Wednesday, March 15, 2006

On the closest thing to justice available

Okay, so the three defendants in the Orange County rape case have been sentenced to six years each in state prison. They're likely to serve twenty-one months, also known as "less than two years for raping and sodomizing an unconscious 16-year-old girl and putting lit cigarettes in her vagina." I'm giving you the gentle version, for the record. More thorough descriptions, as well as a transcript of the video, can be found at Pandagon. I considered quoting them here, but I just couldn't manage it; they're not for the faint of heart.

Neither is the description of what the victim went through as a result of the rape and subsequent trial. She was stalked by private investigators, had her name exposed by the rapists' families, had her privacy violated just as her body had been - and then had to sit in court as defense attorneys accused her of being a little slut who asked to be raped, degraded and videotaped, nay demanded it, nay faked unconsciousness so that she could rape the boys herself.

During sentencing, the rapists tried to explain, if not excuse, what they'd done. Greg Haidl:
“It was never my intention to cause you pain,” he said. She sat in the front row, looking away. “If there’s anything I can do . . . .” he said, and then trailed off. “What happened that night was not planned or plotted,” he continued. “It was a miniscule piece of what I was. I wake up everyday and feel bad about the people I hurt. Someone was hurt because of my acts.”

Kyle Nachreiner:
He too apologized for his “repugnant actions,” said “I accept full responsibility” and assured the court that his time in jail “gave him time to reflect on his life.” He summed it up: “I was leading a self-destructive life.”

Keith Spann didn't say anything. His mother said he wasn't a good public speaker.

All of that is fairly pathetic, consider what they did, but it can be argued that nothing could possibly be said that would be an adequate answer to such a crime. However, what is unarguable is that fact that trying to excuse their actions would be unconscionable, and is exactly what their attorneys tried to do.
In the morning, we heard the defendants and their supporters protest their remorse. That changed after lunch, when Haidl’s attorney, Al Stokke, went after Jane Doe, denying that her emotional stress could be positively linked to the attack. He criticized a prosecutor’s request that the three not be segregated from the general prison population as “without question, the most outrageous position I have ever seen.” It was tantamount, he said, to “calling for their murder.”
But Keith Spann’s attorney, Peter Morreale, pulled out the sharpest knife. He called Judge Briseno’s sentence “a bit excessive,” then called him an excellent judge and took aim at District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. It was not Spann who should be ashamed, he said, but the DA. “The way the prosecutor’s office pursued this matter was unconscionable,” Morreale said. “There was a political agenda that drove this case. A lot of politics were involved. It should have been handled professionally.” In answer to a reporter’s question, he called the prosecution “a witch hunt.” He blamed the DA for “dragging everyone through the mud, including the victim.”

It was Morreale who, in court, famously asked Jane Doe if she liked to swallow after oral sex.

This will never be over for Jane Doe. She'll have to live the rest of her life with the rape and the further violation at trial. Horrible, horrible things were done to her body, and then her lifestyle and her quality of life got the same treatment.

What shocks me even more than Doe's continued victimization by the defense attorneys is the attitude shown by some of the commenters at the blogs I've linked:
Teenagers have been making youthful indiscretions forever. It will never change.

Life goes on.

My hope for all concerned in this mess, is that everyone moves forward with their life and can reach a point where they move past it.

The gal will get a considerable amount of money from the civil suit, and hopefully, get into a zone of foregiveness. And, the gentlemen will get on with their lives with these mistakes becoming nothing but distant memories, if that.

Everybody move on and let these youthful indiscretions that we all make, be in the past.

Forgive and forget!
- Maxine

You people are all so manipulated by what society tells you to think and not reality. What these boys did happens every day throughout the US. This girl had slept with all 3 in the previous week, so she was easy, and we have all known that girl in high school. She came over that night expecting to get fucked by one if not all three. Wasn’t that her comment to her girlfriend that she probably would have fucked all three if they wanted to. [...] Had the video never come out no one would have been destroyed as have all of the players forever. These poor boys are going to be sacrificed in prison and forever irreprebaly damaged as is Jane Doe if not already. But ask yourself, a 16 yo girl that is sexually active? Bad parenting is the blame. The boys were presented with a forbidden opportunity and they did not grasp the seriousness of their action. I doubt they even considered they were breaking a law. Ever high school class has a low self esteem slut that will fuck anybody. - Steve

Luckily, the vast majority of the comments were in support of Jane Doe, some of them even taking Steve and Maxine to task for their absolute idiocy. But the fact remains that some people out there still think that way: that boys will be boys. That any sexually active girl is just asking to be violated. That if a girl has ever consented to anything, she always consents to everything. That boys can't be held responsible for their actions if we place the irresistible temptation of an unconscious girl in front of them.

I've run out of things to say. I really can't think of anything else; I don't know what to say to the idea that you can know what happened to her, what was shown on video, and still find a way to excuse it away, blame the victim, wonder why we can't just be friends. Forgiveness is precious, but this one isn't mine to forgive, and if I'm a worse person for it, then so be it: I couldn't care less what happens to these boys in prison. I won't wish harm on them, but if they end up someone's woman, if their lives are ruined, if they never get married or can't get a job, I don't care even a little bit. They did this, and then in the name of their defense, they and their lawyers kept doing this, and after it's all said and done, other people keep doing it. And I've just run out of things to say.

I'll let Amanda say it:
They called Jane Doe “trash”, followed her around, smeared her name all over town and otherwise let it be known how most of society feels about women who speak out against sexual assault. Well, I’m going to adamantly disagree.

Jane Doe is a hero.

She got these pigs off the street so they don’t do it to someone else. She put up with a lot for that sliver of a hope that her pursuit of justice would mean something. And something so small, really–to be free. To be able to have friends you can visit. To be able to go to a party, like a man can, without fear of being brutally raped. To be considered human. It’s a fucking tiny little thing and for some reason, in the 21st century we still have rapists being set free, basic medical care denied to women because they have conditions only women get, and for some butt fuck reason, some people worry that a guy might be paying a little more in child support than he’d really rather while women in some places are worrying if they can get treated if they go to the ER after getting raped.

For daring to assert that she wasn’t a sex toy for teenage boys to work out their sick fantasies, a totem for them to show each other that they can be crueler than the last, but in fact a human being, Jane Doe has seen her life turn to shit, her name dragged through the mud. But to some of us, she’s a hero and I really, really hope she knows that, small comfort that it may be.

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