CINCINNATI -- A convicted rapist has been sentenced to 40 years in prison after failing to convince a judge that he deserved a lighter sentence. Thirty-six-year-old Joseph Pettis argued that the rape had not been, as he put it, "excessively brutal" or "overly monstrous."
Pettis was convicted of raping a Cincinnati woman three times after covering her head and wrapping a belt around her neck.
This excuse which is often trotted out by acquaintance rapists, minus the "excessively" and "overly," is more easily identified as nonsense when it is given by a man who broke into a woman's home before raping her. Most rapists need this type of thinking to help them justify their actions.
The only rapists who might not need this type of thinking are the rapists who are punishing their victims for some real or imagined transgression. Even in these types of rapes, the rapists are likely to view their actions as not being worse than their victim's transgression and to view themselves as better people than rapists who pick their victims in some other way.
This thinking is why sane people can do what other people see as insane.
Jury verdicts and sentences need to be based on the reality of the crime not on how well the defendant can minimize his or her actions -- and his or her culpability. Being able to rationalize away responsibility or being able to minimize responsibility are clear signs of sanity and rational thinking.
Rapists who admit that they are jerks but deny that what they did qualifies as rape are expressing the same rationalizations as Pettis expressed. Too many people who would never fall for Pettis' excuses fall for the excuses of these rapists.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Norbert Nadel thankfully didn't fall for Pettis' excuses. All other judges and all other juries need to do the same when rapists don't commit burglary prior to rape and claim, "it was consensual."
If the excuses stop working some would-be rapists may decide that rape isn't worth the risk.