Tuesday, January 21, 2003

The Recent California Rape Case

This post also appears on my blog.

Mike Peterson, a columnist for the Post-Star in Glens Falls, New York, wrote a column about the recent Supreme Court decision that defined rape as "continued penetration by a man after a consenting woman demands that the intercourse stop." Reaction to the news was swift and fierce. "The media were horrified," Peterson wrote. "This nice young 17-year-old kid was going to have to carry a rape charge through life, despite the fact that the sex was consensual until this ditzy chick changed her mind, and, even then, the silly girl wasn't clear about her new attitude."

The media jumped on it. The so-called "law" in the Land of Fruit and Nuts had proven that all a woman had to do was cry "he raped me!" in order to ruin a man's life. Those men who howled that women frequently used the courts as a weapon of revenge and malice finally had the vindication they were looking for. This "ditzy chick" destroyed an innocent guy with what they thought was one of the most effect weapons in the Lying Bitch arsenal - the Rape Defense.

The problem is, it didn't happen that way.

Peterson ran a Google search to get to the facts behind the case. I did the same. The truth, as it turns out, was a far cry from the spinning done by the media.

Originally, there were two co-defendents, not one. John Z. appealed the original conviction. The second defendant, Juan G., "admitted amended charges of sexual battery ... and unlawful sexual intercourse." Both are misdemeanors.

On March 23, 2000, Juan G. called Laura T., the rape victim, while she worked at a nearby Safeway. They met two weeks earlier. Juan G. asked Laura T. to drive him to a party at John Z.'s home and to come pick him up at about 8:30 p.m. She agreed to drop him off but told him to find another ride home because she was unable to pick him up. She had planned to attend a church group meeting that evening.

She later drove him to John Z.'s home. John and another guy were there. Laura left to pick up a guy who was going to buy beer for the party. They returned to John's home with the beer. Laura agreed to stay until about 8:30 pm. John and Juan drank the beer. Laura did not.

Later, Laura and Juan went to John's parent's bedroom. Juan said he wanted to have sex, but Laura declined, saying she "was not ready for that kind of activity." Juan became "upset," and went into the bathroom. Laura left the bedroom. John and the other guy asked her why she "wouldn't do stuff." She said she wasn't ready.

As Laura prepared to leave for her church group meeting, John asked her to come up to the bedroom to talk. He said that Juan didn't really care for her and that he, John, suggested he become her boyfriend. He left the room to take a phone call.

What transpired upon his return lays to rest the media outrage that Laura merely changed her mind in midstream. It also shows that the young men were not innocent victims of a young woman's bullshit false cries of rape when she's not happy over what she supposedly had freely chosen to do. "The minor" refers to John Z.

When the minor returned to the bedroom he and Juan asked Laura if it was her fantasy to have two guys, and Laura said it was not. Juan and the minor began kissing Laura and removing her clothes, although she kept telling them not to. At some point, the boys removed Laura's pants and underwear and began "fingering" her, "playing with [her] boobs" and continued to kiss her. Laura enjoyed this activity in the beginning, but objected when Juan removed his pants and told the minor to keep fingering her while he put on a condom. Once the condom was in place, the minor left the room and Juan got on top of Laura. She tried to resist and told him she did not want to have intercourse, but he was too strong and forced his penis in her vagina. The rape terminated when, due to Laura's struggling, the condom fell off. Laura told Juan that "maybe it's a sign we shouldn't be doing this," and he said "fine" and left the room.

Laura rolled over on the bed and began trying to find her clothes; however, because the room was dark she was unable to do so. The minor, who had removed his clothing, then entered the bedroom and walked to where Laura was sitting on the bed and "he like rolled over [her] so [she] was pushed back down to the bed." Laura did not say anything and the minor began kissing her and telling her that she had "a really beautiful body." The minor got on top of Laura, put his penis in her vagina "and rolled [her] over so [she] was sitting on top of him." Laura testified she "kept . . . pulling up, trying to sit up to get it out . . . [a]nd he grabbed my hips and pushed me back down and then he rolled me back over so I was on my back . . . and . . . kept saying, `will you be my girlfriend.'" Laura "kept like trying to pull away" and told him that "if he really did care about me, he wouldn't be doing this to me and if he did want a relationship, he should wait and respect that I don't want to do this." After about 10 minutes, the minor got off of Laura, helped her dress and find her keys. She then drove home.

On cross-examination, Laura testified that when the minor entered the room unclothed, he lay on the bed behind her and touched her shoulder with just enough pressure to make her move, a nudge. He asked her to lie down and she did. He began kissing her and she kissed him back. He rolled on top of her, inserted his penis in her and, although she resisted, he rolled her back over pulling her on top of him. She was on top of him for four or five minutes, during which time she tried to get off but he grabbed her waist and pulled her back down. He rolled her over and continued the sexual intercourse. Laura told him that she needed to go home but he would not stop. He said, "[J]ust give me a minute," and she said, "[N]o, I need to get home." He replied, "[G]ive me some time" and she repeated, "[N]o, I have to go home." The minor did not stop, "[h]e just stayed inside of me and kept like basically forcing it on me." After about a "minute, minute and [a] half," the minor got off of Laura.

The old, biased view of rape is that it isn't "real" if she doesn't fight back, is unclear, or is not sufficiently "outraged." Even when one considers Laura unclear statements and actions that could have lead John to believe she consented to sex, the court ruled that "there is substantial evidence that she withdrew her consent and clearly communicated that fact to the minor." She tried repeatedly to push him off. He rolled back onto her, and kept thrusting. He said "[J]ust give me a minute. She replied "[N]o, I need to go home." He kept "forcing it" on her for another minute, minute and a half.

I was fortunate to not have been invited to these kinds of parties when I was in high school. That doesn't mean I wasn't aware of them. I live in a small town that makes Mayberry look like Cabrini Green. Even here, where no liquor is served or sold (dry town) and the sidewalks roll up at dusk, teenagers are under a great deal of pressure. They're terrified of war. Some of them abuse alcohol and drugs. Sometimes their grades may suffer. My son and my stepson are right in the thick of it now. Both are in high school. My stepson is one year younger than John Z. I know more than I'd like to know about these parties. They're held at some kid's home when the parents are gone. Or they're held in another location unsupervised by responsible adults. Some kids drink to get plastered. It's not all that hard to find an adult who is willing to buy beer and even hard liquor for teenagers. There is always mom and dad's liquor cabinet. The idea is to get totally shitfaced because it means you are "cool." Getting shitfaced to the point that you land in the hospital or in a jail cell is not "cool," no matter what some eleventh-grade punk may tell you.

Teens are under a great deal of peer pressure. The unpopular kids play lapdog for the popular ones because they want approval and friendship. Sadly, some of them believe that if they do some popular kids' homework, or fetch beer for them, or have sex with them, or don't have sex with them, then they too will be accepted and loved. It doesn't work. "I'll be your boyfriend if you have sex with me." That line is older than I am. Laura knew this. She told John that "if he really did care about me, he wouldn't be doing this to me and if he did want a relationship, he should wait and respect that I don't want to do this." Mike Peterson knew a lot of girls like Laura. He knew a lot of guys like John and Juan. So did I. So do I. They cruise the high school hallways, doing whatever they can to make sense of the world we live in.

Reducing this case to "the bitch changed her mind and cried rape" ignores what really happened. It ignores the pain Laura had felt. In blaming her for her own rape, the media and the public rape her over and over and over again. She doesn't deserve that. Blaming her also exonerates her rapists. She doesn't deserve that, either.

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