At Billy Bush’s prep school, girls referred to as ‘toys’

Time Magazine just published a post: Colby Student: Billy Bush Exemplifies the Hypermasculinity on College Campuses with the tagline “A student from Bush’s alma mater says not much has changed.” Here’s my story. Billy Bush and I went to the same boarding school, St. George’s in Newport, Rhode Island. You may have read about the school recently in The New York Times or The Boston Globe or Vanity Fair because an investigation recently concluded that scores of students were raped and assaulted at the school, mostly during the 70s and 80s. While I was lucky enough not to be a victim of assault, this “elite” institution that supposedly educates “the best and the brightest,” like so many boarding schools was a bastion of sexism and racism, an old boys club where a culture of silence was encouraged and rewarded. The photo below is of me (on the left) and my friend, freshman year, in our high school yearbook from 1984. The caption reads “Todd’s toys.”

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Todd was a senior prefect. The saddest thing to me about this photo is that I, at 14 years old, aspired to be liked, desired, by older boys, that I believed my value and worth was determined by whether or not older males– the guys with the power– were attracted to me. St. George’s did nothing that I can recall to recognize this sexism or to empower female students. To the contrary, the school seemed to condone misogyny. There was an annual event at St. George’s called Casino Night where all the new girls, mostly freshman and sophomores, dressed up as bunnies, as in playboy-type bunnies, complete with fishnet stockings and cotton tails on our butts. Our job was to sell the boys– who were fully clothed and pretended to gamble– candy and fake cigarettes. Casino Night was not a secret event, it took place to much fanfare in the school dining hall. Every teacher and administrator knew about it.

When I heard the Billy Bush/ Donald Trump tape I wanted to scream because it was like everything I learned in high school, the objectification of women and girls, the metamorphosis of teenager from San Francisco into a “toy” bunny plaything, was being reinforced by a would-be president of the United States of America.I felt ill and the nausea hasn’t left me since.

What are girls supposed to think and feel and be when we grow up surrounded by this kind of sexism, when it’s so normal that no one even notices it? When teachers condone it by never addressing it?

After I learned about the sexual assaults and rapes at St. George’s, about a year ago, I started blogging about the story. Though even before I was told about the abuse and the cover ups, I’d written about the sexism I experienced there in blog titled Women, class, and the problem of privilege: Everything I learned about sexism, I learned at boarding school. 

I spoke to the investigators because they said they wanted to know about the culture of sexism at the school, how the place could’ve allowed the rapes to happen and go unreported. I was disappointed that the investigators didn’t publish more about the rape culture at the school, and I wrote many blogs about it, including one titled with a quote from a survivor: ‘There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.’

The links to the posts I wrote about St. George’s are listed below, though I removed the photos from the blogs. I had posted a photo, also from our 1984 yearbook, of a freshman girl dressed as a bunny on Casino Night. To me, the shame was on the school, not the girl, but when she told me she wanted it down, I respected her wishes. I took all the pictures  of students down except for the one with me in it that you can see above.

Misogyny is so ubiquitous in America, paradoxically, it’s invisible. It’s in our schools and colleges and the air we breathe, but we don’t even notice it. I’m not 14 years old anymore. I have three daughters of my own now. I want them to have the right to control their own bodies, to find their value in their achievements not in how they appear to men, to be ambitious, creative, and inspired, to dream big and to acquire the skills to realize their vision, to be valued as people, not toys. That’s why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton for president on November 8.

 

 

Reel Girl posts on St. George’s:

St. George’s, how should law enforcement respond to 911 call about possible rape at your school?

 

St. George’s, how should law enforcement respond to 911 call about possible rape at your school?

SGS for Healing posted a shocking police report from 2011 revealing rape and subsequent cover ups at St. George’s school may not be, as the school seems to claim, events that only happened 30 years ago.

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The report states that a St. George’s campus security officer, Christopher Simanski, called 911 when he saw a male climb out the window of an all girls dorm and run towards the road with no shoes on. When Middletown police officer David Hurst arrived on the scene, Simanski told him he’d chased the male but couldn’t catch him. Simanski returned to the dorm, went to the room with the window, and saw a girl sitting on her bed crying, another girl sitting next to her. He wrote that she was upset, visibly shaken, and “indicated there had been a male in her room and on her bed.”

While Simanski was recounting the events to Hurst, the dean of students, Katie Titus, came out of the dorm and approached them. What do you think happened next? She helped them investigate a possible crime, right?

Here’s how Hurst tells it:

I asked Titus where the alleged victim was and Titus ignored my question and only replied by telling me that the girl was upset. I asked Titus again where the alleged victim was and again she did not answer me. I reiterated to Titus that I was there to investigate a possible assault or sexual assault and that I would need to speak to the victim to determine the nature of the incident and obtain crucial information for any possible suspects.

Titus still refused to let Hurst investigate, insisting that she would speak for the victim. She would speak for the victim? Hurst continued to press her, letting her know that he needed vital information. Titus gave him some information of her own. She said she knew the male who ran from the window. He was student who had just graduated. But then, she refused to give the officer his name or any other facts about him.

SGS for Healing writes:

When 911 is called and there’s a report that a girl may have been sexually assaulted, how the adults around her respond makes a world of difference. They can ensure that she gets immediate professional treatment and care, optimally provided by a team that includes a medical provider, a sexual assault examiner, and a rape crisis counselor. They can facilitate police evidence collection, which depending on the jurisdiction, needs to happen within days following the incident. This kind of rapid response leads to better health outcomes for victims and an increased chance that associated criminal charges are filed.

So what happened next?

According to the report, Titus told Hurst that she’d reached the recent graduate on her cell phone. (She had his number on her cell? Maybe that’s totally normal for a dean’s contact list in these digital days?) The nameless male assured Titus that he hadn’t been on campus. Hurst writes in his report: “Titus apparently accepted the alibi at face value.”  Again, she refused to give Hurst any more information about him. I haven’t read many police reports but this seems like an odd order of events. Was Titus trying to pacify the officer at first, saying she knew the male, thinking he’d leave it all alone, let her take this mess over? Then, when Hurst asked for more information, did Titus regret telling him she knew his identity? We’ll never know because just at that moment, Titus was called away for a family emergency.

Assistant dean, Lucy Goldstein, arrived on the scene to take over. More police officers also arrived, including a lieutenant who insisted on speaking to the girl to confirm the chain of events. At that point, Goldstein went and talked to the girl for 20 minutes before allowing the lieutenant to speak with her. The girl told him that she let the male into her room, they started kissing and he wanted it to become more intimate. She “declined” and he “agreed not to press the issue and left through the window.”

The report ends with:

Having no further evidence of a crime or witnesses to come forward to contradict the series of events, all units cleared from the scene. School safety supervisor Lombardi advised that he would follow up in the morning regarding how the school staff handled the initial investigation and its cooperation or lack there of in the investigation conducted by this department.

I don’t see any information that a follow up actually happened.

SGS for Healing writes that the report raises a number of questions including: Why didn’t the SGS Dean Katie Titus immediately allow the officer to see the female student? Why did the Middletown police call Ms. Titus uncooperative? Why did Ms. Titus call the adult male? Why didn’t she help the officer talk with him and why did she refuse to give the adult male student’s name and telephone number? Sometime after the Middletown Police were on the scene, a female sexual assault officer from Newport arrived. Why did the school continue to refuse to allow her access to the alleged victim? How did the school help the student get professional treatment and care? How were the police aided in gathering physical evidence?

Last night, I saw “Spotlight,” the movie about the sexual abuse and the Catholic church that just won the Best Picture Oscar. There’s a great line: “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them.” This story is so much bigger than St. George’s. It’s about how when institutions (whether its the church, the government, businesses, or schools) are put before individuals, children suffer. Ultimately, we all do because this pattern of abuse happens far too often and isn’t symptomatic of the kind of world healthy people have the great potential to create.

Katie Titus left St. George’s school this year. She’s about to start her new job as head of Mercersburg Academy, a boarding school in Pennsylvania.

 

 

Reel Girl’s posts about St. George’s are below. If you read them, you will see that as an alumna of the school, I started to write about the institutionalized sexism I witnessed there long before I learned about the rapes and cover-ups.

Open letter to Bishop Knisely about sexual assaults and cover ups at St. George’s school

Why is a justice who argued against statutory rape laws on the R. I. Supreme Court?

St. George’s school continues to hold back information in sexual assault investigation

St. George’s releases report on sexual assaults at the school

St. George’s alumna creates fund for survivors sexually assaulted at school

Comments on petition asking St. George’s for fair investigation into assaults make me cry

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Lawyer investigating St. George’s sexual assaults is partner of school’s legal counsel

‘There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.’

Prep school alumni respond to St. Paul’s rape trial verdict

Women, class, and the problem of privilege: Everything I learned about sexism, I learned at boarding school

Tucker Carlson, Jerry Garcia, and me

 

 

Why is a justice who argued against statutory rape laws on the R. I. Supreme Court?

If you’re a fan of Reel Girl, you know I blog about gender representation in children’s media and toys. For the past few months, I’ve been focusing all of my creative energy, mind power, and available time on finishing my book (a middle grade fantasy-adventure about two magical girls who save the world.) Apologies to those of you who want to know where my reviews are, including “Star Wars” (I LOVED it, so did all my kids) but I’ve got to finish this damn book. However, I’ve been pulled away from fairyland by a horrific story of sexual abuse and rape at one of my high school alma maters, St. George’s in Newport, R.I.

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Just yesterday, I blogged about how St. George’s continues to hold back information in its sexual assault investigation. The school will not release the name of the attorney who advised them not to report the rapist to child protective services. (State law requires that all persons must report suspected cases of child abuse to Rhode Island Child Protection within 24 hours “when they have, or had reasonable grounds to believe a child is being abused.”) It is possible that the attorney who recommended the school break the law is William P. Robinson, now a justice on the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

Robinson represented St. George’s in the 1980s when Anne Scott, a former student, filed a suit against the school. Though we don’t know if Robinson is the one who told the school not to report the perpetrator, court documents show he argued that if Scott, a 15 year old, had sex with Al Gibbs, the school’s 67 year old athletic trainer, it was consensual. When I blogged about all this yesterday, I asked if Robinson is a guy that we want on the R.I. Supreme Court, and this is the question I can’t stop thinking about. How did he get into this position of power with a public record of misogyny? I didn’t know about Robinson’s appalling argument blaming Scott for her rape and neither, most likely, did you, but whomever confirmed him to the court must have looked into his background and his case history. Probably multiple people checked him out. I don’t think it’s a fact that could’ve been missed or overlooked as Robinson didn’t just argue against statutory rape laws, he was publicly admonished for doing so. After Robinson suggested the sex was consensual, The Providence Journal reports the response was furious:

U.S. Magistrate Jacob Hagopian chastised Robinson:

” … Now you explain to me under the criminal laws of the United States, or of any state of this Union, or of any civilized country, where the element of it being volitional or non-volitional, or voluntary or non-voluntary, has anything to do with this type of detestable allegation made by a person who is not of age of consent, can you explain that to me?”

When Robinson tried to explain, Hagopian cut him off, stating, “It’s impossible. It violates the criminal laws of the United States.”

So why was Robinson allowed to be a judge on a state Supreme Court when he argued fiercely against the laws of a civilized country? Because he’s changed? He’s grown, come to his senses, and realized he made a mistake? Apparently not. When Robinson was asked if he was the attorney who advised St. George’s not to report the rapist to child protective services, he responded with this statement:

“In the 1980s, while engaged in the private practice of law, I represented St. George’s School in certain litigation in the federal court which has recently become the subject of interest in the media. I represented the client as an attorney must, zealously, ethically and to the best of my ability. I do not believe that further comment is necessary or appropriate.”

So in 2016, Robinson claims that his past argument against statutory rape was ethical. He says: “I do not believe that further comment is necessary or appropriate.” Is that OK with you, America? That a justice on a state’s Supreme Court argued against statutory rape? Do you think justices who share Robinson’s view are on your state’s Supreme Court? Do you want your country to take rape more seriously? Do you care about stopping this national epidemic?

in 2014 the federal government released the names of 55 colleges and universities that are under investigation for their handling of sexual violence or harassment complaints. Under Obama, there has been more of an attempt than ever before to make ending rape a national priority. Still, Washington Post columnist George Will and others ridiculed the action and questioned the 1 in 5 statistic of women raped on campus, calling all this attention “rape hysteria.”

Rape is rampant in the USA because as a culture, we allow the violence to happen again and again. We punish and shame the survivor by elevating those who collaborated in silencing her. I don’t know how Robinson secured his position on the Supreme Court, but he shouldn’t be allowed to stay there.

Read my previous posts about St. Georges:

St. George’s school continues to hold back information in sexual assault investigation

St. George’s releases report on sexual assaults at the school

St. George’s alumna creates fund for survivors sexually assaulted at school

Comments on petition asking St. George’s for fair investigation into assaults make me cry

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Lawyer investigating St. George’s sexual assaults is partner of school’s legal counsel

‘There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.’

Prep school alumni respond to St. Paul’s rape trial verdict

Women, class, and the problem of privilege: Everything I learned about sexism, I learned at boarding school

Tucker Carlson, Jerry Garcia, and me

St. George’s school continues to hold back information in sexual assault investigation

St. George’s keeps assuring us that it’s concerned for the survivors of sexual assault, but why does the school continue to withhold information from the media about the cover up of rapes?

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In its report on the sexual assaults, the school stated it did not give information about any of the crimes to child protective services, a violation of state law, because their counsel advised them not to. After passing the buck and blaming their lawyers for their negligence, St. George’s refuses to disclose the name of the attorney who steered them on the wrong course.

One of the school’s lawyers listed in court documents is William P. Robinson III who now sits on the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Is Robinson the one who advised St. George’s not to report the perpetrators, all who went on to work around children, either in churches or in education? If Robinson did advise St. George’s to violate the law and his actions put other kids in danger, is he a guy we want on the R.I. Supreme Court? Obviously, that’s a rhetorical question.

Even if Robinson wasn’t the one to suggest St. George’s do nothing to prevent a child molester and rapist from hurting other kids, he’s recorded in court documents as arguing that if Anne Scott, a 15 year old student, had sex with Al Gibbs, a 67 year old athletic trainer, it was consensual. Explaining his actions, Robinson released this statement last week:

“In the 1980s, while engaged in the private practice of law, I represented St. George’s School in certain litigation in the federal court which has recently become the subject of interest in the media. I represented the client as an attorney must, zealously, ethically and to the best of my ability. I do not believe that further comment is necessary or appropriate.”

“Recently become the subject of interest in the media”??? Dude, this is not a story about Jennifer Lawrence tripping on the red carpet. The account is in the media because rapes were covered up by the school for years and more kids were sexually assaulted. Only now when other schools are finally hearing about perpetrators who went on to be employed with them, are they sending out letters about launching their own investigations into assault.

And what does this quote mean? “I represented the client as an attorney must, zealously, ethically, and to the best of my ability.” I’m assuming Robinson thinks its ethical to have no regard for statutory rape laws? Does Robinson still think a 15 year old can consent to sex with a 67 year old? And once again, I ask, if he does, should he be a judge on the R.I. Supreme Court? How is Anne Scott supposed to feel knowing that this guy ascended to the top of his field, that he holds a position of power and respect? Oh, that’s right, no one gives a shit how Scott feels. Which brings me back to St. George’s. This school cannot do much right. In spite of everything that’s happened, when every effort should be made at this time to be upfront and honest, the school chooses to be shady. Blame the lawyer, then don’t name the lawyer. Great strategy, St. George’s. I I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. All along, you’ve been withholding information to protect men in power.

St. George’s alumna creates fund for survivors sexually assaulted at school

Faulkner Fox, who graduated from St. George’s in 1981 and was a prefect at the school, has set up the SGS Alumni Therapy Fund to help survivors who were sexually assaulted at St. George’s and in need of therapy.

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When I asked her why she wanted to create the fund, she told me:

I was so concerned when I heard that alumni were in distress, some suicidal, after reading THE BOSTON GLOBE article. Not everyone has a therapist or a strong support network of friends and family.  It is unconscionable that St. George’s School has not set up immediate counseling and referral services.  I wanted to help support the vital 24/7 therapy service put in place by Anne Scott’s lawyers.

Here’s the text from SGS Alumni Therapy Fund page on generosity.com.

Dozens of alumni from St. George’s School were sexually abused while they were students at the school.  More victims have been coming forward since the BOSTON GLOBE ran a front page story, “A Prep School’s Dark Legacy,” on 12/15/15.  Some are very distressed, even suicidal, and they need to speak to a therapist immediately.  St. George’s School has not yet made such a service available.  We, concerned St. George’s alumni and supporters, are raising money to pay for psychologist, Dr. Paul Zeizel, a well-known clinician and trauma expert who treated many of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, to counsel St. George’s alumni who are in crisis.

 

Dr. Zeizel is available seven days a week to provide crisis assistance and local referrals to  people who were sexually assaulted at St. George’s.  Consultations are free to alumni and completely confidential.  Dr. Zeizel’s phone number is:  857 472 2704.  His email is paulzeizel@comcast.net.

 

If we raise enough money, Dr. Zeizel will also process requests for reimbursement for therapy that relates to past sexual abuse at St. George’s School.  He will maintain absolute confidentiality, yet his clients will be free to speak to anyone they choose about their abuse and who is paying for their therapy.

You can make credit card donation on the fund’s page.

If you want to make a donation by check, you can go to any Wells Fargo branch and ask to make a donation to the “SGS Alumni Therapy Fund.”

If you want to mail a check for Faulkner to deposit or if you have any questions about the fund, you can contact her at dfofaulkner@gmail.com

If you don’t know anything about the sexual assaults at St. George’s or want to learn more, you can look at previous blogs below.

Thank you for your support.

Comments on petition asking St. George’s for fair investigation into assaults make me cry

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Lawyer investigating St. George’s sexual assaults is partner of school’s legal counsel

Prep school alumni respond to St. Paul’s rape trial verdict

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Last Monday, the Boston Globe published a front page article about sexual abuse and cover ups at St. George’s School, an elite private school that I attended.

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When Anne Scott initially brought a suit against the school about her molestation by athletic trainer, Al Gibbs, lawyers representing St.George’s claimed she “has a tendency to lie.” They also said that if the 15 year old had sex with the 67 year old, it was consensual. Let me remind you, lawyers representing a school seemed to have no concept of statutory rape. St. George’s also sought to change the case from a “Jane Doe” to use Scott’s real name. Intimidated, Scott dropped her case. Years later, still suffering from the abuse at St. George’s, Scott demanded the school contact alumni about abuse that may have happened. Scott was certain there were other victims. She wanted the school to be accountable and to reach out to others who may  need help. St. George’s started an investigation and sent out letters. According to the school, “tens of women” have responded that they are survivors of abuse. But one of the problems with the investigation is that more victims have said they are not comfortable talking about their experiences to Will Hannum, the lead investigator hired by St. George’s. Hannum is not only a lawyer but a partner of the counsel for St. George’s, not the ideal person to speak with about these experiences. I have been contacted by women who feel this way.

In August, after news about the St. Paul’s rape, another boarding school, the night of “senior salute” I blogged about “Casino Night” a sexist “tradition” when I went to St. George’s. On “Casino Night” all the new girls were supposed to dress up as playboy-like bunnies and sell candy to the older boys who gambled. After that blog (which I learned roughly coincided with St. George’s letter about its investigation) I was contacted by a former student from St. George’s who was sexually assaulted at the school around that time. She was scared to talk to Hannum because she was concerned his goal might be to gather information to protect the school from a lawsuit. Since my blogs, I’ve been contacted by others, first and second hand, about sexual assaults at the school who didn’t know where to turn. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has been approached.

Here are more facts since the Globe article came out about how St. George’s continues to fail it’s alumni from the counsel for Anne Scott (’80), Joan (Bege) Reynolds (’79) and Katie Wales (’80): Eric MacLeish (SGS ’70)

 

  • Since the December 15, 2015 article in the Boston Globe we have received reports from eleven additional alumnae who were sexually molested and assaulted by former SGS athletic trainer Al Gibbs. We also have other calls to return so that figure will rise tomorrow
  • Virtually all of the alumnae are or have suffered psychological injury as a result of their abuse by Gibbs and some are currently in states of crisis. Two have reported suicidal ideation. We are referring alumnae to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (which has agreed to handle calls from outside Massachusetts). We are searching immediately for a clinician to provide crisis services for these individuals and to make referrals. We have asked SGS to retain such a clinician but SGS has not responded
  • Based on Mr. Zane’s notes of four Gibbs victims in the Scott case and the three clients who we represent, the number of Gibbs alumnae victims that we are aware of currently total eighteen
  • SGS has still refused to disclose the number of victims who have come forward to the School alleging sexual assault by Gibbs. This number is likely much higher than the eighteen alumnae victims that we are aware of
  • Headmaster Peterson stated in his letter of November 2, 2015 to alumni that the “majority” of the abuse reports center around three individuals and that most of the reports fall in the 1970’s and 1980’s. We have received reports of abuse from alumni over the past four days, including reports from two former Trustees, regarding five SGS former employees; one report was as recent as 2004
  • SGS has shown a pattern of conduct since 1979 of coercing alumnae who were abused by Gibbs into silence. A student who alleged she was abused in 1979 was told that she was mentally ill and was required to see the School’s consulting psychologist. More recent tactics under current school leadership include requiring a victim seeking mental health care because of Gibbs’ abuse to sign an agreement prohibiting the victim from speaking of about the abuse publicly and, further, that she not “disparage” the School
  • SGS employees violated the Rhode Island Mandatory Abuse reporting law on Gibbs sexual molestation thereby subjecting other children to risks of abuse as Gibbs was alive for fifteen years after he left SGS. We have also received credible reports that SGS violated the same law in 1988, at which time the alleged perpetrator left SGS and went on to teach at another prep school for 11 years
  • Many alumni who came forward to report abuse to the “independent” investigator which Headmaster Peterson referred to in his April 7th letter to alumni were not told by the investigator that he was a partner in a law firm that was actually representing SGS
  • The School’s victim assistance package continues to contain a confidentiality clause which prevents alumni from disclosing that SGS is paying for assistance. At the same time, the agreement contains no provision that requires SGS to keep a victim’s name and assistance package confidential

 

  • SGS alumni have started an online public petition requesting that the School take immediate measures to conduct an independent investigation and provide for an alumni mental health assistance program that is consistent with what other independent school programs have done in similar situations. The petition can be found here

Over the past four days, we have received reports that Headmaster Peterson has been aware of Gibbs’ abuse of SGS students for many years; it was only after he was approached by Anne Scott in February of 2015 that the School sent out its first alumni letter. Mr. MacLeish contacted Mr. Peterson urging him to send out an alumni letter on Gibbs in 2012

From Counsel for Anne Scott (’80), Joan (Bege) Reynolds (’79) and Katie Wales (’80): Eric MacLeish (SGS ’70) and Carmen Durso.

Contact information:  

Anne Scott 443-282-4487, annewmscott@gmail.com;

Eric MacLeish, 617-494-1920, rmacleish@chelaw.com;

Carmen Durso, 617-728-9123, carmen@dursolaw.com

If you care about helping survivors of sexual assault and protecting all kids from having this happen to them, please sign this petition 

 UPDATE: Eric MacLeish contacted me with this info: we retained a clinician, Dr. Paul Zeizel, who is available 7 days a week for SGS victims. He can provide crisis counseling for SGS alums that is confidential. His mobile phone is 857 472 2704. His email is paulzeizel@comcast.net

 

Prep school alumni respond to St. Paul’s rape trial verdict

Today 19 yr old Owen Labrie was found not guilty of raping a 15 year old girl. At the trial, she spent more time on the stand than he did, said he bit her, scraped the inside of her vagina, and that she said no to him several times. The New York Times reports:

“Crying on the stand here, she described the sex acts she said he performed, saying he spit on her, and called her a tease. ‘At one point, I was in so much pain that I jerked backwards.’

Labrie said they never had sex. The jury of 9 men and 3 women convicted him for a lesser charge of aggravated sexual assault.

Labrie and his accuser both went to boarding school at St. Paul’s in Concord, N.H. where he was a soccer captain and straight A student. The night in question was part of “senior salute,” a school tradition “when older students ask younger ones to join them for a walk, a kiss, or more.” Labrie had ” a special key that prosecutors have said had been used and passed around by older boys seeking privacy.” The New York Times reports:

Still, she said she worried about making a bad impression. She was younger. He was older and popular. The senior salute was a St. Paul’s tradition.

“I didn’t want to come off as an inexperienced little girl,” she said. “I didn’t want him to laugh at me. I didn’t want to offend him.”

Afterward, she said, she felt physical pain and utter confusion, and blamed herself for the events; it took several days for her to tell anyone, in full, what happened.

“I feel like I had objected as much as I felt I could at the time. And other than that I felt so powerless,” she said, adding, “I was telling myself, ‘O.K., that was the right thing to do, you were being respectful.’

Though I blog about rape fairly often on Reel Girl, much more often then I’d like, I’ve been following the St. Paul’s story in particular. I also went to prep school at St George’s in Newport, Rhode Island from 1983 – 1985. One of the first big occasions I remember as a freshman was a tradition called Casino Night where all the new girls dressed up as bunnies. We pretended to sell candy and cigarettes. Here’s a picture of a classmate from my 1984 yearbook.

 

Here’s how the senior boys dressed for the same night. Notice anything different about their outfits or poses?

 

The boy on the left was also the senior prefect which is prep school speak for school president. I don’t think there had ever been a female student in this role when I went to the school. When I arrived there, there were 5 senior prefects: 4 males to 1 female, a typical ratio (and another example of the Smurfette Principle or Minority Feisty.)

 

The guy on the upper left is the one referred to in this picture below of my best friend and me captioned “Todd’s toys.”

 

His bequeath in the yearbook is “a 20 year sentence” because that’s what you get for rape.

I wasn’t raped at St. George’s. The bequeath is just a joke, a rape joke. The prefects pictured I remember as being mostly nice guys operating within a sexist culture that glorified treating girls like conquests. I’m posting these pictures, captions, jokes, and quotes from my yearbook to show the school’s systemic sexism in 1983. Most importantly, I don’t recall the rampant gender inequality on campus ever addressed by any teacher, parent, adviser, therapist, or any adult. Being a “bad girl,” I was expelled in 1985 (for drinking and smoking.) I hoped things had gotten better since my time, but the St. Paul’s story convinces me that rape culture remains alive and well at America’s prep schools.

A St. George’s classmate, Clymer Bardsley had a similar experience of total lack of guidance or help from any adults around gender roles and expectations. Today, also enraged after reading the news story, Clymer wrote this email to Michael Hirschfeld, the rector of St Paul’s:

I went to St. George’s School in the 80s and am a heterosexual, success-oriented, competitive guy. I remember being self-conscious about my not getting any action while some of my male friends got tons. I felt less-than, like a loser when it came to girls and sex. That feeling went with me to Middlebury College and remained into adulthood.

Nowhere in my development in the competitive worlds of New York, Newport, or Middlebury did any adult ever reinforce in me that it is alright to go at your own pace, that sex isn’t competition. The cultural norm was that sex was another place to be competitive, where you could be classified as a winner or a loser.

As rector of a now humiliated prep school, I hope you will make it your top priority to make sure that all of your kids and their families know that competition belongs on a playing field and perhaps in the classroom but nowhere near sex and relationships.

It appalls me every time I see a picture of that boy. I think, “How dare he!” And I don’t even know if he did anything wrong. What I do know is that the culture he went to school in enabled him to get into a very dicey place…

Your’s is a tough job and I don’t envy you. Protect our kids, though, the predators and their prey. They need those of us in charge to provide safety for them.

Here’s hoping you have a successful 2015-16 year!

Sincerely,
Clymer

I hope more students and alumni speak out, that these elite schools with access to so much money and power take major steps to radically change their courses, becoming the leaders they should be in stopping sexism, sexual assault, and rape on campus.

More than 71 sexual assaults PER DAY in the U.S. Military

This petition demands that Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, support the Jackie Speier supported STOP Act. Click on the bold text asking to sign.

Dear Margot,

If you thought it couldn’t get worse, it just did. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski was head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention program prior to being arrested and charged with sexual battery by the Arlington, Virginia police department. Krusinski drunkenly “approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks.”

It’s become clear that the military is not capable of solving its epidemic of sexual violence. Despite years of studies and empty talk, there were 26,000 sexual assaults in 2012 — more than 71 per day — and up from 19,000 in 2011.

Tell Chuck Hagel, the new Secretary of Defense, to immediately endorse the STOP Act. His public support would have a dramatic impact.

The Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act — H.R. 1593 — will take the prosecution, reporting, oversight, investigation, and victim care of sexual assaults out of the normal military chain of command and place jurisdiction in an autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office made up of military and civilian experts.

Sign our petition and demand Secretary Hagel support the only solution that stands a chance of success.

Yours in the fight against sexual violence,

Caitlin, along with along with Adam, Aidan, Annie, Anthony, Christian, Dan, Eddie, Gabe, Jacob C., Jacob W., Michael, Rick, Sarah, and Scottie (the Courage team)

Rep. Jackie Speier takes the lead to stop sexual assault in the USA

The United States is failing half of its citizens. There are four stories in the news this week highlighting the epidemic of violence against women in America:

(1) 3 women were sexually assaulted for 10 years. The perpetrator had domestic violence charges against him dropped when the lawyer for his accuser failed to show up in court.

(2) Sexual assault survivor Elizabeth Smart says abstinence only education made her feel like a “chewed up piece of gum” and prevents victims from trying to escape from captors or seek help.

(3) U.S. military releases report that there were an estimated 26,000 sexual assaults in our armed forces, up from 19,000

(4) Man in charge of preventing sexual assault in the U.S. Air Force is charged with sexual assault

I posted yesterday asking who in the U.S. government is going to do something to end the violence against women?

Obama’s reported reaction?

“The bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this,” Obama told reporters after he was asked about several recent military scandals, including the weekend arrest of the Air Force’s chief for sexual assault prevention on charges that he groped and attacked a woman in Northern Virginia. “If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged — period.”

Strong words but what will be the actions behind them? Why did he wait until he was asked to say something? Why doesn’t he take more of a lead on stopping the violence against women in the USA? When will he link up the stories and speak to the epidemic? What is his plan to end the violence against women in America?

Today, I got an email from Rep Jackie Speier asking me to sign a petition. Here it is:

Dear San Francisco MoveOn member,

Sexual violence in the U.S. military is a crisis. The Pentagon estimates that in 2010, there were 19,000 sexual assaults in the armed forces.

Making matters worse, each branch of the armed forces has its own judicial system, and it’s currently legal for base commanders to overturn a conviction at Aviano Air Force Base.

The STOP (Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention) Act takes the prosecution, reporting, oversight, investigation, and victim care of sexual assaults out of the normal military chain of command—which has proven grossly ineffective—and places jurisdiction in an autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office.

That’s why I started a petition to the United States Congress, which says:

I stand with Congresswoman Jackie Speier in support of the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (STOP Act) to end military rape.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

Thanks!

–Congresswoman Jackie Speier

 

I am so happy that Speier is calling a crisis and crisis and taking the the initiative to do something about it.

jackie

It make sense that it Speier would be a leader here. I first heard about Speier years ago on an issue that may seem trivial. Speier noticed that when women went to the the dry cleaner, they were charged more than men to get the same garment cleaned. Speier called this out for what it was: gender discrimination. She spoke to how this institutionalized sexism, is one of the many ways women are manipulated into shelling out huge amounts of money for their appearance.

Fascinated, I found out more about Speier and she became one of my heroes. Here’s just part of her bio today:

Jackie Speier (pronounced SPEAR) has lived her entire life inside California’s 14th Congressional District and in April 2008 was elected to represent the district in Congress…

 

Nationally, Jackie is best known for her passionate and compelling speeches on the House floor, such as her spontaneous response to a congressional colleague who trivialized women who – like her – have had medically necessary second trimester abortions. She routinely speaks on the House floor about men and women in our armed forces who have been raped or sexually assaulted while in the line of duty. She has also taken a lead role in working with the veterans organizations to improve delivery of VA benefits to Bay Area veterans. In 2012 Newsweek named Jackie to its list of 150 “fearless women” in the world.

Locally, Jackie is known as a fighter. In 1978, as a staff member to then-Congressman Leo J. Ryan, she was shot five times while trying to rescue constituents from the People’s Temple compound in Jonestown, Guyana – an attack that left Congressman Ryan and six others dead and was followed by the mass murder-suicide of more than 900 Temple followers. Jackie tenaciously hung onto life for 23 hours on a dusty airstrip before aid arrived. It is this fighting spirit that defines her to her constituents at home…

 

Jackie was the first California state legislator to give birth while in office and, during her time in Sacramento, she authored more than 300 bills signed into law by both Republican and Democratic governors. These bills included the nation’s strongest financial privacy law and measures that expanded women’s access to reproductive health services and vastly improved collection of delinquent child support payments. She also led high-profile investigations of fraudulent and wasteful government spending and prison corruption, ultimately saving millions of taxpayer dollars…

I know you have a lot to sign and a lot to share, but please sign this petition. If you are disgusted and appalled by the violence against women in America, this is an action you can take to help stop it. This is a beginning. I believe that Jackie Speier will continue to be a leader on this issue and not let it go until the violence against women is over.