Friday, August 08, 2008

Another Must Read For Those Who Claim Acquaintance Rapists Aren't Dangerous

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Kingsford, Mich. - A woman who reported being raped by a man suspected of killing three Michigan teens said Saturday she wonders how hard authorities tried to capture him between the time of the rape Wednesday night and the shootings Thursday evening.

“For all we know, those three kids could be alive now,” the 24-year-old woman said outside her home in Kingsford, which is across the Menominee River from Niagara, Wis.

The answer to this question about what the police did to find Scott J. Johnson is provided by another story which focuses on the suspect's mother:

Police officers came to the Johnson residence on Thursday afternoon and left a business card. They didn't tell Judy Johnson that they were investigating a complaint that her son had sexually assaulted a woman on Wednesday at the river.

Her son returned to their home a few hours later, and she gave him the card.
"He seemed calm but looked like he was anxious to leave," she said tearfully. She said he was probably "freaked out" over police interest in him.

There are many people who believe that viewing alleged acquaintance rapists as violent when the alleged rape victim isn't stabbed, shot or maimed is an injustice. For them rape by itself does not qualify as violence.

The problem is that their opinion only considers what victim blamers and rape suspects would like to happen when someone reports being raped. In this case the safety of the alleged rape victim and the safety of the public weren't a serious consideration. Neither was the safety of the investigators.

Unless I learn that there were specific warning signs for this escalation which the police ignored, I won't hold the police responsible for failing to notify the public that a rape suspect was on the loose.

However, the police are, or should be, trained to think about "what if" situations. While this suspect was described as easygoing that description can be wrongly applied when the person uses the easygoing veneer when unable or unwilling to cope appropriately with stress. Some seemingly easygoing people are bundles of angry frustration and resentment.

The stark contrast between the suspect's behavior before the alleged rape and his sudden unexpected violence should have been a clue that his past calmness is meaningless. Someone who snaps violently one time must be seen as someone who may snap violently again.

Too often when someone snaps whatever stimulus is involved gets the blame, but many people who choose not to snap violently face the same stimulus without choosing to be violent. The difference between the violent and the non-violent is internal not external.

A newer story gives new details about what the police believe about this alleged rapist and alleged murderer's plans.

The complaint tells a chilling story of a disaffected man who had thought about committing a random shooting for the past four or five years and prepared by stashing weapons in the woods.

"He stated that the sole purpose of his hiding this equipment was for when a day like this came," DeBord said.

Johnson finally decided to execute his plan last week after suspecting that a woman he had recently sexually assaulted would tell her ordeal to police, the complaint said.

This means that this man in no way snapped in the stereotypical sense when he learned the police wanted to interview him. Instead it sounds like rape was a way of getting the police to try and find him thus giving him the opportunity he was waiting for.

The police were allegedly one of the desired targets for murder. After committing rape, this man allegedly waited in ambush at the wooded crime scene but the police didn't show up to investigate. To get the manhunt for him that he seemed to desire, he needed to commit an act of violence which would have the police do more than leave their card at his mother's house.

What we cannot afford to forget is that he chose to be disaffected. Once someone makes this choice others who are trying to be helpful may accidentally feed the rationalizations which lead to someone committing this sort of violence.

None of the stories I've read about this case say whether Johnson was suicidal, but his plans fit with a phenomenon called Suicide by cop. Only from the description of Johnson's actions, he changed his mind and disabled his rifle before surrendering to police.

This case should be a reminder that police need to actively assess whether so-called non-violent alleged rapists pose an ongoing danger. They cannot afford to simply assume that alleged acquaintance rapists pose no danger to the alleged victims, the public or the police.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:05 AM   2 comments links to this post


At August 09, 2008 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me reiterate: Ian Huntley, Ian Huntley, Ian Huntley.

At August 09, 2008 4:37 AM, Blogger NOLA radfem said...

This isn't relevant to this post in particular, but I just wanted to comment on your blog generally. I have been away for about two months. Every time I come back to your blog, I am amazed all over again by how good it is, how focused it is, and how deep the analysis is.

It seems that while I was gone some fights broke out about lots of different things (I mean among people whose blogs I like and who should be on the same side). I like how your blog is so focused that - from what I've seen - you don't end up spending time slamming others (other feminists and advocates, I mean).

I think your blog is just great work.


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