the convening of a grand jury,” DeWine said at the time. “I anticipate numerous witnesses will be called. The grand jury, quite frankly, could meet for a number of days.”
Grand juries, by their nature, are conducted in secret, and the warrants executed on Thursday remain sealed — and so it remains unclear whether investigators were searching computers, paperwork, or physical evidence. DeWine has said the grand jury will be looking for, among other things, at the crimes of failure to report a felony, tampering with evidence. DeWine explained that “indictments could be returned and additional charges could be filed” in light of the jury, the nine members of which were seated last week but will begin hearing testimony and reviewing evidence on April 30. He alsocalled the grand jury “a very good investigative tool as well as a very deliberative body,” which makes the timing of the school search all the more interesting.
It sounds like this could get interesting. Personally, I’m hoping Coach Reno Saccoccia gets his comeuppance.
Yesterday, Democrats in Congress once again allowed Republicans to treat them like doormats when they voted to ease sequestration “pain” for the mostly wealthy frequent flyers.
Hey, no big deal right? All he did was cover up a couple of rapes committed by his players… /s
Despite allegations that he knew about a rape and tried to protect his players who committed it, despite widespread criticism that he didn’t punish his team enough and that he should be fired, and despite a grand jury that could charge him looming next week, the powerful Steubenville High football coach Reno Saccocia has been approved for a two-year administrative contract, the city superintendent confirmed to The Atlantic Wire Monday afternoon.
The Ohio Valley’s Herald Star newspaper reported on the Steubenville school board’s minutes over the weekend in an article that included a single phrase about the coach’s new deal:
Two-year administrative contracts for Charles Kokiko, administrator; Bryan Mills, assistant middle school principal; Reno Saccoccia, director of administrative services; Joseph Yanok, middle school principal; Melinda Young, director of programs; and Sara Elliot, school psychologist.
In a phone interview with the Wire, Steubenville schools superintendent Mike McVey described the administrative services position as a “board approved two-year-administrative contract in his current position” that was up for renewal. “Coaching contracts are different from teaching and administrative contracts,” McVey said, stressing that the teaching title was “supplemental” to Saccoccia’s coaching contract.
Nonetheless, the school board’s approval will keep Saccoccia at the school — and it signals a vote of confidence in perhaps the most influential man in the fading steel town that was consumed by the social media response to a case in which two of Saccoccia’s players were convicted in juvenile court of raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl at after parties for a pre-season game by the powerhouse Big Red football team. A grand jury hearing into possible additional charges relating to the parties and their aftermath is now scheduled to convene on April 30.
Why am I not surprised?
Royal Mayo, who has lived his entire life in Steubenville, Ohio spoke to a conservative publication, International Business Times (IBT) and made some shocking remarks about the victim in the high profile Steubenville rape case. Mays is a former president of the local chapter of the NAACP–he left the post in 2010–and is still a member of its “executive committee.” According to a statement given to IBT, he does not speak for the NAACP.
Mayo used the words “alleged victim,” referring to 16-year-old “Jane Doe” (whose name has not been published because she is a minor), despite the fact that two teenagers have already been convicted of raping her. He claims Jane Doe is at fault because she got drunk and willingly left a party to be with Trent Mays.
In a phone interview with the International Business Times, Mayo described the 16-year-old girl as the “alleged victim” and said she might have been having consensual sex. “She said her mother brought her to the party, at 3 o’clock, with a bottle of vodka,” Mayo said. “Where did you get it, young lady? You brought it from home? Where’d you get it? You came to the party with your mother.”
Mayo added that she might have been a willing participant, apparently unfazed by the inflammatory nature of such statements. “They’re alleging she got raped; she’s acknowledging that she wanted to leave with Trent. Her friends say she pushed them away as she went and got into the car, twice telling them, ‘I know what I’m doing; I’m going with Trent,’” Mayo said.
Mayo also claims the girl arrived at the party with her mother and a bottle of vodka. I’m not sure where he got that information. Mayo knows Ma’lik Richmond and his family and has counseled Richmond in the past.
“Back in August, when the rumors first started going around, I talked to Ma’lik, and he said, ‘No, Mr. Mayo, we didn’t do anything to that girl. I don’t know what these rumors are; I don’t understand it.’”
Naturally, I find Mayo’s victim blaming repulsive and way way beyond inappropriate, but I do think some of what he says about the police could have some validity even though he isn’t the best source for cover-up charges. He suggests that Mays and Richmond were singled out to be “sacrificed” because Richmond is black and poor and Mays is not from Steubenville–he was recruited from another county.
“You hear local people saying, ‘We got this out of the way, let us just heal, let the community start to heal.’ It’s like these two were sacrificed, the poor black kid and the white kid who is from the next county, in the next town over, who were sacrificed over all the other dirt and corruption that would be uncovered if you come into Steubenville,” Mayo says.
He claims that police had other DNA samples that were ignored and that a witness who testified he saw Richmond digitally penetrate the Jane Doe when she was unconscious–Evan Westlake–refused to give a DNA sample and police didn’t compel him to do so.
It’s true that the Steubenville Police Department has a history of corruption and racism. It was
the target of 48 civil-rights lawsuits over a 20-year period regarding issues such as false arrests, excessive force and police misconduct. As a result, it became only the second city in the country to be subject to a consent decree from the federal government. In its 1997 ruling, the Department of Justice stated, “The United States alleges that officers of the Steubenville Police Department have engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights, privileges or immunities secured and protected by the Constitution and the laws of the United States and that the city of Steubenville, the Steubenville Police Department and the Steubenville city manager (in his capacity as director of public safety) have caused and condoned this conduct through inadequate policies and failure to train, monitor, supervise and discipline police officers and to investigate alleged misconduct.”
Mayo’s victim-blaming is getting the most attention in media reports so far; but some of his points about police misconduct may well have some merit. A Grand Jury will begin meeting in mid-April with a judge appointed from another Ohio county. There certainly are indications of a cover-up that may have benefited students whom Mayo calls “connected.” In addition to Westlake, you have to wonder why neither the boy at whose home the attack took place nor his parents have been charged with anything.
Let’s hope such suspicions will be thoroughly aired before the Grand Jury.
NOTE: At Salon.com, Mary Elizabeth Williams published a detailed statement from the national NAACP:
”The NAACP abhors the remarks attributed to Royal Mayo regarding the rape victim in the Steubenville. The remarks are Mayo’s own, and do not reflect the position of the NAACP and its membership.” Mayo is a member of the Ohio NAACP executive committee. The statement added, “Mr. Mayo is not the president of the Steubenville NAACP and is not a spokesman for the NAACP. The article attributing him as such has been corrected by the International Business Times. Rape is a despicable crime of violence. The NAACP understands that comments that blame victims for the actions of their attackers contribute to and perpetuate a culture of acquiescence to rape. The NAACP advocates strongly for a society where victims of rape and sexual assault can come forward and seek legal redress without further retribution from the community, media or society at large.”
UPDATE: Mayo is now claiming he never made any statements blaming the victim. From WRTF.com
A member of the Steubenville NAACP is claiming an article by the International Business Times is false when it claims he told them he blamed the victim of the Steubenville rape trial for the assault.
Royal Mayo tells WTRF.com he “absolutely never said that,” in reference to claims made in the article. In the article, Mayo also claims that other teens involved that night were let off easy, because they were “well-connected.”