Federal prosecutor begins program to teach teen rapists how to avoid jail

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.

He told the Associated Press:

[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.

  • Angela

    A friend wrote to the source to see what was going on, this is the response she got:
    Thank you for the email regarding the Project Future – Two-a-Days Program. You raise very good questions, many of which were not answered in the news story that was published last week. And your suggestion of another press release is a very good one – we plan on doing exactly that either today or tomorrow.

    In the meantime, we can tell you the program focuses upon drug education, sexual assault awareness, and social media responsibility. We’re fortunate to be partnered with a sexual assault help center and the D.E.A. in spreading this message to young men and women. Our presentation in no way condones sexual assault but in fact condemns that type of activity, and explains the very severe consequences that result from committing such an act. Our presenters are career prosecutors who have prosecuted and convicted large numbers of sexual predators over the past decade and who take this issue very seriously. We also provide materials to the students regarding sexual assault awareness courtesy of our partners at the help center, and a representative from the center also speaks to the students.

    Finally, we discuss the importance of being responsible with social media, and the dangers of drugs such as heroin, prescription pills, and alcohol.

    If you are interested in attending one of our presentations please let us know and we’ll be happy to provide you with some dates and times. Mr. Ihlenfeld is also available to speak with you by telephone at your convenience.”

    Sincerely,

    Sharon Perry
    U.S. Attorney’s Office

  • Anna

    Great quote at the end. But let me guess…They probably don’t want teach teens about respecting your sex partners or the meaning of sexual consent because God forbid we talk to teens about SEX. These are good Christian Families after all….

    • Kendra Johnson

      Please tell me where religion was mentioned in this article or the responses. Your stereotypical viewpoint undermines the issue at hand and is ignorantly offensive.

    • Nunya

      Like a lot of people who found out about “Project Future” through posts like this one, I was initially outraged.

      UNLIKE most people who read such stories,, before going off all half-cocked I wanted to get my facts straight (especially since the first news outlet to break the story was the Daily Fa — er, Mail.)

      I am the person referenced elsewhere on this thread, who actually *asked* the USAWVN office, point-blank, exactly what message their program intends to be sending to these young athletes, as certain fora are spinning it as “these people are a bunch of rape apologists.”

      The reply from the USAWVN was both informative and intelligent, and satisfied me that this program not only adequately covers rape awareness, but prioritizes it *above* the “don’t be an a** on social media” (which is a completely separate item on the program’s agenda.)

      My goodness. This project may actually strike a decisive blow AGAINST ignorance and rape-culture. Maybe it deserves our support and endorsement.

      Or would y’all just rather stay mad?

      • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

        For a guy who has effectively persuasive communication as his job as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Ihlenfeld sure doesn’t have a clue how to communicate.
        Here’s a crazy idea: if you want to stop boys from raping girls, maybe the message of the program should be “boys should not rape girls”, not what he claims it’s going to be in his press release.
        And quit acting like I’m the only one who came away from this thinking this program of his is about teaching kids how to avoid getting in trouble for their actions by being more discreet on the Internet. I am decidedly NOT and this is a mess of Mr. Ihlenfeld’s own making.

        • HUH

          I’m disheartened that Eclectablog blames the messenger.

          Crazy viral news on the Internet is frequently WRONG and Electa should be sufficiently sophisticated enough to check the source. That’s just a basic premise of journalism – is it not?

          You can damage reputations this way. I agree with Nunya, the post smacks of defamation and should be taken down, not defended.

          • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

            Not going to happen. This is directly from the press release put out by Mr. Ihlenfeld:

            The 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, along with athletes & celebrities who have been adversely affected by drug and alcohol abuse.

            Get that? “Faced criminal penalties…for their texts or posts on social media”. They’re going to teach them about how damaging to your athletic career it is after you’ve committed a crime to post about it on the internet.
            Here’s an idea: Teach them not to commit crimes in the first place. There won’t be any need to teach them not to put evidence of them raping their unconscious 16-year old classmate on Youtube and Facebook IF THEY DON’T RAPE THAT POOR GIRL IN THE FIRST PLACE.
            I love that you are buying this line that it’s all big misunderstanding. This guy is a professional communicator. He makes his living as a federal prosecutor being a persuasive and effective communicator. He’s back tracking now and you’re buying it.
            Come to think of it, I guess he’s pretty persuasive after all.
            There’s nothing false here. I took my information right from Mr. Ihlenfeld’s own press release. If the primary focus of his program is to teach kids not to be criminals, he should have said that, particularly if it “prioritizes” this lesson.

          • HUH

            Credibility GONE!

          • HUH

            Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides:
            Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.

          • http://feedfiend.com/ Aaron Wright

            The press release says nothing about teaching kids to “not put evidence on Facebook”. In fact, you doctored out the sentence immediately before the quote you just posted here, which reads: “The program is an inside look at the dangers of drugs, alcohol and social media for student-athletes, and focuses upon the challenges and pressures faced by today’s teens.” If you are going to post quotes, don’t post them out of context.

            The context of that quote shows that the program will focus on avoiding problems caused by social media. It says nothing about hiding evidence.

            Finally, the fact that they use other people who have gotten caught as examples of what not to do is not a problem either. In driver’s ed, they showed us pictures of people who were terribly disfigured because they didn’t wear a seat belt. How is that any different than having an ex-drug addict come in to discuss the perils of addiction? The best people to teach lessons are often the ones who learned it the hard way.

  • David

    Eclectablog: You’ve jumped to conclusions in your condemnation of this program. At the very least you should accept Ms. Perry’s invitation and sit-through the presentation.

    I just don’t see a US Attorney in this country under the Obama administration attempting “…to teach teen rapists how to avoid jail.”

  • Nunya

    This post is inaccurate to the point of libel.

    Here is the phone number for the contact at the U.S. Attorney’s Office (Northern District of WV) that is connected with the project: 304-234-0100

    Why don’t you call and ask Mr. Ihlenfeld some fact-finding questions, if you’re so concerned?

    Or is it just more satisfying to trigger and upset people needlessly?

  • http://feedfiend.com/ Aaron Wright

    I agree that this post is drawing some unfair assumptions about Mr. Ihlenfeld’s intentions with this program. After reading the original press release and the Charleston Gazette article you linked to, I don’t think you correctly interpreted the intentions of this program. It sounds like the program will focus on keeping teens out of trouble by helping them stay away from drugs, alcohol, and unsafe sex. Furthermore, it is focusing on teen athletes because they are the ones most likely to get themselves into such problems.

    I don’t think there is any debate that social media can create peer pressure to engage in drugs, sex, and alcohol. It sounds to me like this program will focus on how to avoid that peer pressure and make better choices.

    This post is harmful to people’s reputations, and should be removed, or at least updated with further evidence to show that your interpretation is indeed correct.

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