Last night, a modest crowd gathered at Foley Square in order to protest the sentencing of Kenneth Moreno. The former cop was acquitted of rape charges, and instead sentenced to one year in jail for misconduct.
What disturbs me most about this case, and the scarily reminiscent DSK scandal, is the victim-blaming that pervades the coverage of these trials. As is too often the norm with sexual assault cases, a woman’s real intentions, her sobriety, and even her clothing, enter the discussion as if it is evidence regarding whether or not a rape was actually a rape. Considering the awful reporting rates and that only 6% of rapists ever spend a day in jail, I think it is imperative that we scrutinize how these cases in particular are handled in our legal system. Part of our responsibility is to pay attention to the discussion surrounding these cases.
An interesting article points out the reasons why rape victims might lie, and I think this is applicable to the recent media cases:
Thanks to prevailing rape mythology, many people also have very definite ideas about what happens before, during, and after a “real” rape. Real rape victims want no sexual contact of any kind with their attackers and make this crystal clear right from the start. When attacked, they don’t just say “No;” they scream, fight, yell for help, and/or try to escape. Ideally, the victim will duke it out with her attacker to such an extent that she is left with obvious physical injuries. After the rape, she will be visibly distraught and in tears, but this will not prevent her from reporting the attack right away. In the days and weeks following the assault, she will spend a lot of time in the shower and be too traumatized to appear to function normally.
Some rapes do indeed happen like that; most don’t. And the more a rape departs from this script, the harder it is for the victim to be believed and taken seriously.
I’ll end with an announcement I received to attend yesterday’s protest, and I think it is important to read the reasons behind the opposition to Moreno’s sentencing.
Red Alert – Tell the NYPD to Protect New Yorkers Against Rape!
Monday, August 8 · 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Foley Square, New York, NY
On August 8th, ex-NYPD Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata will be sentenced for official misconduct. Moreno and Mata were recently acquitted on charges of raping a woman they’d been called to protect. Since the jury announced their verdict this past May, a second woman has come forward, stating that Moreno and Mata sexually harassed her while the officers were on duty. Meanwhile, lawyers for Moreno and Mata have requested that the misconduct charges be dropped completely, and have tried to bar the victim in the rape case from speaking at the sentencing.
On the sentencing date, New Yorkers will stand together in solidarity with victims of rape and sexual assault. We will protest the culture that silences victims of sexual violence, and we will demand that the NYPD take action to make sure that this situation never happens again.
We demand that Commissioner Raymond Kelly institute a strong, sustained program of comprehensive training on rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and proper police conduct for every incoming class of officers; enact a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexualized behavior for on- duty officers; and remain transparent and accountable to New Yorkers while implementing these reforms.
Join the End Rape NYPD Coalition and rally on August 8th from 5:00-7:00 PM in Foley Square, across from the District Courthouse. Wear red to show that we are living in a danger zone until the NYPD responds to our demands.
End Rape NYPD is a coalition of feminist groups, anti-police brutality organizations, and local lawmakers working to prevent–and to change attitudes surrounding–sexual violence in New York City. Until the police demonstrate that they take rape and sexual assault seriously, predators will attack with impunity and survivors will be afraid to speak out.
More coverage of the protest can be found here.