There’s a young man in Dallas who’s been convicted of rape and sentenced to deferred probation. Notable in Judge Jeanine Howard’s choices of absurdly lenient sentencing are that he is not held to the usual conditions of sex offenders and that she has ordered him to do 250 hours of community service at a rape crisis center. (They don’t want him there. I think that should be a consideration.) I am less interested in whether Mr. Young belongs in prison for the next 20 years than in how Judge Howard bases her sentencing on her views of the victim.
The girl was 14 at the time of the rape, and knew Young at school. She was interested in spending time with him. She did not, however, want to have sex at school. He raped her in a music practice room. They both testified that she said “no” and “stop” repeatedly, before and during the attack. There doesn’t seem to be any dispute over whether the girl gave consent in that particular incident. Young apologized to his victim and her family at the trial.
The way Judge Howard describes the victim is, basically, that she wasn’t a good enough victim. Look at this here:
Howard said she made her decision for several reasons, including: The girl had texted Young asking him to spend time with her; the girl had agreed to have sex with him but just didn’t want to at school; medical records show the girl had three sexual partners and had given birth to a baby; and Young was barely 18 at the time.
“She wasn’t the victim she claimed to be,” Howard said. “He is not your typical sex offender.”
The girl’s mother said Friday morning that her daughter has never been pregnant and she was “livid” over the judge’s comments.
The girl’s description of her relationship with Young is thus:
The girl testified that the two had discussed sex but all she wanted to do was kiss. During the trial, where Young pleaded guilty and Howard decided his punishment, the judge asked several times about whether the girl cried. The girl testified that she did not cry during the attack but cried afterward.
Judge Howard seems to be unfamiliar with the idea of consent. She might characterize the girl’s actions in this case as a “gray area” of consent. Just to be clear, there is no need to observe any gray areas. Consent goes like this:
- If the girl said she wanted to kiss the guy, that is not the same as consenting to sex, and his forcing intercourse on her was rape.
- If the girl said she was interested in having sex with him, but not at school, then she did not consent to that act of intercourse in the music room. What he did to her was rape.
- If the girl had already had 3 sexual partners before that incident, that has no bearing on whether she gave consent to that boy on that day. What he did to her was rape.
- If the girl, who was then 14, had already given birth before that incident, that really has no bearing on whether she gave consent to that boy on that day. We don’t even know that the conception of her child was entirely consensual.
- Anyway, her mother says the girl has never been pregnant, and I think the girl’s apparently supportive mother is a better witness to her daughter’s obstetrical history than the judge in a criminal trial where the girl is not the defendant.
- And if the mother’s lying out her ass, and the girl actually did have a baby by age 14? SERIOUSLY? Is that supposed to be argument for treating her rapist as “not your typical sex offender”? Does she think it never occurs to a “typical sex offender” to target a very young mother?
The judge has done everything short of saying, in so many words, “She’s a slut and she asked for it.” She’s operating on the belief that the damage of rape hinges on the innocence of the victim, where “innocence” is measured in a lack of sexual history. She draws a straight line from “she wasn’t such a victim” to “he is not your typical sex offender.” She’s saying he shouldn’t really be treated like a criminal because the girl was already degraded by supposedly having had sex already.
The girl now wonders if it would’ve been a better idea not to report the rape.
“I did what I was supposed to do. I went to the law about this situation,” she said. The judge’s probation sentence and the removal of the restrictions — “that says everything I went through was for nothing.”
“It would have been better for me not to say anything,” said the girl, who is not being identified because The Dallas Morning News does not typically identify victims of sex crimes.
With people like Judge Howard in the “justice” system, it’s no surprise that so many rape victims don’t even go to the police.