The story is eerily similar as we continue to debate the verdict and implications of Steubenville’s highly publicized rape trial: Two high school football players are accused of rape. Victim-blaming is spreading over social media towards the girls brave enough to come forward. And a school seems to be all to willing to look the other way when its star athletes break the law. It’s like the very worst deja vu.
Two Connecticut 18-year-olds, Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio, have been charged with sexual assault involving more than one 13-year-old girl. These high school seniors both play football, and both seem to have a large group of friends ready and willing to taunt and bully at least one of the girls who “snitched” on the jocks.
Local media reports say that one of the young girls has been called a “whore” on Twitter. She’s been told that she “ruined lives.” Other students tweeted, “I wanna know why there’s no punishment for young hoes,” and, “Idk what more sad. These young ass hoes or the creeps fuckin these young ass hoes! Shouts out to Torrington CT.” Once again, we see students ridiculing and tormenting victims instead of rapists who should have known better.
In this latest case, alcohol and drunkenness won’t be the focus. It is the victims’ ages that made them unable to consent. The girls were only 13 years old, just in 8th grade. They were well below the legal age of consent.
One key difference in the Torrington case is that at least one of the boys had already had problems with the law that his school seemed to dismiss. Edgar Gonzalez, the football team’s top scorer this year, had already been arrested on felony robbery and assault charges in 2011 for beating up 14-year-olds to steal money. The school also had a serious case of hazing this year, though no one has suggested these two boys were involved. The school’s athletic director says, “If you think there’s some wild band of athletes that are wandering around then I think you’re mistaken. If you look at crime statistics these things happen everywhere and we’re not any different than any other community.”
The truth is, he might be right about one thing. What if Torrington and Steubenville aren’t any different than the rest of our communities? What if we are really failing to teach our kids about rape and respecting women’s bodies and ability to consent to sexual activity?
A lawyer for Gonzalez says that his client is not admitting to any sexual relationship with the victims. He says he’ll fight the charges. At least here, there won’t be able legal question as to whether the girls consented or not. If you have sex with a 13-year-old, you’re guilty of rape.
After the failure of most major media outlets to competently and ethically cover the Steubenville rape case, I’m almost terrified to see just what new bouts of victim-blaming and rape apology will come with this next case. One thing is for sure, if you weren’t already convinced of the need to talk to your teen about sexual assault after Steubenville, this serious problem is getting harder and harder to ignore.