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.”
I’m going to devote this morning’s post to the horrifying gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas. I will discuss the shockingly misogynistic mainstream media coverage of the story and provide links to reactions from other newspapers and blogs. I will also provide examples of similar gang rape cases involving victim-blaming.
Yesterday, Minkoff Minx wrote about the shocking case in Texas that broke over the past couple of days–an 11-year-old girl raped by at least 18 boys and men–perhaps as many as 28. I’m sure you have all read about this case by now, but I think it deserves to be discussed further, particularly because there have been a number of similar shocking cases reported in the past couple of years in which very young female victims have been blamed for the violence committed against them.
MAINSTREAM MEDIA COVERAGE
Here is what happened to an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas, last November, according to James C. McKinley, Jr., the misogynistic reporter assigned to cover the story for The New York Times.
The affidavit said the assault started after a 19-year-old boy invited the victim to ride around in his car. He took her to a house on Travis Street where one of the other men charged, also 19, lived. There the girl was ordered to disrobe and was sexually assaulted by several boys in the bedroom and bathroom. She was told she would be beaten if she did not comply, the affidavit said.
A relative of one of the suspects arrived, and the group fled through a back window. They then went to the abandoned mobile home, where the assaults continued. Some of those present recorded the sexual acts on their telephones, and these later were shown among students.
That sounds pretty horrific to me. A 19-year-old boy picks up an 11-year-old girl (he took her from her own home, by the way–she wasn’t just hanging around the neighborhood begging to be raped) threatens her with physical harm, and then rapes her. And then he invites a bunch of his friends over so they can rape her too.
But what is misogynist reporter James C. McKinley most concerned about? You guessed it. He’s worried about how this will affect the lives of those poor boys and men who were somehow forced to rape a little girl.
The case has rocked this East Texas community to its core and left many residents in the working-class neighborhood where the attack took place with unanswered questions. Among them is, if the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?
“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”
I have news for James McKinley. Little girls do not cause men to rape them. I don’t care what articles of clothing those little girls are wearing or how much make-up they have on their faces. They are not responsible for the actions of rapists. These young men weren’t “drawn in.” They made their own choices to commit a horrible crime. I frankly don’t give a shit that they “have to live with this for the rest of their lives.” What exactly does McKinley imagine it will be like for an 11-year-old who was raped by 20-plus men? Does McKinley even have the ability to imagine what that will be like? Or does he simply think of the victim as some kind of throwaway? A girl who deserved to be punished for her “dressing older than her age” and talking to teenage boys on a playground?
Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.
“Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?” said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record. “How can you have an 11-year-old child missing down in the Quarters?”
I have a better question. What were those “young men” thinking? Where were their mothers and fathers? What kind of family produces children so cruel and soulless that they grow up to rape little girls and use their cell phones to record her ordeal?