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Remembering a rape | Leaving the Deserted Alley

“There have been a lot of responses to the Cosby “Rape” Allegations but I think this one speak so succinctly to the mind of the rape “victim” and how it’s possible to keep it unreported for years.” NB

Remembering a rape/Leaving the deserted alley

The Bill Cosby rape allegations really started getting to me right around the time Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo announced he was writing a theater piece about them. As a theater critic, I found myself one step deeper insidethe widening circle of accusations. But it wasn’t just that. I was raped in high school, or, more accurately, during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years.

(Photo by Pablo Vazquez, via Creative Commons/deviantart.com)

Fiorillo, discussing the accusations on WHYY’s Radio Times, mentioned Judy Huth, who filed suit against Cosby in California for an alleged molestation that occurred when she was 15. In Pennsylvania, Fiorillo said, the statute of limitations for statutory sexual assault, a second-degree felony, doesn’t run out until the victim turns 50. I’m 45. I never knew.

With each new woman who stepped forward to accuse Cosby, with Rolling Stone’s UVA story falling to pieces and potentially damaging the credibility of a new generation of victims, my own story felt perpetually pressed against my throat,forcing its way out. Though more than 20 women have now come forward,
when my husband, an attorney with an almost unfailingly steady moral compass, watched a CNN special
with me about the case, he said, “I didn’t know what to believe until I saw their faces and heard them speak.” I was shocked. To me, from the first, their accounts held ironclad key words and themes. I knew
implicitly why regular women held back for decades, even when reporting the incident wouldn’t result in bringing down any institutions, academic or cultural. I knew I was obligated to tell my story, one that also
went unreported.

A high-school sleepover

The night I was raped, a friend whose parents were out of town hosted a sleepover. It wasn’t much as far as high school parties go — just a few girls, even fewer guys, and later, someone’s older brother and his
friend, both men in their mid-20s. There was white wine, which we drank, and much discussion of the older brother, whom the girls all liked, but who wasn’t really my type — bulldog body, cheesy mustache, slicked-back hair, his friend a shorter, stockier version pulled from the same mold.

Still, I was enough of an alpha girl to feel flattered when the older brother asked me to go upstairs with him, and insecure enough to follow. He led me into a bedroom, and whatever I imagined, a makeout session, some conversation, dissipated when he asked what I was waiting for, and roughly told me to get on the bed. Again, I did what he asked. Though it wasn’t my first time, I was disgusted, not with him, a grown man who should have known better, but with myself, for letting it happen, for being so needy, so slutty.

Afterward, I told my friends I felt sick and went to bed. I awoke to find a man on top of me. The room was dark, and, confused, I asked if it was the older brother. He answered, “Yeah, that’s who it is. Go back to
sleep.” It wasn’t; it was his friend. I didn’t fight back, because if  my own friends hadn’t protected me, hadn’t told him to leave me alone, what was the point? Instead, I waited for it to end, and when it did, he
left and again, I listened; I went back to sleep.

What could they do?

In the morning, furious, I asked my friends why they let him come upstairs. They said they didn’t know what was happening, but even if they did, what could they have done? These were men; we were girls. We
let them in and flirted with them and got what we deserved. I called my mother to pick me up. Later, rumors spread throughout our school about what I did that night. I told some of the girls I was talking to a lawyer about pressing charges, but I wasn’t. I just wanted them to know that what happened was wrong.

I got on with my life, and the decades slid past. Occasionally, some news story or Facebook post would trigger my memories, and I’d be right back in that room, waiting for it to end, but mostly, I shoved them
away. Except now, the memories shoved back. I frightened my teen daughter with warnings about serial killers, drugged drinks at parties, and the importance of traveling in groups. I indoctrinated my teen son
about rape culture and the necessity of stepping forward if he saw intoxicated friends or strangers at a party and the situation didn’t  look or feel right. It was all good advice, but delivered with a shrill sense of panic. My internal struggles were leaking into my parenting, and for the first time, I told my husband of 20 years what happened, in detail.

Saying nothing then . . .

I didn’t report my rape when it happened 30 years ago, and here’s why: I was embarrassed. The rapist was connected to friends. I was certain my own friends knew what was happening, and no one stopped it. I was so young. I didn’t know his last name. I didn’t want my friend to get in trouble for hosting the party. Within the course of that year, both of my grandmothers passed away, my parents separated, and a classmate who was there that evening was killed in a car crash. I was dealing with enough. I thought I brought it on myself. I thought it would be expensive and difficult. I was afraid my dad and brother might try to settle the issue on their own. I wanted to forget it happened. I thought I was fine.

A few years ago, I visited a therapist and mentioned the incident in a cavalier manner. “But,” she said, “you know that was rape.”

“Yeah, I know,” I answered, “but I’m fine. I’m over it.” I’m not.

If I was unwilling to report the nobody who raped me, when I had a supportive family, access to an attorney, witnesses, proof, and people who could find him, why would anyone imagine that these women, with their own lives and struggles, would report Bill Cosby at the height of his powers? Sometimes it takes a while to gain back that inner fortitude. Sometimes it takes 30 years.

. . . but now?

I’m now faced with a dilemma. Learning there are five years left on the statute of limitations is a gift because it puts power I never knew I  had squarely into my hands. Recently, my daughter and I watched an episode of The Sopranos in which Dr. Melfi, Tony’s therapist, holds onto the knowledge that if she wanted, she could ask Tony to do away with her rapist at any time. Just owning that knowledge was enough power for her. My daughter couldn’t understand why she didn’t use it, but I could.

The night after learning I could still press charges, I lay in bed, thrilled and terrified. I kept second-guessing my age at the time, until I remembered a box in our basement that held all my old diaries. I rummaged around until I found an electric blue one decorated with hearts and song lyrics and boyfriends’ names. Sure enough, there was a dated entry referring specifically to the men involved and what they did.

“Well, anyway,” I concluded, “that happened.” Even then, in my own diary, I tried to erase it away, and yet it remains all these years later, tangible evidence that rape refuses to disappear, no matter how hard you try to suppress it. Khaled Hosseini wrote in The Kite Runner, “The past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last 26 years.”

Where is he now?

Still, I wonder if the man who raped me cleaned up his act. Maybe he has a wife and children and a job, and I feel protective of them, even as I try to protect myself. Statutory sexual assault is a second-degree felony and can carry with it a ten-year sentence. Maybe I should leave him alone and assume karma had its way with him. After all, he didn’t seem to be headed for greatness. And then I read the statistics: nine out of ten campus rapes are committed by serial rapists. My circumstances were different, but I wonder if I’m his only victim, who else he attacked after I didn’t report him, or if he’s still attacking.

I still don’t know what I’ll do with this new information, but I’m grateful to the brave women who came  forward en masse to hold Bill Cosby accountable for his alleged crimes. I know why they waited so long and why they stopped waiting, and I also know that if it weren’t for their strength, I might never have found mine.

Re-printed from: Remembering a rape | Broad Street Review

NB COMMENTARY "Missouri carries out eighth execution this year after rejecting concerns over ‘inhumane’ sedative"

Missouri carries out eighth execution this year after rejecting concerns over ‘inhumane’ sedative

EXCERPT: “Johnny Sutton, the lead prosecutor at Trottie’s trial, said …………………….‘He hunted them down,’ Sutton said. ‘The self-defense claim is absolutely ridiculous. He kicked in their door. … They already were worried about him. He was making threats and trying to run her off the road.‘This one was so cold and calculated.’ 


NB COMMENTARY

I fail to understand how one type of murder is better than another type of murder. For example, if I planned to kill someone after a 20 year stay locked up in my basement, would that not be considered per-meditated murder?

How any of this “killing” makes any sense, is beyond me. 
Killing another person who killed another person does not bring that person back, nor can the latter go and get them and bring them back. It’s a total waste of time and resources.

I also wonder about the so called “witnesses”. Aren’t they complicit in this murder? No they didn’t pull the trigger, but weren’t they at the scene of the crime? How many people have been arrested and jailed for just being there?

I wonder about the mental stability of this entire system that condones, implements and financially supports this type of murder, that is blatant and cold, and out in the open with no question of who done it. Yet others are arrested, tried and convicted, sometimes even wrongfully and given the death penalty.

What a backwards psychology!

How does the person who administers the punishment sleep at night without nightmares and visits in the dream world from the person they just killed. Yet, this society wishes that the so-called convict sleep restlessly forever, with no peace in their lives ever.

And, quiet as it’s kept, the so-called criminal given the death penalty has friends, family and loved ones too. What makes their pain of the loss of their loved one less than the loss of the family who feels so right in killing the criminal who killed their mother, brother, sister, father or friend??

These and other questions plague my mind as I watch the way the human beings treat each other. And in this case, they are actually conversing, debating and fighting over which way to kill someone is more humane.  I am not sure what the DSM-IV would diagnose this condition of the mind as, but it is certainly a pervasive mental illness.
 

A Missouri inmate became the eight was put to death in the early hours of this morning for the killing of two people during a restaurant robbery in 1998.
Earl Ringo Jr., 40, was executed at 12:22am by lethal injection after a plea for a stay of execution – based on irregularities in the use of lethal injection drugs in the state – was refused.
Ringo’s last words came from the Quran and expressed belief and wishes for after death. He wiggled his feet as the process began, breathed deeply a few times, then closed his eyes, all in a matter of seconds.

Earl Ringo Jr., 40, was executed today for the killing of two people during a restaurant robbery in 1998
He had declined to request a last meal, eating instead the Salisbury steak and macaroni and cheese offered to other inmates.
In the early hours of July 4, 1998, Ringo and an accomplice killed delivery driver Dennis Poyser and manager trainee JoAnna Baysinger at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Columbia.
Both victims were shot dead at point-blank range.
The run-up to Ringo’s execution was shrouded by controversy, as Missouri continues to use the sedative, midazolam, despite claims that the pre-execution drug is inhumane.
Earlier this year in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona.
In April, gruesome scenes accompanied the execution of Clayton Lockett, a murderer and rapist who shot his 19-year-old victim and ordered a friend to bury her alive.
It was a full 43 minutes after the drug was administered in the Oklahoma execution chamber that the convicted killer died. During this time, Lockett thrashed violently, lurching forward against his restraints, writhing and attempting to speak.
Willie Trottie, who turned 45 Monday, shot and killed 24-year-old Barbara Canada, and her  brother, Titus
Willie Trottie,
who turned 45 Monday,
shot and killed 24-year-old
Barbara Canada,
and her brother, Titus

Witnesses described his body twisting, and his head reaching up from the gurney, before the curtains were drawn around the chamber obscuring Lockett’s final minutes from public view.
In January, convicted murderer and rapist Dennis McGuire appeared to gurgle, gasp for air and convulse for around 10 minutes after being sentenced to death using an experimental two-drug concoction including midazolam. 
Chilling scenes also occurred in the Arizona execution chamber in July, when Joseph Rudolph Wood took nearly two hours to die from the lethal injection. 
Witnesses told how the murderer appeared to be struggling to breathe after the sedation and then gasped desperately for breath at least 600 times before falling still. 
Ringo’s attorneys had argued that the drug could dull his senses and leave him unable to express any pain or suffering during the process.
They had asked a federal appeals court to postpone the execution until a hearing over Missouri’s use of midazolam. 
Attorney Richard Sindel claimed that Missouri’s use of midazolam essentially violates its own protocol, which provides for pentobarbital as the lone execution drug. But the courts and Gov. Jay Nixon had refused to halt Ringo’s execution over the concerns.
The Missouri Department of Corrections says it administers midazolam before executions and not as part of its execution protocol.
‘It should not be lost in the national debate over the death penalty that Earl Ringo Jr. was responsible for the murders of two innocent Missourians. For 16 years he avoided payment for this crime. Tonight he has paid the penalty,’ Missouri’s Attorney General, Chris Koster, said in a statement.
A clemency petition to Nixon had also cited concerns about the fact that Ringo was convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white jury.
Ringo was sentenced to death by lethal injection (file picture).  His execution is the eighth in Missouri this year

Ringo was sentenced to death by lethal injection (file picture).  His execution is the eighth in Missouri this year
Murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood took nearly two hours to die
Convicted murderer and rapist Dennis McGuire
Chilling scenes accompanied the executions of Joseph Rudolph Wood, left, Dennis McGuire, centre and Clayton Lockett, right, who were all administered the pre-execution sedative midazolam
On July 3, 1998, Ringo told his accomplice Quentin Jones about his plan to rob the Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Columbia, where he once worked. Jones agreed to join him.
Before sunrise on July 4, Ringo and Jones hid behind a grease pit in the back of the restaurant. Poyser and Baysinger arrived and entered the restaurant. Ringo followed them and shot Poyser, 45, killing him instantly.
He then ordered Baysinger, 22, to open a safe. She pulled out $1,400 and gave it to him.
Ringo gave the gun to Jones, who stood with the weapon pointed at Baysinger’s head for a minute and a half before pulling the trigger.
Interviews with restaurant workers and former workers led police to Ringo. Detectives found a blue ski mask, gun receipt, bulletproof vest and other evidence at the home of his mother.

THE CASE OF WILLIAM HAPP

Happ - who raped and killed Angie Crowley, 21, in 1986 - died by lethal injection in 2013
Happ – who raped and killed Angie Crowley, 21, in 1986 – died by lethal injection in 2013
William Happ, 51, was the first death row inmate to be injected with midazolam hydrochloride.
The execution began at 6.02pm at Florida State Prison. Happ’s eyes opened and he blinked several times.
He closed and opened them again two minutes later. He then yawned and his jaw dropped open.
At 6.08pm, the official overseeing the execution tugged at Happ’s eyelids and grasped his shoulder to check for a response. There was none.
A minute later, Happ’s head began moving back and forth and shortly thereafter his breathing stopped. 
He was pronounced dead at 6.16pm.
Ringo admitted to the robbery but claimed the shootings were in self-defense. He was convicted in 1999 and sentenced to death.
Jones, of Louisville, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, but he was spared the death penalty when he agreed to testify against Ringo.
Jama Brown, who was married for to Poyser for 24 years, asked that people remember the victims.
‘I can only tell you there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him or wonder what my life would be like today, not only for myself, but for my kids,’ she said. 
In a statement she added: ‘Please do not make this about how executions shouldn’t take place. Put your effort on how we can stop people from committing these terrible actions.
‘Please remember these two wonderful people who just wanted to go to work on the Fourth of July to support their families.’
Ringo’s execution is the eighth in the state this year and the tenth since November.
St. Louis Public Radio reported last week that Missouri administered midazolam to all nine inmates put to death since November. Corrections department spokesman David Owen said midazolam ‘is used to relieve the offender’s level of anxiety’ and is not part of the actual execution process.
The execution was one of two scheduled for today in the U.S. This afternoon Texas plans to execute Willie Trottie for killing his common-law wife and her brother in 1993.
Trottie’s execution will be Texas’ eighth this year. Florida has performed seven executions in 2014, and all other states have a combined six.
Both Missouri and Texas use pentobarbital as their execution drug but decline to disclose where the drug is obtained.
‘They don’t tell you what it is and where it comes from,’ Trottie told The Associated Press. ‘What I’ve learned in 20 years here on death row is all you can do is say, ‘OK.’
‘I’m ready whichever way it goes. If God says, ‘Yes,’ I’m ready.’
Trottie, who turned 45 Monday, shot and killed 24-year-old Barbara Canada, and her 28-year-old brother, Titus, at the Canada family home in Houston. Canada’s mother and sister were also wounded.
Lawyers for Trottie argued in their appeal that the one-time deliveryman and security guard suffered poor representation in his initial trial. 
They said his counsel failed to present witnesses who would have told jurors Trottie and Barbara Canada were romantically engaged at the time of the killings. Late Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal.
Trottie said he and Barbara Canada were on ‘good terms’ despite an on-again, off-again relationship. Trottie said he was defending himself against Titus Canada, who shot first. He said the shooting of his wife was accidental.
‘It wasn’t like I just walked in there and gunned her down,’ he said.
Johnny Sutton, the lead prosecutor at Trottie’s trial, said evidence showed that’s exactly what happened.
‘He hunted them down,’ Sutton said. ‘The self-defense claim is absolutely ridiculous. He kicked in their door. … They already were worried about him. He was making threats and trying to run her off the road.
‘This one was so cold and calculated.’ 

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