Monday, March 25, 2013

Two MORE Steubenvilles: Murfreesboro, Tenn. and Torrington, Conn.

MURFREESBORO, TN -- In the aftermath of the Steubenville, Ohio rape case that blew the lid wide open on America's rape culture, there are two more potential Steubenvilles.

One in Murfreesboro and another in Torrington, Conn.

We'll start with Torrington, since the rape case there resembles Steubenville the closest.  Two football players are charged with raping a 13-year-old girl.  Not surprisingly, rape apologism is rife here, with the rapists calling the victim a 'whore' and a 'ho'.  I am slapping a trigger warning on for the rest of this entire post, because Murfreesboro is also filled with rape apologism, but as you will find out in that case, the genders of the rapist and victim are reversed from this case and Steubenville.

Torrington High School football players Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio, both 18, were charged with sexual assault and other crimes stemming from an investigation that began in February, the local Register Citizen newspaper reported.

News of the case comes just three days after two high school football stars from Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl in August.

Two other teens — including a cousin of one of the Ohio football stars — were arrested Monday for sending death threats to the girl on Twitter.

Before he was charged with sexual assault, Mr. Gonzalez was facing felony robbery charges for allegedly jumping three 14-year-olds in March 2012.

Coach Dunaj resigned as head coach in January after several players on the team were suspended for hazing other players.

Details of the Connecticut case have been sealed from the public, though the investigation of both players began on Feb. 10, the newspaper reported.

Both football players pleaded not guilty.

According to the Register Citizen, teens in the northwest Connecticut town, about 50 minutes west of Hartford, have lashed out at the alleged victim on Twitter, calling her explicit names and accusing her of "ruining" Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Toribio's lives.

In one tweet, a user wrote, "Even if it was all his fault, what was a 13-year-old doing hanging around with 18 year old guys..."

On Feb. 22, asmedick wrote, "I wanna know why there's no punishment for young hoes."

"I hope you got what you wanted," another user wrote in a tweet directed at the victim, according to the newspaper.

Mr. Gonzalez was being held at the New Haven Correction Center and was due in court on April 2.

Mr. Toribio is out on bail and due in court on April 23.

Victim-blaming and slut-shaming 101 from the community.  It always seems to happen in these areas, particularly in areas where sports are valued more than females - 25% of whom are victims of sexual assault.

This next story also has the sports culture and rape culture intersect with each other.  Former Tennessee Titans cheerleader Elizabeth Leigh Garner, who appeared on the NFL Cheerleader Playoffs television show, was charged with raping a 12-year-old boy. Via WTVF-HD (one of the 48 low-band VHF stations). | Nashville News, Weather

Elizabeth Leigh Garner told NewsChannel 5 in an off-camera interview that she was innocent.

Ms. Garner was a member of the Titans Cheerleading squad four years ago. This past week she was indicted on charges of sexual battery and solicitation of a minor.

Murfreesboro police said while visiting a friend's home she followed a 12-year-old boy into the bathroom, fondled him, and then tried to seduce him.

The police report stated that Garner told sex crimes detectives, "that she was drunk that evening and that she got the boy confused with a man that was also at the residence."

"That's just absolutely no excuse for sexual assaulting a child. If you can't tell the difference between a 12-year-old and an adult then there are problems," said Kyle Evans with the Murfreesboro Police Department.

Garner did gain a measure of fame during her time as a Titans cheerleader in 2008 because of her age. She was featured on blogs and newspapers as a 38-year-old who made a team made up of mostly 20-somethings.

NewsChannel 5 spoke with the now 42-year-old Ms. Garner and her husband off camera.

Ms. Garner said she was innocent of the charges.

She was released on a $30,000 bond.

Ms. Garner has not been affiliated with the Titans team for several years now.

Emphasis mine, in bold.

Again, this boy is getting a lesson in victim-blaming 101 and rape apology 101 from someone who should know better being a star cheerleader.  I applaud Mr. Evans for his comment.  Just like there is no excuse for the Torrington duo I posted about above, there is no excuse for Ms. Garner in this case, either.  Gender does not matter.

The fact that there are people commenting on just about every story about how 'lucky' the male victim is proves that there is a rape culture, and that, as ugly as it is for women and girls (and believe me, I've seen the rape and death threats hurled towards female rape victims recently), it is 500 times worse for men and boys who are victims of sexual assault by women and girls.

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