Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Juvenile Injustice?

This past Monday, March 18th in Steubenville, Ohio, Judge Thomas Lipps sentenced two star high school football player's to 16 year old Malik Richmond, to 1 year in a Juvenile facility, and 17 year old Trent Mays was sentenced to 2 years. Both young men may be detained until they are 21 depending on their progress in juvenile detention, Judge Lipps said, in front of a stunned court room.
The judge's decision, comparable to a guilty verdict in adult criminal court, follows four days of testimony in a nonjury trial that attracted national and international media outlets to the economically depressed former steel town of 19,000. which is located 40 miles west of Pittsburgh.
Both boys were charged with rape, for penetrating an inebriated 16 year old girl with their fingers and other inappropriate sexual acts. Their attorneys did not deny that sexual contact took place. But argued that the evidence did not support rape charges. Pictures and video of the assault taken at a party on August 11, of last year, were posted on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube by numerous teens who were in attendance.

Richmond, the youngest of the two, walked across the courtroom toward the victim's family but collapsed, crying, into the arms of the chief probation officer.
He apologized several times but his sobs rendered the apologies virtually incoherent, and indecipherable.
This case has divided the town amid allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, after prosecutors granted immunity to certain witnesses, some in the community were outraged due to the fact that some of the teens who were present that night weren't facing charges. A big part of the controversy was the fact that once the footage was seen on social media local authorities were slow to act. So much so that special prosecutors from the state attorney general's office and Judge Lipps, from Hamilton County, were brought in after some local officials recused themselves for conflicts of interest.

There are obviously no winner's in this case. All 3 teens, including the victim, made extremely bad decisions on the night of August 11, 2012 that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The fact that both Richmond, and Mays thought that it was ok to assault an inebriated girl is an indication of a much deeper issue.

It has been said over and over again that rape is about power, and not sex. People who seek power are most often people who are powerless. Those who have a perception of powerlessness will always seek to build their inner strength by taking someone else's power. We must teach are young men to have high self esteem, so that they do not feel the need to make themselves feel strong and powerful by taking someone else's strength, and power. We must raise them to love themselves so that they feel worthy of receiving, and not taking. If they have a high self worth then nothing that they want will be out of reach, and their positivity will attracted progress. It also important that they are taught to ignore societal norms that objectify women. Because women are not just objects of lust and desire to be had at a mans whim.

Young girls must be taught to be young ladies who respect themselves, and each other. They must learn to love themselves enough to maintain a level of self awareness at all times. Not allowing themselves to be put in a position where they could be violated. There is a legal drinking age in all 50 states for a reason.

A part of this story that I did not mention is the fact that the victim received death threats from other teenage girls via Facebook. I find it absolutely amazing that this girl was vilified for being assaulted, and demonized for being taken advantage of. The defenses argument was that the sex was consensual. So automatically there was an attempt to prove that the victims character was dubious at best, and promiscuous at worst. This defensive tactic was a play on public perception and double standards. (The victim brought it on herself, and boys will be boys.) But we will never be able to turn boys into men if we reinforce the stereotype of the heterosexual male as a beast who's ability to control his urges depends purely on his circumstances.

Ultimately raising boys to be men, and raising girls to be young ladies is the parents responsibility. If parents don't take responsibility for training their children in the way that they should go, and raise them with a sense of discipline, there are a number of correctional institutions that are ready, waiting, and willing to pick up the slack.


Side bar:
Before the verdict, at the top of the picture on the right. He looks kind of smug, almost as if he is smiling.

After the verdict. At the bottom of the picture......he doesn't seem quite as happy.

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