You have GOT to be kidding me
[Photo credit: Anne Savage, special to Eclectablog]
After high school kids in Steubenville, Ohio were busted for repeatedly raping an unconscious 16-year old fellow classmate and then posting their exploits on the internet, a federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, has come up with a solution: teach young rapists how to avoid getting busted. His program is designed to show the young rapists that posting evidence of their crimes on the internet can get them in trouble.
[The Steubenville rape] definitely played a role in causing us to think, ‘Who do we need to focus upon?’ We thought, ‘Let’s start calling athletic directors and coaches to see if they’re interested. That investment of time, hopefully, will pay dividends down the road, not only because you hope the kids are going to stay out of trouble. Social media creates so many distractions off the field for coaches. Maybe we can help them avoid that situation, as well. [...]
We bring the perspective of, ‘OK, if you do this, this is what can happen. We don’t want to see you in court.’
His press release (pdf) says the program’s message “will highlight athletes at the high school, college and professional level who have faced criminal penalties, suspensions, or removal from their teams for their texts or for posts on social media…”
Mr. Ihlenfeld seems to suggest that the focus here should not be on teaching teens not to rape their female classmates but, rather, how to avoid getting caught for raping their female classmates. We can’t be having these star athletes getting in trouble and ending up in court, right? They just need to learn how to be more careful when they are raping their 16-year old female classmates. When you’ve finished raping that girl, don’t text about it or post videos on Youtube and Facebook. Done and done.
This is offensive beyond measure. The group UltraViolet has started an online petition to fight Mr. Ihlenfeld’s outrageous approach to solving one of our country’s most critical problems.
The lesson for students from the Steubenville, Ohio rape case should be not to commit rape, not how to avoid getting caught. We demand that your educational program include material on respecting women, seeking consent from sexual partners, and clearly defining rape and sexual assault for teens–including the legal consequences for committing these crimes.
You can sign their petition HERE.