You know how you can get all wrapped up in a good summer novel and have to remind yourself where you are when you put it down?
Well, America has made it pretty hard to remind myself that we do not, in fact, live in the brutal 18th-century society I’m reading about, where rape is unacknowledged and young women are treated as disposable.
Let’s take a look at Montana recently, where a former teacher was sentenced to just 30 days in jail after admitting to raping a 14-year-old student, who later killed herself.
The Yellowstone County judge said the girl was “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher, who was 49 at the time of the ongoing rapes.
Later in the week, after he was slammed across the country, Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh issued a statement apologizing for his comments. That didn’t change the ridiculous sentence.
But that’s Montana, you think. The judge wears a bolo tie, what can you expect?
OK, so let’s go to D.C., our enlightened nation’s capital.
Here in Washington, military prosecutors have made their point loud and clear that if you report a sexual assault, they will make your life hell.
A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman who says she was raped by three fellow students last year finally had her case acknowledged by the academy. And she was ravaged by prosecutors.
They asked her whether she was wearing a bra or panties that night. They asked her to describe how wide she opens her mouth during oral sex. They asked her if she “felt like a ho” the next morning.
What? A prosecutor said “ho” in a hearing?
It sounded like a witch trial. But her interrogation, which ended Sunday, came at an Article 32 hearing, which is the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing to determine whether the case would go to trial, or in this case, a military court-martial.
The woman said she went to an off-campus “toga and yoga” party at the football house last spring. She drank way too much and blacked out. The next morning, her back was sore and she didn’t remember much. She didn’t report anything.
“She learned from friends and social media that three football players were claiming to have had sexual intercourse with her while she was incapacitated,” her attorney, Susan Burke, said in a statement when I wrote about the case in June.
It was her fellow classmates, who were horrified by the online bragging of the three football players, who reported the case.
Reluctantly, the woman told academy officials what she could remember. What did the academy do? They punished the 21-year-old for drinking.
She and her attorney began to wonder if the academy would ever investigate the players.
Now, the military prosecutors are trying to make her regret that the case ever got this far.
The questions have been invasive, irrelevant and demeaning.
Legal experts say they would never be able to go that far — the sexual-position questions, the cross-examination about her underpants — in a civilian trial.
Perhaps this cultural difference explains a recent Pentagon report, which stated that while as many as 26,000 service members said they were the targets of unwanted sexual contact last year, only 3,374 incidents of sexual assault were reported.