Rape Accuser Charged With Rape

Shaker Rose sent me this story out of Kansas, about a 14-year-old girl who’s been charged with rape and criminal sodomy after reporting to her school counselor that a male classmate had forced her to have sex with him. Because the male classmate is “a few months younger and still 13 years old,” and because “Kansas law says sex with anyone under 14, even if it’s consensual, is rape,” the girl is now being charged as a (statutory) rapist, with no regard to whether she herself was (forcibly) raped.

There’s more on the story here, which details the accounts of what happened according to both parties. It’s a complicated case, because there quite genuinely may have been some level of consent during the first incident, which then turned into a forcible event when the girl wanted to stop. Additionally, our cultural prejudices about how rape victims are “supposed” to act will make lots of people wonder why, if there was forcible sex one day, would the girl be alone with the boy on subsequent occasions—and the conclusion they’ll come to is that there wasn’t forcible sex at all. (See the comments attached to that story.) In reality, not all rape victims react in ways that seem completely logical, and denying one’s rape by pursuing consensual sex with one’s rapist is not remotely uncommon. Particularly in children this young, it’s dangerous to try to judge their actions in sexual assault situation based on “logical” standards. Children molested by parents often appear to have a closer relationship with the abusive parent, for example.

Anyway, exactly what happened needs to get sorted out by investigators and a jury, and I want to make clear that I’m not presuming guilt.

That said, charging this girl as a rapist is ridiculous, starting with the fact that it does presume guilt. It presumes that this girl who went to her school counselor unbidden to talk about the situation has lied about what happened and ergo filed a false report. Or, the Deputy County Attorney is looking at her admission that she consented to oral sex before he “got really forceful by pushing my head down to where I was choking and I didn’t like that and I wanted to stop but I couldn’t,” and he’s nonetheless thinking he can’t let her get away with those moments of consensual oral sex before her alleged rape started, because, until then, she was technically raping the boy. I mean, jebus.

And, aside from being yet another general disincentive to rape victims against reporting, reinforcing the idea that the system won’t protect or support you, charging the girl with rape is also essentially conveying to every 13-year-old boy in Kansas that they have free reign to rape girls as soon as they turn 14, because, if the girls report it, they’ll be charged with rape. Splendid.

Worst yet, because the case against the girl looks likely go to court first, the boy may be granted immunity in exchange for testifying for against her—which means that a forcible rapist could go free in exchange for the conviction of a statutory rapist.

Suffice it to say, the girl’s attorney (who is representing her pro bono) is none too pleased with the entire situation, noting that the law on statutory rape was meant to deal with adults abusing children, and that the Deputy County Attorney Evan Watson is using the charge against the girl “as a message to bully her into taking” a lesser charge such as “contributing to a child’s misconduct or deprivation.” Which may be true, but I still wonder why she is being charged at all—at least and especially before her own forcible rape case has been tried. Her attorney also makes the obvious point:

“We have a young girl who needed help…and she hasn’t received help,” said [Sean Shores of Shores, Williamson, and Ohaebosim in Wichita]. “The message we are sending to our daughters is that it’s better to say nothing at all than get help. We’re basically telling them to shut up.”

…“I don’t know why [Watson’s] hell bent on this,” said Shores of Watson and the case. “It’s just unbelievable.”

Unfortunately, it’s all too believable there really are some people who think “shut up” is a message rape victims need to hear.

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29 Comments

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29 responses to “Rape Accuser Charged With Rape

  1. Erin M

    I’m beginning to see why my Crim Law prof made such a big point of what he called the “forest” questions (as in forest for the trees). You just absolutely have to consider whether you’re punishing the people that are meant to be punished, especially when it comes to minors. I really can’t pull together a more coherent comment, because this simply doesn’t make sense to me.

    Also, I hope you have the barricades ready now, Shakes. The barbarians are gonna be storming again.

  2. I’m concerned about charging children as adults generally, especially as young as this. I doubt anyone should be charged with rape in this case.

  3. You just absolutely have to consider whether you’re punishing the people that are meant to be punished, especially when it comes to minors.

    Right. And one of the things we’re starting to see over and over again is that statutory rape laws need to be rewritten in a way that makes sense, which isn’t even all that hard. This issue wouldn’t even exist if Kansas’ law provided an exclusion for those older than the cut-off age by, say, less than two years. In other words, anyone older than 15 who has sex with a 13-year-old will be automatically charged with committing statutory rape, even if it’s consensual, but 14- and 15-year-olds won’t. Or make it 18 months older until the age of X (which also avoids the whole “three days ago this would have been legal” thing).

    This type of legislation stands to not only favor those who would be accused of statutory rape because of a minor age difference, but also those who are forcibly raped by someone with a minor age difference, because, too often, a situation in which a young girl is forcibly raped by a young boy is chalked up to “kids experimenting with sex” or something because the statutory laws have jaded people to the reality of underage forcible rape. Making sure that boy isn’t just getting unfairly caught in a statutory rape net will force people to extricate statutory from forcible rape in these cases and examine them more closely.

  4. I’m concerned about charging children as adults generally, especially as young as this. I doubt anyone should be charged with rape in this case.

    If a forcible rape occurs, even if perpetrated by someone this young, s/he should absolutely be charged with rape.

  5. If a rape occurs, even if perpetrated by a boy this young, he should absolutely be charged with rape.

    Did a rape occur, though? What is the charging threshhold here? I’m definitely taking age into consideration as part of the mens rea.

  6. I just don’t think children have the same state of mind that an adult does.

  7. By no means am I saying 13-year olds should be free to rape. I think the facts of this case seem rather ambiguous, given there was apparently consent at some point that may have been withdrawn but we don’t know how that was communicated. I wouldn’t object to prosecuting an adult on that basis, since an adult should be expected to know better, but as I said, I am taking age into account.

  8. If a forcible rape occurs, even if perpetrated by someone this young, s/he should absolutely be charged with rape.

    The only argument should be about whether they’re tried in the adult or juvenile system. I can see both arguments, FWIW.

    As for consent — there’s no sane world where a 14-year-old having sex with a 13-year-old should be treated the same as a 41-year-old having sex with a 13-year-old. Is 13 too damn young to be having sex? Yes, it is. But if this had actually been consensual, it would have been a very bad decision by two kids. That it stopped being consensual means it’s a very bad decision by one kid, and a crime by another.

  9. Frankly, I just don’t know and it’s only an instant impression without knowing a lot of specifics so please don’t think I’m saying it would be absolutely improper to charge the boy if a prosecutor believes that a jury would convict beyond a reasonable doubt.

  10. And no way should the girl be charged with rape in this case, that’s ridiculous.

  11. Did a rape occur, though?

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but the way that’s determined is by charging someone with rape and doing an investigation, which is the basic reason that your doubt that anyone should be charged with rape in this case is roblematic.

    there was apparently consent at some point that may have been withdrawn but we don’t know how that was communicated

    According to the complaint, it was communicated by struggling to get free. Do your sexual partners have to struggle to get free from you?

    I wouldn’t object to prosecuting an adult on that basis, since an adult should be expected to know better, but as I said, I am taking age into account.

    Unless I’m mistaken, you seem to be taking age into account only on behalf of the alleged forcible rapist, i.e. maybe the girl didn’t “communicate” she had withdrawn consent in a way he could understand because he was only 13. But you don’t seem to be taking age into account on her behalf, i.e. maybe the girl didn’t “communicate” she had withdrawn consent in a way he could understand because she was only 14. If you did, you’d see that the age issue is a wash, and ergo should not be taken into account in any one person’s favor.

  12. I’m concerned about charging children as adults generally, especially as young as this.

    I was the jury foreperson on a case in which two children were being charged as adults.

    They were also denied their constitutional right to confront their accusers numerous times during the trial.

    We found them not guilty of the charges that would have sent them to an adult prison and prevented a miscarriage of justice.

    Hopefully, this girl will get a smart jury, too.

  13. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the way that’s determined is by charging someone with rape and doing an investigation, which is the basic reason that your doubt that anyone should be charged with rape in this case is roblematic.

    I don’t know how it works in juvenile cases, but generally cases are brought after investigation by presentment to a grand jury and issuance of a true bill of indictment.

    According to the complaint, it was communicated by struggling to get free. Do your sexual partners have to struggle to get free from you?

    Of course not.

  14. You’d think Kansas would be tired of competing with Montana for retrograde laughingstock of the US. This may be a government of laws, not men, but there are times when “the law is a ass,” law being a creature of fallible humanity, and requires correction.

  15. Wow. That Watson guy is just pure evil genius. Kansas District Attorneys really hate young women, don’t they?

  16. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the way that’s determined is by charging someone with rape and doing an investigation, which is the basic reason that your doubt that anyone should be charged with rape in this case is roblematic.

    Shouldn’t this work both ways, tho?

    I guess my point is, we’re judging something we have no clue about. All we have is her word as to when the sex was consensual and when it was not, and how that consensual sex even transpired.

  17. If you did, you’d see that the age issue is a wash, and ergo should not be taken into account in any one person’s favor.

    If it’s a wash, nobody should be charged with rape, but maybe he should have been. She should not have been.

  18. cases are brought after investigation by presentment to a grand jury and issuance of a true bill of indictment

    Being indicted for a crime is different than being charged with a crime. Some aspects of police investigations are contingent upon charges having been filed.

    If it’s a wash, nobody should be charged with rape

    No; if it’s a wash, nobody should be granted favor with regard to age and how that affects the communication of consent.

  19. Shouldn’t this work both ways, tho?

    If it was an issue of forcible rape vs. forcible rape, yes. But statutory rape requires no investigation when the statutory rapist has admitted sexual contact. So an investigation isn’t necessary. The only issues with regard to her are: A) whether to bring charges; and B) when to bring charges, and, as I said in the post, if they’re going to be brought, they shouldn’t be before her own forcible rape case has been tried for all the reasons I laid out.

  20. skywind

    …cases are brought after investigation by presentment to a grand jury and issuance of a true bill of indictment…

    Not in every case, and not in every state. And a charge can be made and prosecution begun based on probable cause, which is a lower standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

  21. I was threatened by the police officer that took my statement with being charged for violating the law that prohibits sex between minors when I refused to file charges against my rapist.

    And this was in California. The threat worked, because I didn’t know any better, and my life was destroyed as a result.

  22. Shouldn’t this work both ways, tho?

    I don’t understand how, if forcible rape (by the boy) is possibly the case, how a statutory rape charge (for the girl) could go ahead.

  23. This is what Muslim radical do. I guess there are some members of the Taliban who arnt named Abdullah or Mohamad.

  24. NMRon

    Although I understand the discussion, re: rape vs. not-rape, I think the discussion avoids the issue of what in reality is two sexually active children. Yes, the boy’s actions were reprehensible and need to be agressively dealt with. Consent to sexual activity in any rational world does not imply consent to be brutalized. But, does anyone think the criminal justice system will change this young boy’s views of women and sexual relations? While the girl’s actions are, to me, equally troubling vis-a-vis sex at such a young age, statutory rape charges are ludicrous. Absent some unstated Solomonic approach to forced arbitration between the two, the prosecutor’s action makes no sense. Quite frankly, the only result of the prosecutor’s approach will be needless damage to two young lives for no rational purpose.

  25. NMRon

    In the above, I said the girl’s actions were “equally troubling.” That’s very inaccurate. The boy’s violent behavior is much worse.

  26. Anne

    Oh my fucking God. Like it’s not bad enough to be raped already (although I suppose maybe Kansas is like Maryland, where once you give consent to sex you can’t revoke it, so even if you consent but are then in hideous pain and start bleeding all over the goddamn place and screaming and tell your partner to stop and they don’t it’s not rape…but I digress).

    This reminds me of a nightmare I had when I was little, where my dad got in a horrible car accident, and instead of taking him to the hospital, he got taken to jail, where he was handcuffed to a wall and died. It’s like a buy-one get-one-free deal for misogynists and other sadists — you rape somebody, and they go to jail! Hooray for the American Taliban!

  27. “But, does anyone think the criminal justice system will change this young boy’s views of women and sexual relations?”

    It will certainly do a much better job of it than nothing will.

    13 years old is old enough to know that you shouldn’t physically force other people to do things – but not old enough to understand all the nuances of that statement.

    It may be that something less drastic than a trial would have been appropriate, but since we are talking about rape, not just groping, I have my doubts. Unfortunately for both kids, culture tends to teach boys that this stuff is ok to such a degree that extreme actions are often needed to teach even “nice” boys where the line actually is.

    Honestly, especially at that age. I love teens and all, but they are all about pushing boundaries. It’s not the school’s place to deal with something this severe (not alone, anyway), and you can’t leave something like this up to the parents.

    That said, I obviously don’t have all the details and I really don’t trust the judgement of people that plan on prosecuting her for statutory rape. And it does seem likely that something more flexible than how judicial system tends to be would be more appropriate. (Which is what I thought juvenile court was often meant to do.) Unfortunately, Kansas may not have anything adequately flexible at their disposal.

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  29. Pingback: abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open: Carnival Against Sexual Violence 27

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