Anna North at Jezebel shares the details of Candice Smith’s frankly fascinating account of the events that led up to her being fired for committing statutory rape on a 14-year-old boy at the group home where she worked.
In Ms. Smith’s own words:
I treated these kids like my own children. Then one of them forced himself on me.
I was thunderstruck at the time. Horrified. How could this broken, hurt child have betrayed all the trust and love I’d given to him? How would I ever be able to tell anyone? Shocked and terrified of losing my job and freedom, I told no one. […] I should have, because it happened again. And again. And again. And again. For three months this child forced himself on me, demanded I bring him cigarettes and alcohol, that I hand over my credit cards (I managed to get him to take money instead). He threatened me constantly, said he would “make me sorry,” “make all my money disappear.” He told me he’d steal my car, told me he thought about how much he wanted to kill me… and I just disappeared.
Then, she says, “the kid soured on me — I wouldn’t give a report that another kid had “tried to kill him” because that wasn’t the case — and because I didn’t give this kid his way, he said we’d been having ‘consensual sex.'”
If you just read that and are now thinking her story doesn’t pass the smell test, you’re not alone. You’re in very numerous company.
I could believe her if she said the boy in question forced himself on her…once. I know that a 14-year-old boy can be physically strong enough to overpower a grown woman, and that troubled teenagers can be capable of doing some really horrible shit to people who’ve been nothing but decent to them. However, since Candice Smith is accused of having sexually abused this boy multiple times over a period of months, her story goes well beyond the accusation of an act of violence by a messed-up kid.
What sets Candice Smith’s story apart from most accusations of rape in which the woman is dismissed as a liar is that in her case, she holds power over her alleged attacker, not the other way around. Between a grown woman who has taken a job at a group home, and a 14-year-old who has become a resident of that group home, the grown woman tends to be the one whose story is taken seriously by the authorities. She holds institutional and social power over the boy to such a degree that when she says she was terrified of losing her job and freedom, one needs to ask: why? What was she afraid would happen? She would not have been the first carer to be raped by one of her charges, and if she had come forward with such an accusation, her bosses would have listened to her. This is not a powerful, well-regarded man who can hire a fancy lawyer to make her look like a nutcase who likes to spread her legs; he’s a 14-year-old boy whose life is such that he’s living in an institution away from his family and in the charge of social workers. Such youngsters’ relationship to law enforcement tends to be complicated in ways that don’t apply to the people who are employed to care for them. If she was afraid of losing her job if she came forward, it’s probably because she knew she’d broken the law.
And then there’s this:
I should have, because it happened again. And again. And again. And again. For three months this child forced himself on me, demanded I bring him cigarettes and alcohol,
“He ran into my knife. I’m telling you, Judge, he ran into my knife about ten times!”
It’s possible that Candice Smith is in serious need of mental help that she isn’t getting. It’s possible that she honestly believes she has been victimized and that she believes the boy in question actually left her with no choice. Her characterization of this boy’s aggression nevertheless defies the laws of physics.
She wants us to believe that not only did the boy force himself on her, but that he did it repeatedly, AND coerced her into bringing him cigarettes and alcohol, AND forced her to give him money, and kept this racket going for three months? And then the kid “soured on her”? He successfully kept her in such a position that she thought she had no choice but to submit to him sexually, AND give him tobacco and alcohol products, AND give him cash payments, under the supposed threat of losing her job if she gave him up—basically, he had her in a situation in which there was no downside for him—and then he got tired of this arrangement because she declined to accuse another kid of having tried to kill her abuser? He was getting all that from her, and then he decided to make her go away because she refused to smear another teenager? Really?
Or, perhaps she took the job because she liked having access to vulnerable adolescents, and she was afraid to tell her bosses about the sexual abuse because she was the abuser. Occam’s razor, and all that.