In article after article this week about the Naval Academy Rape case, I've learned more than I need to know about the victim. I've read practically nothing about the three accused football players who "allegedly" committed rape.
Should I be surprised? Isn't this the way all rape cases are supposed to be prosecuted, based on the actions of the person who reports the crime?
But just in case you haven't had the chance to read up on this story, let me fill you in.
We know that a female midshipman attended a Yoga and Toga party off-campus. We know that she drank and she drank a lot. She does not remember anything that happened that evening. It was only in the days that followed that friends of hers told her that she had been raped - three football players were openly talking about it. Her friends reported the rape to the Academy and the female midshipman reluctantly came forth. Her early responses to questions were mixed and she fully admits that she just wanted the case to go away.
The hearing which took place this week was an Article 32 and will determine if the three male midshipmen will be court-martialed. Two are still enrolled at the Naval Academy and one has his graduation pending based on the results of the hearing.
The hearing took place over 8 days which is a long time for an Article 32. According to Academy Officials, there were a high number of defendants that were called to testify. It could be that the victim herself spent 3 of those days answering questions from the three defense attorneys. And the questions were far from appropriate:
“Were you wearing a bra?” asked lawyer Andrew Weinstein. “Were you wearing underwear?” http://www.washingtonpost.com/...And it gets worse.
Angela Tang... repeatedly asked the woman how wide she opens her mouth to perform oral sex. This on the theory that oral sex requires “active participation,” indicating consent.http://www.washingtonpost.com/...
Weinstein demanded to know how often she lies — “at least once a day?” — and whether she “felt like a ho’’ the morning after the party. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/...
[Andrew Weinstein] said that because the alleged victim did not remember what happened does not mean she did not consent. He said she was acting flirtatiously.Yet again, we are fighting the same old battles. Let's review the facts:
Washington Post, bolding mine
Women can dress anyway they want. And they are not asking to be raped.
A woman's sex life before an assault does not have anything to do with the assault.
Women who act flirtatiously are not asking for sex. They are especially not asking to be raped.
But obviously, if you're in the military, acting flirtatious (whatever that might mean to each individual person you come across), means you're asking for it. Not wearing a bra or underwear means you're asking for it. Having any kind of a sex life means you're asking for it. Welcome to the world of sexual assault in the military:
Roger Canaff, a former prosecutor who has helped the military improve its handling of sexual assault cases, said no civilian court in any state in the country would allow the kind of questions that are routinely permitted at Article 32 hearings. The legal proceedings are so hard on women who allege sexual assault that “a lot of cases die there as a result,” said Canaff, who now works at End Violence Against Women International. “You hear questions that would be highly objectionable in a court-martial or any civilian hearing.”And do you think the attorney for the female midshipmen asked these young male midshipmen about their sexual history? Do you think she asked about what underwear they were wearing? Do you think she asked if they felt like rapists the next morning? The truth is that I don't know because it hasn't been reported. No one seems to care what questions where asked of the accused. Because, of course, that really doesn't matter in the end. All that matters is that the victim be re-victimized all over again.
If I had a chance to ask questions of the accused I would have included one like this:
"Imagine you're in a war zone and your buddy had the chance to drink a little too much. You know that she probably shouldn't have, but she did. Would you take that as permission to have sex with her? Would you consider that act rape or would you consider it just sex? What do you think she would call it?"
We all know those questions would never be allowed in a court of law. But don't you just wonder what the answers might be? How many men out in the field see someone they can take advantage of, a man or a woman, and use that situation to their advantage? That's the big question right now in the military. How many potential rapists are there and what in the hell are we going to do about it?
By the end of the hearing, the female midshipman's attorney, Susan Burke, requested that a federal judge bar the Superintendent of the Naval Academy from making any decisions about this case. The Superintendent allowed three days of extreme and inappropriate questions of the victim and he has reason to want to protect the good name of the Naval Academy. It certainly won't be positive press if three of their football players are proven to be rapists. Is he really the right person to judge this case?