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Local sports hero. Younger teen girl. Charges of rape. Victim blaming. All of these issues have been thoroughly discussed in multiple diaries lately. We've cheered the justice (though somewhat belated, and as yet limited) in Ohio. We learn of a rather similar situation in Connecticut, with hopeful signs that despite the hateful reaction of some in the community toward the victim, justice might be done there, as well.

So, this morning I open my daily paper to find the latest chapter in our local saga along the same lines.  Below the Itzl I will let the story tell itself, and hold my (brief) commentary til the end. However, for context, this takes place in Highland Park. It is a city within a city - an independent community that exists within, and surrounded by, the much larger city of Dallas, Texas.  Household incomes there are $200,000 plus, average home values exceed $1,000,000.

October, 2012

Highland Park High School senior and baseball player Ryan Romo has been arrested on charges of sexual assault of a child, a second-degree felony, according to court records.....

.....She said they were kissing in the back seat and he refused to stop when she told him she did not want to have sex.
The girl said she told Romo, “No, I don’t wanna do this,” and screamed “stop,” but Romo did not listen.
After she got home, the girl’s mother noticed she was upset and asked her what was wrong. The girl told her mother what happened and her mother took her to Baylor Medical Center at Plano, where a rape exam was done. The exam showed a tear and abrasions, according to the affidavit....

...The police recorded another conversation, later that day in the girl’s car. She told Romo, “I just wish it didn’t happen like that, you know like? ” He replied, “yeah.” She said, “Like I wish, cause, I said stop … I said no. … I wish you’d stopped you know or not done it.” Romo replied, “Ok, you’re making me feel bad, wow.”

November 2012

For the mother of a teenage girl who reported being raped last month by a Highland Park High School senior, the need for dialogue about rape is very personal.
As a young woman, she was raped by her boyfriend on prom night. It was a secret she only told her best friend. “I blamed myself and I didn’t tell my parents,” she recalls.
Now, she hopes her daughter’s case will raise awareness that rape is wrong, no matter the circumstances. “Even though this is hard and nothing we would want to go through, we are going to make some good out of this,” she said.
Her daughter’s case has generated strong — and sometimes ugly — debate about rape and consent in the community, the high school and social media.

January 2013

A Dallas County grand jury on Monday declined to indict a Highland Park High School senior who had been charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old acquaintance....

....A rape exam indicated the girl had suffered a tear and abrasions, and a gynecologist who did a follow-up exam the next day told police the laceration and abrasions appeared to have been caused by force, according to the affidavit.
Prospere [Romo family criminal attorney] said the grand jury heard evidence from a polygraph test in which Romo said he had consensual sex with the girl.
“We did the job the police should have done,” he said. “They never should have arrested him.”...

...Last fall, the girl’s parents — who were not named to protect their daughter’s identity — spoke out about the backlash their family faced after Romo’s arrest and said they feared a possible lawsuit.
But Prospere said Monday that is unlikely the Romos will pursue further legal action.
“The Romos are the kind of people who will try to put themselves together after their false accusation,” he said. “They will wish the best for their son and wish the best for” the girl.
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Ryan Romo’s civil attorney said the family is relieved they can move on now that the sexual assault case against him was no billed by a Dallas County grand jury.
Attorney Mark Senter said that the family is “gratified and relieved to have this horrible nightmare behind us.”
Senter said the family doesn’t currently have plans to file a civil lawsuit against the family of the 16-year-old girl who accused Romo of sexually assaulting her in the back of an SUV in October.

March 2013

The family of Ryan Romo has filed a civil lawsuit against the parents of a girl who accused their son of rape.The lawsuit lists five counts: defamation, malicious prosecution, negligence and vicarious liability, negligence and negligent supervision of the girl.

Last fall, the girl’s family spoke to The Dallas Morning News about rape awareness and prevention. The lawsuit refers to the interview and says that the girl’s parents“comments to media and to others was part and parcel of their plan to force the Romos into a monetary settlement.”
The complaint goes on to accuse [the girl]. of filing a false rape report with University Park police, and, in turn, accuses the UP police of failing to conduct "any, much less an adequte investigation into the underlying facts." It then goes into explicit allegations of previous sexual behavior by the girl with other boys, and accuses her mother of having "a permissive nature regarding sexual relations."...

...Blake Beckham, an attorney for the girl's family, just sent over this statement via email:

The entirety of the frivolous lawsuit is based on the alleged results of Ryan Romo's lie detector exam. No Texas Judge will allow a jury in a civil suit to hear about the alleged results of a lie detector test, since lie detector tests are unreliable and simply not admissible. The lawsuit is trumped up, and contains countless misrepresentations and falsities. The family looks forward to its day in Court. When the jury hears all of the evidence, especially from the girl's treating OB/GYN (who was not called as a witness during the grand jury matter), then the jury will learn the truth about Ryan Romo.

Obviously, this story is not over. For whatever reasons, the grand jury felt the circumstances were such that a case could not be brought. No doubt they heard arguments and information that I don't have access to. Likewise though, it seems there are arguments and information that we have, that they didn't have access to.  

For myself, applying Ockham's Razor, I find it pretty unlikely that a young woman of 16 would set herself up to such an experience, happily tell her mom all about it, subject herself to an OB/GYN exam, and all the other community and peer group scrutiny - all to get a financial boost for her family.

I do find it pretty likely that a young man in such a situation didn't have a grasp on the concept that "no" means "no". Period. "NO".

And since I don't have any kids, let alone a promising teen boy who might get a baseball scholarship, and whose future probably isn't enhanced by having this allegation on his record, I can't say for sure how I'd proceed.  But from my safe distance, I think I'd be wiping my brow in relief that the grand jury didn't indict. I don't think I'd be setting up a suit that not only blames the victim for being promiscuous and conniving, but also the mother for being promiscuous and permissive - all the while keeping this whole episode alive in the news.

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