On Wednesday, The Inquisitr reported that Jared Len Cruse has been found guilty of participating in the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl from Cleveland, Texas. The 20-year-old faces a sentence of 25 to 99 years in prison.
Cruse follows in fellow rapist Eric McGowan’s footsteps. McGowan received a 99-year sentence for his involvement in the rapes.
Now, 18 more alleged rapists will follow in their footsteps. Unfortunately, if any of them plead “not guilty,” the now 13-year-old victim will have to stand trial to accuse her attackers, again and again and again. The victim, who was only 11 at the time of the rapes, has already faced the trials of McGowan and Cruse. Not only has the girl faced the assault of multiple rapes and the public trials of two of her attackers, she has also faced media scrutiny in which some have accused her of being responsible for the heinous attacks.
During final arguments before Wednesday’s verdict, defense attorney Steve Taylor likened the victim to “a spider,” luring the suspects into her seductive web. And that wasn’t the first time the blame for the rapes, which took place over a four month period last year, have been put on the victim.
In a controversial article by The New York Times, journalist James C. McKinley, Jr. wondered how the young men of Cleveland, Texas could “have been drawn into such as act?” His article goes on the note how the unnamed victim was often seen “visiting various friends” in the run-down area of town called “the Quarters.” McKinley comments that the victim “dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.” He added that “she would hang out with teenage boys at a playground.”
The article prompted fury from readers including MS Magazine‘s Andrea Grimes. While recognizing a cultural phenomenon that places the blame of sexual attacks on victims, Grimes accuses McKinley of implying that the girl invited or allowed the attacks.
“[McKinley] may as well have printed that ‘Residents in the neighborhood had steak for dinner’ or ‘Residents in the neighborhood had a real rough day at the office’ or ‘Residents in the neighborhood wanted Bristol Palin to win Dancing With The Stars‘ because those things are about as relevant to the article and the case as what an 11-year-old girl was wearing on or about the time she was PROBABLY GANG RAPED BY 18 OR MORE MEN IN AN ABANDONED TRAILER.
“Printing victim blaming speculation about how slutty some people perceived an 11-year-old child dressing doesn’t give readers information they need. It doesn’t paint a picture that helps them understand the situation. It perpetuates rape culture and gives those who want one (and those people are many, as evidenced in said article) an excuse to dismiss the behavior of 18 men who have been suspected of, and I’ll say it again, gang-raping an 11-year-old girl.”
Slate Magazine adds that defense attorney’s attempt to blame sexual crimes on the victims, not because it’s right but “because it works.” Defense attorneys, like Taylor, reportedly “exploit” myths that rape is wanted by the victim, that they somehow “asked for it.”
With the videotaped evidence available in the Cleveland, Texas case, it seems that painting the 11-year-old victim as a femme fatal is the only way Steve Taylor can defend his clients.
The rapes occurred in abandoned trailers in a part of town called “the Quarters.” Five of the suspects are students at Cleveland High School. One suspect is the 21-year-old son of a school board member. The suspects range in ages from middle school to 27-years-old.
The assaults reportedly began when a 19-year-old boy invited the 11-year-old girl to ride around in his car. He later took her to a house where he and several other boys ordered her to “disrobe” and sexually assaulted her. They threatened to beat her if she did not comply, reports say.
The assaults were discovered when a middle school student showed a teacher a cell-phone recording of one of the assaults. School officials determined that the assaults had not taken place on school grounds and promptly turned investigations over to police.
Do you think that the 11-year-old was at fault for these attacks?