David Frum

03.24.13

Rapists Don't Deserve Our Sympathy

In Canada's Globe & Mail, Tabatha Southey responds from the heart to the bizarre media coverage of the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case. No, the rapists are not the people deserving of sympathy here.

Despite the fact that, for example, star football players can usually find women who want to have sex with them, and yet clearly some still rape, rape is still characterized as being about wanting sex a lot – as a comprehensible indiscretion.

When I was the age of the Jane Doe in this case, I was sexually assaulted by two boys as I walked home from school.

I prided myself on having a mouth like a sailor, imagined myself unshockable. But the things those boys said to me while walking beside me – aggressively, methodically herding me, I later realized, by causing me to move away from them, off the sidewalk, up a steep hill, out of sight, where it was easy enough to push me down – shocked me profoundly.

I was a 16-year-old girl. I knew exactly what boys who really wanted to have sex looked like. I knew boys who would have sawed their own arm off to have sex with a girl, were there a marketplace for such a transaction. And I knew this was different.

I wasn’t raped. The choreography is unclear to me, but as one boy got off me, just before the other landed, I managed to get up and run down the hill. It wasn’t that I fought hard or was clever – I was lucky. ...

I would never have reported the crime except that a police car happened to be passing, saw me running and then investigated what I was running from.

I was prepared by a lawyer for the trial: I was told I would be asked what I was wearing and how exactly I had kissed my older boyfriend on the corner where the boys had first seen me. But as we entered the courtroom, we learned that they had decided to plead guilty.

I understand there being some sadness over the sentencing of Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond because, scared as I was of these boys, I felt no satisfaction hearing the judge sentence them to be incarcerated for several years (both had long criminal records). I just wanted it never to have happened.

Days after their release two years later, they raped a woman and beat her so badly that when they left her, in a ditch, they believed her to be dead. She wasn’t.