I am so angry that I can hardly see straight.
Allow me to jog your memory. This would be the case of gang rape where nine men allegedly attacked an unconscious teenage girl while she was covered in her own vomit. This would be the case where three very brave other girls forced their way inside the room, rescued the victim and took her to a hospital.
What we have here is one of the most clear-cut kind of rape cases in existance: the victim was unconscious, had to be taken to the hospital, and there were three eye witnesses to the crime. Normally, you hear “it’s her word against his, no one knows what happened in there.” You’ll hear the lack of impartial witnesses as an excuse for acquittal or even lack of an arrest. Here, there were eye witnesses. Three of them. And are we on our way to a conviction? No. These nine men will walk free to happily live the rest of their worthless rapist lives.
In short, rape apologism shifts. When it’s a “date rape” people will say “how do we know she didn’t consent? It’s not like she’s covered in bruises.” When she’s covered in bruises, the victim in question will simply “like it rough.” When the woman is unconscious and therefore can’t just “like it rough,” she will be accused of misidentifying her attacker, or people will argue “well, she didn’t say no.” When she does say no, it’s “why didn’t she fight? He didn’t have a weapon.” When she did fight back or he did have a weapon, it’s “well there’s no DNA evidence.” When there’s DNA evidence, it’s “well he probably did it, but it’s not like there were any witnesses . . .” When there are witnesses, three of them in fact, who are willing and eager to testify?
When there are witnesses, they just won’t be allowed up on the fucking stand (emphasis mine).
Santa Clara County prosecutors never sought the grand jury testimony of three young women who rescued a 17-year-old girl allegedly being sexually assaulted at a house party hosted by members of the De Anza College baseball team, two of the women said Monday.
“We think our statements should have been heard,” said Lauren Chief Elk in her first public comments since state prosecutors announced Friday they backed an earlier decision by Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr not to pursue charges in the case.
“We were never asked to be in front of a grand jury,” April Grolle said. “I don’t really understand the decision.”
Both women, now 21, expressed their frustration at a lack of prosecution that Chief Elk called “a complete travesty of justice.”
Carr spokesman Nick Muyo declined to comment on why the women were not asked to testify before the grand jury, saying that Santa Clara County prosecutors would not comment on the case beyond a statement released Friday that did not address the grand jury process or other issues.
Grand juries are panels that prosecutors can convene in secret to seek an indictment when a crime is suspected.
Carr and prosecutors at state Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office have both said there was insufficient evidence to prove the alleged victim, identified only as Jane Doe, was sexually assaulted at the alcohol-soaked party in March 2007.
Yeah, insufficient evidence. I imagine there would be, if you don’t present any real evidence at all.
There is a hell of a lot to say about this case. I can remind you how hard the victim and her supporters had to fight to even get her case examined. I can remind you of the disgusting, inhuman and inexcusable comments made about the victim. We can talk about the irresponsibility of the prosecutors and the politics they’re playing. We can talk about how fucking stupid they were to grant three accused men immunity, apparently without guaranteeing and insisting that they would testify against their co-rapists. We can talk about how they were probably fucking stupid enough to grant immunity to the one man who all of the three witnesses could identify, seeing as how his ass isn’t being charged either.
We can talk about that. I hope and think that others will. But I want to talk about this:
Lately, I’ve been hearing a hell of a lot about “real rape,” About how using the word “rape” to describe a silly little thing like your boyfriend raping you is trivializing real rape. About how committing rape without a struggle is “wrong,” but you know, promoting those cases over the really brutal ones just hurts us. It makes anti-rape activists look “hysterical,” in fact. “Hey,” these folks say, “we want to stop rape, too! But let’s just focus on the really, really bad ones of my personal choosing so that I don’t have to face the fact that I know a lot of women who have been raped/I have been raped/I might be a rapist.”
There will always be an excuse. If there is one thing to take away from this horrifying miscarriage of justice — and maybe I’m grasping at straws, because I feel like there needs to be something — it is this. No matter what the case, there will always be one that is “worse.” There will always be some way to inspire doubt. There will always be “insufficient evidence.” The woman will have always “wanted it.” Always. I promise you.
And this is why we can’t let these assholes sway us. It’s easy, when feeling like the entire world is against you and your cause to become paranoid and start wondering if maybe they have a point. Maybe spending time on less heinous crimes is a waste. Maybe your own rape wasn’t really all that bad. Maybe you ought to let this one go.
But it’s not so. And the De Anza case is the reason why.
Rape apologism shifts. It’s not static, and this bears repeating. Its a means of protecting an entire culture, an entire legal system and an entire power structure. Of course the excuses and defenses for it will change as needed. It’s a survival strategy. And those using it are fighting for the survival of their right to rape, or for their continued belief in the world as they know and understand it.
There were nine men in that room. We don’t know how many of them actually committed rape — and how many of them didn’t get their “chance” — but standing there and watching a woman be raped, not doing anything to stop it, probably getting off on it, makes you the equivalent of a fucking rapist in my book. Three women saw it. Three women did the right thing. Three women who did not know the victim, had never met her, had nothing to gain and their own safety to lose by intervening. They were brave enough to see and not ignore, brave enough to act and brave enough to speak.
They were brave, and our society is fucking cowardly. The rapists go free and will be declared victims of an over-zealous legal system, the victim will be branded a liar, and more and more men horrible enough to entertain the idea will realize just how goddamn easy it is to get away with rape.
And there will be millions of excuses about how this is okay.
By letting the “less bad” rapes go, by accepting the excuses, we’re not just selling out the women who are actually representative of most rape victims. We’re not just selling out victims of date rape, intimate partner rape and acquaintance rape. We’re not just selling out the women who didn’t fight back. We’re also selling out the woman here, who will have to live her life knowing that the nine men responsible for her rape while she was passed out, ill and helpless, have been vindicated by our judicial system. Because this ploy that ignoring the more common rapes will help victims of the more heinous ones, it’s all a lie. And it has worked. The way that law enforcement, district attorneys offices, judges, juries and members of the community ignore some rapes lends credibility to the idea that the crime isn’t really so bad. By “letting go” of some rapes our society has effectively managed to let go of all of them. Once the arguments are given merit, you can keep on applying them to just about anything.
Including the victims who these apologists claim they’re trying to help. Including cases with impartial witnesses. Someone tell me: if three witnesses can’t get a rape conviction, what the fuck can? And when will the excuses stop?
UPDATE: This column will enrage you (particularly the end), but it’s important because it provides a couple of additional key facts. On the extremely terrifying and disturbing side, the vomit that the victim was covered in is very strongly alleged to not be her own. On the positive side, the victim is filing a civil suit. Thanks Nick.