sexual assault

Michigan judge awards joint custody to rapist

Rumors of a cease-fire in the War on Women are grossly exaggerated:

Christopher Mirasolo, 27, of Brown City was awarded joint legal custody by Judge Gregory S. Ross after DNA testing established paternity of the child, according to the victim’s attorney, Rebecca Kiessling, who is seeking protection under the federal Rape Survivor Child Custody Act. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.

“This is insane,” said Kiessling, who filed objections Friday with Ross. “Nothing has been right about this since it was originally investigated. He was never properly charged and should still be sitting behind bars somewhere, but the system is victimizing my client, who was a child herself when this all happened.”

I'll have to admit, when I first saw reports of this on Facebook, I assumed it was somewhere between Fake News or a wildly-misleading headline. But it's true. She was only 12 years old when she was raped, and it wasn't simply a statutory thing, she was kidnapped and confined. The strange thing is (okay, the whole damn thing is strange), the rapist didn't file for custody, this massive injustice was the result of conservative efforts to punish those seeking public assistance:

HB 2 and the oldest trick in the book

All the debate about HB2, North Carolina’s notorious “bathroom bill” has reminded me of something that happened years ago. You won’t be surprised to hear this memory takes place in a public restroom.

The mall public bathrooms were located down a long, deserted hallway. When I realized a man was following me, I thought, “He’s probably just going to the bathroom, too. Don’t overreact… Listen to your gut. Better safe than sorry.” So, I stopped, turned around to look at him and let him pass me. As he went by, he said in an annoyed voice, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to attack you.”

Defending the indefensible: CMPD "explains" rape kit backlog

There's more to this story than just numbers:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police on Wednesday said the number of victims adversely affected by untested rape kits is much lower than the foundation’s investigation showed. Of the approximately 1,000 untested kits, 650 are related to cases that are already closed, said CMPD Capt. Cecil Brisbon. Some of the remaining kits have been submitted and the remainder are “being reviewed to determine the need for analysis.”

Just because a case is "closed" it doesn't mean testing is no longer necessary. If a case is closed because the victim refused to press charges, it doesn't mean she wasn't raped, and it also doesn't mean her rapist hasn't done it before or will rape again in the future. And if the case ended in a conviction, processing the kit is doubly important. Getting that DNA data on file in the FBI's CODIS database is a critical link in the chain of evidence, because just like other terrorists, rapists thrive when information is not shared by law enforcement. Here are some more numbers for the CMPD to chew on:

Documentary explores rape at UNC, other campuses

This is what happens when you sweep something this important under the rug:

“I don’t think that we’ve been trying to hide from the fact that the institution has had issues and that we have frankly been engaged for the past few years in tremendous efforts to improve things,” Crisp said. “My only hope is that ... it doesn’t get lost how hard people have been working and how much progress is being made on trying to make this place live up to everybody’s expectations for a safe and healthy and inclusive campus.”

Melinda Manning, a former UNC administrator who joined Clark, Pino and other students in the 2013 federal complaint, also was interviewed for the film. In the movie’s trailer, she charges that universities employed tactics to downplay the problem. Schools discouraged students from taking rape reports to the police to avoid embarrassing public records about assaults, she said.

You'll pardon me if I'm not as sympathetic to the University's position as Winston Crisp would prefer. When you go to great pains to conceal horrific behavior for so long, you're not in much of a moral position to request people pay attention to the good things you're doing. Those early cover-ups directly contributed to later sexual assaults, by concealing the danger from female students and giving predators the impression what they're doing is not that big a deal. It will take more than a little PR to get out from under that dark cloud; it will take actions that have verifiable results. Here's the trailer for the documentary:

Violated and forgotten: Female veterans and sexual assault in the military

It's worse than you think:

Thousands of female veterans are struggling to get health-care treatment and compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs on the grounds that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by sexual trauma in the military. The veterans and their advocates call it “the second battle” — with a bureaucracy they say is stuck in the past.

A recent VA survey found that 1 in 4 women said they experienced sexual harassment or assault. And the problem is growing more pressing because female veterans represent the military’s fastest-growing population, with an estimated 2.2 million, or 10 percent, of the country’s veterans. More than 280,000 female veterans have returned home from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That 1 in 4 statistic is comparable with national (US) sexual assault numbers, in case somebody's prone to disbelieve it for whatever reason. What's the significance of comparing the two? The military has a rigid and all-encompassing management structure; every single person in uniform has a direct supervisor, who knows where that subordinate is and what he/she is doing (for the most part) at all times. And that supervisor has a supervisor, etc. In other words, there is a support structure unrivaled in the civilian world, with regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice dictating and strengthening that structure. As such, sexual assault in the military should be a fraction of what occurs outside that structure, instead of mirroring it. And it's going to take a major shift in management focus to eradicate these kinds of trends:

On campus rape and media missteps

Those poor, misunderstood frat boys:

By Friday afternoon, a Washington Post investigation found discrepancies in the accuser’s story. There was apparently no party at the fraternity on the night in question, and officials close to the fraternity say no members of their fraternity match the name or other details of the attacker that the accuser provided to Rolling Stone or the Washington Post.

There are a lot of victims here. First, perhaps, are the accused, including the student said to be the main attacker, whose identity was known by many on campus. The fraternity named in the Rolling Stone story also has endured weeks of what seems to be misplaced scorn.

Bolding mine. Just typing that sentence should have jogged something in the editorialist's supposedly "questioning" mind, but apparently there was no thinking scheduled for the night this was written. As for this new set of victims, here's a little personal anecdote that may shed some light on my opinion:

UNC on List of 55 Universities with Open Title IX Sex Assault Investigations

Finding UNC on a list of universities in possible violation of Title IX over handling of sex abuse cases isn't news for most of us since the complaints against UNC have been publicized, but it is never fun to see something like this in print. Sadly, we are in good company. Normally it would be a point of pride to find my beloved UNC on a list that includes Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Vanderbilt, and UVA. This list? Not so much.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released today a list of the higher education institutions under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.


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