Brutal Power Abuses

At the end of this post, you’ll find a link to an Associated Press story on the New York Times site.

We may never know how many people (of any age) are victims of sexual harassment, sexual battery and rape.  Most assaults are unreported, and it’s impossible to know how many reports are taken seriously.

These violations of boundaries are committed by people acting on their own desperation, thinking they can get control over their lives by creating out of control situations for others.  Forget the myth that some attractive people are irresistible, or worse, “asking for it.”  The sex offender is fully responsible for his or her actions, regardless of how many grasping-at-straws excuses we hear.

Never underestimate the threat posed by a desperate person who feels small (especially if that person has said or done things to suggest disrespect for others’ basic rights).  Never underestimate the harm suffered by anyone who is exploited by that person, either.

The seven year sentence reported in the AP story is news because it’s rare for anyone with power over jail or prison inmates to be held accountable after raping an inmate.  Correctional institutions protect officers, and public opinion often favors simplistic law-and-order policies.

The fact that the victim of this jail rape is a convicted murderer should not encourage sympathy for her attacker, and it should not prompt anyone to justify the assault.  There must be basic standards for the way we treat all people — including rapists and murderers.

One serious question is raised in the article, though.  The judge imposed a sentence more than twice as long as recommended under “guidelines.”  The article doesn’t state the maximum sentence.  That makes it slipshod journalism which doesn’t live up to AP‘s reputation.

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