Man Accused of Raping Teen With Disability

I can’t possibly be the only one who gets just slightly more angry when horrible shit goes down in their neighborhood, can I? I can’t put my finger on it, and it’s not that the crimes committed are worse, there’s just something inherently offensive and, I guess real about horrible offenses when they take place in your own backyard. And I’ve certainly experienced the phenomenon before.

A Rochester, NY man has been charged with repeatedly raping and sexually abusing a teenage girl with a mental disability when she was 15 and 16. One specific alleged instance occurred after he had been out drinking at a bar a few blocks from my house.

In a statement to police the girl said, “(He) has me go into his room or he comes into mine. It happens when mom and Grandma to out or they are asleep.”

She also told police, “I know what (he) is doing to me is wrong, but he makes me promise not to tell mom, grandma, or anyone. I have not told anyone because I promised.”

In late May, the girl told her mom what was going on. Brandt was questioned by Ogden police.

He told them he’d been out drinking the night before at 469 Club in Albion. Brandt told police, “I just can’t believe I would do that.”

At one point he said, “If (the victim) says it happened, it must have happened.” Carducci plans to put the alleged victim on the stand.

From WHEC, he has apparently pleaded not guilty.

The man accused of raping a mentally disabled teenager pleaded not guilty to all 17 charges against him in court this morning. Joseph Brandt is accused of raping and sexually abusing the teen in his Ogden home. It’s a story we first told you about two weeks ago.

Prosecutors say Brandt had sex with the teen when she was 15 and 16 years old at his home over the last year. In her statement to police, she said it would happen when her mom and grandma weren’t home.

Clearly, the story is disturbing enough. But while we’re on the topic, can I add:

If the victim does not have the capacity to consent, as the article later claims, it could not by definition have been “sex.” Further, Brandt is not being charged with “having sex” with the girl, as the same article notes. Having sex is not a crime. He’s charged with rape and sexual abuse. Really people, why is this so difficult?

Story via FRIDA. Image via Hoyden About Town, through Creative Commons Attribution License

0 thoughts on “Man Accused of Raping Teen With Disability

  1. Jenna

    I honestly do not understand this obsession with alleged “consent” that our culture has with rape. EVERYONE in this society agrees, in theory, that you cannot “have sex” with someone under the age of 18. EVERYONE agrees, in theory, that you cannot “have sex” with someone who is incapable, mentally or physically, of granting consent. These situations, everyone agrees in theory, are rape.

    But whenever a case of obvious rape occurs, almost everyone bends over backwards to argue whether the victim did or did not grant consent. It seems we, as a society, automatically throw out what we have agreed upon constitutes rape. A 15 or even 16 year old CANNOT legally grant consent. It CANNOT happen, no matter how many people within our society wish it were so.

    There’s another similar case on another blog that I read involving a man who plied a young girl (14) with alcohol in order to rape her. The court ruled that they could not charge him with rape because they could not ascertain, with any certainty, whether she granted consent or not because she became so inebriated that she blacked out. HELLO!!! She’s 14 – SHE CANNOT CONSENT AT ALL!!! Even if you completely ignore the alcohol, she STILL cannot consent. Therefore it was ABSOLUTELY RAPE!

    What is so hard to understand about these basic principles which we all claim to support in theory? WHY do we, as a society, try so hard to excuse rape against those who cannot grant consent in any way, shape, form or fashion?

    I honestly do not have the answers to these questions.

    Reply
  2. Jim

    > If the victim does not have the capacity to consent, as the article later claims, it could not by definition have been “sex.”

    Huh? What bizarro definition would that be?

    Yes, it’s sex. Rape is sex. That’s what rape is. Sex without consent. The two are not mutually exclusive terms.

    Why you feel the need to characterise this as not being sex is beyond me. Just because they use the word “sex” *as well as* rape, it doesn’t mean they approve of it. Sex doesn’t mean that it must have been a good thing. They aren’t trivialising it at all.

    Reply
  3. Cara Post author

    Thank you Captain Missed The Point.

    I swear that if I have to explain this one more time, someone is going to get hurt. (Is there a link to a good, clear explanation of this that I can use from now on?) But:

    Sex is the act of genital touching for the intent of sexual pleasure. Rape therefore differs from sex in many ways, namely that the point is not primarily pleasure but control, and only one party has intent. Secondly, while the term “sex” itself may not innately infer consent, the term “having sex” or “had sex with” does. That is always how the term is used in reference to rape — including in this article. Rape is not having sex with someone. Rape is forcing sex on someone, or having sex forced onto you. See the difference? If you can’t, you need to go find a new blog to read. No one said that rape is not forced sex, I (we) said that there is a word for forced sex, it is rape, and it is a perfectly good word. We have it for a reason. Sex is not a crime (in most places and in most forms), so you do not charge someone with sex. Therefore, writing an article about how a man had sex with someone is pointless, unclear and invasive. If the article is about how a man allegedly raped someone, that is clear, has a point and ought to be public knowledge.

    An example, which I will preface with saying that the two crimes are not comparable but the framing is. Imagine an article that starts out with a woman alleging that she was mugged on the street. And then for the rest of the article, there is only reference to the evening on which the woman “lost her possessions.” Does that not seem pointlessly euphemistic, incorrect and extremely trivializing of the accusation at hand? The crime is not that the woman no longer has her possessions, it is that they were stolen from her, and violently so. The crime of rape is not sex, but the violation and violence inherent. Using a word like “sex” removes the violation and violation that is central to the crime, and yes IS FUCKING TRIVIALIZING.

    Reply
  4. Jen

    How fucking obvious does it have to be? She was underage and disabled, two conditions that mean that she cannot consent to sex.

    Give me a day or so, and I’ll uncover a story about a girl that was underage, drunk, and disabled, and the courts will still whine on and on about “did she consent?”

    No, fuckers, she did not consent because she cannot! My thoughts is that anyone that is in charge of interpreting and enforcing laws that they seemingly ignore whenever penis and vagina and “OMG, is she a lying whore?” come up in court needs to be run over with a car, and then asked in court, “but did you consent to being run over?”

    Reply
  5. Jim

    > Thank you Captain Missed The Point.

    No, that’s Captain Disagreed With The Point, thank you very much. I understand what you are saying, so please don’t imply I am some sort of idiot just because I dare disagree with you.

    > Sex is the act of genital touching for the intent of sexual pleasure.

    No, it isn’t. Sex is sexual intercourse. Pleasure doesn’t have to be the intent for it to be sex.

    > Secondly, while the term “sex” itself may not innately infer consent, the term “having sex” or “had sex with” does.

    No, it doesn’t. “Having sex” or “had sex with” means “having sexual intercourse with” or “had sexual intercourse with”. Neither imply consent.

    By the way, it seems like you are taking back your previous assertion:

    > If the victim does not have the capacity to consent, as the article later claims, it could not by definition have been “sex.”

    …when you say:

    > the term “sex” itself may not innately infer consent

    Is this true? Have we found common ground?

    > See the difference? If you can’t, you need to go find a new blog to read.

    I might as well tell you to read a different article. If you think that it’s worth voicing disagreement when somebody says something distasteful instead of simply ignoring it, then surely you can understand why I do?

    > No one said that rape is not forced sex, I (we) said that there is a word for forced sex, it is rape, and it is a perfectly good word.

    And it’s a word the article used three times!

    > The crime of rape is not sex, but the violation and violence inherent.

    No, the crime of rape is sex without consent. Violence is not necessary. In particular, statutory rape, where the victim is too young to legally consent, need not include violence.

    > Sex is not a crime (in most places and in most forms), so you do not charge someone with sex.

    That’s like saying “swinging your arms about is not a crime, so you do not charge someone with swinging their arms about”. The fact is, swinging your arms about in order to hit somebody is a crime, and you get charged with assault. Just like having sex with somebody who doesn’t consent is a crime, and you get charged with rape. No, the generic actions are not a crime by themselves, but when they happen in particular ways it is a crime.

    > Therefore, writing an article about how a man had sex with someone is pointless, unclear and invasive.

    The article wasn’t unclear at all. It said “rape” three times and “sexual abuse” once.

    > If the article is about how a man allegedly raped someone, that is clear, has a point and ought to be public knowledge.

    This article is about how a man allegedly raped somebody, and it specifically says exactly that several times.

    > Using a word like “sex” removes the violation and violation that is central to the crime, and yes IS FUCKING TRIVIALIZING.

    You are seeing misogyny where there is none. The article says she was raped. It says it three times, in fact, including the headline. It also says she was sexually abused. This article in *no way* portrays her abuse as trivial.

    Why have you latched onto this article and made up your own definition for “sex” to make it seem like the author is trivialising this? You seem to be making a battle out of absolutely nothing.

    Reply
  6. Cara Post author

    No, the crime of rape is sex without consent. Violence is not necessary. In particular, statutory rape, where the victim is too young to legally consent, need not include violence.

    Rape is ALWAYS violence. It doesn’t need to involve hitting, punching, stabbing or even holding a person down — the act of “having sex” with someone who has not consented is ALWAYS VIOLENCE. And someone who doesn’t understand that does not get to comment on my blog, so you are now banned and may fuck off.

    I’m not going to bother responded to the rest of this ridiculous and contradictory comment, but I will say that if you truly do believe that sex is only heterosexual sexual intercourse, you live a sad fucking life.

    Reply
  7. shiva

    “Rape is ALWAYS violence. It doesn’t need to involve hitting, punching, stabbing or even holding a person down — the act of “having sex” with someone who has not consented is ALWAYS VIOLENCE.”

    I agree with that wholeheartedly and completely. (And i am in no way whatsoever trying to deny that this particular case is a case of rape. And, on re-reading, this is probably actually more aimed at Jenna in the comments than at Cara…)

    BUT, i think it is DEEPLY problematic to assume that, just because someone has a “mental disability” (the exact nature of which isn’t specified here), or indeed because they are “underage” (the age of consent for sex in the UK is 16, and in some European countries, it’s 12. There are many countries which have a higher age of consent for homosexual than for heterosexual acts…) that they “cannot” consent.

    I have a mental impairment – does that mean that anyone who has sex with me is guilty of rape?

    Such assumptions completely deny agency to disabled people, and are IMO among the worst examples of disablist assumptions in society. Yes, we are at higher risk of being raped. No, we are not asexual or incapable of desiring sex, and EMPHATICALLY NO, all our partners are not rapists.

    Please don’t spread such patronising and taboo-reinforcing disablist assumptions.

    Reply
  8. Cara Post author

    Shiva: I agree that we cannot automatically assume any person with a disability is incapable of consent — this is ableist and something that I have argued against myself. When it comes to whether or not a person is capable of consent on due to a “mental disability,” it is something that needs to be decided on a case by case basis. I also think that while statutory rape laws are necessary, they are definitely not always perfect. I do not think that it is impossible for a 16-year-old to consent to sex with an adult, for instance.

    Reply
  9. Jenna

    The question, though, when you begin to discuss statutory rape is how far back does any society want to go?

    Can a 16 year old consent to have sex with an adult? Possibly. Can a 15 year old? 14? 13? 12? 11? 10? 9? etc.

    Is it impossible for a 16 year old to consent? No, it is not “impossible.” But then what, exactly, separates a 16 year old from a 15 year old? A 15 from a 14? Is there some mystical, magical change that occurs when one reaches 16 that confers upon them the ability to consent? If so, then what about 15? Is there that much difference between a 16 year old and a 15 year old? If not, if it is a case by case basis, then why have statutory laws in the first place?

    And there is another party to this equation. At what age are we comfortable with in turning our heads? A 16 year old with a 20 year old, one year more than the usual 3-year-rule many areas in the US have? 21? 25? 30? 35? 40? 45? 50? And so on.

    We have statutory laws to protect those we consider vulnerable. Is a 16 year old, even if he/she consents, vulnerable when their intended partner is 20? 21? 35? 64? The answer is that they are, indeed, vulnerable and unlike fully grown adults, they do not have the capacity or resources available to them to weather the negative results of vulnerability (and I am speaking of all young people uniformily because while some might have the capacity/resources, many do not).

    So while they may be able to grant their consent personally, they cannot do so legally (with an adult). Therefore the defense, from an adult who is well aware of this, that a 16, 15, 14, or younger girl granted her consent is no defense at all.

    I will grant that statutory laws are tricky and make us uncomfortable to where we do not want to discuss them. However, without them, what legal protection do children, of all ages, have from those who want to violate and use them?

    Reply
  10. Cara Post author

    Jenna: I agree with you, too. Statutory rape laws are, as you say, tricky business. But the question I ask you is the same one that I ask with regards to many other things where age is a deciding factor: if we can’t tell an immediate difference between 16 and 15, how can we tell the difference between 17 and 18? This is precisely the problem, but I fail to see how setting the age at 18 really solves it either, and it does serve to further erase that teens are sexual beings at the same time as it serves to protect more vulnerable teens from adult predators.

    I personally like the laws which are, as you say, a “three year rule” between the two parties, or as I was once told NY’s law is (I’ve never bothered looking it up and am too lazy to right now, but a cop told my sex ed class this 7 years ago), where the rule is that it is illegal for anyone over the age of 21 to have sex with anyone under the age of 17 — and then of course a base age below which consent cannot be given (so that it’s not legal for a 19 year old to “have sex” with an 11 year old).

    But I absolutely do not pretend to have the answers here.

    Reply
  11. shiva

    I don’t believe that there is any sort of mystical change that comes over anyone at any age.

    I believe the ability to consent (in a meaningful/informed way) to sex is something that everyone achieves at a different age. OK, so the *average* age at which people reach it tends to be in the mid-teens (corresponding roughly with physical maturity). But i know people who reached it at 10, and others who didn’t reach it until 20 or older (and some people – ie asexuals – may never reach it).

    I don’t think there should be any statutory age of consent. I think the one and only thing that distinguishes sex from rape, no matter what the age or “developmental level” of the people involved, is whether ACTUAL consent was given – and that there should be a case-by-case assessment of whether actual consent was given, and that and that alone should determine whether someone is guilty of rape.

    I accept that the idea of children, especially those before the age of puberty, consenting to sex is one that, understandably, many people have violent emotional reactions to. But i have female friends who were having fully consenting sex (with boys of around the same age) before they started menstruating.

    Sure, that was “experimentation”. But isn’t it all, really?

    I had a friend at school who had sex with a girl at a party when he was about 17. She initiated it, and told him she was 16. He found out later that she was actually 13 at the time. Would you consider him to be a rapist?

    I am fully aware that the power imbalances between a teenager and an older adult, especially one in a position of socially granted authority, are very large, and that that can mean that “true” consent is impossible in such a situation. But there are plenty of situations between adults where the power imbalances are just as large, if not larger (eg, a person with a severe physical impairment and a “care” worker who they are dependent on for their basic bodily needs), and one situation is not worse than the other because of the ages of the people involved – it’s the power imbalance that’s the problem.

    Each case should be tried individually, and if the power imbalance is determined to be great enough for meaningful, informed consent to be impossible, then the defendant should be found guilty of rape (not a “lesser” offence of “statutory rape”, but RAPE). I don’t doubt that in the vast majority of cases involving people under a certain age, that level of power imbalance will be determined to be present – but it should be that power imbalance itself, and not the factors such as age or disability which contributed to it at one remove, which should be the determining factor. And no one should EVER be found guilty of rape for an act which the other party actually, enthusiastically consented to.

    Reply
  12. Cara Post author

    Shiva, a 10-year-old having sex play with someone of around the same age is a wholly different scenario from “sex” with an adult. The first scenario is quite possibly consensual, but I don’t give a shit if the 10-year-old was begging that adult for sex, it is illegal and it ought to be. Children are sexual creatures, but that fact does not erase the responsibility of adults, and no, I do not think that in any case a 10-year-old can meaningfully consent to sex with an adult. Having a sexual urge is not the same as granting meaningful consent. Just like a very drunk person can attempt to initiate sex, but not in any way that constitutes meaningful consent.

    Reply
  13. Jaya

    I an 16 years old. I agree with what you said about rape always being violent. I would like some advice. How can i make my mom believe me that my stepdad is a rapist. she just calls me a liar and doesn’t listen to me. he is a bad man and i am scared for my siblings. the police cant do anything because it is “proof beyond reasonable doubt” right now.the legal system is so fucked up!

    Reply
    1. Cara Post author

      Jaya, thanks so much for commenting. I’m so sorry that this has happened to you. I wish that I had a real answer for you, but I’m just a commentator. I think that you should go to the experts. Go to rainn.org. They have a confidential, toll-free phone number where you can talk to counselors on the phone, and also an online chat option if that’s how you’d prefer to talk. If you’d prefer to talk to someone in person, they can also refer you locally.

      The most important thing right now is finding a way for you and your siblings to be safe. They will be able to help you with that. Please do get in touch with them Jaya, okay? I wish you the best of luck, and know you’re not alone.

      Reply

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