He ran into my knife ten times!

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.

North continues:

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.

6 thoughts on “He ran into my knife ten times!

  1. not sure about this. She could be telling the truth, she could have been consensual, but should she go to jail for that?
    As for now, the police are NOT with you, she hasn’t been arrested.
    so……….

  2. More than rape culture alert. This is basically what’s happening to her right now -“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”-no, they can’t? But what are they doing right now? Making her out to be a maniac pedophile? Why’s she the one who’s at fault? Why’s no one telling her side of the story? Because it’s the truth. Because people like to see the kid innocent and the bad adult who’s had the responsibility to go tell someone…. 80% of all rapes go UNREPORTED and there’s a reason for that. It makes you feel ashamed. Terrified. Horrified. Pained. Scared people’ll think it’s your fault. Because you already think it’s your fault for being a woman, for having no power to stop this. I’m 5″1, teach kids at the local highschool. How often have I had a fourteen, fifteen year old make suggestive gestures and much more? I’ve lost my job once because I was so scared of the kids, couldn’t continue working, became useless. I LOST MY VOICE. Was scared of KIDS. KIDS.

    I wouldn’t wonder if her story turned out to be true. I can entirely sympathize.

  3. Sometimes—just occasionally—a woman really is lying about having been raped.

    Sometimes—just occasionally—a woman really is a sexual predator, and a man or boy really is the victim.

    If I can’t say that without having bought into rape culture, then there’s probably nothing I can say to change your mind.

    But all that said, baggifal, I’m sorry that’s happened to you. Truly.

  4. I’ve been following Smith’s story for a long time now over Facebook, tumblr and Twitter — before it broke to the media — so I’ve got a few things to say in her defense. I’d just like to address some of the comments you’ve made and offer possible explanations for the questions you’ve posed.

    “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?”

    This seems obvious. Aside from all the negative feelings (despair, shame etc.) rape inflicts on the victim, she was afraid of reporting it because of the plethora of people who wouldn’t believe her. This is exactly what’s happening now, so I’d say her worries have been validated.

    “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?”

    Why is that so difficult to believe? It would be like being a prisoner in your own skin. She had to go to work every day with him looming over her. Like baggifal said, 80% of rapes go unreported. After the first time, after she was too traumatised/ashamed/guilty/fearful to report what had happened, it is easy to see how this could spiral into a pattern of silence.

    People with post-traumatic stress disorder do not behave rationally. As an example — and this is clearly not referring to Smith’s case considering she obviously abhors her attacker — what about people who are held hostage and develop Stockholm Syndrome? These hostages don’t behave in what we’d call a rational way. People do strange things when they’ve been traumatised though.

    “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?”

    Well, he is 14. We’re not the most emotionally mature at that age. He might be narcisstic enough to believe she’s replaceable, and offended enough by her non-compliance to decide to punish her in the worst possible way.

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