In this last week of 2012, we review some of the top stories of the year.
A teen girl admitted that her rape allegation that sent -- seven -- male classmates, ages 14-18, to jail was a lie.
The unidentified girl, who is 16 years old, had claimed that she was repeatedly raped in a school restroom at Northeast High in Macon, Georgia, on January 19. The girl was charged with a felony, making false statements to law enforcement, as well as a misdemeanor, falsely reporting a crime.
After several inconsistencies in the girl's story throughout the investigation, she admitted to Macon PD to lying to her mother, campus police, and Macon police about the alleged incident.
The charges against the boys were dropped, and the girl was charged with a felony, making false statements to law enforcement, as well as a misdemeanor, falsely reporting a crime.
"It’s a shocking twist in an incident that has been the buzz of the community since it was first reported," said one newspaper.
At least four of the young men had been named and shamed in the press. Three, who were 14 and 15-years-old, were at least spared that indignity by some of the newspapers.
Before the recantation, the editorial page editor of the Macon Telegraph, made some disturbing comments that need to be underscored here. Charles E. Richardson wrung his hands over the allegation, feigned impartiality -- and proceeded to criticize the boys.
"I . . . don’t know whether it was rape or not," he righteously harrumphed. "That will be decided by a court of law. However, I do know that society is in trouble when several boys think it OK to have sex in a school bathroom, or to stand around watching while school is in session."
He went on: "Rumors have floated that the girl is promiscuous and this isn’t her first time, just the first time anyone has been caught. I don’t know about that; but isn’t it ridiculous that rape cases often turn the spotlight on the victim? It’s something she did, not something he (they) did." He also said: "I feel for the victim."
Read it again. This man is an editor for a major newspaper with a large circulation, and he doesn't know the difference between an "accuser" and a "victim"? Really? Seven boys were charged with one of the most serious and heinous criminal offenses on the books, and this editor uses language suggesting that the trial is over even before it has begun.
You know what's "ridiculous" to me, Mr. Richardson? Speaking as someone who gives voice to the men and boys wrongly accused of heinous sex crimes, it's ridiculous to me that some people are punctilious in their efforts not to "victim blame" rape accusers, but don't give a rats ass about "victim blaming" young men accused of rape.
More from the eminent Mr. Richardson: "Last week, I was thrown into a deep funk. A caller to our morning show said he was the father of one of the boys accused of raping a special-needs girl in a bathroom at Northeast High School. He blamed teachers, the administration and everyone else. Everyone else except his son, who remains in jail."
Well, now I'm in deep funk. If the boys' sexual escapades were troublesome and shocking, so was the girl's, but the eminent Richardson gives her a pass.
Here's a newsflash, sir: teens -- boys and girls --have sex, even group sex. The moral impropriety of that conduct is not why this story is newsworthy. Your newspaper, and every other news outlet, featured this story solely because the boys supposedly committed a non-consensual sex act, not because some teenagers engaged in incredibly stupid, consensual sex. Yet, your peculiar commentary seems to insist on a moral equivalence between rape and stupid, consensual sex, all the while excusing the girl from the consequences of her own free agency. I would need several degrees in psychiatry to understand what drove you to write this.