Thursday, March 29, 2012

Treatment of woman on trial for alleged sexual exploitation of male minor raises concerns to COTWA

A former female teacher is on trial in Canada for allegedly sexually exploiting one of her teenage male students nearly a decade ago. Newspapers have published a summary of the trial testimony of the alleged victim, who claims that between the ages of 15 and 17, he had sex with his married high school gym teacher hundreds of times. The alleged trysts, which supposedly occurred in the former teacher's office as well as in her master bedroom, ended eight years ago.  The presumptively innocent woman is named in the story and her picture is shown. The accuser's identity is not disclosed.  (See here).

The coverage of the alleged crime, and the treatment of the woman on trial, raise serious concerns to COTWA.  Viewing the comments under the story, there is an assumption that the alleged sexual encounters definitely occurred, and there is scarcely a suggestion that the presumptively innocent woman might, in fact, be innocent. It is not surprising that readers believe the accuser given the way stories like this are written. Sexual dramas sell, and reporters happily turn incidents like this into mini-romance novels about forbidden love. If reporters continually reminded readers that the only evidence for most, or all, of the allegations is the uncorroborated testimony of the accuser, and that the accused denies them, that would disrupt the flow of the narrative and make for a less compelling tale, but it would make for a more accurate news report.

Other problems are evident. The accuser recounted alleged incidents that occurred eight to ten years ago. How many of us are able to recollect with specificity incidents that old?  Imagine the ordeal for the former teacher in trying to figure out where she was on given days from 2002-2004.  Much, if not all, of the evidence that might prove the accuser is lying on material points is likely lost due to the passage of time. 

The woman's reputation has been destroyed, and that's an especially serious concern if it turns out she's not guilty. Some might suggest that there is less stigma attached to female sex offenders than to male sex offenders. That is true, but it is a matter of degree: it is fair to conclude that this woman's reputation has been permanently damaged and likely destroyed, regardless of the outcome of this trial, because of the heinous nature of the allegations. She will be forever known as a "sicko" who likes bedding boys.

The cases raises other concerns, too. Chief among them is the double-standard in the way female and male sex offenders, and female and male sex victims, are treated. Those double-standards are both undeniable and indefensible, but they are beyond the scope of this blog.  Those are issues discussed here: http://toysoldier.wordpress.com/.

Our concern at COTWA is that the details of an alleged love affair between an adult and a child, with multiple instances of alleged sexual criminality, are being splashed all over the newspapers for the titillation of a public whose appetite for lurid romance novels is insatiable, with no concern about their effect on a presumptively innocent woman. That is wrong no matter how you look at it.

8 comments:

  1. Good story, Puddler.

    I think there is an important double-standard here that should not be overlooked. If the story was about a male teacher and a female student, I believe you would see some comments insisting that the teacher be given due process before convicting him in the court of public opinion. I believe you would see such comments because blogs like ours have been incessantly beating the drum to not rush to judgment.

    But when the genders are switched, I think there is an automatic tendency to assume the male accuser's story is true. That might be because these stories are rare, and it might be because everyone realizes it is more difficult for young men to come forward with tales of their own abuse. But it also might be because we haven't done a good job beating the drum about the injustice of rushing to judgment about presumptively innocent women.

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  2. As a female reader of this blog, thank you for this. I read your blog because my brother is going through hell on a false rape claim. It is commendable that you don't take sides when it comes to gender and that you really are advocating for the wrongly accused.

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  3. Reverse the genders here, and the comments would be repulsive on a host of levels.

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  4. The commentary thread has been removed. This is SOP for the Sun newspaper chain and they admit it. If something does not suit their agenda or becomes in their words full of "vitriol" they will remove the thread.

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  5. I don't remember all that much from my high school days but one thing I do remember is discussing the topic of which teachers we'd most like to have sex with. High school boys, enjoying the pressures and pleasures of soaring testosterone levels, are notorious horn dogs. Having sex over a hundred times with the accused must have involved a significant amount of cooperation from the putative victim.

    Admittedly, I don't know the true reality here. But off hand one seriously has to question just how much of a victim the victim really was.

    Baring my most telling prejudices, I'd be willing to bet that there's a therapist mixed up in this somewhere.

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  6. I understand thinking about saying which teachers you'd like to have sex with in high school, so it may not seem to be a big deal or that the victim suffers too much but over time, they do! An adolescent DOES suffer from the experience, it often takes time to, but they do. If you had had sex with a teacher in HS, I'm guessing you'd have problems later in life too Braintree.

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  7. Billy, I'm sorry if you've had pain but exactly what percentage of students having had sex with their teachers are known to have regretted it? Exactly why would one regret it? If it happened only a handful of times, that would be one thing. But this guy did it over a hundred times. Doesn't that number strongly imply consent? Could this not very well be like the lover's remorse rape claims made by women after having sex with a guy they, in retrospect, wished they hadn't?

    I am open to the possibility that you have a valid point and that I am indeed missing something. But speaking as a person who himself has gone through a strangely prolific number of psychological traumas, I have a hard time understanding why apparently voluntary sex with an older woman would be one. I am fairly confident that my take here is a rather predictable and, hence, a common one. If you could explain or steer me in the right direction, I'd be obliged.

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  8. Hieronymus, First, sorry for the late reply. Second, no i am not a victim of sexual abuse.
    Third, adolescents having sexual relations have been proven to suffer later in life. Often boys end up having problems with women & go into a depression, abusing alcohol & drugs, having severe rage issues, blaming themselves & more.
    Here's an article by one man telling the effects statutory rape has had on him:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1232750/I-regret-happened-I-shouldnt-gone-The-15-year-old-pupil-seduced-RE-teacher-reveals-ruined-life.html
    Sure, there may be some cases where a rape case doesn't really effect a person, but for the most part it does.
    And no, doing something often does not indicate consent here because minors are unable to consent to sex as they are incompetent. Just like a minor is incompetent to sign a contract. In statutory rape cases a minor is being taken advantage of by an adult & it's wrong.

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