15-Year-Old Victim Will Not See Her Rapists Prosecuted

Strong Trigger Warning

This is about as shameful, horrifying and unacceptable as things come.  In April, six adult men allegedly took turns raping a 15-year-old girl. She went to an apartment with one of the men, who she knew, only to have him demand “sex” with her.  When she refused, he allegedly pulled a gun on her, and the men then proceeded to orally and vaginally rape her.  Additionally, the men took photographs and video of the assault.  Police are said to have recovered such video and photographs from the crime scene.  And the two suspects who were taken into custody also have apparently confessed to “having sex” with the girl.  One man even allegedly said that he saw the girl crying, and stopped his oral rape of her only at that point.

The assault itself is about as awful as they come.  But leave it to law enforcement to find a way to make the situation even worse, and to devalue this girl’s right to bodily autonomy and safety even further.  The Boward State Attorney’s Office has decided to not file charges against James Hunte and Ryan Johnson, the two men who allegedly confessed to engaging in a “sex act” with the 15-year-old.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office has decided not to file criminal charges against two of the men accused of participating in the rape of a 15-year-old girl.

The state attorney’s office said the victim in the case has been uncooperative.

James Hunte and Ryan Johnson will not face charges, even though Plantation Police reports indicated that both men admitted receiving a sex act from the girl.

Prosecutors say they are still investigating two other men accused of participating in the attack.

[. . .]

According to a police report, Ryan Johnson told detectives he thought the girl was “18-19 years of age.” Johnson also told police during the sex act “he noticed the victim crying and discontinued receiving oral sex.”

Confessions, and video evidence.  And still, these men will walk free.

What we have here is not only a case of rape apologism, and the minimizing and dismissal of sexual violence, including by those who are supposed to — hell, who are paid to — take it most seriously.  We also have yet another “what does it take?” scenario.  Video evidence, photographs, and confessions, at the very least to sexual contact with an underage girl, and still, no willingness to prosecute.

And we also have still another case of victim-blaming — they’re not going to prosecute, they claim, because of her, and her alleged lack of cooperation.  No regard for the fact that victims, especially young victims, are quite often rightfully scared.  No regard for the fact that she may be lacking support, and may desperately be in need of counseling and may not currently have the means to receive it.  No regard for why she may be “uncooperative,” whatever exactly that means.  And, perhaps still even more egregiously, no regard for the fact that even if she were unwilling to testify in court that she was forced at gunpoint, they still have evidence to, at the very least, prove statutory rape and child pornography charges, and are apparently not perusing these either.

And we have, as Renee shows in her post on the subject at Womanist Musings, yet another case of the lives, rights and humanity of black women and girls being erased and denied.  We’re not just dealing with rape apologism; we’re dealing with an intersection of rape apologism and racism.  Of course, we live in a world where rape apologism shifts and virtually any victim can be made “unrapeable.”  But we’re also living in a world where black women and girls are particularly construed as hyper-sexual, permanently sexually available, and less valuable both as women and as human beings.  And that makes sexual violence committed against them particularly easy for our society to ignore and toss aside.

We saw virtually the same exact scenario unfold in the R. Kelly trial, with the only difference being that he was prosecuted and acquitted, rather than not charged at all.  It was decided that even video evidence of the rape of an underage girl of color was not enough to justify putting a man in jail.  Seemingly, the act of violence was determined to just plain not count.

Misogyny and racism.  Time and time again we see them play out, and often most repulsively so when the two work in conjunction.  I don’t know what else to say.  And I don’t know how to make it stop.  It’s not going to stop until all women are valued as people with rights, and until people of color are valued as people with rights, and until those who bear both gender and racial oppression are also valued.  Until our society accepts the fact, which is outrageously simple and obvious and yet has been denied for centuries, that women of color are human, I don’t know if and how it’s going to stop.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Gina at What About Our Daughters has just updated with the information that the victim in this case is actually a white girl. Of course, that doesn’t change the extreme and disgusting act of rape apologism and dismissal taking place here.  And it doesn’t change the fact that black women and girls are especially undervalued in our culture and especially subjected to these kinds of rape apologist arguments — this specific aspect, however, just is not present in the particular case discussed up above.  Thanks to Sam for the update in the comments.

0 thoughts on “15-Year-Old Victim Will Not See Her Rapists Prosecuted

  1. akeeyu

    Ryan Johnson, you are a special kind of asshole.

    You raped a 15 year old.
    “But I thought she was 18 or 19!”
    Oh, well in that case, carry on!
    “But I stopped when I saw that she was crying!”
    Quick, let’s rig up a quick humanitarian award for Mr. Johnson! Did it ever occur to you that ‘consent’ is not ‘the absence of crying’?

    What bothers me about this (other than THE WHOLE DAMNED THING) is that undoubtedly this guy thinks he’s not as bad as the other guys, because he thought she was 18! and he stopped when she started crying! Clearly, he’s a Nice Guy!

    No, dude. You’re a rapist.

    Speaking of, did anyone catch the language in the article? They mentioned men who “participated” in a rape. I find it interesting that a girl was raped, and yet in the weasel language of the article, there are NO RAPISTS, no men who COMMITTED rape, just men who “participated” in a rape, as if they were just standing around having punch and cookies while somebody else did it.

    This bothers me.

    Reply
  2. SunlessNick

    The language jumped out at me too, especially this, “James Hunte and Ryan Johnson will not face charges, even though Plantation Police reports indicated that both men admitted receiving a sex act from the girl.”

    Making her out to be the active participant.

    Reply
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  4. kandela

    In what way is the victim being uncooperative? If she refuses to press charges against those two, can they press charges anyway, and what chance for success without her testimony against them?

    Legal systems differ between countries, so if anyone can answer these questions that would be helpful.

    Reply
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  6. Ryan

    kandela,

    If the victim refuses to press charges the state could still prosecute these criminals. The presence of video evidence here makes this story puzzling; the state does not need anything more than a video of the crime happening to get a conviction

    The second part of your question (chances for success) probably depend on what the state prosecutes for. A convinction on statutory rape in this instance is a slam dunk regardless of what the victim says. She was 15 and they were over 18, and that is a crime in (all?) most states that can be prosecuted.

    Reply
  7. Anon Ymous

    “Discontinued receiving oral sex”? WTF???

    Seriously, that quote makes a statement that the male was the passive, and the female the active, and that it was him saying “no” that stopped it. Why does the journalist allow this? It doesn’t even make internal sense – why would she be being active when the act was making her cry? – and when you look at the rest, it’s just a plain lie.

    Why do journos keep reporting lies? It makes me seethe with rage…

    Reply
  8. MomTFH

    Wow, this is close to where I love. Not that it makes it any better or worse if it was halfway across the world, but this is my county’s state attorney.

    Blarf.

    Reply
  9. curtis

    Oh it’s nice to see that our justice system is made to cater to the lowest common denominator of males. Parasites who take part in gang bangs of girls of an uncertain age. “I thought she was 18”. So what. Fucking a 15 year old is rape. Not knowing her age is no excuse. Basically the guy did not know she was not 15. That should be good enough evidence to convict.

    Reply
  10. wiggles

    Even if she was of an age of consent, how about that gun everyone agrees they pulled on her. That’s pretty important, isn’t it?

    @SunlessNick –

    “James Hunte and Ryan Johnson will not face charges, even though Plantation Police reports indicated that both men admitted receiving a sex act from the girl.”

    Making her out to be the active participant.

    Or an unfeeling inanimate machine that dispenses “sex acts.”

    Reply
  11. Jo Tamar

    Anon Ymous – yeah, that phrasing was a WTF??? moment for me, too.

    I think it’s an extension of the common use of passive voice when people are talking about rape (you know, “woman was raped” instead of “man raped woman” – that’s if they use the word rape at all, of course).

    Reply
  12. Rachael

    Disgusting. They do seem to be afraid to use the word “rape.”

    And yeah, what the hell is up with that guy? He must have known she was being raped even before she started crying.

    What the hell does “uncooperative” even mean? Fuck that. They have video evidence, and can prosecute those men, yet they choose not to because she was “uncooperative.” Jesus.

    Reply
  13. Artemis

    Wow. That’s absolutely horrifying and appalling beyond words. And to blame it on the victim – once again – calling her “uncooperative” – to actually highlight. Right. Because it’s her fault apparently that they did this to her, and don’t deserve to prosecuted (sarcasm). Unbelievable.

    And ever so sadly, so so so not surprising. Yet another example of blaming the victim and how our legal system is not able/prepared/capable/designed to deal with sexual assault and violence against women. Still.

    Reply
  14. jovan byars

    This just made me sick.

    A half-dozen rapists on the streets of Plantation, Fla.

    Outrageous.

    I hope that the 15 year old girl files a civil lawsuit against the assholes.

    Reply
  15. j

    I can’t believe no one is pursuing this issue.

    This is so ridiculous.

    in other news, kobe bryant got mvp for the lakers win.

    Reply
  16. chris

    to note: age of consent in florida is – 16 if the other party is less then 24 or 18 if 24 or over.

    under statutory law the consent is irrelevent to the case. with the photo/video evidence coupled with there admissions to the acts(regardless of the nature) is all that is needed. Prosecution need not the victims cooperation – especially as she is a minor.

    This is a gross misjustice, personally i suspect witness imunity here. Its likely the 2 men are cooperating with the state in either the pursuit of the other men or in an unrelated matter. (definetly not saying its right either way – i hate witness imunity/plea deals) If this is not the case then i wonder if the the prosocuter or a man/men of influence where involved here and are preventing justice.

    personal note: im male and generally against feminist views(i see the problem but disagree as to the solutions generally proposed) but on this i can whole heartedly argee (this note is not to state prejiduce – i just feel the need when posting on an opposing site the i reveal my standpoint)

    thnks for listening

    Reply
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