Tuesday, June 07, 2016

A Defeat And A Victory In The War Against Rape

The picture above is of Brock Allen Turner. He's a Stanford University student (from a wealthy family) who was caught raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. He was convicted of three counts of sexual assault, and could have faced 10 to 14 years in a state prison. But the sentence passed down by the judge was 6 months in the county jail.

Outrageous is too mild a term for that sentence. The judge obviously took into account that Turner was white, wealthy, and went to a prestigious college. He treated him like he was the victim -- not a vicious rapist. And he did this even after a heart-rending victim statement from the real victim (which you can read in full here).

This makes it clear, once again, that our justice system is not fair. Does anyone really think a Black or Hispanic student (or even a poor white student) would have received only six months in the county jail for this vicious crimes? Of course not. This same judge would undoubtably have sent them to a long term in the state prison.

This criminal (and that's exactly what he is) should have received the same sentence that many others receive for the same crime. He should not have been treated differently because he is white, wealthy, and a student in a prestigious college.


But all is not bad in the war against rape. The three brave and caring women (Sonia Ulrich, Maria Saltzer, and Monica Kenyon)  in the picture above stood up and stopped a rape. They witnessed a man pouring a drug into the drink of the woman he was with (while she had gone to the bathroom), and they took action. That man is now sitting in jail -- right where he belongs.

Here is how Ms. Kenyon describes the incident on her Facebook page:

Ok, so we're still recovering from the events, but we wanted to tell the story. And if it seems like the photo is making light of a heavy situation, it's because we know FB prioritizes pics AND we needed to get your attention. This is no joking matter. 

MonicaMarla, and I were at Fig at the Fairmont for their delicious happy hour ("Fig at 5." Treat yourself). I was going on about something and saw Monica staring behind and making a funny face. I stopped. "What's going on?" After a few second she said "That guy just put something in her drink."
Now, Fig is a nice restaurant. We were enjoying our charcuterie platter and some fancy cheeses. That type of place. They had a bottle of wine they were splitting. It seemed like a first or second or third date. After a few "Oh god. What do we do"s, I got up to find her in the bathroom to tell her. Warn her. Tell her to get up and leave this creep. Make him drink it. Something. 
So, after feeling awkward hanging out by the sinks in the bathroom til she was done, I approached. "Hey! Um, this is kind of weird, but, uh, we saw the guy you were with put something in your drink." 
"Oh My God." She said. Shocked, kind of numb, so I babbled "Yeah, my girlfriend said she saw him put something in your drink and we had to say something. Woman to woman...you know. We had to say something. How well do you know that guy?" I was expecting to hear "We just met," but I got:
"He's one of my best friends."
Shit. Yeah. One of her best friends. They had known each other for a year and a half. They worked together. 
I continued to talk for a bit and said she could ask "the one with the short blond hair" any questions since she was the one who saw it and then left her to return to the table. 
When I got back, Marla was talking to the server about what happened. Seeing if he or the manager could do anything. Monica filled us in on more of what she saw. 
"He pulled her glass toward him, kind of awkwardly, then he took out a little black vial. He opened it up and dropped something in. Then he tried to play it cool, like checking his phone and hiding the vial in his hand and then trying to bring it back down slyly." He apparently saw Monica looking. Marla said she was just going to lean over to Monica and say "that guy is acting really creepy" when she saw Monica already looking. Witnessing. 
It only took a minute for the manager to walk to their table, see if everything was ok, allowed the girl to order a sparkling water. All super cool. He stopped by our table and said he couldn't do much because he didn't see it. But he did let security know. 
The poor woman had to sit through 40 more minutes, sitting across from "one of her best friends" knowing that he was trying to drug her. Marla noticed him several times chinking his glass to hers to get her to drink. She played it cool. Mostly, I believed, just stunned. The staff wanted to jump in and dump the glass, dump him, do something! I was going through fantasies of walking up and demanding he drink the tainted glass of wine. Eventually, they finished up dinner. There was a delay getting their bill "The computer is down" is what the waiter kept saying to him. Then, in walks Santa Monica PD. They say "Come with us" and he doesn't protest. Doesn't ask why. Doesn't seem surprised. 
The head of security came by and said that because we notified them immediately, they were able to go back and review the footage from the security camera. 
They got him on tape. They had proof of him drugging this girl. They took the glass away as evidence. They kept us for statements. We asked the girl if she had a ride home. "My car is at his place. In his building. We came together." Part of a plan. We were blown away. She was still in shock. 
But it wasn't over. 
From every table In our section, from through out the restaurant, people came by to thank us for taking action. 
"It happened to my sister...I'm glad I was there to take her home."
"It happened to my roommate at a producer's party. He's still messed up from it."
"It happened to me. At a backyard barbecue."
"It happened to me. At a bar I worked at."
"Some Heroes don't wear capes. Thank you. It happened to me. Thank you."
"Fuck yeah you guys! You fuckin rock!"
At least 10 stories of being personally affected buy someone like this. Something like this. Those were only the ones who knew what went down. I am sure there were tons more stories through out the restaurant and the hotel.
We kept thanking the manager for taking action. We are well aware how many people would not have taken what we said seriously. Not taken action. Said their hands were tied. 
So thank you, everyone at Fig and Fairmont in Santa Monica for keeping this guy from harming someone. 
And thank you in advance to everyone who sees this and shares this and reminds each other that yes, you SHOULD say something. Even if it's awkward or weird or just uncertain if anything can be done. 
Know that YOU did something. And that it helped.

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