Double victim

If your blood needs boiling, consider this Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel column about a 15-year-old girl who was forced to perform oral sex by a 17-year-old classmate at a Milwaukee high school. She reported the assault. The boy, who claimed the sex was consensual, was suspended for five days. So was the girl. Eventually, he pleaded guilty to “abusive, indecent or otherwise disorderly conduct,” after his lawyer used the girl’s suspension as proof the sex was consensual. The boy got a 30-day stayed jail sentence and 18 months probation, and paid $400 restitution. He transferred to another high school where he was allowed to compete in basketball.

The girl, an honor student, is trying to get her record cleared of the suspension, which she fears will hurt her college admission chances. The school district refuses to admit that it made a mistake by punishing the victim for reporting a sexual assault.

Right after sentencing, Assistant DA Michael Mahoney took the extraordinary step of firing off a letter to school officials expressing his anger with how they handled the matter.

“(She) did not consent to this assault and, indeed, did not know the defendant or his name, prior to the assault,” Mahoney wrote Jan. 21. “Also please note that (she) was not legally capable of consenting to this sexual activity alleged by the Defendant.”

The suspension remains on her record.

Via Eduwonk.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Here’s how it works in our burg: You go to a decent school in your own part of town. You get beaten up by a hooligan who is bussed in from a part of town where the parents pay around half of what your parents pay in housing expense so that you can go to a school where you are less like to be beaten up.
    You have the temerity to complain about your beating. The result? You get tranferred out of your school. This system is what is known as “educational equity.”

  2. Mike in Texas says:

    Sounds to me like the male involved must have been a star on the basketball team. We can’t let little things like violating the law stand in the way of a winning season.

  3. And let’s not forget the most important aspect of this situation: the school official who was inconvenienced by the young lady’s complaint had to avoid the sin of being judgemental.

  4. I know it’s not very PC, but I’m willing to bet that it _was_ consensual. Afterward, the guy just didn’t become her “boyfriend” or take her on an expected date, or the prom, or something else. And, when push came to shove (court) he took the least painful, or least expensive, way out.

    FWIW, I don’t think the school should have suspended either of them. If the school thought that a crime had occurred they should have referred the matter to the police, but without any factual evidence they (and the DA) should have dropped the whole thing as a he said/she said.

    Oh, and yes I do have daughters–two, 16 and 19. The older is at UCLA and the younger at the Sorbonne.

  5. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I agree with the police thing.

  6. Mark–I’m glad your girls are out of the house, where you can’t bug them . She didn’t even know his name! THis isn’t some suburban “he said-she said” story.

  7. Kate: Why do you think I “bug” my daughters? I actually get along with both of them very well–in fact, the older one flew out for five days the week before last because she wanted to spend some time with me before school starts. And, when my younger daughter discovered that I couldn’t make it to her high school graduation last June (she graduated a year early) she pitched such a fit that I rearranged my schedule and went to Paris for 3 days to make her happy (her mom wasn’t invited and didn’t go).

    As for the original topic, he said/she said isn’t limited to the suburbs and the original article simply restated her claim that she didn’t know his name–I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I don’t believe it. Either way, this isn’t the school’s job. Refer the matter to the police and if there is EVIDENCE of a crime let it be pursued appropriately–the article didn’t mention the existence of evidence and without it, to me, it’s all hearsay.

  8. superdestroyer says:

    The mistake the boy made was not to have a couple of his “Homies” around to alibi him.

    Mark, do you really want a society where women have to travel in groups in ensure that a claim of consensual cannot be made. I also you should provide an emample of the “evidence” needed to back up the claim of non-consensual. My guess you cannot provide an example of such evidence that would ever satisfy you exempt maybe the girls dead body.

  9. So according to superdestroyer we should automatically assume the girl is telling the truth, and the boy is lying. He said/She said!

    The girl shouldn’t have put herself in the situation with a guy she didn’t know. End of story. She is responsible for ensuring her own safety. Where are her friends? Back in college when I went to a frat party I always came with other people, not by myself. Because I wasn’t a f*cking idiot and I also chose not become a victim.

  10. Miller Smith says:

    I say she did.

    She says she didn’t.

    No physical evidence.

    What do you do?

  11. superdestroyer, I don’t want to live in a society where anyone, male or female, can be convicted of a crime and jailed (in this case put on probation) without there being any evidence. Remember that part about innocent until PROVEN guilty?

  12. Steve LaBonne says:

    As a forensic scientist I see cases like this all the time. Without further evidence it is most unwise to jump to the conclusion that the contact was non-consensual just because the girl says so. It would not be particularly surprising to find out that the girl was lying to stay out of hot water with her parents. I’m not saying that’s the case, just that we don’t know.

    If the male were not also underage this would be a crime in any case. But since he is, it would depend on how the laws are written in Wisconsin.

  13. “It would not be particularly surprising to find out that the girl was lying to stay out of hot water with her parents.”

    This doesn’t make sense, her parents only found out about it because of her accusation.

    What I can’t figure out is why she didn’t scream, she was only behind the bleachers. Girls need to be taught very early to resist clearly and loudly.

  14. Steve LaBonne says:

    “This doesn’t make sense, her parents only found out about it because of her accusation.” We don’t know that for a fact either, nor whether the girl had reason to think her parents would find out anyway and made the accusation precisely for that reason. Again, not saying any of that is the case, just that _we don’t know_, and that I know it’s possible because I have worked on cases where something like that happened and was eventually admitted. Beware of trying cases based on what you read in the newspaper.

  15. So what do you do when there is only he said/she said to support the accusation? Well, as any parent knows, you consider the character of both parties, as well as any possible motives. My sister, who has four children, can almost always tell who is lying in a given situation with her children. (Based on past actions, the current “story”, and her feel for her children’s behavior).

    I don’t think we have enough information to determine whether she’s lying or telling the truth, but I suspect there are people who do have this information. I don’t think you should automatically believe her or him in this type of situation.

  16. P.S. I definitely don’t think she should have been suspended. Maybe he should have been, but I don’t know based on my lack of information about the facts and the school’s policies.

  17. Let me point out that the girl talked to the police, and they arrested the boy. He denied the sex, then claimed it was consensual (though the girl was below the age of consent) and then pleaded guilty to abusive conduct. That’s why the DA wrote a letter to the school complaining that the victim had been punished for reporting a crime.

  18. superdestroyer says:

    Mark,

    I noticed that you did give any example of what evidence would convinced you that it was not consensual.

    People are innocent until proven guilty, but doesn’t a 15 year old girl have the right to walk down the hallway at school without being in fear. Your solution seems to be to expect all girls to walk around school in groups for protection. Is that your idea of a “healthy learning environment?”

  19. Joanne, over the years I’ve met a number of young people (and some not so young people) who plead guilty to minor (and some relatively major) crimes to make a bad situation go away with what they thought was the minimum amount of pain. In many cases they claimed innocence and I believe them–who has the resources to fight the government? and that’s what it winds up being. It’s quite possible that this kid did the same, he got a deal he could live with and made the bad situation go away–it doesn’t mean he’s guilty. (It would be nice if pleading guilty to a crime actually meant one was actually guilty, but that isn’t the case.)

    superdestroyer, yes a 15 year old girl has the right to walk where ever she wants and should be able to do it without fear. But, common sense says that she shouldn’t go behind secluded bleachers, with no one else present, with a boy whose name she doesn’t even know–what exactly did she think she was going to be doing back there with this guy? Actually, none of this passes the smell test, but I gotta get back to work.

  20. Steve LaBonne says:

    superdestroyer, reading about a case like this makes all of us want to get up on our moral high horses- that’s only human. Trouble is, that’s a poor vantage point from which to discern the truth.

  21. OK, now how the heck is someone “forced to perform oral sex”? Given my understanding of oral sex, I’d say that the woman in question would have some ability to refuse if not fight back and fight back nastily (unless a gun is put to her head but doesn’t sound like it in this case).
    Am I naive?

  22. Steve LaBonne says:

    “OK, now how the heck is someone “forced to perform oral sex”?” I sincerely hope you’re never in a position to find out what you would do if sufficiently threatened with physical force. How effectively can an unarmed victim “fight back nastily” against a much stronger assailant?

  23. John from OK says:

    Damn, this is a good thread.

  24. superdestroyer says:

    Mark,

    Twice, I have asked for you to give an example of evidence that could be used to prove non-consensual sex. Twice, you have failed. It is one thing to say innocent until proven guilty. It is another thing to say innocent and incapable of being proven guilty.

    In your world, girls are defenseless because their seems to no evidence, short of a dead body or a severe physical beating, that would convinence you that it was non-consensual.

    You also seem to live in a world where any girl referred as a slut has to service any man willing to call her a slut.

  25. “Remember that part about innocent until PROVEN guilty?”

    It doesn’t exist anymore.

  26. Tim from Texas says:

    Looks the boy was guilty. As pointed out the law is on the side of the girl’s parents. Looks the district made the mistake of taking the wrong course of action. As a result, as our system dictates, the district is hunkering down and has been advised not to admit any mistake. That’s the m.o. across the land.

    If the students themselves had any political clout and assurance of anonymity within a school system and general protection all around, then the district could discover exactly what happened, for enough of the students do know what happened and can tell the district and/or authorities almost exactly what happened and how it came about.

    The youth across our country know the adults are sticking their heads in the sand, are in doubt, are confused,are in total indecision about what to do in regards to almost every aspect of education and most other aspects of rearing children. So they know better than to put their heads in the wringing confused indecisive hands of the adults, so they plod through the chaos as best they can. Look what happened in this situationboth heads on the platter.

    We need to come to agreement, the sooner the better, about what to do with all situations that arise in the lives of our youth, especially in schools for they are our daytime training facilities.

  27. Someone suggested there was a sports jock element to this. Perhaps there was also a multicultural element involved?
    Children in the public school system aren’t taught how to respond to a multicultural sexual assault. In some situations, members of certain ethnic groups are taught that they are oppressors, and that anything that a member of an oppressed group does to them is deserved.

  28. Conrad,

    That’s deep. That is to say: It’s getting deep in here!…….

  29. Multiculturalism is some deep shit!
    :*]

    You know, the movie “Blue Eyes” and such. You oppressors deserve whatever you get! That kind of thing. Pretty deep, yup.

  30. How to “fight back nastily”? Simple–CHOMP!! And for good measure, SQUEEZE!!

  31. Steve — ” I sincerely hope you’re never in a position to find out what you would do if sufficiently threatened with physical force. How effectively can an unarmed victim “fight back nastily” against a much stronger assailant?”

    I sincerely hope not as well. That being said, putting a strange man’s penis in my mouth without a gun to my head just wouldn’t happen. I’d much rather fight back with subsequent injury. Do we not teach young women to defend themselves these days? Oral sex puts the man in a very vulnerable situation, don’t you think?

  32. As the father of a teenage son and a teenage daughter, I think I can see both sides to this. My view, based on the evidence described by Joanne, is that the school was woefully wrong in punishing this girl. The only evidence the school had to go on was (1) she reported a sexual attack, (2) the boy plead guilty to a violation. How they could square that with action against the girl is beyond me. But them, I’m only a lawyer, what do I know?

  33. “I’m willing to bet that it _was_ consensual.”

    As the ADA rightly pointed out, she wasn’t of the legal age of consent. Since no one asserted that the oral sex never took place at all, his claims that it occurred but was “consensual” amounts to a confession of statutory rape. A cursory examination of the Wisconsin statutes seems to indicate that the age of the defendant is irrelevant: Wisc. Stat. § 948.02(2)provides that “[w]hoever has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who has not attained the age of 16 years is guilty of a Class C felony.”

    “the article didn’t mention the existence of evidence and without it, to me, it’s all hearsay.”

    Someone relating (what they claim to be) their own personal experience is not hearsay. “He said-she said” is not hearsay, even if what he says and what she says contradict each other. Hearsay is a witness testifying to the statements of someone else (the declarant) in order to attempt to prove the truth of the matter asserted in that statement. It’s quite a narrow evidentiary rule and further shot through with exceptions, but it has no applicability to this case that I can see.

  34. Dave,

    Define ‘sex’. Well, it worked for bubba..

  35. Bill, since you asked, for the purposes of the previously cited section and the rest of the chapter on crimes against children, Wisc. Stat. § 948.01(6) provides:

    “Sexual intercourse” means vulvar penetration as well as cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body or of any object into the genital or anal opening either by the defendant or upon the defendant’s instruction. The emission of semen is not required.

  36. Oh, and subsection (5) of that decfinitional section also provides:

    “Sexual contact” means any of the following:

    (a) Intentional touching by the complainant or defendant, either directly or through clothing by the use of any body part or object, of the complainant’s or defendant’s intimate parts if that intentional touching is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or sexually humiliating the complainant or sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant.

    (b) Intentional penile ejaculation of ejaculate or intentional emission of urine or feces by the defendant upon any part of the body clothed or unclothed of the complainant if that ejaculation or emission is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or sexually humiliating the complainant or for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant.

  37. Mark Odell says:

    Steve LaBonne wrote: How effectively can an unarmed victim “fight back nastily” against a much stronger assailant?

    I thought you’d never ask 🙂
    Antirape Seminar for Women
    Strength v. Weakness
    Weak Points
    and last but not least:
    Principles of Personal Defense

  38. OK, called me old fashioned. But could someone please explain to me tw simple things.

    1) Why are a 17 year old boy and 15 year old girl taking the same gym class? Remmber it supposedly came out with a teacher putting them on the same team. When I was in school there was boys gym and girls gym. It also went by grade. Thus boys who theoretically near the same stage of development had to compete with each other, same for girls. It minimized a lot of embarassment both in discussion of looks and ability.

    2) How were they able to disappear behind the bleachers for lopng enough for a sex act without the teacher noticing? Was the boy that quick on the trigger? Or was the teacher that incompetent?

  39. Wisc. Stat. § 948.02(2)provides that “[w]hoever has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who has not attained the age of 16 years is guilty of a Class C felony.”

    Does that mean that if the boy had been 15, they would both be guilty of a class C felony?

  40. Some of these young athletes have extremely high testosterone levels. You might say they can’t help themselves. Like Mark and the way he treated his daughters, males are controlled by their testosterone.

  41. Richard Brandshaft says:

    A few things:

    1) “What I can’t figure out is why she didn’t scream, she was only behind the bleachers. …”.

    “OK, now how the heck is someone “forced to perform oral sex”?”

    What seems simple when you’re discussing it isn’t all that obvious under the stress of a real attack. Anyone who has ever taken a real stress exercise in a self-defense class knows how easy it is to not think of the obvious. I’ve been spared personal experience so far, but from what I’ve read about it the real thing is even worse.

    (I’ll tell you a story of mine from an exercise: I managed to find a class for men based on the “Model Mugging” approach. The basic idea is the “attacker” wears so much padding he looks like he’s in a badly designed space suit. He screams at you to stress you out — it’s surprisingly easy, even when you know nothing is really going to happen to you — and charges you. You really hit him. Some detached part of my mind realized I was only hitting with my arm, rather than putting my body weight behind the blows. It JUST DIDN’T CROSS MY MIND until after the exercise that, having noticed I was doing it wrong, I should have switched to doing it right. This after many years of martial arts lessons.)

    2) “My sister, who has four children, can almost always tell who is lying in a given situation with her children.”

    Or thinks she can. Cops frequently “just know” when some one is guilty, and thus feel free to extort confessions and fake evidence. Sometimes evidence comes up to prove them wrong. There is no reason to believe the cases that come to light are all or even a large fraction of the frame-ups.

    3) “But, common sense says that she shouldn’t go behind secluded bleachers, with no one else present, with a boy whose name she doesn’t even know–what exactly did she think she was going to be doing back there with this guy?”

    She didn’t go about her daily life on the assumption that any male could attack her, given the opportunity. No doubt she does now.

    4) “…I’ve met a number of young people (and some not so young people) who plead guilty to minor (and some relatively major) crimes to make a bad situation go away … In many cases they claimed innocence and I believe them–who has the resources to fight the government?…”

    Yes. There is only one person we can be sure is guilty in this case: the D.A.. (One of you language pedants can come back with how I should have punctuated the end of the last sentence.) If he actually had enough evidence, he should have prosecuted for the actual crime. If he didn’t, he should not have extorted a plea.

  42. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Educators should not substitute their expertise for those of police. The matter should have not repeat not been handled as a school discipline matter but as a crime. Educators who investigate crime, prescribe drugs or fight fires instead of calling in the professionals are not just stupid, they are actionably stupid.
    I am a Professional Electrical and Mechanical engineer, but while I might be able to perform the calculations a Structural Engineer might use, I would never presume to design the foundation for a machine of my design.

  43. Steve LaBonne says:

    Very true, and I wish I had made that point myself.

  44. Tim from Texas says:

    Sure, the police have alot of expertise in solving this kind of crime. It’s already been established here that the district didn’t
    handle it correctly. The police don’t and can’t handle these types of crimes well either. What goes on, especially in the schools, is the responsibility of society/community. Sure a perpetrator of any crime needs to be arrested and dealt with according to the law. However, when all is said and done there remains victims. I would think that a community would at least want its schools to be a safe haven, insofar at least for this kind of occurence, and of course others, as much as humanly possible. But alas, none are. Therefore, this is directly the fault of society/community isn’t it?

    For one example, visit a school, or revisit your old middle or high-school They are so big, cumbersome, and so poorly planned that there exists many places where crimes can happen w/o anyone seeing or hearing. It would take a small army to patrol them.

  45. Andy Freeman says:

    > For one example, visit a school, or revisit your old middle or high-school They are so big, cumbersome, and so poorly planned that there exists many places where crimes can happen w/o anyone seeing or hearing. It would take a small army to patrol them.

    If that’s a problem with your school, you have bigger problems than school architecture/design.

  46. Tim from Texas says:

    Yes, schools have other problems some bigger and some smaller than their designs. I used the layout/design of schools for my one example, for many schools could have been planned better with more safety in mind. And the reference to the small army, of course, was an exageration. If you are involved in the designing of schools, I did not imply that it is a designer/architect problem. In addition, I used it as an example because I think it’s an aspect which should come under consideration before new schools are built and old schools refurbished, remodeled, added to, etc. and I thought easily visualized.

    As to those bigger problems your school doesn’t have that others do, please enlighten me, if your so inclined.

    I must go now but I’ll be back very late into the evening. I mention, it only because I think I’ve not responded here a couple of times when it might have been expected the past few months or so because I posted and then just hours later had to leave for couple days or weeks. Not good etiquette, I’m sure.

  47. Okay, first off there are multiple scenarios where the girl could/would lie about it being nonconsensual….at the top of the list would be vengeance against the boy for some insult or slight.

    Second, how the hell did the boy “force” her to give him oral sex? Was there a weapon involved? Did he have other friends there helping him subdue her? I would certainly think that would have to be the case, as he was in a decidedly vulnerable position—- All she had to do— if he was unarmed— was either bite down, or reach up, grab, and twist his nuts in one hand, to incapacitate him.

    Yet, so far as is revealed here, she did none of those things.

    Something, I suspect, is rotten in Denmark.