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  1. bleh
    bleh October 24, 2008 at 4:44 pm |

    I’m speechless w/ horror, sadness, and rage. How can this happen?

  2. bleh
    bleh October 24, 2008 at 4:51 pm |

    OK Is there any way to get her a better lawyer and allow an appeal or a claim that she did not understand her plea and what it meant? She is a minor, and a victim.

    I’m still so sick, I can hardly breathe. Why should she go to prison for protecting herself from a predator?

    I can’t even snark about it…

  3. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 24, 2008 at 5:18 pm |

    WHAT. THE. FUCK.

    I am beyond words. What the fuck are those shitty fucking lawyers thinking? How could the judge have even considered sentenced this girl to *anything* but therapy and a foster home?

    Why aren’t they throwing her a fucking PARADE for getting that baby-rapist piece of shit off the streets? I guess I missed the Supreme Court decision where kidnapping and drugging little girls and trying to RAPE them is OKAY and LEGAL now.

  4. bushfire
    bushfire October 24, 2008 at 5:29 pm |

    She made the right choice. The only way she could make better choices is if life offered her better situations.

  5. Ouyang Dan
    Ouyang Dan October 24, 2008 at 5:33 pm |

    This makes me so sad and angry that I really don’t know what to say or think.

    Only some people matter. This is clear evidence of that.

  6. Rebecca
    Rebecca October 24, 2008 at 5:35 pm |



    …no.

  7. m. leblanc
    m. leblanc October 24, 2008 at 5:52 pm |

    I’m surprised at this, as well as the chorus of agreement. I hate sexual predators, too, but “getting that baby-rapist piece of shit off the streets”? Last I checked, death is not the sentence for attempted rape. Let me be perfectly clear: It sounds like what Mr. Pena did, and intended to do, was beyond reproach. Had he lived, he should have served time for it.

    If you’ll recall, you are only authorized to use deadly force in order to protect yourself from deadly force, and it doesn’t seem there was any indication she was threatened with such. This whole situation is lamentable, but think of it this way: she killed someone. The time she’ll serve for the killing is two years, which, given the circumstances, the provocation, her reasons for doing it, and the way she did it, seems about right to me. A drastically reduced sentence, but an acknowledgment of the real harm here.

  8. mustelid
    mustelid October 24, 2008 at 6:44 pm |

    And just how was the girl supposed to know he was ‘only’ going to kidnap and rape her? This POS was willing to bring a minor back to his family home, drug her, and threaten to keep her there until he got his rocks off. What was going to stop him from killing her afterwards? Maybe she should’ve just sat tight and waited for the authorities to rescue her? And then there’s the whole size and strength differential…she didn’t have time to sit around making calculations about just the right amount of force against a much larger opponent…plus there’s the alcohol impairment…why, that could lead to panic! Or is that only applicable when it’s a guy against a smaller guy and the specter of homosexuality?

    The girl obviously needs help. I strongly doubt she’ll find the help she needs in juvenile detention.

  9. Lynn
    Lynn October 24, 2008 at 7:25 pm |

    leblanc: how exactly would you ask this child to determine wether she was just being raped and kidnapped as opposed to raped, kidnapped and murdered?

    at what point would you allow her to fight back?

  10. brianna
    brianna October 24, 2008 at 7:45 pm |

    How horrible. I wonder if she was being defended by a public attorney – she likely was, given her situation. I can’t help but think that she simply needed better defense.

    If you’ll recall, you are only authorized to use deadly force in order to protect yourself from deadly force

    Wouldn’t keeping her against her will and insisting that she have sex be considered a threat of deadly force? This and this (not real legal sources, but still…) seem to indicate so.

  11. shah8
    shah8 October 24, 2008 at 7:45 pm |

    I have absolutely no sympathy for that man, m. leblanc. There is a truly nasty history in the US of criminalizing young women so that they’d be sexually available for any white guy around, and the pattern of her arrest and incarceration follows deep grooves in American jurisprudence. It’s about the criminalization of her person rather than anything she did–everything from the studied lack of attention to the motives of a pedophile to the pushing of the plea bargain under her nose with an emphasis on what will happen if she didn’t cooperate.

    If the girl-prostitute has to be even more messed up, then I’m glad she took down a nasty old man with her.

  12. Bianca Reagan
    Bianca Reagan October 24, 2008 at 8:32 pm |

    m. leblanc, if that 49-year-old man kidnapped that 16-year-old girl–which he did–there is a good chance that after he raped her, he would have killed her. Hence, the justification for self-defense.

  13. Lis
    Lis October 24, 2008 at 8:33 pm |

    As a resident of King County I can perhaps shed some light on the statement made by King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg who is quoted as saying, “This will get her the rehabilitation she needs”. Seattle and its sprawl, like many large urban areas, has the problem of underage prostitution. Satterberg is no doubt aware of a recent study done on the problem since it was commissioned and funded by the city of Seattle. One of the things found in the study was that the violence these girls face by their pimps and by the community of prostitution trafficking is often even worse than the actual paid rapes. It is more than difficult to remove them from their situations, and placements into situations like foster homes are generally not able to prevent the girls from ending back up on the street. I am thinking that this is why Satterberg made that comment, not because he is some heartless jackass that wants the girl to be locked up and have the key thrown away. Rather he is aware that the girl is likely to need years of intensive help if she is going to have any chance, and he sees her being removed from streets as a way for that to be provided to her. Anyways, the problem is really super complicated and I urge anyone interested to look up the report, “Who Pays the Price: Assessment of Youth Involvement in Prostitution in Seattle” provided by Debra Boyer. In addition Boyer gave a really great interview on the issue to our local NPR member station: here is the link thing, sorry I don’t know how to make it embed or whatever it is called:
    http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=15499

  14. Renee
    Renee October 24, 2008 at 9:00 pm |

    First let me say that I am horrified to read this but not surprised. This is exactly the way that sex trade workers are treated by the justice system.

    @leblance If you’ll recall, you are only authorized to use deadly force in order to protect yourself from deadly force, and it doesn’t seem there was any indication she was threatened with such.

    At what point should she have defended herself? She had no idea how far this man was willing to go and he had already made it more than clear he intended to do her harm. The story made it very clear that she was not in a position of power and therefore I fail to see what other alternatives she had.

  15. Lis
    Lis October 24, 2008 at 9:33 pm |

    Cara, “locking her up for manslaughter” sounds a lot less worse than the part where we acknowledge that she is going into juvenile detention for 2 1/2 years. You are right, the situation she is in is lame and unfair…. but what else are we supposed to do? And, while there is always room for improvement, juvenile detentions are stocked with counselors and social workers, specifically to deal with juveniles facing the kinds of traumatic situations she has been in… honestly, if they wanted to “throw the book at her” they would have tried her as an adult (which has occurred to 16 year olds before) and not given her a sentence that can ultimately be removed from her record. And, maybe the 2 1/2 years will provide her with enough time off of the streets to help her…. juvenile detention is obviously not the most ideal situation we can imagine for her, but it is better than her previous situation…

  16. Lis
    Lis October 24, 2008 at 9:37 pm |

    correction… I meant to say “a lot worse” rather than ” lot less worse”. doh!

  17. Sudy
    Sudy October 24, 2008 at 9:42 pm |

    I have a short fuse today.

    How is it that lawyers are so stupid? How is it that whoever read this thread gets it, but lawyers who went to law school for three years and studied all sorts of analytic whatevers and countless cases and argued hundreds of times against other “smart” people don’t get it?

    What the hell is going on?

  18. Renee
    Renee October 24, 2008 at 11:05 pm |

    @ Lis
    And, maybe the 2 1/2 years will provide her with enough time off of the streets to help her….

    Seriously come on. Being in juvenile detention is not going to help her. The system is not about rehabilitation it is about punishment. If they really wanted to help her they would have put her in a group home and arranged for counseling. She is going to emerge from her imprisonment angry and bitter with no where to turn.

  19. shah8
    shah8 October 24, 2008 at 11:16 pm |

    Paternalistic escuses as to why you need to arrest the despised minority for her own good have always abounded. People are really, really good at averting eyes to things they don’t want to see and engaging in hypocritical behaviors so they can stop feeling. Like that woman who wasn’t comfortable with the woman she hired to take care of her yard bringing her children and having the eldest help her while the owner’s own children played.

    I can promise you, prosecutors who want to help do not stick traumatized little girls into juvie. Remember Randy in The Wire? That was really a comparable situation, and a very real world result of what happens.

  20. m. leblanc
    m. leblanc October 24, 2008 at 11:23 pm |

    Because this is a case where I think the result actually makes sense. Look, I am no stranger to cases where women fight back against abusive and violent men. I have worked on behalf of battered women who were tried and convicted for killing their abusive husbands–men who had threatened to kill him, made their lives living hell for years. And those women were convicted. And I fought to get them clemency, so they would only have to spend 5 or 7 or 8 years in prison, instead of thirty.

    The characterization of “the prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed that she would likely be acquitted if the case went to trial” is just not accurate. No decent lawyer accepts a plea agreement when acquittal is “likely.” Was it “possible”? Sure, and in fact the article said they agreed she “might” be acquitted. But “might” be acquitted versus “could” get up to 10 years?

    Also, consider what would have happened at trial: if the girl wanted to go forward, she would have had to go and testify for the self-defense defense to have held any water. And then she would’ve been put through the ringer, particularly because of the previous charges against her (“charges ranging from auto theft to assault to prostitution”), which would have been fair game to impeach her credibility had she testified. Can you imagine what a trauma that experience–going on trial–would have been for her? And might have all been for naught, with the decent possibility that she would lose and be convicted anyway?

    I disagree with Lis, however–I think the notion that being in juvenile detention is going to “cure” her is improbable. The adult and juvenile prison systems suck everywhere–ask the millions of young men who have their lives irrevocably fucked up by the years they spend in them. I’ve seen young men with lives just as fucked up get a lot more time for a lot less.

  21. Lis
    Lis October 24, 2008 at 11:40 pm |

    Argh, I didn’t say “cure” I said “maybe the 2 1/2 years will provide her with enough time off of the streets to help her”. And, I am specifically talking about this particular problem with minors who are prostitutes. In the NPR interview that I cited previously, a social worker spoke about how group homes and foster care were inadequate for these girls (and some boys too) because they are then put into public school and end up being kidnapped, intimidated, and/or lured back. It sounds great saying that I am making “paternalistic excuses” for the system, but the reality of the situation is that there are not any other options to date for this girl. And really, all any of us knows in regards to this case are the few details via the news story… I am not a lawyer and I was not in the court room. I don’t know this girl’s background (did she have prior arrests?) I don’t know anything, but I am willing to guess this is a more complicated situation then just a paternalistic society punishing a rape victim. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the guy that died was doing something more than despicable- I really don’t have any pity for him. But I am hopeful that in King County, where this particular problem is receiving attention right now, that this girl in question might have a chance in the juvenile detention center.

  22. Rachel
    Rachel October 25, 2008 at 12:02 am |

    To add sick to sicker, the article juxtaposes the perp’s same aged daughter–this one so sweet she even asks her mom’s permission to skip school–with the young victim “from the wrong side of the tracks,” setting up a dichotomy between the two to make a point.

    The perp’s ex brings the whole piece full circle with some good old fashioned mother blaming, too, saying “where is her mother?” to the reporter after the sentencing.

  23. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 25, 2008 at 3:57 am |

    Lis: And, I am specifically talking about this particular problem with minors who are prostitutes.

    Yeah, because when she gets out of juvenile detention, if I’m doing my arithmetic right, she won’t be a minor who’s a prostitute: she’ll be an adult woman, whose most reliable source of income is likely to be… prostitution. I can’t see how that helps her, but I can see how it would make you feel better.

    m. leblanc: Because this is a case where I think the result actually makes sense. Look, I am no stranger to cases where women fight back against abusive and violent men. I have worked on behalf of battered women who were tried and convicted for killing their abusive husbands–men who had threatened to kill him, made their lives living hell for years. And those women were convicted. And I fought to get them clemency, so they would only have to spend 5 or 7 or 8 years in prison, instead of thirty.

    I guess that if you think a woman deserves five years in prison for killing her abusive husband, you think a girl deserves two and a half years in prison for killing the man who kidnapped her and tried to rape her. Because women just don’t have the right to fight back, and if women do, they must be punished. Men ought not to have to live in fear.

  24. BadMormon » Prostitution = Adult who’s not allowed to say “No!”

    [...] Feministe » When Self Defense Doesn’t Count This entry was posted on Saturday, October 25th, 2008 and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. « Before Legal Abortion [...]

  25. james
    james October 25, 2008 at 12:30 pm |

    Hang on. The prosecution accepted that the girl’s story was a possibility, not that it was credible. And both the defense and prosecution admit that if the case had been allowed to go to trial she might have been acquitted, not would have likely been acquited.

    “It’d be one thing if she stabbed him, injured him enough to get away and then kept on stabbing him. She didn’t.”

    She didn’t keep on stabbing him, but she didn’t leave him alone once able to get away. The article seems to indicate she stabbed him, he subsequently bled to death throughout several parts of the house, and she remained with him while he expired and then hid the body. I think this together with her memory loss being problematic for her account of self defence, and later being belligerent towards the police, is probably why the prosecution didn’t drop the case.

    It does seem from the article there’s a very big gap for reasonable doubt on the grounds of self defence, but on the other hand we don’t know the forensics as well as they do.

  26. m. leblanc
    m. leblanc October 25, 2008 at 1:22 pm |

    Jesurgislac, I guess you think, then, that the rules of self-defense have no meaning? Because oftentimes women who kill their abusive husbands kill them when the men are not actively trying to hurt them. And the self-defense standard is “imminent danger of harm.”

    Of course women have the right to fight back. Fighting back is not the same as causing the death of another person. Yes, I think that killing another person is a bad enough thing that people should be punished for doing it. Especially when, as in this case, the person’s death actually causes a measurable loss to society–presumably, his family didn’t want him dead.

    Anyway, I’ve gotten way off track here. My larger point was that we really don’t know all the facts in the case, what the defense lawyers knew or didn’t know, and all the factors upon which they made their calculation. Hell, for all you know, the girl wanted to take the plea deal. As her attorney, they’re obligated to follow her wishes. I just don’t think the result is, on its face, outrageous such that you can say there are bad actors here.

  27. roymacIII
    roymacIII October 25, 2008 at 2:57 pm |

    Last I checked, death is not the sentence for attempted rape. Let me be perfectly clear: It sounds like what Mr. Pena did, and intended to do, was beyond reproach. Had he lived, he should have served time for it.

    If you’ll recall, you are only authorized to use deadly force in order to protect yourself from deadly force, and it doesn’t seem there was any indication she was threatened with such.

    I think you might want to check that again, because that’s not even remotely accurate. You are justified in using deadly force any time that you have reasonable cause to believe that you are in danger of extreme bodily harm or death. The threat does not necessarily have to be deadly, though. In the case of a 15/16 year old girl being held against her will and the threat of rape or sexual violence by a man many times her age, I think that it’s very easy to make a compelling argument that she had every reason to believe that she was in serious danger of physical assault. Further, there are other factors at play, as well–the fact that she was young and likely significantly smaller than her attacker are mitigating factors. Given a significant disparity between the strength of the attacker and the strength of the victim, the type of force justified in defending one’s self changes.

    This whole situation is lamentable, but think of it this way: she killed someone.

    Think of it this way: She killed someone who was attempting to have sex with a minor and who was holding her against her will.

    Look, I am no stranger to cases where women fight back against abusive and violent men. I have worked on behalf of battered women who were tried and convicted for killing their abusive husbands–men who had threatened to kill him, made their lives living hell for years. And those women were convicted. And I fought to get them clemency, so they would only have to spend 5 or 7 or 8 years in prison, instead of thirty.

    That it’s apparently your job to fight on the behalf of victims like these, and yet you think a case of self defense should result in years of incarceration, and that’s a positive result to you? That makes me profoundly sad and angry.

    Jesurgislac, I guess you think, then, that the rules of self-defense have no meaning? Because oftentimes women who kill their abusive husbands kill them when the men are not actively trying to hurt them. And the self-defense standard is “imminent danger of harm.”

    Like, say, being held against your will and being threatened that you can’t leave until you submit to sex? That kind of imminent danger of harm?

    Also, that’s not the same thing you claimed earlier, when you suggested that you had to be in lethal danger.

    Of course women have the right to fight back. Fighting back is not the same as causing the death of another person. Yes, I think that killing another person is a bad enough thing that people should be punished for doing it. Especially when, as in this case, the person’s death actually causes a measurable loss to society–presumably, his family didn’t want him dead.

    No, but fighting back can result in the death of the attacker, especially in cases where the attacker has a size advantage, forcing the victim to resort to, say, using a weapon in order to defend herself/himself. And the fact that his family didn’t want him dead is irrelevant. It’s sad that they’re suffering, but their desire not to lose a family member and the suffering they experience at his death is not the victim’s fault–she didn’t cause him to hold her against her will. She did not make him hold her captive demanding sex from her. It was his choice to engage in a series of criminal acts that ultimately resulted in her resorting to physical violence to defend herself. That’s his fault, not hers.

  28. Ruining your weekend… at SoE in a new home

    [...] Cara on Feministe points out quite a few people still believe prostitutes cannot be raped so there’s no need for them to [...]

  29. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 25, 2008 at 4:35 pm |

    I guess you think, then, that the rules of self-defense have no meaning? Because oftentimes women who kill their abusive husbands kill them when the men are not actively trying to hurt them.

    Yeah, they do: often a woman who has been brutally hurt and abused for years, who has good reason to believe her husband is going to kill her, defends herself from her abuser by killing him when he is asleep, and she is then regarded the aggressor, because although he had been attacking her for years, he wasn’t actually doing anything to her at the exact time she killed him.

    Whereas a man who kills his wife will often do so at a time when he can claim she “provoked” him – by “nagging” or by infidelity – and will often do far less time than five years because his lawyer will assert that he acted in a moment of justifiable rage.

    So the net effect is that men are allowed both to abuse their wives and to kill their wives, with minimal penalties – but god forbid a woman should strike back.

  30. Rad Geek
    Rad Geek October 25, 2008 at 6:05 pm |

    m. leblanc:

    If you’ll recall, you are only authorized to use deadly force in order to protect yourself from deadly force,

    “Authorized” by whom? If you’re referring to the law, then you are absolutely wrong. Washington state law certainly does not require a threat of deadly force in order to justify deadly force in self-defense. RCW 9A.16.050 considers the use of deadly force a justifiable form of defense against rape, or any other form of “felony or … great bodily injury” against a person or a third party.

    As well it should. If your claim is not about what the law allows for, but rather about morality or something of the sort, then I think it is absolutely moral for a woman to kill her kidnapper and would-be rapist in self-defense. Do you disagree? If so, why?

  31. akeeyu
    akeeyu October 25, 2008 at 8:15 pm |

    Cara, thank you for posting this.

    m. leblanc, you seem to be holding this girl to a very high legal standard. Well, you can fight back, but not too hard. You can injure him, but be careful not to injure him too much. In order to legitimately claim self defense, you must be terrified and fighting to survive and/or escape, but at the same time, you must adhere to X number of particular legal guidelines while trying to save yourself.

    Be careful–rapists are delicate! That’s why rapists go to all those self defense classes–to defend themselves from would be victims! Wait, strike that, reverse it.

    Don’t forget that Washington is the (somewhat less than) proud home of the Green River Killer and more recently, that jackass who kept raping little girls and killing them. If women in this state, particularly the young and those engaged in sex work, are a little jumpy, hey, maybe they have reason to be.

    And yes, I DO think it was justified.

    If we assume that what she said was true, I think it’s ridiculous to ask her to lie there and take it, or only try to hold off her attacker in a half assed kind of way, until he delivered a notarized letter stating his intention to kill her, too.

    Two things we don’t know: How many times had this girl been raped and beaten prior to this event, and how many other little girls had this man already assaulted?

    His wife’s claim that he made “one mistake”? Highly unlikely.

    Also, as a society, can we agree that the word ‘mistake’ applies to things like putting too much salt in the pasta or turning down the wrong road? ‘Mistake’ does not cover attempted rape, rape, or other forms of sexual violence.

  32. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 25, 2008 at 8:16 pm |

    Especially when, as in this case, the person’s death actually causes a measurable loss to society–presumably, his family didn’t want him dead.

    Yes, I’m sure they wanted daddy back home with his own little girls after raping somebody else’s little girl. Call me paranoid, but I would not necessarily trust him to differentiate between the girls he’s “allowed” to rape and those he’s not…

    Regarding self-defense, Rad Geek and the others said it best. Legally, “self-defense” seems to permit her actions, and morally I absolutely agree with them. While I’m against the death penalty (life in prison is better) I’m pretty low-tolerance w/r/t raping kids (call it a pet-peeve.)

  33. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 25, 2008 at 8:21 pm |

    Also, as a society, can we agree that the word ‘mistake’ applies to things like putting too much salt in the pasta or turning down the wrong road? ‘Mistake’ does not cover attempted rape, rape, or other forms of sexual violence.

    YES.

    (“Oh, I was at so-and-so’s yesterday and then I accidentally tried to rape her, but she stabbed me and then I was sooo embarrassed –major faux pas!– and it was super-awkward the next day at work. But we’re cool now; she knows mistakes like that happen!”) …yeah, not so much.

  34. LadyVetinari
    LadyVetinari October 25, 2008 at 8:42 pm |

    What roymacill said.

    And the self-defense standard is “imminent danger of harm.”

    Yes. Harm, not death.

    Of course women have the right to fight back. Fighting back is not the same as causing the death of another person.

    Yes, it is. Killing someone is often the only way to stop them from hurting you. This is particular true if you are the smaller, weaker party. Going immediately for the jugular is often the best way of ending the fight, and there’s absolutely no reason why the burden should be on you, the victim, to endanger yourself by choosing another way. It’s one thing if you’re a 600 pound gorilla fighting off an attack by a five-year-old child, but that rarely happens.

    Yes, I think that killing another person is a bad enough thing that people should be punished for doing it.

    Why, when the only other option is to get beaten up or raped?

    Especially when, as in this case, the person’s death actually causes a measurable loss to society–presumably, his family didn’t want him dead.

    Nobody wants their family members dead or imprisoned. So what? That doesn’t mean the death isn’t justified. And a woman so venal as to think her husband a victim when he tries to rape a child is not one whose feelings I’m too concerned with.

    A person so contemptible as to consider 5 years in prison MERCIFUL for a woman who kills her abusive husband, and who thinks he deserves *credit* for this, is just laughable.

  35. tata
    tata October 25, 2008 at 10:52 pm |

    Look, I am no stranger to cases where women fight back against abusive and violent men. I have worked on behalf of battered women who were tried and convicted for killing their abusive husbands–men who had threatened to kill him, made their lives living hell for years. And those women were convicted. And I fought to get them clemency, so they would only have to spend 5 or 7 or 8 years in prison, instead of thirty.

    There is so much wrong with this paragraph it’s hard to know where to begin. Every sentence contains a premise I couldn’t correct if I talked all night; after all, m. l. is the one with this personal experience. So let me just say that perhaps it’s time this person considered another line of work.

  36. ankya
    ankya October 25, 2008 at 10:59 pm |

    m. leblanc: I have some sympathy for your assertion that killing is bad and should be avoided. However, I think you didn’t mean what you said, that “It sounds like what Mr. Pena did, and intended to do, was beyond reproach.” “Beyond reproach” means “so good, perfect, virtuous, etc. as to preclude any possibility of criticism;” perhaps what you mean was “beyond the pale” (“outside the limits of acceptable behaviour”)?

  37. Nathaanel Nerode
    Nathaanel Nerode October 25, 2008 at 11:32 pm |

    Self-defense is simply no longer respected by the law machine in this country.

    So, suppose men with guns drawn smash your door down in the middle of the night without warning, and point them at you and your children, while screaming and shining bright lights at you. You pull your gun out and shoot them dead. Successfully.

    Self-defense? Well, apparently not in this country. If the men with guns are “police” who are acting without a warrant and breaking into the wrong house, and you’re a black man, you get convicted of murder. I think there were *two* separate cases of this in the last couple of years.

    So frankly the sort of punish-the-victim horror described in this incident is no surprise to me. If you’re a “subordinate class” person and you injure someone defending yourself, expect to have the book thrown at you. If on the other hand you’re a “approved class” criminal doing something wildly illegal and intolerable on its face, expect to get away with it.

    We have a lot of things to fix in this society. This one — making self-defense a real defense even for women, children, and people of color — *ought* to be easy enough, because we *should* get support across the political spectrum. But it’s not.

  38. XtinaS
    XtinaS October 26, 2008 at 12:07 am |

    (Your link to The Curvature isn’t right, as an FYI.)

  39. Weronika
    Weronika October 26, 2008 at 1:00 am |

    Another point on the “deadly force” issue – it’s VERY HARD to fight back against someone while simultaneously making sure you don’t kill them.

  40. delurker
    delurker October 26, 2008 at 8:03 am |

    Especially when, as in this case, the person’s death actually causes a measurable loss to society–presumably, his family didn’t want him dead.

    wha-HUH? This is jarring. If you kill a homeless kid on the streets with no family or an elderly widow whose family are dead or never visit, that’s less bad? The law has an interest in saying whose life is valuable? I don’t think I understand what you meant by this statement.

  41. Emily
    Emily October 26, 2008 at 12:26 pm |

    Look, what it seems to me happened in this case is that the girl had to choose between pleading to manslaughter as a juvenile, a charge withich sends her to a juvenile detention facility which sometimes does result in some actual rehabilitation, and going on trial for murder as an adult, looking at a possible life sentence. There are pros and cons of each option.

    And “might have resulted in acquittal” IS NOT THE SAME as “probably would have won.” She had a viable defense, and as a lawyer, I would like to try that case. But is’t not my ass that could go to jail for life rather than the 2.5 years they’re offering if I lose. PLUS, the article says she can’t remember what happened. It’s damn hard to put on a self defense case when your defendant can’t remember what happened.

    Rail on the prosecutors all you want. They are the ones with the discretion not to put a 16 year old girl in this kind of decision-making bind. But this is the sort of dilemma our system puts on defendants EVERY SINGLE DAY. You can maintain your innocence, and go to trial, and face a very significant sentence if you lose (and also usually be penalized at sentenceing for “lying on the stand” or for “not taking responsibility for your actions”) or you can plead guilty to a lesser crime, and have a guaranteed penalty that doesn’t ruin your life.

    Again, you can say the prosecutors should have just decided no crime occurred and dropped the prosecution, but from the POV of the girl and her lawyer, 2.5 years and a juvenile conviction is hard to pass up. When your other option is a murder trial and life if you lose. And when she doesn’t remember what happened. And has a criminal record.

  42. Emily
    Emily October 26, 2008 at 12:33 pm |

    Sometimes, in fact, the prosecutors do you a favor by making such a ridiculously terrible offer that there’s no reason not to go to trial – and then you win. If the offer had been 40 years on an adult murder plea, I’m sure she would have gone to trial, and she might have won. This is how our system works. Pleople get penalized for maintaining their innocence and insisting on a trial.

    I urge you to consider whether you support the system for all defendants or find flaws in it for all defendants – and not just the ones you happen to feel most sympathetic to. They get the same system as everybody else. (Except people with a WHOLE LOT of money – they get a better system).

  43. the bear
    the bear October 26, 2008 at 12:34 pm |

    People have become lost in the weeds with regard to this now dead would-be rapist and his killer’s plea agreement short prison sentence. I think M. Leblanc initially made an error about the standards for self-defense. But the discussion of whether someone who is being or is about to be raped can stab their assailant (s/he can) is subsidiary to the broader issues raised here.

    So far as I can tell, everybody commenting on this story has one thing in common: s/he doesn’t know what actually happened. And maybe nobody does. What do we know? We know that this young woman went to this man’s home voluntarily. We know that he plied her with alcohol, although we have no reason to believe she didn’t take the drinks voluntarily. And we know that she stabbed him. And we know that he died.

    So, was he trying to rape here, and she defended herself? Perhaps. Or maybe, just maybe, something different happened. She got scared, she got angry, she was drunk, her ability to control herself vanished, and she stabbed this guy, stabbed him for as a proxy for all the bastards like him who had paid for sex, as a proxy for all the other people who’d given her a raw deal.

    And maybe she doesn’t even remember. She could have blacked out. Should could have blocked it out. So, given the possibilities, and given what we know and don’t know, I think attacking her lawyers borders on the ridiculous. We don’t even know what her lawyers told her to do, but maybe taking a plea *was* a good idea for her. But we do know that those lawyers must have more information about this situation than we do.

    To read this as being such a clear cut case, to blame her lawyers, and to believe that anything here is just obvious, is belied by the circumstances, by the record and by common sense.

    So, what is this actually about? Witness this transition from the original post: “Of course, we don’t know for certain that Pena is guilty of kidnapping and attempted rape.” The post then goes on to detail various other crimes this guy was in the process of committing, concluding justifiably that this was a bad person who was doing a bad thing by sexually exploiting this girl. I don’t think anyone could argue with that.

    The implicit point here, echoed throughout the comments, is that this guy deserved to die, regardless he was actually attempting to rape her. That’s where the disagreement really lies here, between people who think that and people who think that she was only justified in killing him if he was in fact attempting to rape her.

    If people want to defend the latter position, they should just do it instead of hinting at it. And if they don’t, they should retreat, and admit that they don’t have enough information to draw any conclusion about who’s good, who’s bad and how exactly this should have come out.

  44. nails
    nails October 26, 2008 at 12:46 pm |

    ive seen the aclu get involved with court cases that were completely unfair like this. is anyone here a member or know how to contact them? I have no idea what else to do about this kind of stuff.

  45. the bear
    the bear October 26, 2008 at 2:01 pm |

    But now you’re playing fast and loose with the term “assault.” You should at least disambiguate. Here, what you mean by assault is any sex he would have with her, whether or not she consented. So, your argument becomes, as you apparently concede, that she was justified in killing him even if he wasn’t attempting to rape her.

  46. Lauren
    Lauren October 26, 2008 at 2:03 pm |

    The argument is that he was planning to assault her in both a moral and legal sense.

    I’d argue that he was exploiting her — her age, her perceived vulnerability, her drunkenness — and that exploitation would have ended in additional physical harm against her had she not turned the tables. The exploitation was already in motion and that’s what she reacted to.

    Just a quibble.

  47. Lauren
    Lauren October 26, 2008 at 2:06 pm |

    the bear: Can you consent under coercion?

  48. the bear
    the bear October 26, 2008 at 2:36 pm |

    Lauren: I don’t if the concept of coercion is really going to help us here. I submitted above that, for all we know, there was no coercion in this case. But you might respond by saying that the situation was inherently coercive. And maybe it was, but coercion can come in different degrees.

    Consider a typical, quid-pro-quo incident of sexual harassment in the workplace: a manager goes to a subordinate and demands sexual favors in exchange for job security. This is a clear case where somebody is being coerced. And yet I don’t think we would approve of the subordinate taking out a steak knife and shoving it into the manager’s chest, at least based on the brief sketch of facts I provided here.

    All of which takes us back to the core dispute I seem to be having with this post and some commenters. Cara seems to be arguing, especially in her last response, that he was about to assault her, because anything sexual he did with her be an assault, and that people are justified in defending themselves against assaults. Therefore, her conduct was acceptable, regardless of the level of coercion involved.

    I agree with the premise that coercion is important, and that the extent of the coercion will determine whether or not she was justified. But my point is that we don’t the extent of the coercion, and, without that knowledge, we can’t be certain if she was defending herself.

  49. Kathleen
    Kathleen October 26, 2008 at 2:41 pm |

    There is no doubt that what happened to this girl is tragic, especially with both sides of the case agreeing that at trial, acquittal would be a plausible result. However, I have to agree with Emily’s comments, and urge everyone else commenting to look at the larger scope of the situation.
    Had this case gone to trial, this girl, who has already undergone severe abuse and trauma, would be tried as an adult. There would be 2 possible outcomes:
    - Lengthy prison sentence under a conviction for murder, probably the end of any possibility of her rehabilitation or recovery from how badly the system has failed her.

    OR
    - Acquittal, resulting in her immediate return to the damaging and abusive situations that placed her in Mr Pena’s living room in the first place. I think a lot of people commenting would like to see her placed in some sort of foster or group therapy situation. Those options just aren’t available at trial if she were to argue self-defense and be cleared of any liability. Her best opportunity to get help is the situation she is in now, considering what is available.

    I don’t think we should be so quick to call the lawyers involved here “stupid.” Given their comments, it sounds like they know there is no good option.

    That being said, I really think analysis of these situations is necessary if real help is ever going to be available to girls [like this one] who clearly need it. I really appreciate this post.

  50. the bear
    the bear October 26, 2008 at 3:43 pm |

    And so it was okay for her to shove a knife into his chest, even if he wasn’t coercing her at all. Just say it. Just admit that’s your argument and defend it. Defend the proposition that any victim of statutory rape should have carte blanche to kill the person having sex with them. Or that anybody else who is in the process of having any crime committed in their presence should have the same right.

  51. the bear
    the bear October 26, 2008 at 4:09 pm |

    I apologize if I have put words in your mouth. I have tried to make an argument about what the upshot of your argument is. I’d like to think that if I’ve failed in this regard, it’s because of a defect in my argument and not because I have mischaracterized anything you said.

    And I apologize if I have caused you personal pain. You suggest in your last comment that you were raped; I did not know that. And if you feel that my comments can’t be here, or you can’t engage in this discussion because of that, feel free (not that you need my permission) to delete this and any of my other comments.

    But I do think that there is a difference between two types of conduct, which I will both call rape. In one case, a rape is occurring because a person is violently coercing another person to engage in sexual conduct with her or him. In the other case, a rape is occurring because one person is engaging in sexual conduct with another person who is underage.

    I don’t think these cases are morally equivalent. I don’t know if they are legally equivalent. And I don’t think lethal force is proper in the second case. I don’t suppose I can prove that to you, or you can prove the opposite to me. But I think it is, in any case, a distinction to reckon with, even if you end up thinking it doesn’t matter.

  52. sabine
    sabine October 26, 2008 at 4:43 pm |

    bear,

    i was raped as a child by my stepfather, (btw. i did not kill him, he still lives with my mother).
    He was not violent, he did not beat me. I was his special girl, and when he came at night to the room i shared with my sister………….i would close my eyes and wait till it was over, leave the room and stay the rest of the night in the bathroom, cleaning myself.

    To me as a struggeling rape survivor (27 years later), i can tell you that there is no difference in conduct when someone attempts to rape a someone.

    Types of conduct

    You are daddys special girl……………………………and gets raped
    You are some underage prostitute…………………..and gets raped
    You are someone going home at night………….and gets raped
    You are working in your office…………………….and gets raped
    You are married at home in your bed……………and gets raped.

    Which Type of conduct is the one you thinks warrants self defence?

    My rape resulted in my choosing a boarding school in a catholic nunnery over 300 km away from the house of my mother. I was twelve, i still entertain the idea to harm the husband of my mother, if just to seek revenge for the twelve year old that was killed the first night the man came to her bed……………….

    So tell me bear, what type of conduct (which you all call rape) is allowing for physical self defense on the side of the woman?

  53. the bear
    the bear October 26, 2008 at 4:57 pm |

    I guess I have to reissue my apology even more strongly, and stop engaging in this conversation. I feel as though I have made the point I intended to make as clearly as I could, and there’s probably nothing else for me to say. I did not mean to cause any harm to anybody who has been raped, and if I have, I can only offer a sincere apology. I can only make arguments in the most straightforward manner I know; I am in no position to judge whether or not those arguments are as inflammatory as they seem to be.

    I obviously have no idea how we as a society should confront a world where people rape others, where people hire teenagers as prostitutes, where criminal justice systems fail, where people feel so desperate. If I did. I would serve the world better by going out and solving those problems. All I wanted to do here was to suggest that this situation might not be as simple as some seemed to think it was. And all I did, apparently, was cause people who had been raped emotional pain. That makes me heartsick. And for it, I am sorry.

  54. LadyVetinari
    LadyVetinari October 26, 2008 at 5:16 pm |

    The bear,

    You ask whether or not statutory rape warrants lethal force in response. I do see what you’re getting at: 16-year-old girls are frequently capable of deciding whether or not to have sex with someone, even if we think their judgments might be half-grown and so make the age of consent higher, so why can’t she just say ‘no’ and walk away? Indeed, the whole reason why statutory rape is STATUTORY is because there is no violent force or assault–there is instead, presumably, emotional manipulation of the girl to make her “consent.”

    But I have to ask you: in that case, since in statutory rape the girl by definition thinks she’s consenting (or has been manipulated into consenting), why WOULD a 16-year-old girl use lethal force in self-defense?

    The reason why the girl defended herself in this case was because the guy wouldn’t let her leave the house, which makes it non-statutory rape: a physical assault, not a manipulation or exploitation.

  55. navi
    navi October 26, 2008 at 5:16 pm |

    hmmm, I’m a bit bothered by the bit I read about him bleeding all over the house and she hid his body. Granted, her past, which I am sure has lead to a fear of the authorities, and the alcohol probably rendered her incapable of calling 911, but I get the impression the justice system expected her to.

    That said, the idea that the mother of the man’s children (i’ve read both wife and ex wife used) should not be upset or defending him is ludicrous. This woman is not emotionally removed from the situation. This woman is also probably in a seriously bad position right now, and is reacting. Someone she’s known for at least 16-17 yrs, who quite possibly supported her financially, is now gone from her life due to something she quite possibly did not expect him to do. We don’t know his history. We know nothing about her. She may be defending him in front of the camera’s for the sake of his children, you know, because, well they are her children, too. And they are probably watching the news reports if they weren’t there with her listening to her answer. Ya, the where is her mother comment is ridiculous and closed minded, but I’d reserve judgement for the rest of what she said.

  56. shah8
    shah8 October 26, 2008 at 8:14 pm |

    Emily, the prosecutor has the descretion on whether or not to charge the person at all, or carry a case on to trial. It’s not juvie or trial as an adult.

    Traditionally, prosecutors do not even charge people who shoot and kill burglers, even when they are running away,provided that they are propertied white people, of course. A black guy like John White who defended his property this way has to go to trial and gets pretty much the same penalty as this poor teenaged girl.

    The “I’m so sorry, but I have to give you a penalty, even though I completely understand why you thought that you needed to defend youself at all cost…” is of the sheerest pro-forma sweet creme to cover the rank need to confirm social positions. It would not do for the ex-wife if she has to explain that her ex got killed by an underaged prostitute that he was holding captive.

    I completely understood the child’s attempt to hide the body. If I was in her position, as a person who is *supposed* to have no weight in society, it was going to be murder no matter what I did, and I would have tried to hide the body and make tracks myself. The big point is not to get caught because there is no-one motivated to understand my point of view no matter how just it is.

    Lastly, plea bargains are a highly corrupt element of the current prison policy. It uses the fact that people like this particular girl has no access to lawyers on her own, and avoid the state having to pay for a lawyer, and even more, to pad their stats without having to worry about whether the case is dubious in the first place.

    As a postscript to people like Kathleen, please stop with the “at least she could get help in juvie, or something”. No, juvie does not have many (if any) rehabilitative (hopefully not miserably funded) facilities within. And if you were at all familiar with the sexual crime rates in juvenile facilities, you would know that there is a a greater than 2/3rds chance that the defendent will get sexually assaulted. Pretty much *all* of our detention facilities are hellholes with little chance for any sort of redemption. Then consider, what are the things that a juvenile could offer–especially something that can overcome the scarlet A that comes with having a felony record? A grad equivalency degree? In two years? Some workshop/domestics classes? Or do you think a whole bunch of expensive psychotherapy is going to change the fact that when she gets out, she’s in the exact same situation of no family, no job, and no home–made worse that any social network that she might have built up is now probably gone with only gang alternatives…

    Oh, and didn’t I do such a great job of being rational and reasonable to certain people in this thread that makes me want to spit and hit something, hard? The kind of willful cluelessness of some of these people is malevolent and should be treated as such.

  57. Disappointed
    Disappointed October 27, 2008 at 1:55 am |

    Cara, I have to say I am really disappointed in your commentary, and I am reconsidering whether I can continue being a loyal reader of this blog. It looks like you read two newspaper articles and then felt knowledgeable enough about the case to hold forth. Do you even know the alleged facts in this case? Do you know what this young woman admitted to doing? Do you know what the physical evidence indicates?

    You are willing to acknowledge that you are not familiar with Washington’s juvenile detention system, but then generalize that “juvenile detention is not rehabilitative” and further harms kids. Without even a rudimentary understanding of the facts of the case or the law involved, you suggest that her attorneys were not acting in her interest and that the prosecutors were not acting with justice in mind.

    As someone who works closely with the people that negotiated the resolution in this case (by all sides considered the best possible resolution in an awful situation), I am appalled at the sweeping generalizations you made about them. Your willingness to diminish and justify the acts of this young woman is startling.

  58. Gene
    Gene October 27, 2008 at 2:15 am |

    This is shameful. She acted to protect herself, and she’s being sent to prison. I just thought I should mention that the age of consent in Washington is 16. This doesn’t really affect this case, because she *didn’t consent*, but nobody else had mentioned it.

  59. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers October 27, 2008 at 10:26 am |

    Why are we trying children as adults? Ever?

    If her choice was “take the plea or get tried as an adult”, I can see the point to taking the plea, from her perspective. But… 15 1/2 is NOT A FUCKING ADULT. And we are not talking about a torture-murder here, we are not talking about the murderers of Jamie Bulger, we are not talking about a rapist or someone who set an old woman on fire. We’re talking about a girl who stabbed someone, probably in self defense, but even if it wasn’t, doesn’t it miss the point of having a juvenile system at *all* to try a 15 1/2 year old girl as an adult? If she’d been 17 when she killed the guy, maybe a gray area, but FIFTEEN!

  60. Kathleen
    Kathleen October 27, 2008 at 2:48 pm |

    Just to be clear, I did not comment to justify the operations of the juvenile detention system. I did not say victims of violence are completely rehabilitated and free from the possibility of sexual assault forever after [and during] 2.5 years in a problematic, underfunded system that even the lawyers in the case admit is more than a little embarrassing.

    I was only trying to suggest that given the facts available, it sounds like it’s possible that the lawyers were actually attempting to look out for this girl’s best interest. I would not argue the result in this case is correct, or that the court is justified in sticking this girl with a felony record. All I was trying to say is that the call to fight it and maintain her innocence is a tough one to make, especially if she can’t remember the facts. Some people just seem very quick to assume this was an easy call for the lawyers and the court system, and I don’t think it’s that clear-cut.

    Also, just because I do not share my personal trauma and hardship on an online message board does not mean I don’t have personal experience with the workings of a damaged system or that I am ignorant to the real threats facing young girls abused at every angle from childhood. I’m trying to wrap my brain around this terrible situation with everyone else and was only trying to offer a different angle.

  61. Emily
    Emily October 27, 2008 at 4:14 pm |

    Shah8:
    That’s why I wrote in my original comment “Rail on the prosecutors all you want. They are the ones with the discretion not to put a 16 year old girl in this kind of decision-making bind.”

    However, I take offense at the notion that a “paid” lawyer would somehow act differently than a lawyer paid by the state in this type of situation. That is true in some communities but untrue in MANY communities.

    The fact is that prosecutors have a lot of power to pressure defendants into taking deals. And our system is set up in such a way that certain rational, innocent people will plead guilty to crimes they did not committ in order to avoid the terrible terrible consequences of being wrongly convicted after trial.

    My point was that I suspect that there are commenters on this thread, who rail agains the prosecutor and defense attorney in this case, but who, in other situations, fully support prosecutors using all of the coercive powers of their position to force defendants (perhaps those accused of rape or crimes against children) to plead guilty rather than insist on a trial. And you can’t have a separate system for people you personally sympathize with. The system we have punishes people for going to trial. Especially when they’re innocent.

  62. akeeyu
    akeeyu October 27, 2008 at 4:32 pm |

    Disappointed:
    “Do you even know the alleged facts in this case? Do you know what this young woman admitted to doing? Do you know what the physical evidence indicates?”

    Well, if you have something to share that wouldn’t violate someone’s privelege or professional ethics, by all means, enlighten us.

    If you don’t…um…what was your point? That nobody knows all the facts based on newspaper articles? I think we already know that. It would be pointless to read the paper if your assumption was that every article was bullshit, but one generally assumes that stories are at least fact BASED. If there’s more to know, I’m all ears.

    If the story is completely false or inaccurate, shouldn’t you be slinging your contempt at the papers printing the articles, not their readers?

  63. shah8
    shah8 October 27, 2008 at 7:49 pm |

    Emily,

    I have relatively limited understanding of what you actually mean in your last paragraph. I think this is because you put words in our mouths, and as such, this is your specific viewpoint and not a representation of ours.

    Why don’t I try to cut to the quick. It is english common law that a person, with presumptive normativity, has a legal right to claim self-defense to protect his person or his belongings. Most white men will not be charged under these circumstances. Depending on the status of the woman and her victim, most white women will not be charged under those circumstances either. If it’s a minority, then…

    That’s what the news article is about, and the fuss in the blog. In no way are we talking about how the state prosecutes child molestation or rape, and in this forum, I’m reasonably sure that Cara, others, as well as me would take offense at the notion that we want to suspend civil rights for certain classes of people. I believe, profoundly, in the presumption of innocence, and I utterly abhore prosecutorial misconduct, which was the viewpoint expressed here, that the prosecutor was behaving abusively towards the defendant. In no way do I, nor anyone else here, support vigilante justice, by prosecutor or Superman.

    I have, of course, expressed no remorse for the man’s death, because in the end, he was convicted by the circumstance of his own choosing and hung by his own petard.

  64. sabine
    sabine October 28, 2008 at 3:57 am |

    This whole discussion of the rehabilitation quality of Juvie, is self defense allowed to women, when is rape rape…….this is why rape is still every where. We discuss not the actual facts, but our own emotions raised by the subjects. I am guilty of this myself, the anger that i am capable of still surprises me, the hate the comes is waves of black.

    but the facts in this case, they are to poingant to be dismissed

    1. the girl was 15.5 years old (age of consent is 16?)
    2. The man was 49 years old (33.5 years older than the girl)
    3. The 49 year old took her to his home (child prostitute)
    4. The 49 year old man served her alcohol (legal age of drinking?)
    5. The 49 year old man hold her in his house against his will (kidnapping)
    6. The 49 year old man holds her hostage – have sex and leave, or stay until you have sex with me and leave than (rape – no consent, but he is polite and lets her choose)
    7. Girl decides to get the hell outta there, and looses it big time.

    Looking at this, one with a vivid mind would call this kidnapping, drugging, conditioning (locked up in house), to have sex with a non consenting child. (Training of a sex slave – and yes sadly it does exist. )

    If we know about this girl and her sad tale because she got out, run like hell, and survived.

    How any court could send this girl to prison, is just beyond me. There is absolutely no reason for adding insult to injury. This girl should have been send to a safe and nice place, should be getting help, mentally, physically and spiritual. Above all, she should be receiving help in finding trust again.

    To go to prison, because you dared to defend your self, from being imprisont and forced to have sex in exchange of your freedom.

    Travesty.

  65. Erika
    Erika October 28, 2008 at 5:40 pm |

    Why isn’t house arrest in a foster or group home an option? If this is really about helping the girl, the prosecutor would be offering that, not juvie.

    And please don’t defend Dan Satterberg. He and his former boss, Norm Maleng, conspired to tank a prosecution of a UW Huskie football player for rape. The case was a slam dunk; those two and the UW Regents did everything they could to smear the victim and destroy her case against the athlete.

  66. Marina
    Marina October 29, 2008 at 12:41 am |

    Have any of you read the book Justifiable Hoicide by Cynthia Gillespie? It’s about how self-defense law is sexist and talks about cases like this one.It’s a little outdated but I’d highly reccomend it based on what I’ve read so far, I haven’t been able to finish it because every time I read it I get so angry I have to put it down after a little while.

  67. Marina
    Marina October 29, 2008 at 12:43 am |

    Have any of you read the book Justifiable Homicide by Cynthia Gillespie? It’s about how self-defense law is sexist and talks about cases like this one.It’s a little outdated but I’d highly reccomend it based on what I’ve read so far, I haven’t been able to finish it because every time I read it I get so angry I have to put it down after a little while.

  68. » Linkfest: 2008-10-29 >>Nostalgia For Infinity: Literature, Gaming, Punk Rock (and all that)

    [...] – Feministe » When Self Defense Doesn’t Count "A 16-year-old girl has been sentenced to 2 to 2 1/2 years in a juvenile detention center for [...]

  69. Jennifer
    Jennifer November 2, 2008 at 2:35 pm |

    No M. LeBlanc. This guy got a teenage stranger drunk, and also hired a minor for sex.
    He also held her against her will.
    She was threatened with rape and stabbed him once, ad not more than once. This is called self defense. She wanted to get away and he would not allow her to. It is only because she was a teen prostitute that she was given any time, which is not right.
    She punched a hole through a window in her terror and disorientation to escape his home. She pounded on a neighbor’s door for help. She does *not* deserve any sentence for defending herself against a threat of sexual violence – no woman, no person, does. Her defending her person resulted in his death. This is his fault, not hers. This is why you shouldn’t go around thinking you have the right to break the law by raping people if you take the notion to, and thinking you can get away with it. Every human being has the right to defend themself against attacks. If this defense results in the attacker’s death, this is the attacker’s fault. Again, she stabbed him once, and not more. And I am proud of women who defend themselves against men like this guy. He took a risk, thinking he could overpower and coerce a teenager aged 15–and he was wrong. He thought she didn’t have the right to her own body -he was wrong. There is such a thing as human rights. Not getting raped is one of them. This girl should not be serving any time in prison but receiving help as a sex trafficked minor and abused teenager with PTSD. The judge in this case was Leroy McCullough. I am a Washington state resident and will do my damndest with my votes to keep him from being appointed to any higher offices in Washington state.

  70. Jennifer
    Jennifer November 2, 2008 at 3:05 pm |

    Dissapointed your*comment* is what is dissapointing. You say that Cara has not even a “rudimentary” grasp of the case–yet you do not offer any of these missing facts which would supposedly enlighten us. To …hmm, say, your view? The real problem? You just don’t like her interpretation . I do not like your view that a girl defending herself against an attack deserves two years in prison, no matter how good or bad the prison may be. I don’t like what it says to women, to rape survivors, to little girls, to little boys.

    There are in fact many facts in the paper, to include that the girl was 15 and wanted to get away from a man who had helped her become incredibly drunk, and insisted she have sex with him. She, a 15 year old, did not want to have sex with him, an adult man engaging in criminal behavior *as an adult*. He was wrong, not her. She had the right to defend herself, though you can’t believe we dare say the obvious. You can’t believe we “justify” her actions–what, in defending herself? Are you high? Her action requires no justification. She stabbed a man to get away.
    A woman-and victim-friendly, in fact a plain old human-rights friendly interpretation of these facts will say that people and certainly teenagers have the right to defend their own person.
    And to the person disturbed she covered his body–well she certainly made a huge ruckus afterward by smashing her fist through a window to escape and then knocking on the neighbor’s door. And the blood throughout the house was the result of one stab wound. Yes, a stabbing can be bloody. Ultimately self defense is a right everyone from nuns to teen prostitutes should have.

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