Judge: Sometimes Bitches Like to Get Smacked

Via Shakesville comes yet another story about a misogynist judge who is clearly fucked in the head. He acquitted a man who was witnessed to hit is girlfriend in public by a police officer, because there was “no evidence” that the woman did not want to be attacked.

Yet again, I’m not making this up. And every time I feel the need to say that, I really, really wish that I was.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Paul Harris, in a decision that has victims’ rights advocates crying foul, acquitted the man charged with second-degree assault after he was accused of striking his girlfriend three times in the face. The judge said that without the woman’s testimony, he could not be sure that she hadn’t consented to the attack.

“The state is stepping into the shoes of the victim when she obviously doesn’t care,” Harris told the prosecutor, according to a recording of the Oct. 3 hearing. “It’s that big brother mentality of the state. … But I have to decide the case based on what I have, and I think a crucial element is missing.”

And in a comment that has riled victims’ advocates and prosecutors, Harris added, “You have very rare cases; sadomasochists sometimes like to get beat up.”

Because actually, women do consent to being beaten up by their boyfriends all the time in gas station parking lots. Why, just yesterday we were at the store when I said to my husband “hey honey, would you mind smacking me upside the head right now? Thanks, you’re so sweet!” . . . Except that wait, actually, that never happens.

Hmm, does this remind you of anything?

Like the judge who thought that a prostitute wouldn’t care about being raped because, well, she’s a prostitute, this judge seems to think that a woman who won’t testify in a domestic violence case doesn’t care about the abuse. He of course fails to take into account that women who are abused are very commonly either 1. afraid of their partner 2. think that they are to blame for the abuse or 3. have mental health issues that make them want to stay with their partners. This does not mean that the abuse did not occur — as any reasonable person should already know.

And like in the case of the raped prostitute, since when, again, are we acquitting violent men on the basis that we don’t think their victims were really all that harmed? As I’ve already said, that might come into sentencing, but it should never come into a conviction. I say this not because I think that the woman did not suffer physical injuries or trauma from her abuse, but because the concept that if she didn’t, this would be okay, is completely and utterly absurd.

The officer testified in court that she was 25 feet from the car at the time of the incident.

“I witnessed him use his right hand, not in a fist, but in, I guess, an open hand, and push the female’s face. … As I saw him grabbing her hair … and trying to pull her out, that’s when I called it on the radio,” the officer said, according to a recording of the hearing.

The woman told the officer that Webb had attempted to pull her out of the vehicle, causing her hairpiece to fall off, and that he hit her in the face, though she characterized it as “more of a tap than a punch.” The woman had no visible injuries, police said.

The officer testified, “She appeared scared. She was talking very quiet to me. She wasn’t making eye contact with him.”

. . . But Harris, in an interview in his office yesterday, said the state did not prove its case, saying there was “too much speculation.”

Harris noted that the jury instructions on charges of second-degree assault say that it must be proved that “the defendant’s actions were not consented to by the victim.”

“How do you determine that without the victim?” Harris said, adding that criticism of his handling of the case was “blown out of proportion.”

If this doesn’t make you want to bang your head against a desk, I don’t know what will. I really do see this as almost an extension of rape apologism. Rape apologism is of course a way to excuse a certain type of violence against women, under the guise that the woman really “wanted” the rape, and how are we to know that she didn’t want it? It’s absurd, but it’s what’s done.

I haven’t seen it taken to this extent in a long time, though. The concept has clearly crossed over into another common area of violence against women — domestic violence. Yes, abused women are routinely blamed for not leaving the situation. Yes, they are routinely blamed for not pressing charges. But it’s not incredibly often that you will hear someone willing to publicly suggest that these abused women want that abuse, and that it is the job of the prosecutor to prove that she didn’t. We should clearly never work off of a system that assumes a woman may want to be abused, but if we were, we should at least recognize that scenario to be so absurd that it should be the defendant’s job to prove that she did want to be abused, not the other way around.

But don’t fear! The judge really isn’t as bad as he sounds:

Harris said the sadomasochist comment was intended as a hypothetical. “I’m probably as against domestic violence as anybody, when the case is proven.”

See? He “probably” opposes actual domestic violence. As long as, I guess, the abuser says “Yup, your honor, I hit her and she definitely did not want it!” Probably.

It is anticipated that a complaint will be filed against both the ruling and the judge’s comments. But from experience, I know better than to hold my breath waiting for him to be removed from the bench.

0 thoughts on “Judge: Sometimes Bitches Like to Get Smacked

  1. Rachel

    Yikes. I’ve encountered the “Well if you don’t leave him, then you get what you deserve” line of thinking – but never this “maybe she wanted it.” At least, not in terms of domestic violence.

    Again: what seems like common sense to me, that an abused woman wouldn’t want to testify against her abuser, is apparently foreign to other people. I’m pretty appalled at the way that some judges twist our legal system to get out of assigning punishment where appropriate.

    Reply
  2. Mary Tracy9

    Horrific. As you very well said, in the hypothetical case that she DID want to be hit, how does that excuse the man’s actions? What, does he simply have to give in to whatever she wants?

    This is in my modest opinion an example of what too much porn can do to people. Women like to be raped and beaten, they grow up seeing it, it’s second nature to them.

    Reply
  3. thordora

    When I first saw the headline and blurb, I figured, well, ok, it’s some sort of M/S thing and she went to court and explained it to the judge with her partner.

    But lo, it’s not that at all. How a judge can bring up consensual sex practices in a case where the victim isn’t even present is beyond me. That doesn’t make sense no matter how I try to wrap my tired little brain around it.

    Reply
  4. Cara Post author

    Indeed. I agree, thordora that while I can’t say that I personally approve of overly violent BDSM, and while I think that it’s a bad idea and potentially an arena that could involve questions around consent, people are welcome to consensually engage in whatever sexual activity they like with an equally consenting partner.

    So if a woman gets off on being hit — though it’s my understanding that this fetish is actually more common among straight males than straight females — like it or not, we can’t really do anything about that. As you’ve said, the idea that this is the same as domestic abuse, though, is not only insane, it’s also incredibly irresponsible, hateful towards women and intentionally downplaying of violence against women.

    Reply
  5. Jenee

    I feel like there have to be numerous individuals who deal with battered women who could explain that women often fear speaking out against their abusers. The behavior of the victimized often seem counter-intuitive to those who have never been victimized. Shouldn’t it be the duty of the judicial system to make sure that jurors and judges are aware of these patterns of behavior so that they can make a truly informed decisions? Her absence isn’t evidence that she consented to the battery and they should know that!

    Reply
  6. Roy

    That’s insane.

    You know, maybe I’m a bit crazy, but if she had consented to it, doesn’t the judge think that she’d have testified to that effect? I mean, I’m no expert, but I’d think that, if the police arrested my partner for abusing me, and the “abuse” that they arrested her for was something that I had requested, you can be damned sure that I show up to court and the police station saying “Hey! Yo! You can’t charge her with abuse! I asked her to do that! It was totally with consent!” Hell, I’d probably get the press involved if they wouldn’t listen.

    What I wouldn’t do? Sit around and let my partner go to trial for doing something consentual.

    It seems to me that a person is more likely not to testify when they’re frightened than when they’re thinking “aw, that sucks. They’re trying to punish him for doing something I liked.”

    Reply

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