Tuesday, June 7, 2016

“We understand you are disappointed, but we can’t take every case to court.”





I have tried to decipher what bothers me so much about this Brock Turner case, aside from the obvious. I have tried not to write about it because everyone else is. I have tried to just move past all the posts and articles, etc. on my news feed. But I can’t. I’m following it obsessively, signing every petition, reading every article.

Why?

Because Friday of this week will mark 16 months since my (step) daughter was violently attacked by an ex-boyfriend. It bears only some resemblance to the Brock Turner attack on the surface, except for one important detail. The detail that has kept me obsessing over this case, and Judge Aaron Persky, for days now. The detail that makes me sad and angry and paralyzed with fear for both of my daughters and the women in this country. The detail that makes me want to hurt someone very badly.

He was allowed to essentially get away with it also.

We didn’t (thank God) get publicity for it the way this victim has, and it wasn’t the judge who was the problem in our case, but he almost walked nonetheless.

In our case it was the county prosecutor’s office that threw us under the bus, long before we ever got near a judge. Allow me to rehash for you. My daughter was violently attacked. She had police reports and injuries to prove it. There were questions, as all this doesn’t usually take place in front of loads of people and you are forced into the realm of he said/she said. (Just so you know, he admitted it all in the end, in court, but not up front.) He has a well-known brother who appeared to make a statement on his behalf. His parents paid for an expensive attorney.

The first bomb dropped before we even got to court.

We, and the county prosecutor’s office, discovered that this was not his first offence. The first woman attacked by him was his estranged (soon to be ex) wife, whom he repeatedly strangled into unconsciousness. He was in the military at the time and was dishonorably discharged and spent two years in military prison.

It was a crime almost identical to the one committed against my daughter.

He was charged with FOUR counts of assault with a weapon, one of kidnapping and something else I can’t remember and refuse to look up, for his attack on my daughter. He was facing a massive amount of years in jail, especially when you factor the previous conviction into account.

Then bomb number 2 was dropped. The country prosecutor’s office told us that military convictions don’t count. They also informed us that they were going to offer him a plea agreement that amounted to PROBATION. Yes, you read that right. A man who attempted to kill two different women was being allowed to walk. We protested in vain. They said, and I quote, “We understand you are disappointed, but we can’t take every case to court.”

Because we don’t matter? They never said it, but that was certainly how we took it. Because crimes against women don’t matter? It appears that way. If you won’t take a case to court where someone attempts to kill a person, which ones do you take? Purse snatching? Is it just better to add a conviction to your stellar looking record, even if it’s for some stupid misdemeanor offence that bears zero resemblance to what actually happened, justice be damned?

So we appeared in court for our victim impact statements at the sentencing for his plea deal. Or at least I did. My daughter could not appear. She suffers from PTSD and at the time, after being basically dismissed by those who were charged to help her, she could not appear in person. It turns out that my victim impact statement was the only time the judge was given the complete information regarding what he had done, how and to whom.

The country prosecutor’s office was requesting supervised probation. The presentencing report also requested that he be allowed to walk because he was doing so well that they felt that going to jail for attempting to kill my daughter would be bad for him.

Here’s where our path and Brock Turner’s victim’s path diverged. We had an awesome judge. She listened to what I said and was as horrified as you would expect. Because she is a woman? Maybe, but I like to think it was because she is a person and the reality of the situation was not lost on her.

And here’s where our path’s reconvened. Because of the plea deal offered by Those Who Couldn’t Be Bothered, she was only able to sentence him to one year in jail. I have no doubt from the things she said and did that if she could have sentenced him to longer she would have, but her hands had been tied.

He is out of jail now. My daughter still suffers from PTSD, finding it hard to go to the grocery store because it’s one of those places where people are constantly coming up behind you. Justice was not served in our case either, and I am sure we are only one of thousands of families across the country that are following and reading the Brock Turner case and feeling our helplessness and rage in the face of the system all over again.

So Judge Persky, if you want to know what a real judge looks like, if you want to know how an intelligent, unbiased judge handles these things, if you want to know how to dispense justice, I have a piece of advice for you. Skip right past the Maricopa County Prosecutor's office and look up Judge Jackie Ireland instead.
I have a feeling she can teach you how it is supposed to be done.

And to Brock Turner’s victim--I hope the outrage gives you the sense of justice that the system in place to serve you didn’t. It means so much to be listened to, to be heard and understood, for someone to validate your suffering. My daughter didn’t get that because his sentence was a joke compared to his crime and she too traumatized to be there when Judge Ireland made clear to him that he was wrong and she was a victim. You didn’t get that either, when after listening to your beautiful, terrible, horrible, eloquent statement, Judge Aaron Persky just let him go with a slap on the wrist.

As you so beautifully said And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you…. To girls everywhere, I am with you.”

We are with you also. We raise our voices at the injustice you were dealt at the hands of Brock Turner, by the words of Dan Turner and by the actions of Judge Aaron Persky.

We will never stop fighting.




Monday, June 6, 2016

Real Friends

The other day I read a meme floating around that said “I used to walk into a room full of people and wonder if they liked me…Now I wonder if I like them” and I realized something wonderful. While aging sucks, with its wrinkles, grey hair and mysterious aches and pains, this silly meme right here has managed to hit the getting older bonus on the head.

In your twenties it’s all about judging and being judged. The majority of women at this age are so concerned with what everyone else is or is not doing that they look like a giant collective of sameness. They are the style setters, but it is only because they are so worried about what everyone else would think if they stepped outside the verdicts of the masses that they couldn’t help but appear to be interchangeable. It’s only people in their twenties that you hear saying idiotic things like “well, everyone else was getting married, so I did too” or “It seemed like a good idea- everyone else was having kids.”

In your early thirties, the uniformity is set. Now the worries upgrade themselves to what kind of car you drive, what kind of purse you carry, and what kind of kitchen counters you have. There are only two types of people that spend tons of time and money remodeling – those who have old kitchens and bathrooms and need to do it, and people in their early thirties looking to impress the Congregation of Clones. These are the school years – as in which kindergarten is your newborn going to go to? What style of education are you looking at for you 3 year old? What high school do you want to get your eight year old to get into?  The hive mind is strong during these years.

Then you pass into your early forties. This is where things start to loosen a bit. Not right away, but slowly. Your kids are not necessarily friends with other kids just because they are you and the mom are besties. You start to part ways with people over different school choices as it becomes apparent that not all the kids are gifted. People move for jobs or family reasons. The ties that bind you to the group are loosening and snapping.  It feels like a loss, but actually it’s just the opposite. It is freeing you up for what comes next.

The mid to late forties. This is where you come into your own. You have been through crisis’s, either your own or someone’s close to you. Maybe it’s an ugly divorce or an unfaithful spouse. Illness and even death will have visited in one form or another. You have teenagers, a phenomenon all its own that calls into question every plan, every parenting technique, and every single theory you ever had.

You don’t know it, but this is what you have been waiting for. These experiences have a way of letting you know who your friends really are. They are the ones you run to when you are in tears, they are the ones you tell your deepest, darkest secrets to and they don’t even flinch.  When everything falls apart, they help you pick up the pieces with kindness. There is no judgment to be found with these people. They have been through it too. They speak truth into your life with only love in their hearts.

All of a sudden you will find that you don’t care who chops their veggies on granite and who chops on formica, who has money and who doesn’t. You won’t care whose kids are smart and ready for the best college and whose kids smoke pot and work at the mall. You are too tired to give a shit about anyone’s kitchen cabinets, shoes, or cars. Maybe you are fashionable, maybe not. Some have run the gauntlet with you since your own childhood and some have just appeared recently. It doesn’t matter because these are your people.

As you slap on your glasses to read the wine list and take a good look at those still around your table it almost makes you look forward to your 50’s.