Thursday, November 30, 2006

Carnival of Feminists Reminder

The deadline for the carnival of feminists is approaching for the 28th edition which will be on Diary of a Freak Magnet on December 6.

You can use the Blog Carnival submission form or email askmissginger AT gmail DOT com

Please, do what you can to give Ginger plenty of nominations to choose from.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:53 PM   0 comments links to this post

Problems Created By Sex Offender Restrictions

NBC 11

Starting next month, sex offenders released from prison will also have to wear satellite tracking devices if the new rules are upheld. Opponents of Jessica's Law said the new rules will only confuse the public and give Californians a false sense of security.

Sex offenders in California's biggest cities may not be able find any housing that's not within 2,000 feet of a school or park.

"We're concerned that offenders will be pushed out of those urban areas where they can be monitored and supervised into rural areas where there are less law enforcement and less supervisions and less ability to manage higher numbers of offenders," said Suzanne Brown McBride of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Prison officials said 350 sexual offenders are released from prison every month in California.

For many people their awareness of the pervasiveness of rape and other sex crimes is close to nil until they find out a registered sex offender lives near them or will be moving into their neighborhood. Beliefs in the same myths which result in people refusing to believe many rape allegations result in people reacting to registered sex offenders as if they are all monsters.

Because of the mix of denial (it's not happening in my neighborhood) and awareness (online sex offender search engines) it's no surprise that plenty of people want to banish registered sex offenders somewhere far away from them so they live in a neighborhood free of sex offenders. It's also no surprise that there isn't an equally ardant push to invest in prevention efforts that focus on reducing the number of first-time offenders.

Monsters are born not made. Or so the story goes. Prevention through education aimed at those children who are most likely to become sex offenders is a waste of money and an insult to good kids. Prevention should be directed at the potential victims so they can be on guard against the monsters.

When it comes to the education of potential offenders we have no problem teaching children not to steal and not to hit others so why are so many people opposed to teaching children that there is no excuse for hurting others through sexual contact? Why are we so afraid to teach boys that it is wrong to use any sort of manipulation or force to get sex or to make sexual contact? Why do so many people call boys weak when they show emotions that aren't stereotypically male? Why aren't more boys learning how to have empathy for people different than them so they will understand the ramifications of their actions before they are accused of rape?

Maybe it's just easier to avoid uncomfortable topics like sex until the harm has been done and a boy has learned from a buddy the most effective ways to get sex that isn't offered freely.

But is easier really better?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:58 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Man Allegedly Sexually Abused Girl Then Held Her Captive


A 16-year-old girl whose parents thought she had run away from home returned with a much different story: She had been repeatedly beaten and raped by a man for four years, one of which she spent captive in his basement. John Paule France Gonzales, 22, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 142 counts, including lewd and lascivious acts on a child, sodomy and penetration with a foreign object.


Gonzales, a pharmacy technician, began molesting the girl when she was 12, while he was dating her aunt, authorities said. He initially molested her at her home, and after breaking up with the aunt, he abused the girl in cars and hotel rooms before forcing her to live with him, they said.


"In the beginning, she felt sorry for him and was trying to prevent him from killing himself," she said. "While there is an element of apparent consent, she was so psychologically abused by this guy. Our allegation is that essentially none of it was consensual. I mean, she was 12, for God's sake."

This difference between apparent consent and real, legal consent is what so many people can't seem to undertand.

Part of the difficulty is that many people feel that when they want something from someone else, apparent consent is all they need. It's very convenient for those who exploit others to say that the person who appeared to consent should be the only one held responsible.

Most of those who shout the loudest for personal responsibility are trying to dodge personal responsibility or trying to help someone else dodge personal responsibility for their decisions and their actions.

Another difficulty is people's inability to understand why a victim doesn't immediately tell once they are physically separated from the person who violated them. They assume the problem belongs to the victim when in fact that perpetrator started the psychological abuse long before any physical or sexual abuse begins.
Many sexual exploiters pervert attributes which are needed to be a healthy human being. Attributes such as compassion and empathy. The perpetrator uses language ("you keep me going") so the victim is the only one responsible for what the perpetrator does. Unfortunately, this shifting of responsibility to the victim is made easier by the number of people who blame the victim directly or indirectly.

The calls directed at girls and women to stop playing the victim allow people who victimize others through manipulation and coercion to dodge responsibility for their actions. They also turn what is a unilateral effort into a mutual relationship. Victims in effect get characterized as rapist enablers.

If anyone is a rapist enabler it is the person who blames the victim or who tells victims it was their responsibility to stop themselves from being raped or sexually exploited.

This goes back to many people's rationalizations when they exploit people they know in areas other than sex or physical violence. People often say, "If someone is so stupid that they _____, they deserve it when ____."

So rather than sexual exploiters being in direct conflict with our society, they are a reflection of something that is very much a part of our society. A part most of us would rather deny.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:23 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Quarter Million Rapes Estimated In The Congo During Last 4 Years

It had been no secret that nearly all sides in the Congo's complex civil war resorted to systematic rape among civilian populations, and estimates were as high as a quarter million victims of sexual assault during the four-year-long conflict. But once fighting died down, victims began coming out of the jungles and forests and their condition was worse than anyone had imagined. Thousands of women had been raped so brutally that they had fistulas.
I don't have words for the magnitude of this atrocity.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:09 AM   2 comments links to this post

Monday, November 27, 2006

Crime Stoppers Of Minnesota Out Of Funds

In case you aren't familiar with Crime Stoppers, there's a great overview at Holly's Fight For Justice.

But Crime Stoppers of Minnesota has run out of funds to help Twin Cities police solve crimes. With some of the recent violent crimes, this is a tragedy.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:09 PM   1 comments links to this post

Seeking Nominations For Carnival Against Sexual Violence

The next deadline for the carnival against sexual violence is tomorrow night Nov. 28 at 11pm. Please nominate a post, one you've written or one you're read, for the 12th edition which comes out on Dec. 1.

If you've already made your nomination, feel free to help get the word out.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:22 PM   0 comments links to this post

A Glimpse Into The LIfe Of A Sex Offender

Holly at Fight To Stop Violence received an email explaining why a sex offender was treated unfairly which reveals quite a bit about how sex offenders and their defenders think. In addition, she received an anonymous comment on her post Update on sex offender Brian Kastel, which I have included portions of with permission.
What the comment reveals could be true of any number of sex offenders.

UPDATE: Brian had his hearing on Tuesday and the Judge revolked his probation because of the positive results of a random drug test. The results were positive for marijuana, Diazepam (Valium) and trace amounts of cocaine. The level of valium in his blood (according to the probation officer who testified at the hearing) indicated that Brain had taken 5 to 10mg's approx. one hour before his schedueled monthly meeting with his probation officer. [omitted more details related to drugs]
This is of particular interest when drug use is a precurser to offending. In the most effective probationary programs, the parole officers know what that offender does in the build up to reoffending and tailor the restrictions based accordingly.

No child pornography was found in his apartment or on his computer hard drive. A police officer testified the drive had recently been formated and no forensics could be done on either his personal computer or what was described as "an older laptop" because the laptop was missing the hard drive.
If this was meant to show innocence, it does the opposite. A normal format doesn't wipe the hard disk so clean no old data can be retrieved.

He said they also found several hundred printed pictures of young girls and boys approx. 6 to 10 years old clipped mostly from catalogs and store circulars. He said the children appear to be mostly disabled and were fully clothed in the pictures or in bathing suits and are not illegal but the probation officer testified that "it demonstates Mr. Kastel's continueing interest in minor disabled childen" and he said it looked like some of the photo's were several years old and a number of them appear to have been folded as if to fit in a wallet.
This is typical of sex offenders to collect what to most of us are innocent pictures and when collected like this, they are as significant as finding child porn.

He also said a pair of binoculars, rolls of duct tape and a telescope though not illegal also raises questions about their intended use. 3 digital camera's [more info on items belonging to offender]
Again, depending on the sex offenders MO, duct tape should be on the banned list.

Brian did not testify but his public defender read a short note from a former landlord that basically said Brian was friendly and in the 4 months he rented from him he was always on time with the rent. The lady prosecuter asked to look at the letter. After comparing the dates she said to the judge that Brian's rent was paid for by a check from HRS sent directly to the landlord on the 3rd day of each month and Brian was never late paying the rent because he didn't pay rent, the state paid it for him. [...]
With sex offenders who lure victims in, friendliness is meaningless to show that the offender is not a danger to others since they use their friendliness as a tool.

Anyone interested in donating to Brian's support fund is invited to visit [...]
This is what really caught my eye. After reading about the failed drug test, the hard disk that had been wiped clean and all the pictures of children, I was expecting a call to keep this man from being released and instead discover that the comment was meant to convince people that this man had his parole denied unfairly.

What this comment shows me (whether it meant to or not) is that intensive supervision for paroled sex offenders can identify those at the greatest risk by knowing what to look for and then having the resources to keep checking so they can respond to that risk without waiting for the next victim to come forward.

And that's a good thing.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:16 AM   4 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Perception of Rape Victims Who Stay With Rapists

CJ's comment over at Alas, and my response get into such important areas of perception that it needs to be repeated here. I don't think CJ is a bad person, but his assumptions about rape victims and about the trauma, or lack of trauma, perpetuate some very dangerous myths.


And women have continued to have sex with men who have raped them, in their case having put the event on the same plane as borrowing the car without asking. Not every incident of rape is a life-altering event.
A large part of this seeming lack of trauma is the denial of rape by the rapist and by society at large. The trauma is there but according to many it is self-manufactured. So the rape victim can start questioning the reality of what she experienced even before she’s gotten over the shock of being raped by someone she cared about or loved. In my case I got raped a second time before I realized the first time was no misunderstanding or accident.

Make no mistake that first rape was life altering and traumatic. My rapist did a nice number and put the responsibility for raping me on me. It was also his way of showing me how much he loved me.

Yet people say it is nothing more serious than borrowing a friend’s car to run an errand. Bull.

I lived in a traumatic fog for weeks. Just because my family and others didn’t see it didn’t mean the trauma wasn’t there. That numbness and internal chaos gets labeled as lack of trauma is the problem of the observer, not the rape victim.

And because people don’t see trauma, they say it couldn’t have been a real rape that should be punished the same as rapes committed by strangers. Because it can take time before the fog lifts, reporting rape even a day after the rape is assumed to be a lie by many people who don’t have a clue what they are talking about or the harm their assumptions cause real victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:09 AM   4 comments links to this post

Carnival Against Child Abuse Is Up

over at Child Abuse Survivor go check it out.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:09 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Searching For Proof Of Resistance To Rape

That's what too many people still want before they accept that a rape happened. Some of those will be generous and forgive rape victims for not resisting if a weapon is involved and that weapon is being controlled by a stranger.

Many people won’t believe boys and men are rapists if they take sex without going through a stage where the victim shows stereotypical resistance such as scratching at the rapist’s eyes or screaming non-stop. That a victim was sexually violated doesn’t matter, the rape must happen in a way that the victim's response traumatizes the rapist.

The premise is that if the rapist isn't traumatized neither is the victim.

The excuse for this is a warped version of reasonable doubt. The doubt becomes not whether the person committed the crime, but whether the person who did the crime is a bad person who sets out to hurt others. Maybe it was nothing more than an honest mistake.

To use the consent defense, what is needed is not proof of lack of consent (stereotypical resistance) but proof that the alleged victim gave true, legal consent. If the alleged rapist says the alleged victim consented then proving that claim should be the defense team's burden. Unfortunately, many legal statutes are written with the bias favoring men who exploit vulnerable girls and women. Being vulnerable becomes defacto consent.

The sexual violation just happened. A no-fault rape, at best. At worst, the victim had it coming or is delusional because she sees sexual violation where none existed.

To understand the warped view of rape where the defense says it was consensual, think about embezzlement cases. It doesn't matter whether the embezzler acted from pure greed or to punish the person he embezzled from. What matters is the embezzlement itself. The person took funds he (or she) wasn't authorized to take. Jurors don't ignore the evidence simply because the embezzler seems like a nice guy or because the victim trusted him and gave him access to the funds he stole. If the defense claims that the money was taken legally, it is up to the defense to counter the prosecution's evidence of embezzlement. And if the proof were: "She didn't say I couldn't take that money from her" no jury would give that claim any merit at all.

But that's exactly the logic people buy when they insist on proof of resistance in rape cases.

In addition, this betrayal from within is understood to be a trauma added to the financial loss. But in rape cases when a boyfriend rapes his girlfriend people frequently assume that this relationship reduces the trauma of rape to the point where some people would call her a liar if she calls herself a rape victim -- even when they believe her version of events. She may even be told that she has no right to compare herself to someone who experienced the real trauma of rape.

The problem is that there is an assumption that girls and women have a rapist radar. She has to know what's about to happen before her options run out. If she's so careless that she doesn't see trouble coming she's the irresponsible one. Yet we don't excuse or decriminalize embezzlement because the victim trusted the embezzler.

This expectation in rape cases is based on the very dangerous myth where people believe that all real rapists are total and obvious monsters and that some women have it coming to them.

Sometimes people attempt to erase proof of resistance to rape by recharacterizing what happened in a way that changes the underlying actions. "He asked her several times and she eventually agreed" sounds innocent while, "he wouldn't let her out of the room until he got the sex he felt entitled to" shows premeditation and actions meant to overwhelm resistance.

The reason the first statement sounds innocent is that all signs of guilt have been purged. People will often claim they are properly summarizing the truth in their characterizations when in fact they are attempting to obscure the truth.

The same goes when people say a man was unfairly charged with rape after drunk sex. The characterization implies that both parties were equal participants.

This same deception by recharacterization is done toward those who advocate for rape victims. Calling non-violent rape real rape becomes calling all less than perfect sex real rape. Calling the exploitation of women too intoxicated to fight off unwanted sex real rape becomes calling all sex under the influence real rape.

Distort and then make a point about the distortion as if it isn't a distortion.

When people who say they oppose all types of rape do this sort of distorting at the expense of rape victims what message does that send to rapists?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:24 AM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, November 24, 2006

NYC Crime Down And So Is Jail Population

Washington Post

It is one of the least-told stories in American crime-fighting. New York, the safest big city in the nation, achieved its now-legendary 70-percent drop in homicides even as it locked up fewer and fewer of its citizens during the past decade. The number of prisoners in the city has dropped from 21,449 in 1993 to 14,129 this past week. That runs counter to the national trend, in which prison admissions have jumped 72 percent during that time. Nearly 2.2 million Americans now live behind bars, about eight times as many as in 1975 and the most per capita in the Western world.


Approximately 60 percent of U.S. convicts serve time for charges related to drug peddling and addiction. In California, 65,000 parolees fail drug tests each year and are recycled back to prison each year. They serve, on average, an additional four months, at a cost of $1 billion.


City and state prisons in New York also turned aggressively to drug treatment and mental health counseling. They did so as a matter of enlightened self-interest. The city prison system is the second-largest mental health provider in the nation; only the Los Angeles County system surpasses it.

The impact of adding treatment to the criminal justice system is no surprise to me. So many times we as a society ignore basic problems like addiction, illiteracy or mental health in the name of personal responsibility. We also ignore the outside contributors that must be addressed if the person who decides to change will have their efforts sabotaged and then say "I told you so" when the troubled person fails.

When groups of people fail, we collectively pay the price.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkeys Away in WKRP

If you remember the TV show WKRP In Cincinnati you may remember their Thanksgiving episode, here's the video with the key scenes.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Empowering Women Or Blaming The Victim

In response to the post Alas, a blog: Isn't it Good We Have Men To Tell Us What To Do several commenters have argued that certain scenarios aren't rape because the person who claims to be a rape victim had the power to get away from the person trying to use them. They go even further and say that those of us who disagree with them are robbing girls and women of their power.

This approach to understanding what is and isn't rape feeds into dangerous myths about rape and can lead to boys and men taking the attitude of "if she doesn't leave when I know she could have, what I do to get sex from her cannot be rape as long as I don't use overt physical violence."

The intent may be to empower girls and women to get out of bad situations but by combining the discussion about how to escape with discussions of the definition of rape the result is to blame the victim who didn't respond to exploitive behavior properly and to let the rapist off the hook.

The denial of an exploiter's control that doesn't involve overt physical violence actually disempowers victims in those types of situations by making the victims responsible for the actions of those who victimize them.

The patient who doesn't realize how her doctor can use the dynamics of the doctor/patient relationship to facilitate rape is likely to wonder what was wrong with her that she didn't run screaming into the street when something first felt off kilter.

The ignorant response is to decide that she had low self-esteem or other problems which led her to consent to actions she didn't want. But the truth is that she never consented to those actions. The problem which leads to unwanted sex does not belong to the person who didn't initiate sex. The problem belongs to the person attempting to get sex.

The key to breaking abusive control is to acknowledge it, not to deny it.

This type of control is why states such as Minnesota make it a crime for counselors or pastors to have sex during counseling sessions and why "it was consensual" is not a valid defense. This doesn't treat those counseled like they are infants, but protects them from a very real and systemic danger. It reduces the danger and reduces the number of attempts to coerce sex out of patients.

That's good for patients and it is good for ethical counselors. It is only bad for unethical counselors who want to get away with sexual exploitation.

The same abusively controlling patterns can exist in personal relationships and the key to breaking those patterns is to acknowledge them and not to blame the victim for being controlled.

When we go to the doctor we need to drop our defenses and our normal boundaries and we expect the doctor to uphold his or her sworn duty not to abuse patients.

Often when it comes to rape we expect women to drop their defenses (don't view all men as potential rapists) and to keep their defenses on high alert (if you don't react as if your life depends on it, you consented) and be fully responsible when it comes to sex.

No wonder so many rape victims feel crazy even when people aren't calling us liars or delusional.

That leads to nonsense like this:

A study which reveals many sexually assaulted women may have had too much to drink rather than been drugged has sparked a debate over how much the victims themselves are to blame. [...] And it is argued that these women are behaving irresponsibly and putting themselves at risk of being sexually assaulted or raped.
Again while the intentions might be good (wanting fewer rapes), the message that comes across is that rapists of intoxicated women are not to blame for their decision to rape and that men who are around women who drink don't need to act responsibly.

It is the potential victims who are at fault if they are raped. This is flat out victim blaming and also ignores all of the rapes committed when the victims are not intoxicated. This shows apathy at best toward men's treatment of women under the influence. The responsibility for rape does not belong to the men willing to exploit women as it should and the implication is that men who exploit drunk women are never rapists.

Abstaining from alcohol is no guarantee of safety from sexual assault as the polygamist Warren Jeffs case shows:

In court documents, prosecutors say the bride, identified as Jane Doe No. 4, objected to the marriage and later begged to be released. The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual assault.

The ceremony at a Nevada motel in 2001 was "one of the most painful things I've ever been through. I just want to move on with my life and forget it happened," the woman testified.

She said she refused to say "I do," take her groom's hand or kiss him. Finally, she relented, submitting to a "peck" and then locking herself in the bathroom. "I felt completely trapped and defeated," she said.

If we truly want to empower women we must stop making them responsible for other people's actions directed at them and we must stop blaming them when their exploiters succeed at reaching their goal.

The full responsibility for rape must always be put on the rapist whether he uses a knife or manipulation to control the person he wants sex from. To call a rapist who uses tools other than brute force anything but a rapist is to disregard the harm done to that person's victim.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:50 AM   2 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rape Case Roils Saudi Legal System

ABC News

AL-AWWAMIYA, Saudi Arabia Nov 21, 2006 (AP)— When the teenager went to the police a few months ago to report she was gang-raped by seven men, she never imagined the judge would punish her and that she would be sentenced to more lashes than one of her alleged rapists received.

The story of the Girl of Qatif, as the alleged rape victim has been called by the media here, has triggered a rare debate about Saudi Arabia's legal system, in which judges have wide discretion in punishing a criminal, rules of evidence are shaky and sometimes no defense lawyers are present.

I think it is good when a legal system is debated since that allows people to see what inequities have become entrenched. When it comes to rape the potential for needed changes is even greater when the legal system was designed by and for men.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:14 PM   0 comments links to this post

The Difference Between Simply Asking Again And Refusing To Stop

I've been commenting on Alas, a blog: Isn't it good we have men to tell us what to do where Maia responds to a post by Sailorman where he scolds feminists for their definition of rape and my latest comment which responds to another commenter who can't see how certain situations could rise to the level of rape. My response is something that I feel is so important I must repeat it here.

But in BB’s scenario and other similar situations the rapist blocks her attempt to walk away and refuses to accept no for an answer. Refusing to accept no is not the same thing as merely asking for sex multiple times. The first ignores lack of consent, the second may be inappropriate but it is not a rape attempt.

Physical force is more than wielding a knife or a gun or threatening to kill someone. Physical force is involved when one person uses their body to control the other person. That could be stepping between the other person and the exit or it could be grabbing an arm or pinning the other person so they can’t move.

When coercion that on the surface isn’t violent is combined with subtle physical force, it can be as effective as a knife at the throat. If the victim doesn’t know how to get away that should never be seen as legal consent.

Maybe you would know how to get out of that situation and would recognize the danger in time to escape, but that doesn’t mean everyone in that situation does. If the only way to not have sex is to escape, how can that sex be anything but nonconsensual?

I was asked what I meant by escape, but the exact definition doesn't matter. What matters is that if the potential victim doesn't feel that leaving is a viable option, for whatever reason, staying is still not legal consent.

She may still be there, but that doesn't mean she's there for the taking.

I'm all for recognizing and avoiding those who can rationalize sexual exploitation, but the failure to detect and avoid a rapist does not nullify the rape or the rapist's legal and moral responsibility.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 20, 2006

OJ's If I Did It Book And TV Special Canceled


After a firestorm of criticism, News. Corp. said Monday that it has canceled the O.J. Simpson book and TV special "If I Did It."

"I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project," said Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman. "We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."

A dozen Fox affiliates had already said they would not air the two-part sweeps month special, planned for next week before the Nov. 30 publication of the book by ReganBooks. The publishing house is a HarperCollins imprint owned - like the Fox network - by News Corp.

For anyone who wanted to know how he did it -- if he did it, I believe I have the answer based on an interview OJ gave a few years ago where he talked about Nicole.

  1. OJ believed his ex was doing drugs and set out to prove his belief by stalking her.
  2. OJ saw a "package" be exchanged for money and assuming he was witnessing a drug deal he attacked the woman endangering his children and her drug dealer.
  3. Only later did OJ learn that the "package" contained glasses left behind at a restaurant.
  4. Oops. Honest mistake.

So if he did it, it wasn't "murder" just a misunderstanding.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:29 PM   0 comments links to this post

People Who Refuse To Believe Certain Rape Scenarios Enable The Rape Scenarios They Do Believe

Even though many people refuse to see all rape scenarios as real rape, I know some of those people believe as they do out of ignorance about what it takes to give true consent.

Those who insist that certain scenarios can't rise to the level of rape are supporting beliefs that can allow someone to rationalize the types of rapes they do believe constitute real rape.

The rationalizations can go something like this:

  • She's asking for it by letting me be alone with her.
  • If she says no, I can keep asking until I get the answer I want or she bolts.
  • I can do anything short of physical violence to keep her from bolting.
  • It's not like she's a virgin or anything.
  • Maybe she is a virgin but the way she advertises herself she's just waiting for someone to show her what she's missing and she's obviously not going to ask for what she wants.
  • If she doesn't try to scratch me or claw at my eyes as I make my moves, it's not rape.
  • If there are no outside witnesses, it's just her word against mine and in a dispute the defendant always wins.
  • It's not like I threatened to kill her or even said anything outright threatening.
  • She could leave if she really wanted to.
  • So what if she is incapacitated. She let herself get that way so she could rationalize having sex.
  • All men do everything they can to get sex. That's just how the world works. Feminists want to deny reality by playing the victim.
  • If she ends up with bruises, it's just a sign we had enthusiastic sex.
  • Women are responsible for their own bodies. Her having sex is not my responsibility even if I'm making all the moves.
  • Everyone knows women often feel so guilty after having spontanious sex that they lie to themselves and others by calling themselves victims of rape.
Once the rationalizations begin and are supported by other people, it gets easier to include rationalizations that those other people would never support like kidnapping a victim off the street (she's on the prowl or she wouldn't be out alone this late).

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lawsuit Follows Principal's Actions Based On Rape Fears


An Anderson County [Tennessee] teenager has filed a lawsuit over her temporary dismissal from a weightlifting class by a principal who feared male students might try to rape her.


Phillips' attorney, Roger L. Ridenour, said stress from the incident caused the student to become physically ill. He said the handling of the situation by then-principal Bob McCracken is part of a pattern of mishandled sex issues at the high school.

Phillips was an honor student and a track team member when she signed up for the class, where she eventually earned an A. She has since graduated and is in college. McCracken said in a deposition that he was afraid Phillips might be sexually assaulted in the class. "Having a female with 35 or so male students in an isolated area from the school, it sets a very liable situation in my opinion," McCracken said in the deposition. Three days after kicking Phillips out of the class, McCracken changed his mind and reinstated her.

Segregating female students from classes dominated by boys is not an effective method of rape prevention. In many ways it sends a message that boys can't help themselves and aren't to blame if they rape.

Talk about having a low opinion of boys and men. Yet rather than dealing with the source of the risk, this principal, like many others, expected the potential victim to lose out because of what those boys and men might do.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:07 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, November 18, 2006

UCLA Police Tasered Student For Mouthing Off


Police said they shocked Tabatabainejad after he urged others to join his resistance and a crowd began to gather. Footage from another student's camera phone showed Tabatabainejad screaming on the floor of the computer lab.
Since the tasered student was Iranian-American, the interaction which led up to the UCLA police tasering him multiple times for not obeying orders very likely felt like another instance of post 9/11 harrassment based on what he can be heard saying on the video. This would be especially true if the initial request for student id wasn't made of everyone in the UCLA library, only to those who didn't look like they belonged.

If someone has been unfairly harrassed that person might not take orders with grace and understanding when the police arrive. If the police failed to understand that there could be valid reasons for student's reaction, the problem is theirs.

Frankly, after watching the video, the police who were dealing with him and the other students looked like they had very little skill at diffusing a tense situation without proving their power. They seemed to have even less skill at understanding how their behavior looked to the students. Rather than responding calmly to all of the students reactions and working to de-escalate the situation, one student was tasered multiple times and at least one other student was threatened with tasering.

If the police had to use a taser in this situation, the problem was caused by their behavior not the student's.

Likely, the interaction began with a police officer giving a direct order (based on the call which sent them to the library) which reduced the officer's options substantially. Dealing with mouthy or beligerent people might not be fun, but responding with violence (and tasering is a form of violence) is NOT an appropriate use of force.

One or more of the responding police officers could have changed the dynamic completely by beginning the interaction by asking the student for his perspective and waiting to respond, and waiting to give any orders, until the student explained why he hadn't left when initially told to do so.

Then after the first tasering, the police made another mistake by giving orders to the student to stand up when they couldn't know whether he was able to stand after being tasered and restrained. The student was punished with additional shocks for making the police look powerless rather than because the student was a danger to anyone.

Another police officer compounded the problem by threatening to taser one of the student witnesses. It was the police, by their treatment of a student and the student witnesses, who created the potentially dangerous situation.

They gave their power away by using their power prematurely.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:23 PM   0 comments links to this post

Rape Prevention Video Captures One Scenario

This short film aimed to help prevent sexual violence on college campuses shows a situation where the rapist doesn't view committing rape as rape. It also shows a common reaction after rape where the rape victim changes and the rapist remains unfazed.

If people watch this video and don't accept that the situation in the film is rape, then their attitudes contribute to the pervasiveness of rape. Some will call what's shown a simple misunderstanding, others will say that the film cuts away too soon to make a determination about whether the sex was consensual (maybe she caved in), still others will say the boy/man shown didn't intend harm so it can't be real rape.

To snuff out rape, we all must adopt a no-tolerance policy toward sexually exploitive behavior or any interaction where anyone involved could view the interaction as unwanted, exploitive or abusive.

To put all responsibility for stopping rape on victims or potential victims is to give unidentified perpetrators permission to think only of themselves and what they want. It tells them that setting limits on their behavior isn't their responsibility.

It sets up otherwise law abiding people, mostly boys and men, for a rude awakening when they are confronted by the authorities.

Those who reject the possibility of rape increase the danger of rape in three ways.

  1. Because they could commit rape due to their unwillingness to understand how the interection feels to the other person.

  2. Because they will deny the reality of rape from the victim's perspective.

  3. Because they will help keep rape-friendly habits alive and unwell by excusing harmful behavior.

For those who think the male student's behavior in the video isn't something worth making a fuss over and shouldn't result in disciplinary action or criminal charges, then it shouldn't be a big deal for people like him to stop behaving like that.

They should just say no to committing acts that have the potential to traumatize others.

Rape prevention that puts all responsibility on potential victims only deflects or defers rape since the behavior that leads to rape will be repeated at another time and on other potential rape victims.

Rape is caused by the rapist so the best prevention focuses on changing the behavior which leads someone to rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:23 AM   5 comments links to this post

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hospital Charged For Ridding Itself Of Homeless Patient


In an unprecedented crackdown on a practice experts say is shamefully common around the country, a major hospital chain was accused by prosecutors Thursday of ridding itself of a homeless patient by dumping her on crime-plagued Skid Row.
A surveillance camera at a rescue mission recorded the demented 63-year-old woman wandering around the streets in a hospital gown and slippers last March.

In announcing the criminal and civil charges, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said a Kaiser Permanente hospital put the woman in a taxi and sent her to the neighborhood even though she had serious, untreated health problems.

With the number of people who either have no insurance or are underinsured, this practice of patient dumping could affect people who think it could never happen to them. Practices like this and other less obvious efforts that harm patients but help the bottom line are key reasons I oppose industries regulating themselves.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:48 AM   1 comments links to this post

Check Out NO The Rape Documentary

Aishah Shahidah Simmons, the director of NO! The Rape Documentary, a feature length documentary that "unveils the reality of intra-racial rape, other forms of sexual violence, and healing in African-American communities" deserves applause for her dedication and more than 10 years of effort on this film.

Watch the trailer for this feature length documentary which addresses many assumptions which contribute to rape and the dismissal of rape.

To read writer Tamara K. Nopper's interview with Aishah Shahidah Simmons visit Black Agenda Report.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:08 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Emmitt Smith vs. Stereotypes And Expectations of Athletes

Emmitt Smith's attitude, performance and win on Dancing With The Stars shows clearly that being a star athlete doesn't mean being a violent person or someone without emphathy for others.

To me, excusing violence -- like rape -- committed by athletes who deliver during competitions does everyone a disservice. The athletes become disposable tools of limited use rather than becoming well-rounded human beings who can succeed in all areas of their lives while respecting the rules of competition and the rules of ethical behavior.

The victims of athlete criminals are often doubly victimized. First by the athlete and then by all those who see those victims as perpetrators out to destroy a valued sport or a valued team.

The average NFL career is just 3.8 years and other team sports with pro leagues probably have similar career averages so most athletes will need to learn early how to behave without the benefit of being a star athlete needed by the team.

Doing so will benefit the athletes and all those who interact with athletes or ex-athletes.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:27 PM   1 comments links to this post

NJ Man Charged With 1972 Rape Murder of 6 Year Old Brother

ABC News

In 1972, the body of a 6-year-old boy was found in the cab of a water truck at a construction site, nude and battered. He had been raped, stabbed and strangled. Thirty-four years later, the boy's brother has been charged with his murder, and on Tuesday, a third sibling, Michael Barbarino, called on his family to help investigators prosecute him.


County Prosecutor John Molinelli said Monday at a news conference announcing Joseph Barbarino's arrest that the teenager lured his younger brother to a construction site intending to sexually assault him. There was evidence of a struggle and the child's body was found in the cab of a water truck, he said. An autopsy indicated Vincent Barbarino had been stabbed numerous times and his skull had been fractured. Molinelli said the elder Barbarino had been raping the child for "quite some time."

This case is sickening and the only good thing is that it wasn't forgotten or written off as unsolvable. The man charged with this crime was 15 at the time of the crime and it's unknown whether he will be prosecuted under adult statutes.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:31 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 11

Welcome to the Nov. 15, 2006 edition of the carnival against sexual violence.

Thank you to everyone who nominated a post or who wrote a post against sexual violence whether it was nominated/selected or not. Nominations that came in after Sunday night's deadline will be considered for the next edition of the carnival. If you support the purpose of the carnival, you can help get the word out about it and all of the posts included in the carnival.

Here are the selections for the 11th edition of the carnival against sexual violence:

personal stories

In PAIN IN THE FACES BY LORI CULBERT VANCOUVER SUN ARTICLE! posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we learn about the artist Pamela Masik who is painting the portaits of 69 women who disappeared from Vancouver BC's downtown eastside since 1978 including the 26 that Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert (Willy) Pickton is suspected of murdering.

In Has it Really Been Five Years?!? posted at Of a Public Defender's Life, we get insight into why it's important for all of us that all defendants' rights are represented competently and how sometimes that can help reduce crime.

creative expression

In my first beating....... remembering / feeling alone, blaming myself........ posted at Why Holly's Fight to Stop Violence, we get a poem about the pain of domestic abuse by Holly Desimone.

media watch

In FINDING DAWN SECOND SCREENING WITH NATIONAL FILM BOARD! posted at Missing and Murdered Women: Portraits inspired by Pain!, we learn about the first film in the history of the Amnesty International Film Festival that sold out in advance of the doors opening. This film by Metis filmmaker Christine Welsh, journeys into the dark heart of Native women's experience and also uncovers inspiring stories of strength, courage and resilience, as communities come together to stem the tide of violence.

In How To Become a Sexual Predator in Five Easy Lessons posted at Mind The Gap, we get a tongue in cheek article that highlight how some people can get away with being a predator because of who they are.


In Animal House posted at Shakespeare's Sister, we get a discussion of a recent hazing event which may have included sexual assault of pledges and how this type of hazing reinforces dangerous beliefs.


In Sexual consent in Maryland posted at Resonant Information, we get an analysis of what happened in the recent Maryland appellate court decision that resulted in affirmation of Maryland's refusal to acknowledge the existence of post-penetration rape.

In Withdrawn Consent and Line Drawing posted at Stone Court, we get an analysis of the Maryland ruling which disallows withdrawing consent after the beginning of sex and how the rationale for the decision goes back to a time when only the de-flowering mattered. The ruling may have a broader impact than the issues raised in the case being appealed.

In A Little Bit of Maryland Rape Law History posted at Sex Crimes, we get information on previous rulings which relate to the latest ruling.

In Female circumcision trial may be first in U.S. posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get information on a practice the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 168,000 girls and women in the U.S. had undergone or were at risk of being subjected to.

In Blaming Rape Victims posted at Austrolabe, we get a discussion about how the Australian Sheik's comments about rape victims compare to how defense attorney's treat rape victims.

In I Wish Jurors Knew....The WindyPundit recently b... and Proposed Jury InstructionMy last post proposed a... posted at Prosecutor Post-Script, we get a discussion of jury instructions and a follow up post which includes discussion of the difference between a defendant with no prior criminal convictions and a defendent with no prior criminal behavior and how a jury can confuse the two.

In Teaching Rape in a Criminal Law Class posted at Concurring Opinions, we get a discussion about how and when to teach about rape in law school.

In Another DNA Exoneration in Dallas posted at Injustice Anywhere . . ., we get a discussion about what types of investigative mistakes can lead to a wrongful conviction.

In False Guilty Pleas: DNA Clears Man in Carjacking Case posted at Bluhm Blog, we get a discussion of the first non-rape or murder case where DNA was used to exonerate a man. Since many people assume the problems that have been found in rape cases are unique to those types of crimes, this case is worth noting.


In RAPE TRAUMA posted at Why Holly's Fight to Stop Violence, we get information on a subject that can help rape survivors. Whether it was 10 days ago or 10 years ago, emotions and thoughts may seem overwhelming following a sexual assault. In learning the facts about rape and how to get help, women will discover that the symptoms they experience, while confusing, are to be expected given the trauma of such an attack.

raising awareness

In Sexual Violence in times of War posted at Broken Bodies - Broken Dreams, we get a discussion of a problem that many people ignore.

In A Note On Recent 'Scientific' Studies posted at Biting Beaver, we get a discussion of the methodology used to assert that online porn prevents rape.

In STAY AWAY FROM GIRLS GONE WILD posted at The Happy Feminist, we get a discussion of the tactics used to get GGW video including intentially giving alcohol to underage girls.

In Reports of sexual assault, rape increase since 2005 posted at Why Holly's Fight to Stop Violence, we get information about the continuing problem of sexual assaults as reported by the Austin, Texas Police Dept. including the information that the number of rape reported more than doubled in the area including the University and parts of West Campus and downtown.

In Good Old Courts posted at PC Bloggs - a Twenty-first Century Police Officer, we get insight into how court decisions impact police officers who respond to sex crimes.

In Ex-prostitute shares story posted at Missing and Murdered Women: Portraits inspired by Pain!, we learn about how a woman who is now a court diversion counsellor talked to students at Fleming College about the realities of prostitution so those who will interact with those in the sex trade will do so with real knowledge and not stereotypes and myths.


In blogs and pornography posted at change therapy, we get one blogger's proactive response to being spammed with porn.

In Facts for Survivors Who Choose to Press Charges in United States posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get a series of questions and answers for survivors considering pressing charges.

In American University College of Law Hosts Sexual Violence in Prison Discussion with Author T.J. Parsell posted at CrimProf Blog, we get information on a panel discussion including information on some of the experts in the field of sexual violence in prison.


In Understanding Systematic Domestic Violence at Abyss2hope, I discuss the parallels between systemic abuse and the behavior seen in the 1971 Stanford prison experiment.

In Update: Kansas A.G. Kline Ousted, Had Obtained Abortion Records of Girls and Teenagers posted at Women's Space/The Margins, we get information about the attorney general race which impacted women's privacy and safety.

That concludes the 11th edition of the carnival against sexual violence. Thank you for taking the time to visit this carnival and thank you to the authors of all the posts included in this edition.

The next submission deadline is Nov. 28 at 11 pm. The 12th edition will be out on Dec. 1.

To nominate a post (your own or someone else's) to the next edition of carnival against sexual violence, use our carnival submission form. Links to everything related to the carnival can be found on the new blog dedicated to this carnival,

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Conservative Blogger Arrested For Sending Suspicious Powder to Olbermann And Others

According to Media Matters, Chad Castagana who was arrested for sending suspicious white powder to Keith Olbermann and others including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Jon Stewart and David Letterman is a conservative blogger who was associated with the conservative website

This move toward violence by a conservative isn't a surprise given the rhetoric of violence being used by many conservatives such as Ann Coulter. For the pundits their demonization of liberals may simply be a means of jacking up ratings and book sales, but for their faithful followers that same demonization may be the rationalization they need to justify criminal behavior and otherwise unacceptable levels of violence.

Instead of attacking humans they are attacking subhumans who don't deserve to live.

It's not enough for those who use violent rhetoric to either ignore people like Chad Castagana or to say they don't condone violence, they must drop the violent rhetoric if they want people to believe they are against all violence.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:20 PM   2 comments links to this post

Man Who Confessed To 1984 U.Va. Sex Assault Pleads Guilty


A man who sexually assaulted a fellow University of Virginia student in 1984 and then apologized to her two decades later as part of the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program pleaded guilty to the crime Tuesday.


Prosecutor Claude Worrell told the court that one of the main reasons the prosecution agreed to a plea is because the investigation has revealed that more than one person may have sexually assaulted Seccuro.

Under the agreement, Beebe has agreed to cooperate with authorities as they continue their investigation into exactly what happened that night. Judge Edward Hogshire set formal sentencing for March 15. Beebe will remain free on bond until then.

"This began as an effort to make amends," Beebe said in a statement outside of court. "In pleading guilty today to a lesser charge I acknowledge formally what I tried to acknowledge in my letter.
"Twenty-two years ago I harmed another person and I have tried to set that right."

Because this man contacted his victim while going through a Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, I'm sure some people think it's unfair that this man was prosecuted or that his victim contacted police.

I couldn't disagree more. Confession should never lead to an automatic pardon. If it did then the victim is being exploited a second time to meet the needs of the perpetrator.

Those who don't want to be held accountable shouldn't commit acts of violence such as rape. However, a willingness to take responsibility -- if that is the reality and not just PR to remove feelings of guilt -- should be taken into account in sentencing and in the decision about whether the prosecutor should accept a plea deal.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:18 AM   0 comments links to this post

Calif. Prisons Drop Worker Safety Checks


California prisons quietly halted what was supposed to be a sweeping review of employee safety spurred by a guard's stabbing death last year, officials said in response to a records request from The Associated Press. Just seven of the expected 41 evaluations were completed before the first-in-the-nation program was abruptly ended after Corrections Secretary Roderick Hickman resigned in frustration in February, officials said after months of inquiries.

The disclosure came in the past week as the prison system's new administration counters criticism from state lawmakers and federal judges who have complained that inmates often live in crowded and poorly staffed prisons and receive inadequate care.

Like the portion of an iceberg that is underwater, issues like this are often not thought about when politicians or groups of citizens push for tighter control of offenders or longer sentences. Problems like this aren't intential, they just come down to money.

Many of us are more willing to vote to lock people away than we are to pay higher taxes for doing just that. And that means corners will have to be cut.

With the passage of Proposition 83 which is being challenged in court, this problem may become more severe before it gets better.

The best solutions will come from taking and valuing the experiences and insights of all of those involved or impacted by the criminal justice system -- including criminals. Some of the most effective programs may on the surface look soft on crime for two reasons. One, because a large part of their mission is to help criminals, and two, on the surface they sound similar to ineffective programs.

A huge part of any solution to crime must be prevention if we want to reduce the number of victims and perpetrators. And that means letting go of the myth that criminals are born. Criminals are made by a combination of environment and individual choices.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 13, 2006

Idaho Grandmother And Uncle Plot Alleged Rape Victm's Murder


COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) -- A 56-year-old mother and her 40-year-old son have been served with arrest warrants accusing them of plotting the death of the woman's 15-year-old granddaughter - a teen the son is accused of raping.

William Caldwell, who is the teen's uncle, and his mother Myra Caldwell, both of Pinehurst, are accused of trying to hire an undercover police officer to kill the girl, who now lives out of state.

According to court papers, the officer was told to "make sure she never showed up again."
The arrest warrants accuse the two of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

An informant told authorities the mother and son wanted to hire a hit man so the teen couldn't testify against her uncle in the rape case, Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Christie Wood said.

William Caldwell was served with the warrant Thursday in the Kootenai County Jail here, where he is awaiting trial on charges of felony rape and lewd conduct with a child under 16. Those charges were filed in August after a citizen found a duffel bag of personal letters in Post Falls that included details of the alleged crimes against the girl. The letters were turned over to Post Falls police.

With so many stories about stranger rapists and date rapists, it's easy to forget that for some the greatest danger comes from the very people who are supposed to look out for our best interests -- family.

Hopefully due to the undercover operation, this girl will be safe from those in her family who would harm her to keep her from testifying.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   3 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dispute Over Fence Leads To Triple Murder Suicide


SKIATOOK, Okla. (AP) -- Howard Hawthorne appeared calm when he complained to sheriff's deputies that his neighbors were damaging his fence. The deputies told him to take the matter to civil court and left. An hour later, officers got a report from the property north of Tulsa of shots fired. As they rolled up, they saw Hawthorne kill himself and found the bodies of neighbor Anthony Graham, Graham's 24-year-old son and a friend nearby, said Tulsa County Undersheriff Brian Edwards.

Graham, 44, was on a tractor and using it to pull up the fence posts when he was shot, Edwards said. The two neighbors were hotheads who had been arguing about that fence for years, said Harold Swift, 67, who lives nearby. He said Graham believed Hawthorne's fence blocked off about 10 feet of his own property.

This case, like domestic violence cases, illustrates why there is a need to include conflict resolution in school curriculums so students grow up having the practical skills they need when a dispute arises and will not go away on it's own. If people have learned to use negative patterns such as bullying their way through conflicts then they need to learn a better pattern in a positive way. It isn't enough to teach children not to bully, they need a replacement behavior that gets them through conflict.

Being taught only to avoid conflict is like teaching that to avoid reckless driving you must drive only when the traffic is light.

While the neighbor and others shot may have done something to annoy the man who killed them, we understand that the responsibility for the violence belongs to the person who escalated the situation and it doesn't belong to his victims. Unfortunately, in many domestic violence situations people can lose this basic understanding and assume that the victim is responsible for the other person's violence.

This assumption of victim responsibility is there anytime someone says, "What did you do to make him so mad?" We need to learn better ways to approach those in conflict so our questions or comments don't reinforce harmful beliefs.

I'm not talking self defense cases where the person who resorted to violence was the subject of severe violence, although even there I believe education can help people find alternatives if the threat is persistant and not immediate.

With the amount of money and heartache caused by murder the costs of finding ways to reduce violence will be worth it in the long run.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Carnival Against Sexual Violence Submission Deadline Tomorrow

The next deadline for the carnival against sexual violence is tomorrow night Nov. 12 at 11pm. Please nominate a post, one you've written or one you're read, for the eleventh edition which comes out on Nov. 15.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:50 PM   1 comments links to this post

Florida Rapist Pleads Guilty to 5 Assaults


A man convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl pleaded guilty Thursday to five other sexual assaults and to charges of escaping from jail last year.

Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Barbara Areces sentenced Reynaldo E. Rapalo, 35, to between 15 and 45 years in prison for each of the five attacks, as well as the December escape. The sentences will run concurrently with the life term he was given last month for the attack on the girl.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped charges against two people who had been accused of assisting Rapalo after his Dec. 20 jail escape, which triggered an extensive manhunt until his capture Dec. 26.

While it's great that this man will be in prison for a long time (preferably the rest of his life), I'm not sure what I think of dropping charges against people who helped a fugitive.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:43 AM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, November 10, 2006

Duke Rape Case: Nifong Wins Reelection Bid

News Day

The numbers of black votes shows Nifong "used this case to his advantage. Does he need the case anymore? I don't think so, [but] my guess is he won't drop it," [Kevin] Finnerty [father of Collin] said."He won, so he got what he was maneuvering for," he said. "But I think it's very telling that he couldn't even get a majority against someone who was not running and someone whose name was not on the ballot."


The Durham Chronicle, a campus newspaper, reported that some lacrosse players joined other students in an organized get-out-the-vote effort favoring Cheek.

I find this father's assessment of this election and of Nifong questionable at best. The theory that this case was prosecuted only for political reasons fits into the mythology that the defendants and their supporters want to put forth, but Nifong wasn't facing an uphill battle for re-election when this case was brought to the grand jury.

From what I've read, it's those who favor the defense who showed a much greater tendency to mix politics into a criminal investigation.

Herald Sun

[A] UNC expert in political behavior said Nifong didn't create racial tensions with his handling of a case that involved gang rape accusations by a black N.C. Central University woman against three white lacrosse players from Duke. "Rifts are rarely created," said sociology professor Andrew Perrin. "They're just exposed." The issue, he said, reveals something about the way Durham works and the relationship between Duke and Durham. "It's a problem in all kinds of places where you have elite universities in the midst of working class cities," he said. Perrin said the overwhelming support Nifong got in majority black districts -- he swept them all -- is likely a matter of roots.

"People see the news and they see the world very differently based on the experiences they've had," Perrin said. "The understanding for those who think the accuser is mostly a victim is that she has been railroaded and been given a pounding by the white community and the media," he said. "And [they think] the right thing to do is to support her and to take her accusation seriously."

This last part is what many of those who attack Nifong forget. The accusation needs to be taken seriously. This is also true if those accused are innocent. If Nifong lost and the charges were dropped many people would always suspect that the replacement caved into pressure from Duke students and alumni.

If justice is fairer to the "good" or respectable defendants than it is to the average defendant or the alleged victim, that isn't real justice.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:48 PM   0 comments links to this post

New Kentuky Clinic To Give Rape Victims Privacy

Courier Journal

The Center for Women and Families unveiled a new clinic [in Louisville] Thursday designed to combine medical care, counseling and criminal investigation into one step for rape and sexual assault victims. “I hope police will bring people here,” said Leah, a rape victim who asked that her full name not be used. “You’ll have compassionate care.” For the past seven years, members of the medical, counseling and law enforcement communities have wanted a haven for victims so they can avoid the often chaotic experience of the emergency room. Now, instead of going to the hospital, where victims often have to wait in a public venue, they can go to the center and have the attention of nurses who have been specially trained in dealing with sexual assault victims. The nurses have special training in how to collect the necessary forensic evidence and can take the time to work slowly with a patient if needed.
I'm thrilled to see this new clinic which addresses the various needs of rape victims. Programs like this do more than help their clients, they send a message to the entire community about appropriate ways to respond to rape victims.

That message may trickle down to someone deciding that sexual exploitation isn't a harmless activity or something that is no more serious that swiping a friend's French fries.

It's a sad fact that some will see this new center as a way to reward those who wrap themselves in "victimhood" and as an attack on men. But it is only an attack on men as a group if sexual exploitation is so tightly enmeshed with being a man that the two can't be separated.

I don't believe that's the case.

If a man rapes, he doesn't do so because he is a man. However, he may do so because of what he believes about being a man and what he believes about his potential victims.

Respectful treatment of rape victims should be important to all those who don't condone rape (or blame the victim) since it reduces the chances that a rape victim will feel revictimized if they report their rapes. It should also be important because the way rape victims are treated sends a message to rapists and potential rapists.

If we dismiss the harm done to rape victims, why should we expect a better attitude from those who feel entitled to take what they want.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   2 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Abyss2hope Amazon aStore

If you want to support Abyss2hope without spending extra money, make your purchases through my new Amazon aStore.

Check out my 9 featured items which includes my own novel.

If you want to skip the intermediary, paypal donations are always welcome from those who want to support what I'm doing with Abyss2hope.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:19 PM   0 comments links to this post

Judge Blocks Part Of California Sex Offender Proposition

SF Gate

One day after California voters overwhelmingly passed an initiative tightening legal restrictions on registered sex offenders, a federal judge has blocked local enforcement of a provision forbidding past offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco issued the temporary restraining order today against the provision of Proposition 83 at the request of a Bay Area man who pleaded no contest to a sex crime more than 15 years ago, according to his lawsuit.

The suit claims that Prop. 83, approved Tuesday by a vote of 70 percent to 30 percent, would impose retroactive punishment by forcing the man to move immediately from the community where he has lived for more than 20 years.

This ruling makes absolute sense to me since well meaning restrictions can cause problems for those on sex offender registries without improving public safety. These types of restrictions can also have the effect of clustering registered sex offenders in the reduced number of areas where they are allowed to live.

For the most dangerous sex offenders no monitoring system or restriction will deter them from reoffending.

What's most needed in my opinion is effective assessment of sex offenders (including monitoring movements through a GPS system as needed) so the most dangerous offenders can be considered for civil commitment and so we don't waste massive resources on blanket policies or laws that only make us feel safer.

Many sex offenders patterns of behavior and selection of victims are such that their proximity to groups of children has no bearing on the possibility of reoffending. If the response to sex crimes becomes too extreme across the board, it may result in fewer victims reporting what happened to them and fewer juries convicting so-called good rapists.

To tighten the restrictions on convicted sex offenders without improving methods that help potential sex offenders change their patterns before they break the law can't be anything but short sighted. The obvious difficulty in changing rape-friendly attitudes is that most of us don't want to look at how what we believe, what we do and what we say contributes to sex crimes.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What Makes Anger Wrong?

With last night's US election results showing that the Democrats have taken the House and may take over control of the Senate, anger at President Bush, and the way the Republican party has operated during his time in office, seems to be a central issue.

Whether that anger is seen as good or bad likely depends on whether you like the results of this election.

To me the key to evaluating anger isn't whether you are angry or who you are angry at, but the character of that anger.

There's a huge difference between anger which motivates someone to volunteer to help those harmed unfairly (or to vote) and anger which motivates someone to murder a neighbor they believe to be a sex offender.

The second type of anger often takes its vengence on the innocent. That anger has no room to consider other perspectives and has no room for pesky ethics.

In many cases those who would be considered part of the radical right support violence against those they see as the enemy and see feminist protective measures as attacks on them. Their anger has them either ignoring or justifying men who murder their wives. And it has them ignoring or justifying men who commit acts of violence against abortion providers.

Those who oppose violence and who don't step over the line are frequently angry about violence, but when outsiders treat all those who display anger as if they are the same and tell everyone to make nice, they aren't going to be welcomed as voices of reason.

The generic advice to stop being angry shows not reason but ignorance.

Anger can be used as an excuse to cheer those who harm people who disagree with you or it can be used in a healthier way.

The choice belongs to each of us.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:08 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Republicans Posing as Dems Make Late Night Calls To Turn Off Democratic Voters


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, with memories of past intimidation in the minds of voters, national Republican operatives are phoning voters at all hours of the night, especially at 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. to try and dampen Democratic turnout. Reports of these calls have come in from New Hampshire, where the GOP has been forced to stop the calls, and FCC complaints have been filed in Pennsylvania because of the calls. Republicans have spent $2.1 million on calls like these, targeting 46 Democrats in the last week alone.
Actions designed to suppress the vote are anti-American because they do more than suppress individual votes. They attempt to suppress democracy itself.

Winning becomes the only thing that matters.

Forget values. Forget ethics. Forget the common good. Forget everything but power.

I've never needed a phone call to get me to vote in primaries or general elections. And no phone call will stop me from voting.

I vote because I want to decide on candidates and issues, but more importantly I vote because to not vote would make me figuratively invisible to the politicians who base their votes on how that vote will impact their chances of re-election.

Politics isn't corrupt nor is it futile, but those who attempt to harness politics for their own interests can be corrupt. Many of these corrupt politicians would love it if I threw up my hands and said I was giving up on politics because nothing ever changes.

I will never give them what they want since that would mean one less citizen who isn't a member of their base who is ready and willing to hold politicians accountable.

Sometimes that means that I will be part of a trend that changes the status quo. But even when I vote for a candidate or a cause that I know doesn't stand a chance of prevailing, I am communicating that there is at least one voter out there who is bucking the trend or who doesn't support the winner. That process of communicating is a win all of it's own.

Getting an "I voted" sticker says that I exist in the political world.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   1 comments links to this post

Monday, November 06, 2006

Must Read Book For Those Following Pastor Ted Haggard Scandal

I read the book Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America (Plume Books) by Mel White several years ago and found his story of moving from being a closeted gay evangelical to becoming an open gay Christian fascinating and insightful.

Pastor Ted Haggard is now asking for forgiveness, but I think it's premature and actually unhealthy to jump from confession to forgiveness so quickly since it seeks to turn a complex situation into something simple that can be solved (and not dealt with) merely by repentence and forgiveness.

That's a recipe for trouble.

The dark, ugly side of Pastor Haggard was formed at least in part by many Christians' beliefs about homosexuality and the discord that can create in gay Christians. In closeted gay Christians who buy into the bigotry it creates a gulf between what someone feels and what they must say.

These people can seem to have a stronger faith because they never question or have doubts. But as we've seen with Pastor Haggard, that's a facade. He and others like him only appear to have a superior faith since all of their questions and doubts are secret.

And it's the gulf and what happens to a person who is told that a huge part of themselves is evil which can lead to taking actions like having sex with strangers while promoting abstinence. It can also lead someone like Pastor Haggard to direct his self-disgust and resentment at gays who aren't in the closet and who are living authentic lives with no dirty little secrets.

Don't they know being gay is being miserable?

It's ironic, but not surprising, that Pastor Haggard's position on homosexuality will contibute to other gay Christians taking the same path as he did.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:08 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 05, 2006

First DNA Exoneration In Non Rape or Murder Case

Bluhm Blog

Last week (11/2) , in an article reported by H.G. Reza of the LA TIMES, James Ochoa was exonerated by DNA evidence in a carjacking case, the first such DNA exoneration in a non-rape or murder case.

At the time of trial, prosecutors knew that DNA found on the sweatband of a cap found in the stolen car was not Ochoa's. They also knew that his fingerprints did not match those found on the car. But two eyewitnesses identified him so they took the case to trial. Three days into the trial, Ochoa was offered a plea deal. Plead guilty and you'll get out in two years. The deal was too tempting, especially given that the judge told Ochoa, who had several priors, that if he was convicted, he would go away for life.

Over his attorney's advice, Ochoa pled guilty. The twenty year old spent 10 months in prison when the very same DNA that prosecutors ignored, exonerated him. The DNA at the crime scene was linked to another man, Jaymes T. McCollum, was in L.A. County jail on carjacking charges.

So often when DNA is used to exonerate convicted rapists, those who dislike the current rape laws and their enforcement say that all of the problems which lead to wrongful imprisonment are specific to rape cases. But this case shows that the problems are not specific to rape and/or murder cases.

The reality may be that more people are willing to believe prisoners who are incarcerated on rape charges and who insist they are innocent. Inmates on death row may also get more attention because of an opposition to the death penalty or a determination to make sure that no innocent people are put to death.

Not so many people are jumping at the opportunity to prove that a convicted carjacker is innocent. Neither are people jumping in as quickly to make sure that everyone in prison for drug charges is truly guilty.

I've heard people say that the reason for the limited distrust of the system -- where the system is seen as fair except for rape cases -- is the length of sentences, but many people in prison on drug charges may have equally long sentences so that can't be the central reason.

Maybe the details of disputed rape cases hit too close to home for some people and they can see themselves in the alleged rapist's position.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   1 comments links to this post