Recently American rape culture has had a bright light shone upon it. The way victims, female victims in particular, are treated after being sexually assaulted is atrocious. Misogyny seems to be so ingrained in our society that victims are ostracized across the internet and in the media without a second thought. The rape of an unconscious girl in Steubenville, Ohio was among one of the most glaring examples of how rapists are coddled in our country. The extremely light sentences those rapists received was utterly outrageous and I honestly didn’t think it could get more disappointing than that; I was wrong. A former Montana high school teacher Stacey Dean Rambold is set to serve 30 days in jail for the rape of a 14-year-old student because…wait for it…the judge claims she was just as much to blame.
In 2008, 49-year-old Stacey Rambold was arrested for engaging in at least three sexual encounters with 14-year-old Cherice Morales. Morales, who was described as a ‘troubled girl’ by prosecutors, committed suicide just three weeks before her seventeenth birthday. After her death in 2010, Rombold admitted to one count of rape and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement. Prosecutors placed the case on hold for three years, and promised to dismiss the charges if Rombold completed a sex offender treatment program. Rombold was kicked out of the program and in December 2012 prosecutors decided to move forward with the case.
Chief Deputy County Attorney Rod Souza recommended that Rombold be sentenced to twenty years in prison with ten years suspended for the rape of Morales. The judge, however, had different ideas.
Judge G. Todd Baugh handed down a shocking and despicable sentence that failed not only Morales, but the justice system as a whole. Rombold was sentenced to fifteen years with all but 31 days suspended and given credit for one day time served; that translates into a whopping 30 days in jail for one count of sexual intercourse without consent. Without consent — remember that, because it becomes important in relation to the judges words while handing down Rombold’s sentence.
Baugh said while considering his sentence he listened to recording of Morales before her suicide and he believes that Morales was,”older than her chronological age,” and,”as much in control of the situation,” as Rombold.
Morales’ mother was outraged as the judge handed down the sentence and began screaming,”you guys suck.” She is absolutely right.
A 14-year-old victim was RAPED by her 49-year-old teacher and the judge, the man who is supposed to uphold the law, thinks that the rapist wasn’t completely at fault? That the 14-year-old CHILD was in control of the situation? That the 14-year-old child, who was so troubled that she later killed herself, was much older than her actual age? More mature than her 14 years?! Are you angry? I’m very angry.
This is an unbelievable example of rape culture in this country. This judge is blaming a child for her own rape. When did it become the victim’s fault? When did the law stop expecting rapists to control themselves? This man raped that child; Sexual intercourse without consent is rape! The judge convicted him of rape and then said that the victim was just as much in control of the situation as the perpetrator? I would laugh at the logic if I weren’t so disgusted. Children CANNOT consent to sex! That is why we have laws that are supposed to protect them and acknowledge that they are not mature enough to make that sort of decision. It doesn’t matter if a 14-year-old looks like she is 34. It doesn’t matter if she is mature for her age; A 14-year-old is still a child.
I am pissed and in my rant I have made it seem as if this is just a problem facing American society, it’s not. In England a judge made a very similar ruling:
Earlier this month in London, Neil Wilson, 41, pleaded guilty to “two counts of making extreme pornographic images and one count of sexual activity with a child.” He was sentenced to eight months in jail, but the Judge Nigel Peters suspended the sentence for two years because his victim, who was thirteen at the time, “was predatory and she was egging [him] on.”
Yep, another case of a child being blamed for the actions of a rapist…..mind blowing.
Blaming a victim for their own victimization is about as low as it gets. Blaming a child for their rape is even lower. Blaming a child for the actions of an adult is downright reprehensible. The judges in both cases should be thrown off the bench. They should absolutely never, ever be allowed to rule on anything again. But most importantly, we as a society need to ask ourselves why this is happening. When did blaming a child rape victim become an accepted practice? And we need to change it.
It is naive to think that the worldwide rape culture will be changed overnight but inaction is certainly not the answer. Acceptance is not the answer. Sitting at home and being outraged from our computer chairs is not the answer. It’s time to get off of our asses and start fighting for change. It’s time to put as much energy into getting justice for these victims as society does making excuses for the perpetrators. We need to start yesterday.