Oh, Texas. The place where small government means a target on every woman’s womb.
“I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I did,” a now 20-year-old Rachel Bradshaw-Bean told NBC in her first extended interview of her experience of being treated “like a prisoner” after reporting being raped in 2010, while a high school student.
Rachel Bradshaw-Bean fought back after the school blamed her for reporting being raped. She reported that she has been raped in the band room of Henderson High School in East Texas, so school officials did what Republicans in Texas do best- they blamed the victim and kicked her out of school. She was told to “work it out” with her attacker and sent to an alternative school with him.
Days after the police refused to prosecute, the school disciplined Bradshaw-Bean and the alleged rapist for “public lewdness”, sending both to 45 days of disciplinary school. In this school, she had to see her alleged rapist every day. She says she was treated like a criminal and her mother was told she couldn’t even transfer her own daughter out of the school because she was being disciplined.
Michael Jimerson, the Rusk County district attorney, claimed that there was no evidence of the rape, since the security camera only caught them going into the band room where the alleged rape occurred, and thus he couldn’t prosecute because he wouldn’t win. This argument makes sense on the surface until you realize that we prosecute all kinds of crimes that are not video recorded.
Have they stopped prosecuting all thefts, robberies, drug sales, and home break-ins because there isn’t a recording of it, and it’s therefore a he said he said? Of course not. The rejoinder is that women lie about rape charges and therefore their word isn’t to be trusted. In point of fact, there are women who lie about rape charges, but there are many fewer instances of women lying about being raped than there are actual rapes that go unprosecuted. An average of 60% of assaults in the last five years were not reported, according to RAINN, only 8 out of 100 get prosecuted, and only 3 out of every 100 rapists will serve time, so it’s safe to say that assuming a victim is lying is part of the problem.
What Jimerson may not realize is that this standard being applied to rape charges (and other crimes against women like partner abuse) hold the rape culture together. The prosecutor further claimed that Bradshaw-Bean had made statements that indicated it was not a forcible rape but rather consensual sex, but then he refused to provide context for her alleged comments.
While rape is very common in America, with one of out every five women being raped, only 6% of men are rapists. A rapist is a repeat offender who stacks up many victims, so ignoring one reporting is almost sure to lead to another rape.
Bradshaw-Bean fought back using Title IX, a federal law which requires schools to launch their own internal investigation when a student reports a rape, in addition to the police investigation – you know, to make sure that there isn’t a culture of rape. The ACLU filed a complaint on her behalf and she won. “The Federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has found that officials at an East Texas high school were wrong to punish a student who reported she was raped by another student on campus by placing her in a disciplinary program with her attacker.”
An example of the culture of rape: Bradsahw-Bean says her assistant band director said to her when she told him what happened, “He told me to work it out with the boy. There’s no way I would do that. But I didn’t know what to think. I was 17.”
If nothing else, this travesty of justice exemplifies why Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposal regarding taking the prosecutorial decisions away from military commanders is the only way to kill the rape culture. Systems – any system, from the Catholic Church to an entire town like Steubenville to a school – will protect itself by blaming the victim when it comes to allegations of rape.
Yeah, more discipline that’s what rape victims need, eh Texas? We wouldn’t want to suggest that the school get more discipline and actually follow the law it broke, or the prosecutor get off his butt and get some discipline and actually investigate an alleged crime sans video of it.
Texas messed with the wrong girl this time. And isn’t doing so becoming a Texas theme?