Friday, March 14, 2014

Girl sneaks boy into her room, then lies to father that she doesn't know him; father argues with boy and kills him

In Texas, a 16-year-old girl let a 17-year-old boy into her house, then sneaked him into her bedroom. One of her brothers told their father that someone was in her room, so the the father walked in and found the boy. The daughter told her father she didn't know who the boy was. The father and the boy argued. The father claimed he thought the boy was reaching for something. The father opened fire, killing the boy at the scene. The story is reported, among other places, here and here.

There are many well-known, genuine tragedies associated with false rape claims -- really awful things that result from rape lies. But we don't know enough about this case to include it among them. It is unclear whether the father shot the boy reasonably thinking that an intruder had sneaked into his daughter's room. We don't know what information was divulged when the father and the boy argued. It is our guess that parents have been finding teenage boys in their teenage daughters' rooms for as long as teenage daughters have had rooms, and that relatively few of those encounters have resulted in the death of the boy, regardless of the excuse about why the boys is there. That's because parents generally understand that, despite their disapproval of the arrangement, teenage girls and teenage boys often sneak around behind their parents' backs to find ways to have sex. In this case, it is possible that the father figured out or at least suspected the daughter was lying but was angry at her for engaging in illicit sex, so he made a terrible spur of the moment decision to "punish" her by directing his outrage on her boyfriend. Based on the limited information in the story, it strains credulity, at least a little, that a father would think a high school-age male stranger broke into his house at 2:00 a.m. and just happened to find his way into his high school-age daughter's bedroom.

Or, we could be wrong and the father might actually have thought the boy was an intruder and was there to rape his daughter. Then the question becomes whether he was reasonably acting in self-defense by shooting him.

Some of the comments under the story as reported by the New York Daily News are disturbing, but that's par for the Internet. Regarding the dead boy, one reader wrote: "Seems like he made a few bad decisions that night." Aother: "As a parent of a daughter, I say 'GOOD SHOOTING' (that boy won't be sneaking into another girl's room) . . . ." Another: ". . . the age of consent in Texas is 17. His daughter is 16 so as far as I am concerned he was there to rape her. He got what he deserved. I hope you don't have a daughter." (In fact, even if they were engaging in sexual relations, Texas has a Romeo and Juliet law that would have made this encounter lawful because he was just one year older than she is.)

Most of the commentators have no sympathy for the girl. Lying about rape is deplorable, no one needs to lecture this blogger about that. But in this case, the evil may be mitigated if, for example, the girl was in mortal fear of the wrath of her gun-toting father and blurted out something to save her own neck. (Not noble, to be sure, and stupid, but it doesn't seem to be on a par with, for example, rape liars who destroy taxi drivers because they didn't want to pay a fare, or the college woman who sent her classmate to prison for five years with a rape lie because she was "bored.")  We don't have enough facts.

In any event, if the girl blurted out the line because she knew her father would be outraged, the girl's lie is consistent with something Amanda Marcotte once wrote. "[T]he idea that it's shameful to just have sex because you want to" is "the reason that you have false rape accusations in the first place." Marcotte noted that "women who aren't ashamed of having sexual adventures . . . even ones that go bad-don't use rape accusations to cover up their choices. It's the women who are afraid they'll be called sluts if it gets out that make up these rape stories." (Or, in this case, a girl who knew her gun-toting father didn't approve of the relationship.) Amanda Hess once explained that given women's adherence to their expected gender role when it comes to sex, it is "inevitable," among other things, that a woman who "had desired the sex all along . . . must defend her femininity by saying that she had been coerced into sex."

Our bottom line: this was a terrible tragedy that should have been avoided. We're not ready to include this case on our list of tragedies that result from false rape claims.