October 27, 2016

When We Prioritize Rapists Over Their Victims, Part II

[content note: sexual assault, incest, our ridiculous justice system]

I honestly hope that there comes a day when we don't ever have to talk about this again, but alas, that day is not today, and here I am, talking about this. Again.

Back in August, I wrote a piece I titled The Conversations We Have With Our Daughters, and it was actually fairly well read considering the fact that I do very little to publicize this blog. It seemed to resonate with people across the political and religious spectrums, which is a rarity for me. I can't say this was surprising, though, because the story that I talked about--the extraordinary light sentencing of the rapist Brock Turner, who is a rapist, and who was convicted of raping someone (all of the redundancy is purposeful)--resonated across the board. It tapped into social justice and feminist themes from left-leaning individuals and personal accountability and the overall softening of morality for right-leaning individuals. It was, indeed, the one story that the majority of our country seemed able to agree on.

Seeing the outrage over the rapist Brock Turner's sentence was buoying for me. It seemed like people were really willing to take a stand, and I had hope that we would see other judges taking note. I had hope that we would see sexual assault victims feeling that level of support.

And then the next story happened.

And then, just this week, I see the headline, "Father who 'repeatedly raped his 12-year-old daughter gets 60 days."

60. Days.

The headline is alone is enough to make my blood pressure veer dangerously high, but then you get further into the story, and you see that--ONCE AGAIN--the needs of the males around a female sexual assault victim are AGAIN prioritized over the victim's own needs.

From a Washington Post piece:

In the note to the AP, McKeon also referenced letters written to him by the victim’s mother and grandmother. Both letters requested the convicted man not be sentenced to prison. 
The victim’s mother, who walked in on the man sexually abusing her daughter, wrote that the man’s two sons love him and she wanted his “children have an opportunity to heal the relationship with their father,” according to McKeon. 
The victim’s grandmother echoed this, calling the man’s behavior “horrible” but stating that the man’s children, “especially his sons, will be devastated if their Dad is no longer part of their lives.”

The judge also said that the mandatory minimum sentencing law allows for any defendant who is convicted of assaulting a child under the age of 12 to be given an alternate sentence if it is shown that perhaps psychiatric treatment would be more appropriate.

Are you seeing a theme here? Everyone's talking about the rehabilitation of this rapist. They're talking about the sons needing to have a relationship with their father.

What about the victim? The Washington Post reported:

For all these letters defending the convicted man, though, Deputy Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen told the AP that no one spoke on behalf of the victim, a 12-year-old girl, at Friday’s sentencing hearing.

Did no one think to talk to the victim about what SHE needed from the justice system? Maybe ask her what she needed to see happen in order for her to feel safe again? What's her opinion?

Nada. Listen to the crickets chirping.

I'd love to be nice, and I'd love to be nuanced, but to be honest, I can't. I'm just too damned pissed off at this point.

Quit prioritizing the needs of rapists and other males over the needs of victims.

WTAF. Why does this have to be said?!

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