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Rapists go free every day of the week

Susan Estrich on

He met her in an anorexia forum when she was 15. When she was 16, he lured her to his home, where he kept her captive for a year, locking her in a cage and forcing her to have sex. He put her through water torture and controlled her food intake. When police finally rescued her (after she sent a photo of where she was to a woman she had met in another forum), she was malnourished; her back was seriously injured; and her spirit was permanently broken. Since then, she told the sentencing judge, she has attempted suicide three times and permanently disfigured herself. "I severely mutilated myself, hoping that I would become unlovable so no one would hurt me again" as he did, she said.

Last Thursday, the man who admitted to holding her as his sexual captive and forcing her to have sex was released from the jail, where he had been held for eight months and was then sentenced to nine years of probation. Not prison. Probation.

That was in Georgia.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday in New York, a bus driver who pled guilty to raping one of his passengers, a 14-year-old girl who he lured to his home and plied with alcohol, also got his get-out-of-jail card. Actually, he never went to jail at all. Instead, he was allowed to plead to third-degree rape and given 10 years of probation. Not prison. Probation. In a statement after the sentence was handed down, the girl's mother said she wished he "would have received time in jail for the harm he caused to my child. He took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety," she said.

And then there's the Houston doctor who, last August, got 10 years probation for raping a patient. And the former Baylor fraternity president student who was accused of rape, allowed to plead to a lesser charge and received a sentence of three years probation and counseling, along with a fine of $400. And, of course, who could forget the former Stanford swimmer who was sentenced to six months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, a first-degree felony in all 50 states?

Why? What do you call a day when admitted rapists go free?

You call it Thursday. Or Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

The New York judge pointed out that the bus driver had no prior offenses and that there was only one victim. And she was, after all, 14. The rapist's lawyer pointed out that he would have to register as the lowest level status of sex offender (the lowest level thanks to the judge). Poor fellow.

 

In Georgia, where the defendant had been charged with rape and aggravated sodomy, the prosecutor claimed that those charges would be hard to prove: Since the relationship began as a consensual one, it fell into a "gray area" that made it risky to take to trial. Wrong.

There is no "gray area" when a man holds a teenager as his sexual captive, locks her in a room, keeps her in a box, starves her nearly to death and forces her to have sex. You can't lock people up and traumatize them to the point of psychological destruction. Nonconsent is an element of rape only because there is nothing illegal about intercourse between conscious adults. But if you find two men trying to kill each other on the street, it doesn't matter who consented to what. Duels violate the law, regardless of the foolhardiness of the participants. Crimes are committed against the state, and it is the state that brings charges. And drops them.

If you find a 16-year-old being locked in a box, it shouldn't matter how the relationship started. If you prey on a 14-year-old (or anyone else), it shouldn't matter that you've only raped one girl. It's still rape.

These should be easy cases. The fact that they are not tells you that there are rapists going free every day of the week.

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To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2019 Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

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