Sunday, June 03, 2007

Soccer Shereos Save Woman from Gang Rape

Za to the rescue. He discovered this story from the SF Chron and immediately forwarded it to me. Three young women soccer players, from my old stomping grounds--the South Bay--rescued a young woman who was being sexually assaulted while 8 or men watched. The three "shereos" carried a very intoxicated woman out of a bedroom, pushed a guy off her, and none of the other men standing around offered to help. They took her to the hospital and volunteered to testify, give statements and whatnot.

How are they rewarded?

"People I didn't even know were coming up to me and saying, 'Stop your lying. Shut your f -- mouth,' " Chief Elk said in an interview last week. "We'd be walking around, and people would actually come up and get in our face."

It reached the point where they felt threatened. Cmdr. John Hirokawa of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department confirms that deputies were called to the campus on a complaint of harassment.

"I can say that we went out there at least once in regards to a possible complaint," Hirokawa said. "People were warned."

After the Sheriff's Department and District Attorney Dolores Carr investigated the case, Carr declined to press charges, saying she doesn't have enough evidence to convict. Although nearly everyone agrees that, in Carr's words, "bad things happened in that room," there does not appear to be a positive identification of the perpetrator. And those speaking for the men said that any sex that occurred was consensual.

What is perhaps even more upsetting is that the lawyer for the perpetrators argued that the sex was consensual. Excuse me? How on earth can a woman who is so intoxicated that she has to be taken to the hospital consent?

"We did our own investigation early on,'' says attorney John Cahners, who represents Steve Rebagliati, a baseball player whose parents own the house where the alleged assault took place. "What we found was, no, we don't think a crime did occur. But I am not going to drag a 17-year-old girl through the dirt to explain what we found.''

Cahners also says that because the men were 19 and 20 years old, sex with an underage girl would be only a misdemeanor. He says that's the law if a victim is no more than three years younger than the person accused of having sex with her.

"It seems to me that a bunch of folks have already made up their minds,'' says Cahners. "I would say this: The D.A. is a woman, she is married to a policeman, and she is the former head of the sexual assault team in the D.A.'s office. Do you really think she doesn't want to prosecute?''

(Cahners, it should be said, is a supporter of Carr's, giving $1,000 to her election campaign. He says he did not donate to her opponent.)

Perhaps the Duke case has embolded defense attorneys of rapists? Given the facts of this story--at least as its reported here--it is nearly impossible for me to see that this kind of sexual activity can be consensual. What I think disturbs me more is that this kind of "gang rape" scenario is still so prevalant on college campuses. (See Peggy Sanday's Fraternity Gang Rape)

But when he opened the door, the soccer players saw the victim on a mattress on the floor being sexually assaulted. Breayans, who is out of the country until June 17, says she can identify one man who was sexually assaulting the girl.

They shoved their way through the door and confronted the men.

"We weren't very nice," Grolle says. "We were swearing like sailors. I couldn't believe some of the words that were coming out of my mouth."

They got the guy off the girl -- although they didn't get a look at his face -- and tried to get her on her feet. She was unable to stand. Grolle says they looked at the men and asked for help to take her out. Instead, the guys drifted away sheepishly. Breayans and Grolle draped her arms around their shoulders and pulled her through the door, her feet dragging behind.

"It just boggles the mind that not one of these big, strong men stood up to help us carry this lifeless girl out of the room," Grolle says.

"She had vomit dribbling down her face," Chief Elk has said. "We had to scoop vomit out of her mouth and lift her up."

(Cahners says tests proved that the vomit was not the victim's. But Grolle says "that's even worse,'' meaning that someone else's vomit was in the girl's mouth.)

"She was literally lifeless," Grolle says. "Her eyes were completely shut. On the ride to the hospital, I had to keep my hand under her nose to make sure she was breathing."

This, remember, is the girl who is supposed to have "consented" to sex.

Well, April Grolle, Lauren Chief Elk and Lauren Breayans are my shereos!

UPDATE: feministing has a link to the San Jose news coverage of a protest to the D.A.'s office.