UNITED STATES, New York - Americans tend to view the social deficits of other countries from a position of superiority, that is until the #MeToo movement removed the veneer of respectability that male privileged has afforded a rogues gallery of perpetrators. Since April 2017, as reported in Vox, there have been “263 celebrities, politicians, CEOs, and others” who have been accused, convicted, or jailed for sex crimes. Starting with Jeffrey Epstein, we have compiled a list of the most recent fourteen ‘perps’ who are finally facing justice after decades of abusing women, girls, and boys with seeming impunity.
Jeffrey Epstein, Billionaire Financier, and convicted sex offender
Roger Ailes, disgraced Chairman, and CEO of Fox News
Harvey Weinstein, Movie Mogul
Robert H. Richards IV, Du Pont Heir
R. Kelly, singer & entertainer
Julian Assange, Wikileaks co-founder
Bill O’Reilly, Fox News Commentator
Roy Moore, former Chief justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama
Todd Akins, former U.S. Representative for Missouri
Brock Turner, former Stanford University swimmer
Bob Higgens, former football coach
Dr. Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics team doctor
These are just a few of the high-profile names who have been convicted of or have been named as alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse, some with girls and boys as young as 12-years-old. By no means an exhaustive list, and except Bill Cosby, these men are the epitome of white male privilege. Men who managed to evade justice because of their positions of authority and with the assistance enablers, these rich and powerful possess the ability to orchestrate the means to avoid justice or accountability.
Now the billionaire Jeffrey Epstein has joined the ranks of powerful men who have with impunity been allowed to continue for decades to engage in their prurient proclivities. What makes the Epstein’s case so explosive is the international scope of his crimes, the ludicrous Non-Prosecution Agreement (NPA) negotiated with his defense team and ratified by the federal prosecutor-led by future Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, and his treatment while only serving a 13-month sentence for having sex with a “prostitute,” when his aggregate crimes carried a minimum sentence of 45-years.
This NPA afforded Epstein additional decades to continue his pedophilic pursuits, as evidenced by the many nude photos of young girls seized from his $56 million dollar New York City mansion. Photos which included other high-profile men such who have been identified as Woody Allen, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew of Britain, and a Saudi Prince, and there is sure to be others. One of the hubristic manifestations of his depravity is the name of his jet, which he used to transport celebrities, politicians, and young girls around the world, the “Lolita Express.”
Lolita is the name of a fictional prepubescent girl portrayed in a book about pedophilia written by Vladimir Nabakov and published in 1955. That Epstein is alleged to have used this mode to transport girls as young as 12-years-old to have sex with him, and other older men in the U.S. and other territories is unfathomable.
Since the 2016 presidential election, the pernicious abuse of women and girls in America through what has come to be known as 'rape culture,' seems to have proliferated, and specific political figures seemed to have normalized this abuse due to the seeming invincibility afforded to them by the political office they hold. But, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We can only hope that the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, thereby rendering justice on behalf of Epstein's many victims who are reported to have been intimidated into silence.
Since the 2016 presidential election and with the advent of the #MeToo movement, more women have empowered enough to share their secrets - of sexual abuse, harassment, and rape. This movement has elevated the subject of the violation of women and girls to this nation and enjoined them to other countries, and cultures which accept as a norm the abject treatment of women, girls, and boys who are regarded as little more than chattel.
On August 19, 2012, then Missouri U.S. Rep. Todd Akin who is a Republican, expressed an erroneous but entrenched belief about rape during an interview in which he was discussing abortion. He claimed, among other things that doctors told him if rape is 'legitimate' then the woman will rarely become pregnant. His comments revealed a deep well of victim blaming and shaming while casting aspersions on the truthfulness of some rape accusers.
"Well, you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's rare. Its “legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child." (KTVI)
This aberrant thinking, in tandem with the aggressive and sustained attack on women’s rights, in particular on the precedent ruling by the US Supreme Court of Roe v. Wade, protecting a women’s right to obtain an abortion “based on the right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” demonstrates that America seems to be waging war against women. In essence, a woman will be victimized numerous times while trying to seek justice -- first by the rapists, then the justice system, the media, the medical community, and politicians.
On a macro cosmic level, the attacks against Mrs. Clinton's stamina, looks, capabilities, sexuality, and domestic troubles, are equivalent to the treacherous waters through which average American women try to navigate daily. Women walk the delicate balance of trying not to appear aggressive despite being competent, of dressing down to avoid being perceived as provocative, and sometimes sublimating their intelligence to spare the ego of an insecure coworker or manager.
At a microcosmic level, the rise of prosecutors refusing to bring charges against rapists, male judges belittling women and girls, casting aspersions on their testimony, and eventually dismissing the charges is alarming. In some of the more egregious cases women and the families of young girls who have been raped watch in horror as their rapists were not sentenced to prison terms as prescribed by the U.S.’s ‘mandatory minimum sentencing’ laws.
These violators, rapist, and pedophiles receive less time if any, than the mandatory minimum sentencing of Black and Latino men who have committed petty offenses such as selling minuscule amounts of drugs, or have been convicted of other non-violent crimes, but receive life-sentences. Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13TH” brilliantly illuminates the injustice of mass incarceration within the context of race and poverty, and the economic incentive the enforcement of mandatory minimums on this demographic group has created.
The disparity between the prison sentences handed down against the group above, versus those given to sexual predators, many of whom are white and male, is inequitable in the extreme. Trump, is the most high-profile sexual predatory, who despite being captured on tape discussing how he sexually assaulted women, has primarily been exonerated by his supporters, while the women who have accused him of assault have been excoriated.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), referenced the Criminal Justice Systems Statistics, which determined that out of the 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. The American Prosecutors Research Institute created a comprehensive document which listed the minimum and maximum sentences for all classes of rape. To understand the gravity of the human rights abuses females in America, three cases are presented below but are just the tip of the iceberg.
Delaware state statute requires a sentence of “Life in prison [without] probation or parole if the victim under 16 and is seriously injured.” This sentencing, however, was not applied in the case of the wealthy du Pont heir.
"Robert H. Richards IV was convicted of rape, the wealthy heir to the du Pont family fortune was spared prison by a Delaware court in 2009. [.....] Richards is a great-grandson of the chemical magnate Irenee du Pont. He received an eight-year prison sentence [...] for raping his toddler daughter, but the sentencing order signed by a Delaware judge said "defendant will not fare well" in prison and the eight years were suspended."
Texas state statute requires a sentence for “Aggravated Sexual Assault in the 1st degree to serve from 5-99 years; $10,000 fine.” That you can violently rape someone and spend less than five years in jail or pay a $10,000 fine is reprehensible, but the latitude of the interpretation of this sentencing structure by the prosecutor worked in favor of the man who raped a 2-year-old girl.
"Thomas Boden, 29 raped his then girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter in front of her 4-year-old sister in 2015. The crime was discovered when the mother came home to discover her baby crying and screaming that he had cut her private parts, and when she examined her diaper, it was full of blood. Despite Boden confessing to the rape, the hospital confirmation that the child had been violently raped, and the DNA evidence supporting the assault, the prosecutor offered Boden, and “he accepted a plea deal of 10 years probation.”
Which meant that he did not have to spend any time in jail,” and was ordered not to have contact with the victim. As part of the deal, Boden will not be required to register as a sex offender.” (Raw Story)
Montana state statute sentencing requirements for perpetrators who have raped a “victim [who] is less than 16 and actor is 3+ years older or bodily injury results, then 2-100 years and fine of up to $50,000.”
On 4 October 2016 "Prosecutors recommended that a 40-year-old unnamed Glasgow, Montana man who confessed to raping his 12-year-old daughter be sentenced to 25-years imprisonment repeatedly.
Instead, it was reported that Judge John McKeon sentenced the perpetrator to 60-days in prison, “plus a 30-year suspended prison term […] as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. The man also was ordered to complete community-based sex-offender treatment and register as a sex offender.
Amidst severe criticism and a Change.org petition signed by 14,000 people demanding McKeon’s impeachment, he defended his decision by asserting that a psychosexual evaluation finds that psychiatric treatment “affords a better opportunity for rehabilitation of the offender and the ultimate protection of the victim and society.” (CBS News)
A discussion about the efficacy of treatment options for pedophiles has been demonstrated to be ineffective. According to Harvard Medical School, “Pedophilia, the sexual attraction to children who have not yet reached puberty, remains a vexing challenge for clinicians and public officials. Classified as a paraphilia, abnormal sexual behavior, researchers have found no effective treatment. Like other sexual orientations, pedophilia is unlikely to change.”
In all three cases, the justification given to support the ridiculously lenient sentences were in some fashion related to the judges' belief that they knew what was best for these victims, and this did not include punishing their attackers. These paternalistic rulings have become a major contributing factor in the more significant problem of the ‘rape culture’ assailing our nation today.
A mother or father deserves justice when their child has been raped, and they should not have to fight with the courts to have the perpetrator sentenced as prescribed by the law. A single-mother should not be judged as somehow complicit in her child’s sexual abuse simply because she finds herself in the unfortunate position of having to work outside of the home to support her family.
A woman who is raped should not have to justify her life choices, her sexual history, her mode of dress, or anything else that lawyers of the defendants use to discredit them. The #MeToo movement has liberated many women and empowered them to speak out about their abuse. However, we cannot and should not expect that this will result in a reduction in sexism, misogyny, gender bias, sexual assault, or abuse in our society. We can only hope that society is ready to bring these criminals to justice no matter their influence, position, or status, should be prosecuted, resulting in the harshest sentencing under “mandatory minimums.”