Last March, my little sister’s teacher was arrested for statutory rape. He was 24 and the girl was 13. He was recently given 35 years in prison. My family was close with his. We grew up with him. Unfortunately, no one in my family can seem to logically look at this case. They are too empathetic, and that is why I think we need to be better.
I have a little sister. She is 14 now. She is approaching an age where rape and sexual assault and harassment will happen to someone she knows, and possibly even her. As an older sister, that is terrifying to me. I have close friends who have been raped. That sickens me. My little brother just turned 16. The possibility that he is assaulted or raped lingers in my head from time to time, and I hate that.
My parents and my older brother constantly talk about how unfair his sentencing is, and that “he’s just such a good kid.” They remind us that his record was so good prior, and that he helped with youth group at the church, and was the middle school’s basketball coach! How ever could have an angel such as he made such a treacherous mistake?!
I’ll tell you. I am so far on the other side of the spectrum that the scale probably has broken. Do I think people make mistakes? Sure. I have forgotten to pick my siblings up from school. I’ve stood a guy up on a date. I had a gin and tonic when I was on a medication that specified for me not to drink alcohol. Rape is far from a mistake, though. A 24 year old teacher having a sexual relationship with his 13 year old student is not a mistake. That’s statutory rape.
I no longer view this man as a person I want to associate with at all. I see him as the scum of the earth. While the girl may have consented, it will haunt her in the future. One day, she will realize that a man took advantage of a situation that he had no room to do so in. She will understand just how intense and severe his actions were. Do I think he deserves his sentencing? I honestly wouldn’t be upset if they threw ten more years on.
Do I keep my mouth shut when we discuss the latest story in the paper regarding the teacher? No. Granted, talking my opinion to them is like talking to a wall, so I don’t get very far. The thing is, I’m not talking to change my parents mind. If it happens, fine. I’m letting my siblings know that I will not stand for someone to take advantage of them. My little sister needs to know that if she is being harassed or assaulted, I will not sympathize with the criminal who is harming her.
If you are a parent that sides with the rapist, or the assaulter, you are sending your child a very clear message. If you are sitting around saying, “boys will be boys,” or, “don’t wear that, you’ll give them the wrong idea,” you are promoting rape culture. Instead, try saying anything in defense of the poor 13 year old girl who has a teacher’s hand down her skirt. How traumatic and nauseating does that make you? Because it makes me sick and pissed off.
What makes me just as angry is how so many are coming to the teacher’s defense. So many are saying that the girl lead him on. So many are using his clean background to save him. The problem with that? HE STILL HAD A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A 13 YEAR OLD.
I will not say, “Imagine it was your daughter,” because that’s not a card I’m willing to play. That girl deserved to go to school and learn, and not be touched. If she wanted it, I don’t care. It was not her role to not be promiscuous. It was her teacher’s job to tell her that a relationship is inappropriate. It was his role to have enough discipline and morality to keep it professional.
If you sympathize with the side of the assaulter, you are doing so much harm. Not only do you look entirely like an asshole, but you are showing the people around you whose side you’ll be on in future assaults. Don’t teach your children or siblings that its the victims fault, especially when she is a girl in middle school. We need to be better.