IMADTTO: The Conclusion

Hi folks.

Last night I received word on the President’s Prize, the project I’ve poured my heart and soul into for these past few months. I set out to combat rape culture on college campuses and in the end, it was decided that my project (for whatever reason) was not up to the level that my university wanted and therefore was rejected. I spent last night at somewhat of a loss. I believed in my project, it was the very first thing I put my whole self into and I received a very short “There were so many wonderful applicants, but unfortunately you will not be continuing on.” email and I debated what to do as my next step.

I decided that I wanted to share what I’d done with you all, so that you might know what I’d spent so much time working on, but also to use as a way to put some accountability on my university. I hope they do incorporate some of my ideas-because my pride is far less important than the safety of women everywhere. But if these ideas come into use, I hope they put them to action with as much devotion as I would have-because for them it’s just policy, for me it’s an entire life’s worth of passion. I’m only going to put the second round project proposal, because it is the most complete-but there were many other drafts, and additional pieces of work that needed to be included in the process of review.

I invite critiques and thoughts-because, as I said, this is something I’m devoting my whole life to-and am applying to law school for- so making this project better and better can only help me enact it in the courtroom.

I have to deal with losses as a lawyer, with grace and humility. I don’t want to lose, nor do I like it, but I am human and it very well may happen. I’m doing the best I can to plug forward, shake it off and carry on. My pride is wounded, but my compassion and drive are not. (Oh, and I changed the logo colors to Sexual Assault Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness colors-a change I am very happy with.)

tl;dr: I’m placing my project proposal on my blog so that I can use it as a platform to save the world in a different route: my own self.

Michelle Brewer-Bunnell President’s Prize Project Statement

IMaDtTO Logo for Future.png
Project Title: IMADTTO (I Made A Difference To That One)

Problem Statement:

          Rape culture on college campuses is a social pandemic which needs to be addressed and eradicated. There are three target areas that I seek to focus on as key elements in the fight against rape culture: prevention, prosecution of crime and response to survivors. These elements are broken into sections of action that IMADTTO addresses as research, outreach, education and advocacy.

I maintain a blog on WordPress which, to the best of my abilities, I use to further stories of perceived injustices-focusing on rape culture. I use the critical thinking skills I have cultivated to seek out the legislation, proposed bills and the stories themselves so that I may present the facts. I also use that blog to discuss ideas for the improvement of society in respect to rape culture. I have opened the conversation to my readers and subscribers to tell me their ideas and stories. Since I have done so, it has been made abundantly clear to me that survivors of sexual assault desire to have their stories heard by someone who shows them respect and believes them at face value.

I have been approached by friends I have known for years, by family members and by complete strangers alike and asked if I could just listen to them. Among their stories, a vein of similarity popped up repeatedly: the need for gender inclusive education (whereby the message of body safety and awareness was given to all young adults), the need for a safe space to talk about their experiences and the need to be believed. It is these three suggestions from which IMADTTO came into existence, and will excel. The stark need for a program like IMADTTO is highlighted by the cases of Brock Allen Turner (Stanford University) and the Steubenville rape in 2012.

This project will positively affect everyone. The students are the target audience-both at a collegiate and high school level. By increasing body positivity and safety, young adults will be prepared to enter a world where they understand their rights, are fully capable of protecting themselves and are aware of what resources are available to them should they encounter an unsafe situation. On a slightly larger scale, this project will be beneficial to the parents of college-aged children by giving them the peace of mind that their children will be attending a college which is prepared to protect its students.

Ohio State will benefit from admissions increases, emerging as a leader in student safety and body positivity. Ohio State will serve as the role model for how rape culture on college campuses can be combatted. This commitment ripples through the national and global level, because Ohio State is rich in diversity and what student learn while attending will provide them the opportunity to be ambassadors to their home states and countries.

Project Outline and Timeline:

IMADTTO operates at four specific sections: research, outreach, education and advocacy. For each of these sections, individual tasks have been allocated. The research section will initiate the project. A survey will be created to assess potential problem areas on campus, the individual’s knowledge of available resources for the issue of sexual assault, responses to stigma and pop culture rape culture, as well as gauge their interest in a support group for survivors of sexual assault. This survey will serve as the basis for my own research (in accordance with IRB). This section will also include creating a compendium of resources available across the state to be used as part of the education and outreach sections. The research conducted in this section will be used to present at the latter two conferences I will attend.
Education will focus on the themes of body safety and body positivity. Under this category, a website and mobile application will be created in order to disseminate the information gathered in the “Research”. This will include a map of the areas deemed “issue” (that is to say, where students felt needed extra precaution when using) areas, the compendium of resources, links to news articles and legislation about sexual assault and rape culture, as well as important information such as basic self-defense tips. This information will be dispersed at twenty-five (25) high schools, as well as talks at each of the five (5) branch campuses, plus main campus. How to duplicate this project at other universities will be made available on the website as well.
The capstone for this section is the introduction of a sexual assault learning module in the Freshman Survey course, and a discussion for the parents at Freshman Orientation. The learning module will be a condensed, statistical exploration of rape culture and sexual assault that will be inserted into the pre-existing Freshman Survey course. The Freshman Orientation discussion with parents will be an introduction to the ways in which Ohio State is looking out for its students, including how a perpetrator will be dealt with. This creates accountability between Ohio State and the parents to ensure that all students are protected and informed.
Outreach focuses on publications. A newsletter featuring words of hope, self-care, the stories of survivors, and thoughts from professionals (such as nurses, social workers and police officers) will be created and distributed in both print and virtual format. This newsletter will also include progress reports for IMADTTO, as a way of holding the project accountable and also informing the general public about the successes of the project. Three books will be created, as conversation starters: one children’s picture book, one middle grade book and one young adult book. These books will focus on the theme of body positivity and inclusiveness at age appropriate levels.
Advocacy will take on a sustainable entity of its own. Small groups (of about 4-6 people) of survivors will come together to create support systems and lasting friendships during their time at Ohio State. These groups will serve as a type of “first line of defense” for survivors including-but-not-limited-to encouragement, providing escorts for the other members of their group to and from activities, get well cards, providing meals or support on “trigger” days (days in which the individual may suffer from the memory of a traumatic event). These groups will be for morale boosting purposes, but also provide a basic level of support by other people who understand the necessity of the group. There will also be collaboration with local law enforcement and politicians to promote an Ohio Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, modeled after the National Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, which was passed just this year.
Apart from the support group, this project will be, essentially, a networking and structural one. In order for IMADTTO to become functional, I must prepare the foundations of each section (the survey, the website, the newsletter, educational materials) and use those to further the project. As the foundations are completed, the project will require assistance and guidance from both curriculum advisors and orientation organizers (for the survey course and orientation discussion) as well as the cooperation and coordination efforts between myself and the leadership of the schools which I will be presenting at. Once this is accomplished, the project becomes more self-sufficient. The course work and discussion materials will be available, as will the publications, finalizing the third tier. The research presentations head off the final leg of the project, support groups will form and be self-managing.
Achievements to date include the information gathered from my blog, in which the basis of this project has come into formation. The compendium of resources has been started, but is at a national level, compiled into an alphabetized list. This is a fantastic starting point, and will be made available on the website. I would like to make an Ohio-specific list for IMADTTO. I am also currently working to complete general IRB (Institutional Review Board) modules so that I can begin the project immediately.
There are several project goals over the course of the year. Within the first three months (July through September) the survey will be created and dispersed, data compiled, presentation materials created, website and newsletter created, and branch campus visits scheduled. In months four to six (October through December) will focus on the publications as well as drafting the Freshman Survey module and the Freshman Orientation discussion. The support groups will also be organized and commence in this time frame. The third quarter (January through March) goals are completing and publishing the children and middle grade books, speaking at the high schools and working with law enforcement and legislators to draft and propose the survivor bill. The final three months (April through June) will be centered on enacting the learning module, the orientation discussion and ensuring that IMADTTO has impacted the university in a positive way. Instructions will be created for those wishing to continue the support groups, newsletter and website (or final arrangements made). A research paper will be produced (and presented), and the young adult chapter book will be made available for purchase.
There is nothing about this project which will take more than 12 months to achieve, however, there are some items which will require ongoing effort. The Freshman Survey learning module, the Freshman Orientation parental discussion and the support groups will be the lasting sectors of IMADTTO, in the event that no one continues the newsletter and regular website upkeep. For the learning module, this will be in the hands of the faculty and staff who teach the survey course, as well as the curriculum advisors. The parent discussion will be in the control of the directors of orientation. The support groups will either end at the discretion of the individual groups, or will be in the control of Sexuality and Civility Empowerment.
I will measure the success of IMADTTO based on both quantifiable markers and abstract ones. The successful creation of educational materials, the website and the completion of the goals listed above will serve as indicators for the overall success. I will also view success based on the level of reach which the project will have. The introduction of the survivor bill and the implementation of discussions about changing rape culture and making sexual assault survivors less stigmatized, while a little more abstract, are no less important.

Budget Description:

In total, this project will require $48,469. This money will be utilized for marketing, data collection, producing educational materials and dispersing information. No external funding is required. Marketing will involve “swag”, or promotional materials to be distributed to the schools I visit, as well as at various times throughout the academic year. These items will include the link to the website, resource compendium and other valuable information. Data collection will include the cost of running the survey through Survey Monkey. This will also include the price of maintaining the website and domain name (if not included in the university’s page) and mobile application costs. Producing the educational materials includes printing handouts, producing the newsletter in print form and also startup costs for the books. Funds to sustain the project, as well as scholarships for the creation of artwork for the children’s book and mobile application design. A budget for travel is included not only to ensure transportation to the schools I intend to visit, but also to three conferences given by professionals for the sole purpose of combatting rape culture in their various professions. It is at these conferences that this project’s findings will be presented.
These financial resources directly affect achieving the project goals by ensuring the conception and implementation of the project itself. Without the research aspect, this project cannot fully address the concerns of the Ohio State population. Without the education aspect, IMADTTO cannot affect prevention of sexual assaults (or knowledge of availability of resources). Without the outreach aspect, no one will know what IMADTTO’s purpose is, what is being done and how to start the discussion about sexual assault. Without the advocacy aspect, no actual change will occur. Students will have to navigate the justice system alone, Ohio might not have a survivor bill of rights, law enforcement will not know which areas students feel unsafe in. By attending the conferences I have selected, I will be able to bring the knowledge of other professionals from a variety of backgrounds to Ohio State to continually make the information I have gathered both useful, timely and culturally relevant.

Additional Information:

Although I am not the only one to think of addressing the issue of sexual assault and rape culture, I do not believe there is a program which mirrors IMADTTO in its breadth and the way it is broken down. Of the programs which exist in the state of Ohio, the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio and Sexuality and Civility Empowerment will be the resources I utilize most as I take on this project. Along with this, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network will be paramount to the successful accumulation of knowledge.
The marketing sector of this project will be taken care of both in person and through social media. I have a decent following on various social media platforms, and by utilizing the power and prestige of the university, I can access a vast database of networking moments through other students and faculty and staff. The in person marketing will come from meeting with students at their schools and at Ohio State’s Welcome Week.
In order for this project to be successful, each and every one of my interactions will be a form of partnership. Because I will have access to an entire university of staff and faculty who have insights into things I may not, such as research they’ve done over a specific facet of my project, the scope of my ideals will be far less limited. My faculty mentor will be the discerning rod for any questions I may have. From procedural decisions to research methods and write-up questions, I will use my mentor not as a crutch to lean on, but as a net to capture the things I might miss because of inexperience.
Apart from financial and networking assistance, all I require is a place to set up my work and internet access. This ideally takes the form of an office, so that I may organize my work in such a manner that causes maximum efficiency. I would also require a place (such as Sexuality and Civility Empowerment) for the support groups to meet if they so choose to do so on campus.
As with any project, there will be challenges. I anticipate that my own limitations in technology will be an issue, as will recruitment in the early stages of the project. As for the technological issues, I have designed a scholarship for the mobile application so that I can both give back to the university, but also so that I can devote my time to the website. Should there be problems beyond that, I am not too proud to ask for assistance and get my hands dirty! As for recruitment, I have set aside money in the budget for a reward for participants. There will be a raffle (for those who choose to enter) of 20-$50 gift cards. Any unforeseen problems will be handled with care and patience, and with the help of my faculty advisor.
I started down this path because of my own personal outrage at court cases like those involving Ke$ha, rapist Brock Turner and the Steubenville rape. In those stories I saw human beings who, like me, had had their bodily autonomy fractured and I saw the incredible strength of the survivors. It is with all of this in mind that I submit this project statement, in hopes that I might be the leader that my time at Ohio State has prepared me to be.
This project is more than just an opportunity to be the change I want to see in the world. It is the springboard I will use to further my career goals and ambitions. With graduation pending, I am applying to law schools around the country. It is a degree in criminal law which will afford me the honor of upholding justice and running for District Attorney. As District Attorney, I will continue the work I humbly began with my blog: fostering awareness and open dialogue between peoples of different backgrounds. I carry this one piece of truth with me each day, as both the inspiration for my passions, and also as the compass with which I make my decisions:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (Seuss, Dr. The Lorax. New York: Random House, 1971.)

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My Gal Kesha

My life started down the SJW (social justice warrior) path nearly 9 months ago. I came across an article about Kesha (the pop star), watched her video (on Instagram I think) and became outraged at the way she was forced to do something she so clearly should not have been. And a follow up article came up in my life today.

I was listening to the radio on my morning commute (like the old person I am) and I heard the report that Kesha was panicked that her medical records were going to be released. Naturally, I did a little digging.

Kesha’s Concerns This is the link to the Rolling Stones article. In it, the point was made that Dr. Luke’s lawyers requested (and were granted) 10 years of gynecological, psychological and rehab records for Kesha. The lawyer representing Dr. Luke requested that the court (Not Kesha’s lawyer) decide if they could release the records to the public.

I know, my blood was boiling by that point as well. Because this is the Kesha I know. I am familiar with the easy-going, wicked smart woman who stood out and embraced diversity.

And then you have people like Donald Trump. (Did you think I’d forgotten?)

I saw the video, I watch all of the debates. And let me tell you something. One of the best things I heard in response came from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And I have to agree with one part in particular.

People are conflating sex talk with sexual assault talk.

And that’s a REALLY big problem.

I’m not saying that sex talk is “to be expected” or “just what guys do”. Because I find that offensive and belittling to the men I know and trust. I’m also not saying that I am willing to wipe clean my ideas about sex and gender.

What I’m saying is that sex talk I can disagree or agree with. Sexual assault talk is something I CANNOT and WILL NOT accept or let slide.

And I know, as well as you, that I’ve tried to keep my blog a pretty anti-political zone unless it directly affects the issues I’m bringing up.

But in this particular moment, I honestly cannot accept that there are still people who would vote for Donald Trump. I won’t change paths and devote the rest of the election season worth of blogs to anti-Donald campaigning, but just know that it will come up as it has. Because a vote for Donald is a vote against everything I am. And probably a fair amount of who you are as well.

So what do these two have in common?

Men in power who think they can get away with whatever they want simply because they’re rich.

And that’s what I’m trying to stop. We are all equal-regardless of ethnicity, orientation, categories we use to define ourselves. Vote. Please vote. Learn from Brexit-don’t be apathetic, don’t give in to “it could never happen”.

This is how freedom dies. With little bits of loss and unacceptable actions made acceptable.

What I Needed to Understand

I’m a shy person by nature. I don’t talk to strangers often, I like being introverted. Even in a manic state, I only get chatty with people I know. Interesting.

Ever since I discovered that I’m really passionate about human rights, I’ve started to see an evolution in my personality. I helped a complete stranger yesterday who couldn’t get their door to lock. Normally I would have shied away, had my husband see if he could help. And I feel chatty. Depressed, manic, all the time. 

But only about specific things.

And wouldn’t you know that the things I feel like I need to speak about so urgently are the things that I harbor in my soul.

-Depression and Suicide

-Sexual Assault Rights

-Protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

                                                                                 (Image from Google-I just happen to love it.)

It has come to my attention (or should I say, I have noticed) that I start these conversations, I make sure the people I am with are aware that there are some very big news stories going on and that they need to care. I mean, I’m sure I sound like a downer because I talk about (generally) death, crimes and destroying the earth/cultures. I know. 

But I can’t stop talking about them.

I don’t even think I want to stop.

Because, as I put so poignantly in a FB response, “If we stop talking, we stop living.” And I believe that. 

So instead of apologizing for being the bearer-of-bad-news and the news anchor in my social life, I’m going to keep talking. I’m going to keep bringing up things people might not want to talk about becuase I have no other choice.

If I stop talking, I stop being who I am. 

And I won’t compromise that. Not anymore.

Rage Might Be What This Is

(First-thank you ! I looked and I’m over 100 followers! It is truly an honor to reach your eyes and have our interactions. I am blessed.)

Today’s the day. The day that Rapist Brock Turner is set to depart his joke of a sentence and return to my home state. I’ve never met him-and I hope I never do. But nonetheless I woke up this morning sick to my stomach with the understanding that a human being I have grown to hate (is that strong enough?) is about to live just an hour away from me. I’ve been looking at news articles and I have a few thoughts and links. This is the most informal thing I may do on the subject.

So first, a video from sexual assault survivors about what think think of Rapist Brock Turner. It’s sad, but the second half is really what I’m talking about.

Four Women Speak Out on Bustle.
And I’m going to highlight this article that I found this morning simply because I think it hits on a really important point.

Rapist Brock Turner Comes to Ohio
Okay, so I know these articles are so hard to get through. Especially for people who have lived through these scenarios. I understand. And you don’t have to read these if you can’t. I’m going to pull a quote from this article though (no triggers).

Still, despite the publicity dogging the case, some of the Turners’ neighbors in their leafy, upper-middle-class neighborhood were not familiar with the case nor knew that the family lived in the area. Others who knew about the case were hesitant to talk publicly about it. Several people in the neighborhood said they didn’t want to comment.

One more quote, becasue it emphasizes my frustration.

While the woman who spoke to The Daily Beast believed Turner should be serving more time, she also said he did not deserve to be vilified in the media.

EXCUSE ME?

First off, I know that the news can be brutal-but this rapist needs to be public knowledge. In fact, all rapists need to be public knowledge-that’s why we have a sex offender list. And if you think for one moment that he will refrain from doing something like this again, you’re not using the sense you were born with. You’re not protecting your children and you are teaching them that they have a safe place to return to in the event that they become criminals. You are no different than those who harbor fugitives. Ignorance is not a fortress with which you can protect yourself from unpleasant-at-best information. And I’ve met people EVEN TODAY who don’t know who Rapist Brock Turner is. And that infuriates me. I don’t even have a television and I’ve been following this story the ENTIRE time. (Now I know, this is my “hot button” but this is important stuff!!!)

So why am I furious? Well, because he’s not the only one. My news feeds are littered with rapists and domestic abusers who have garbage sentences because they want to “go to college” or “are star athletes”.  That mindset starts in high school. My high school was very football centric. Do you think I didn’t see athletes use that to their advantage? Use their coaches to talk to teachers about changing grades so that they could play? Use their “star status” to get out of trouble? And it worked. Why? 

Because our society respects athletes more than it does the rights of other human beings. We attribute super-human respect to people who are faster, stronger, more muscled than the rest and we let them go about and do as they please because why? Becasue physical aggression is a “sign” of masculinity. It has to stop. 

As a college student, it is not safe to be on campus without some form of protection.

As a woman, it is not safe to be anywhere without some form of protection (and maybe even then).

As a human being, it is not safe to be so opinionated against societal norms.

As someone who has seen human depravity and been at the receiving end of it-I cannot accept this as being okay.

It’s gonna be a hard day for a lot of people. For the Stanford rape survivor. For everyone who has gotten a similar verdict for their suffering. For people like the four women in the video. For people who just want to believe in but cannot see jusctice. May your fears take it easy on you today and may you find some peace.

If you make it through all of that, the other news stories of the day include a 23 year old man receiving a garbage sentence for molesting a child and a gang-raping group of athletes whose lawyers have claimed that by the victim being anonymous, her claims of being raped aren’t real. My rage knows no limits here and I am at a loss for words as to the depths of disdain I have at this today.

23 Year Old
Athletes’ Lawyer Is An Equal Monster
Have a safe and beautiful weekend everyone. May happiness follow you wherever you go.

Call It What It Is: Injustice

The article I’m focusing on today can be found: here.

Yesterday the article came out which read eerily like one I focused on a little while ago about a certain Rapist Brock Turner.

******A personal statement: Instead of referring to these people as “college students”, “athletes”, “twenty-somethings” or any other adjective, I am calling them by the title they have given themselves by their actions: rapists. I do not apologize for this decided behavior, just as they do not apologize for theirs. I refuse to conform to the media’s manner of “humanizing”. I will call it like I see it. Also, I think it goes without saying, but trigger warning, sexual assault and rape.******

The summary of this article is that Rapist Austin Wilkerson assaulted an unconscious woman. He told his friends he was going to “take care of her” and he ADMITTED to assaulting her while she was heavily intoxicated and “unconscious”. While this story is far from unfamiliar, it is not the injustice I’m calling out specifically. I’m calling out the sentence (or lack thereof) for this case. Rapist Austin Wilkerson was given the sentence of “two years of so-called “work release” and 20 years to life on probation”. (For comparison-the state of Colorado has a “normal” sentence for this crime as: 4 to 12 years in state prison.) He got community service and probation for forcing himself on someone, taking away their privacy and intimacy. He took their confidence, their innocence, their way of looking at the world and all that will happen to him is a finger wag and a “don’t do that again”.
Rapist Austin Wilkerson reportedly changed his story under oath multiple times.

And yet his punishment wasn’t anything more than a time-out.

If you can stomach it, I invite you to read the article and just how much his story changed, his case outcome in comparison to his actions and to reflect on what this means as a whole. What it means for our society, for victims of crimes everywhere.

And I want to highlight the Judge’s thoughts- so that we can examine what it is that led us here. “I don’t know that there is any great result for anybody. Mr Wilkerson deserves to be punished, but I think we all need to find out whether he truly can or cannot be rehabilitated.”

The victim asked for as much mercy as her rapist showed her that night. But justice was not found in that courtroom.

The one piece of solace I take is that at least this young woman had the lawyers she did. Because they did their jobs. One of them even went on record saying: “These young, college-age offenders who perpetrate rape on campus are getting some sort of privileged discount … compared to other violent offenders. We’re not entirely surprised [about the outcome of the trial], but we’re certainly disappointed.”

I can’t sit here and write these responses without feeling the anger and frustration of a hundred thousand women before me, fighting for justice. I can’t sit here and read these articles without listening to the screams of a thousand silenced voices, pleading for their rights. Something must change.

To the victim of this crime, I want you to know that you are not alone. There is an army of people behind you. You have met with the most repulsive depths of the human condition and have risen above it. Always Keep Fighting.

When Logic Fails (A reaction to Ohio v Mole, Slip Opinion)

I enjoyed my “vacation” aka moving, but as I woke up this morning and booted up the laptop, some very disturbing news came across my screen.

Supreme Court of Ohio: Judges uphold decision striking down law barring officers from sex with minors.

EXCUSE ME-WHAT? MY STATE COURTS SAID WHAT?!

I honestly thought I was having a weird eye moment where I was reading things while still not awake and my brain was filling in the wrong words. So I immediately grabbed my coffee and began to pour through the court documents.

OH YES-IT’S A REAL CASE.

Now, a small disclaimer before we get into the reaction bit. I’m not in law school yet. Court documents are still kinda hard for me to digest. But just as I faithfully read through the Kesha case, the Stanford Case and others, I have tried my best here. My reaction is going to be limited to what I fully understand, as always.

And another disclaimer: I have friends who are law enforcement and they are decent, hard working people. It is not the moral, upstanding officers to whom I am referring here. I have tried to keep my sentences very specific so that there will be no confusion of message. But just in case, let me say, before we begin, that not all officers are corrupt or terrible, or anything other that the people sworn to keep citizens safe. I am talking about the ones who ARE corrupt, who are terrible, who are to blame for their heinous actions. And because of the recent tension between civilians and law enforcement, I understand that this is a touchy subject.

So if you want to read the slip opinion that I read, you can find that here.

The very first section of this slip opinion says the following (I’m copying-and-pasting):

Criminal law―Sexual battery―R.C. 2907.03(A)(13) unconstitutional―Statute violates equal protection by irrationally imposing strict liability on peace officers―Government cannot punish class of professionals without making connection between classification and prohibited act―Creating separate class for peace officers in order to subject their off-duty behavior to criminal sanctions on basis of strict liability is not rationally related to governmental interest in maintaining public confidence in law enforcement, ensuring integrity of its members, or protecting minors from sexual exploitation.

So let’s break this down, shall we? I’m going to do it the old fashioned way: “translate it” word by word.

Michelle’s version: 

Criminal law-Sexual battery-R.C. 2907.03(A)(13) unconstitutional-The in place statute has been interpreted to violate equal protection (The Equal Protection Clause is part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction “the equal protection of the laws”.—-took that straight from the Google page). by “irrationally” imposing strict liability on peace officers (law enforcement)-Government cannot punish a specific group of people without making the line between job title and crime well known-creating more categories of crime based on whether or not the law enforcement was committing the crime on the clock or off it on the basis that what they do off the clock isn’t really the business of the government (or in the government’s best interest to look at) because people have to maintain confidence that the law enforcement is actually maintaining high levels of integrity even if they aren’t and that applies to minors in vulnerable situations as well (except for this slip opinion, which just blew that idea out of the water).

So I know I made that paragraph a little longer. Allow me to summarize.

This case argues that, as a blanket statement, police officers cannot be held to the same standards as say mental health workers, child care providers and compulsory education professionals in the realm of sexual assault. Why is this even a case, you ask? Let me tell you.

The problem I have with this case (well, one of them anyway) is that the wording says: Irrationally imposing strict liability. Now, I highly doubt I am in the minority here-but expecting (demanding) law enforcement to refrain from sexually assaulting a child is not irrational, nor is it strict liability. It is a basic moral requirement. If we place these expectations on other professionals who look after the well being of minors, that list most assuredly should include law enforcement and peace officers. No exemptions. It isn’t unreasonable to expect law enforcement to not commit statutory rape whenever they want to. It isn’t irrational to place that expectation on them (or anyone else for that matter!). It isn’t strict to demand safety for children. It isn’t a liability to hold a human being accountable for their actions.

Here’s the first paragraph to the Cleveland 19 News article over this issue (read the full article here.):

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) –

The Ohio Supreme Court overturned the 2012 conviction of Waite Hill police officer Matthew Mole, jailed for sexual battery for having sex with a 14-year-old boy, in a tight 4-3 decision on Thursday. The ruling upholds a prior decision by the Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals stating that police officers cannot be held to a higher standard than the rest of the public when it comes to having sex with minors.

The Ohio Supreme Court (the one who rules over the very state I live in) has put their official opinion out as: “We want children to be safe, but if they’re with a police officer or other law enforcement, it would be too much hassle to keep those officers from sexually assaulting the children, so we might as well just make it legal for them to do so.

THIS IS THE PROBLEM HERE.

We have decent, self-respecting police officers working beside rapists (yes-that word IS appropriately used here) and then everyone gets a bad rep. We have lawyers (and future lawyers) working to convict pedophiles, rapists and sexual assault perps. We have judges who rule in favor of victims (except in this case, where the jury was hung and led to a mistrial). AND THEN THIS HAPPENS.

Let me be very clear about this. I do not care if both parties “claim” that it was consensual: IF YOU ENGAGE IN SEX WITH A MINOR-YOU ARE A PEDOPHILE AND A RAPIST, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PROFESSION.

This is Ohio’s Statutory Rape Law: Ohio statutory rape law is violated when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under age 16 whom they are not married to. A close in age exemption exists allowing minors aged 13 and older to consent to a partner under age 18.

I am so vehemently angry with the justice system today. This isn’t justice.

What We’re Telling Victims

I really wish that my career choice was obsolete-that there was no need for it anymore, that there was no position open because no one needed it. I wish that this blog was the space for poetry, for stories with happy endings and for laughter.

But that’s not how life works.

I’ve been saying for months now that the statistics are wrong, that they’re too low. I’ve preached at ya’ll about the unfairness of the courts, the struggle that women (and men) face each day because of hypersexualization. And while I have tried to be educational, this blog hurts.

I did a response letter to the Stanford victim (Read it here: My Letter to the Stanford Victim), back when Rapist Brock Allen Turner was all over the news. I did a response letter to the Kesha case (Read it here: Why the Kesha Ruling Matters), when she was told that her safety didn’t matter because of a contract, as well as a piece over an Oklahoma case about what “isn’t” rape (Read if here: Too Many). And here I am-once again-to write about the frustration I feel at a court system that isn’t quite just.

You might not have heard about this case, but I came across it today. It was just reported yesterday, and I don’t think there was as much stink in the press about it. But there should be. Here’s the link to the story: Indiana University (Note: This one is an actual news story, not one of mine.) The following picture is from Google. I don’t own it.

Imprisoned in DNA cage

Here’s what we’re telling victims these days:

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if the person who did it is athletic.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you are more drunk than the person attacking you.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you and your attacker are at a frat party (or frat house).

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you wake up during sex you didn’t agree to.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you wake up during sex you didn’t know you were having.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if someone doesn’t see it. Or if they do.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if the attacker was also drinking that night.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you were dancing/wearing a skirt/wearing pants/wearing undergarments/not wearing undergarments/doing anything but staying at home under constant supervision.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if the person who attacked you was a college student-even if they were on break.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you’re on a college campus.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence. Period.

 

I know that there are plenty of things to also say in regards to this article, these stories, and I understand. I understand that I don’t have the full picture. I understand that I wasn’t there-and therefore don’t know exactly what happened. I get it. But I also understand what it’s like to have no one believe the words that come out of my mouth. I understand the feeling of fear when I walk by myself-even in broad daylight. I get it.

If you want to look at some of the other pieces I’ve done in regards to this topic, or perhaps you’re new to my blog (thank you for reading!!) and haven’t seen them yet, I invite you to check out the following:

My Experience with Sexual Violence: Unsteady

A List of Resources for Information, Support and Justice: This One’s For You