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“Lude” Behavior

“Want some pudding? Maybe some heavy petting?” (Getty Images)

Since 2002, comedian Bill Cosby has been dealing with allegations that he drugged and raped women. But after fellow comedian Hannibal Buress joked about the rape charges during a 2014 show in Philadelphia, the shit really hit the fan. Now the Jello pudding pop pusher faces allegations from three dozen women dating back four decades.

In nearly every case, Cosby’s alleged victims claim they were drugged, normally after something was placed in their drinks or given to them under the pretense of being “herbal supplements” or some such garbage.

Of course, Cosby and his lawyers have disputed the charges, refused to respond to them or simply labeled them as false and outrageous. Unfortunately, though, new information just came to light that could prove to be the final nail in this once beloved actor’s coffin.

On Monday, the Associated Press obtained documents from a 2005 sex abuse case filed by Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee who claimed Cosby drugged, fondled and “digitally penetrated” her at his Pennsylvania home. And what they discovered was pretty damning.

Cosby’s weapon of choice (Recovery.com)

In his sworn testimony, Cosby admitted to obtaining Quaalude prescriptions in the 1970s and giving them to women he wanted to have sex with, as well as others (whatever the hell that means). When asked if he did so without the women’s knowledge, however, Cosby’s lawyers prevented him from answering. The damage, however, had already been done.

What does this mean for the 36 women who have publicly accused Cosby of inappropriate sexual behavior? Perhaps nothing since the statute of limitations on these crimes has passed. Nothing except validation, that is.

And for Cosby, this likely proves that no matter how beloved and respected you are, no one truly knows the darkness that lies within. What a shame.

Choose Respect

"Respect: Lead the Way" won Best All Around in the Choose Respect Poster Contest! (Drew Nanouk)

“Respect: Lead the Way” won Best All Around in the Choose Respect Poster Contest! (Drew Nanouk)

Rape isn’t something I hear about very often, but it came up several times this week and simply cannot be ignored.

The first time I heard it mentioned was in conjunction with some FBI crime data that showed Alaska as having the highest per capita rate of reported rape in the nation. According to 2012 data, “an estimated 80 rapes are reported in Alaska for every 100,000 people”—roughly three times the national average and seven times the rate in New Jersey—and “59% [of Alaskan women report that they] have experienced sexual or intimate partner violence… and nearly four in ten have been raped or sexually assaulted.”

These statistics are mind-blowing and disturbing, to say the least. Fortunately, people in more than 170 Alaskan communities have decided to mobilize this week and to hold “Choose Respect” rallies in honor of the victims and survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence. And their message is clear: “Silence is the poison that lets rape and sexual violence continue… enough is enough.”

Rape appeared for a second time this week when Brazil’s Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) released a study with some controversial—and frightening—results.

According to IPEA, more than 65% of Brazilians believe (or partially believe) that “if dressed provocatively, women deserve to be attacked and raped.” What’s more, nearly 59% agreed that “if women knew how to behave, there would be less rape.” As shocking as these statistics are, they become even more so when you consider 66.5% of the survey pool were, in fact, women. How crazy is that?

In an effort to bring attention to these horrifying facts—and to start the conversation on a more global scale—Brazilian women immediately took to social media to share their outrage. A Facebook event has been created and many Brazilian women have started posting semi-nude pictures online under the hashtag #NaoMerecoSerEstuprada, or #IDon’tDeserveToBeRaped. Most of these photos show the women topless—and covering their breasts—with this hashtag prominently displayed somewhere on their bodies—like this one, for instance:

No one deserves to be raped (#NaoMerecoSerEstuprada)

No one deserves to be raped (#NaoMerecoSerEstuprada)

Since rape has come up so much this week—and since I stand united with everyone interested in bringing an end to sexual violence (and violence in general, for that matter)—I now offer the Gnostic Bent contribution to the “Choose Respect” Initiative… with some Brazilian flair to show my support for the women of that great nation… and all the nations of the world.

End violence and choose respect... or I may be forced to use this (Pin It)

End violence and choose respect… or I may be forced to use this (Pin It)

Be good to each other.

Reality Round-Up: Sex and the Naked Truth

A famous scene from the film “American Pie” (Universal Pictures)

Yesterday, I published the latest installment in my ongoing Reality Round-Up series, “Hump Day +1.” For those of you unfamiliar with RRU, it’s basically a way for me to connect news stories from around the world—normally based on strange similarities or other common factors—while also commenting on the world around me. In terms of blogging, I’ve found it to be a useful tool—the news never stops and I can always count on someone doing some crazy shit worthy of a post.

Of course, it’s rare for me to publish two Reality Round-Ups back-to-back since variety is the spice of life and I try to mix things up a bit more for readers—interspersing news commentary with original essays, inspirational stories and even the occasional short fiction or screenplay idea. Every so often, though, news stories converge in a kind of “perfect storm” and simply cannot be ignored.

And today, ladies and gentlemen, is one of those days.

As a result of passing out early on the sofa last night—I have no idea what time it happened, so I must have been more exhausted than I thought—I woke up earlier than usual and made it to work a bit early, as well. After preparing for my day and completing some other small tasks, I decided to start scanning the news sites for more blog fodder, again searching for themes that might connect some of them while also appealing to readers.

I like focusing on connections because it helps me illustrate the connectedness of human kind—how we are all brothers and sisters who, despite living on different sides of the world, still have more in common than we might think. This “brotherhood of man” approach has always been important to me because our differences make us unique, yet almost always lead to strife in one form or another. Focusing on the similarities between us, on the other hand, makes day-to-day life better because it shows how our struggles, joys, successes and failures are common and should bring us together. It’s my small contribution to the betterment of society, or so I like to think.

As I was surfing from site to site in search of a topic for today’s RRU, two buzz words seemed to hit numerous times in different stories: sex and nudity. Granted, this may seem like a good thing until you remember how news agencies tend to focus more on the negative than the positive. Yes, one of these stories does have a happy ending, but in most cases—and because of the darkness that seems to be spreading across the United States (and the world, for that matter)—I’m afraid the negativity still rises to the top. My hope is that this won’t ruin anyone’s day or start the weekend off on the wrong foot, but again, they were too disturbing, strange and even interesting to ignore. I hope you enjoy this edition despite the darkness that always creeps in to the Reality Round-Up.

BILLINGS, MONTANA

Not long ago, I wrote about a man named Stacey Dean Rambold, a former high school teacher who confessed to raping one of his students—Cherize Moralez—when she was only 14 years old. Before he went to trial, though—and given the psychological and emotional consequences of rape—Moralez committed suicide. She was only two weeks shy of her 17th birthday at the time.

Judge Baugh, Moralez and Rambold (Mankato Times)

Judge Baugh, Moralez and Rambold (Mankato Times)

Rambold’s case got national attention when the judge presiding over it—the “honorable” G. Todd Baugh—claimed his victim “seemed older than her chronological age” and sentenced him to only one month in jail—in legal terms, this is known as a deferred prosecution agreement. Rambold was placed on probation for the next 15 years or so and was also required to complete a sex offender treatment program. The stipulations of this program included no contact with children, avoidance of any area where children congregate and the relinquishing of all photo, video, Internet and cell phone capabilities. As long as Rambold lived up to his obligations, all charges against him would be dropped.

Unfortunately for Rambold, he fell short of some of his treatment requirements and prosecutors pushed for his sentence to be increased to 20 years in jail. Judge Baugh disagreed and again showed his level of incompetence when he made the following statement:

“He (Rambold) made some violations of his treatment program. They were more technical and not the kind you would send someone to prison for.”

Perhaps not, but I certainly think rape is a jail-able crime, even more so when it involves an underage girl who subsequently killed herself as a result. It’s too bad Baugh didn’t think this way because yesterday, Rambold completed his month behind bars and was released from jail. Yes, he’s on probation for a long time, but otherwise he’s a free man—which means he’s capable of doing this to some other unsuspecting girl.

After all, anyone who’s willing to rape a child is obviously sick and capable of doing it again and again, at least until someone stops him. And since our justice system failed miserably in the case of Rambold—a confessed rapist—I hope we don’t see his name in the headlines again for a similar crime… but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised.

Of course, I would also like to see the following headline in the news: Judge Baugh Fired for Being a Complete Moron. This is more likely to happen, and I will be keeping my eyes peeled for it very soon.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

Although I know better, I was hoping the days of Catholic priests molesting children were largely behind us. Sadly, this isn’t the case in Philly where Father Robert Brennan was just charged with rape, aggravated indecent assault and involuntary deviant sexual intercourse. His case is related to the 2012 child endangerment conviction of Monsignor William Lynn, the first church leader convicted of such a crime.

What I find most disturbing about Brennan’s case—aside from the actual crimes themselves—is that he was implicated in a 2005 case for allegedly abusing more than 20 children. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations had passed and he was never charged. The archdiocese stripped him of most of his duties shortly after these allegations came to light, but he was allowed to remain a priest and we see where that led. Had he been removed from the priesthood and jailed for his crimes, things likely would have been much, much different.

Father Robert Brennan, leave those kids alone! (CBS Local)

Father Robert Brennan, leave those kids alone! (CBS Local)

Is it me or does anyone else sense a trend here? Teenagers who are mentally ill but don’t receive the proper treatment arm themselves and start killing schoolchildren, while priests who molest children are allowed to continue so they can do the same thing to other victims.

Until we start acknowledging these kinds of issues and actually take action, all we’re doing is reinforcing the behavior we all want to weed out of our society… at least I hope we all do. Based on some of these recent developments, though, it seems as if the very system of checks and balances we use to prevent crime continues to fail, opening the door to even more crime in the future.

Something’s got to give, but until it does, expect to see more priests molesting children since we’re obviously doing very little to stop them.

TEMECULA, CALIFORNIA

On Thursday, 19-year-old Jared James Abrahams—a computer science student with a penchant for hacking—was arrested for allegedly hijacking the webcams of young women and then extorting more risqué photos and videos by threatening to release these images online. One of his victims, in fact, was none other than Cassidy Wolf, the current Miss Teen USA and—at the time of her harassment—Miss Teen California.

According to the latest reports, Abrahams hacked into the webcams of young women, took control of their computers and then used the cameras to snap pictures of them changing clothes. He told authorities that he had as many as 40 “slave computers”—as well as access to other electronic devices (like tablets and cell phones)—and in all controlled as many as 150 different devices at one time. Once he had the images he needed, Abrahams would then contact each victim and threaten to release the photos unless they sent him more pictures or videos via Skype. His general threat went something like this:

“Either you do one of the things listed below or I upload these pics and a lot more (I have a LOT more and those are better quality) on all your accounts for everybody to see.”

In the case of Cassidy Wolf, he added “and your dream of being a model will be transformed into a porn star.”

What a complete freaking loser.

Cassidy Wolf and Abrahams, her online tormentor (NBC News)

Cassidy Wolf and Abrahams, her online tormentor (NBC News)

Fortunately, Abrahams wasn’t a tech savvy as he thought and failed to cover his “online tracks” effectively. Investigators eventually discovered emails, IP addresses and other communications linking him to these crimes—as well as posts to online forums where he asked others about hacking into Facebook accounts, controlling webcams remotely and installing malware. He was also linked to at least eight other women from places as close as Southern California and as distant as Moldova. And they all told stories similar to Wolf’s.

The good news is that Abrahams “wised up,” surrendered to the FBI without incident and admitted his crimes. After appearing in court, he was released “on intensive pretrial supervision and home detention with electronic monitoring,” but his parents had to first sign bond agreements upwards of $50,000 to make this happen. Abrahams will now face federal extortion charges, which I hope will lead to some serious jail time. We’ll just have to wait and see, I suppose.

There is one more thing I should mention about Abrahams: he’s autistic. This information came out Thursday when his lawyer, Alan Eisner, spoke with CNN affiliate KTLA. In other words, here’s another teenager with mental illness who perpetrated a crime that, to me, could have been prevented.

When are we ever going to learn?

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND

In an effort to end this edition of the Reality Round-Up on a more positive note, I bring you a story from Brown University that proves there are still some decent people in the world.

To generate discussion about “power, privilege, race, class, gender, ability and… how they interact with nudity, body image and nudity in relation to sexuality,” students at Brown have organized Nudity in the Upspace, a clothing-optional event that includes yoga classes, open mic nights, body painting and the aforementioned discussion forum.

Nude yoga sounds a little sketchy to me—especially if you get stuck behind a less hygienic person—but to each his own.

According to the event coordinators—juniors Becca Wolinsky and Camila Pacheco-Fores—the hope is that Nudity in the Upspace will promote both positivity and education.

Come to Brown University for an education and some nudity to boot (Campus Reform)

Come to Brown University for an education and some nudity to boot (Campus Reform)

“It’s mostly the idea of talking about and addressing things that people don’t ‘normally’ address that can be stigmatized,” Pacheco-Fores said recently. “I hope that people will laugh when it’s funny and feel moved when that is appropriate. I hope that people will come out of the experience feeling empowered and feeling that bodies and people are beautiful whether naked or clothed.”

Personally, I’m sure I would be very moved if I attended an event populated with naked college girls. And I’m sure some male or even female students at Brown would feel the same, even though many Ivy Leaguers likely have more self-control. Either way, though, the event seems like a great idea since we often forget that “normal people” don’t look like the models, actors and other beautiful folks featured in the media. I commend these students for being willing enough—and courageous enough—to shed their clothing for such a great cause.

I’m also glad no cameras, cell phones or bags will be allowed at the event. Otherwise I’m certain there would be pictures of naked students all over the Internet… as if there aren’t enough already!

So there you have it, folks: the sex and nudity edition of the Reality Round-Up. I’m certain it won’t be the last…

Reality Round-Up: Hump Day +1

Han Lei in court to face his punishment (Xinhua)

Han Lei in court to face his punishment (Xinhua)

A lot of people refer to Wednesday as “Hump Day” since it’s the “hump” in the middle of the work week that, once crossed, means a downhill cruise to the weekend—and some much-needed rest and relaxation.

Sadly, there is no special name for Thursday that I’m aware of, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get at least some attention… especially today, when a number of strange and disturbing news stories caught my eye. Here are a few that seemed worthy of sharing.

Beijing Baby Killer

On July 23, Han Lei and his friend Li Ming were finishing dinner in the Daxing District of Beijing, China when they decided to meet some friends at a local karaoke bar. Unfortunately, parking near the bar was hard to come by, so they attempted to park at a bus stop. That’s where they encountered a woman—also named Li (which must as common as the names Jones or Smith in America)—who was waiting with her two-year-old baby Sun.

For some reason, Han accused the woman of blocking the parking spot with her stroller and an altercation erupted. As a crowd gathered around them, Han struck the woman in the face and allegedly threatened to hurt her daughter. Moments later, he followed through on his threat, grabbed the baby and hurled her to the pavement.

Sun sustained severe brain damage and died from her wounds less than three days later.

Needless to say, Han was arrested and despite claiming to be intoxicated and not thinking clearly at the time of the murder, a Beijing court found him guilty of intentional homicide and sentenced him to death yesterday. His friend Li Ming was charged with harboring a criminal and will spend the next five years of his life in prison.

Of course, some think a death sentence is still letting Han off lightly—and I tend to agree, to some extent. Consider what a person known as Xiongwoxi posted to the Chinese social media site Weibo shortly after hearing Han’s sentence:

“He deserves to be shot 100 times. Dying once is leniency.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself, Xiongwoxi!

 

Is this the face of a serial rapist? Do you know him? (NBC News)

Is this the face of a serial rapist? Do you know him? (NBC News)

Serial Rapist Terrorizes Masseuses

Police in southern California are on the lookout for a serial rapist suspected of assaulting more than 30 women at massage parlors in Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. The rapes began in 2009 and thanks to DNA evidence, authorities were able to link the multiple crimes together. They also have video footage of the suspect, a still shot from which I included here.

According to police, the suspect poses as a customer, enters a private room for a massage and then pulls a gun on the masseuse before raping her on her own table. And since he is still on the loose and capable of doing this again and again—as he has for the past four years—people in the area are obviously freaked out.

“It’s really scary to hear that because I had no idea that was even occurring,” a massage customer named Jamie Brownow said recently. “I’m going to be very cautious now when I walk into places.”

Being careful is important, of course, but getting this guy off the streets is even more so. If you live in the area, know this suspect or have seen him before, please contact the authorities as soon as possible. And remember this: just because he likes raping masseuses now doesn’t mean he won’t change his methods and start targeting women in other locations later. The heat is on him and since the cops will be watching massage parlors more closely, I wouldn’t be surprised if he altered his patterns simply to avoid arrest.

After all, he hasn’t been caught in four years, so he’s obviously more cunning than we might imagine.

Kid Killer

Last Friday—and after receiving some calls expressing concern—police in Henderson, Nevada entered an apartment on Eastern and Sunridge Heights Parkway and discovered the bodies of 40-year-old Elvira Canales-Gomez and her 9-year-old son Cesar Navarro. Gomez had not shown up for work and would not respond to calls from friends, while Navarro hadn’t been in school since September 17. And what’s worse was that the oldest child—16-year-old Adrian Navarro-Canales—was nowhere to be found. Police feared he may also be a victim, but eventually this changed and he became a “person of interest.”

Adrian with his mother and brother (Facebook)

Adrian with his mother and brother (Facebook)

An arrest warrant for Adrian was signed on Monday, but police didn’t run across him until several days later. He was sitting in an open-air food court in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip and was taken into custody without incident.

At this point—and despite charging him as an adult for two counts of murder—no one knows what may have led Adrian to stab his mother and brother to death. The murders occurred on the evening of September 17, but Adrian continued living in the house with the bodies for a short time afterwards—his brother was dead in the bathtub while his mother’s body was lying nearby with a knife sticking out of her chest. Adrian’s aunt mentioned how he and his mother often fought, though, and some of these altercations became violent. It’s likely he has some kind of mental illness working on him, too.

This may sound bad, but I hope Adrian is mentally ill. At least that might help explain why he reacted so violently and killed his entire family. Otherwise, his case will remain a mystery like so many others, including Adam Lanza, the teen responsible for the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School not too long ago.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: crime never sleeps and the daily news stands as a testament to how dark and demented some of our brothers and sisters can be—both here in the U.S. and around the world. It would be nice for this death and destruction to end someday, but we all know that isn’t likely to happen any time soon… if ever.

Never give up hope, though. Nowadays that might be all we really have left.

Child Rapist Gets Month-Long Sentence

Rambold got only a slap on the wrist for child rape (Billings Police Department)

Unfortunately, the title of this article is accurate, much to my chagrin.

In 2008, Stacey Dean Rambold was a teacher at Billings Senior High School in Montana. He was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student—something her mother, Auliea Hanlon, described as “pre-sexual grooming” of her daughter—and resigned from the school. Later that same year, Rambold was charged with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent.

Sadly, the trauma he inflicted on his young victim was too much for her to bear. She ended up taking her own life on February 6, 2010, a few weeks shy of her 17th birthday. Hanlon immediately filed a complaint, which included this statement:

“As a result of the sexual assault and its aftermath, (the teen) experienced severe emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment and fell into irreversible depression that tragically led to her taking her own life.”

I think we can all agree that this was likely the case. Unfortunately, though, not everyone viewed this situation the same way.

Following the young girl’s suicide, prosecutors entered into a “deferred prosecution agreement” with Rambold. Basically, all the charges against him would be dropped if he agreed to complete a program for sex offenders and met several other requirements.

One of them involved having no contact with children.

As you might imagine, Rambold didn’t hold up his end of the bargain and had contact with children, primarily his young nieces and nephews. He also hooked up with several women, but never disclosed this information to his counselors, as he was required to do. As a result, the deal was dropped and his case was reactivated last year.

This past Monday, Rambold finally had his hearing and the prosecution hoped to send him to prison for at least 20 years or more. The defense, of course, argued that their client had suffered enough. He lost his job, his marriage collapsed and now he had to deal with the stigma of being labelled as a sex offender.

Montana teen Cherice Morales committed suicide following a sexual relationship with her teacher.

Rambold’s young victim, now deceased (Auliea Hanlon/Facebook)

That’s a small price to pay when you consider his victim killed herself, if you ask me. The judge in this case—the “honorable” G. Todd Baugh—disagreed and instead claimed the young girl “seemed older than her chronological age.”

Despite Rambold admitting to at least one rape, Baugh sentenced him to 15 years in prison, but suspended all but 31 days. He even credited Rambold for a day he spent in jail and dropped his sentence to 30 days.

One month behind bars for raping a 14-year-old girl and driving her to suicide! What in the hell is going on?!!

Needless to say, Hanlon was not pleased with the sentence and expressed her anger and disappointment in court, yelling “you people suck” before releasing the following statement through her attorney:

“She wasn’t even old enough to get a driver’s license. But Judge Baugh, who never met our daughter, justified the paltry sentence saying she was older than her chronological age. I guess somehow it makes a rape more acceptable if you blame the victim, even if she was only 14.”

Baugh stood by his ruling and even claimed that Rambold posed no threat of committing a sexual offense again, which I can’t understand at all. If you ask me, someone driven to rape a child will always be capable of trying again and again and again. It’s a sickness, and not one that is easy—or even possible—to cure.

This whole situation outrages me as much as it does you, at least I hope it does. The good news is that Hanlon and the Montana Organization of Women aren’t lying down and accepting this horrible failure of our justice system. They have started a petition to try to correct this mistake, so please consider joining them by going HERE.

If our system of justice can’t get this right, then perhaps our citizens can!

Pop-Up Post: Counts for Castro in Cleveland

Castro and the house where he kept his victims prisoner (courtesy of AP)

Sorry, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity for alliteration in the title.

The situation for the man charged with abducting three young women in Cleveland a decade ago, holding them captive in his home, abusing them, spawning a child with one of them and forcing them to have homemade abortions just got even worse.

Last month, Ariel Castro was indicted on 329 counts of everything ranging from rape and kidnapping to felonious assault and child endangerment, among others. Unfortunately for him, this only covered the first four years of Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry’s captivity.

On Friday, a grand jury made up for the remaining years in a new indictment that added a whopping 648 counts to his record. Castro’s arraignment is scheduled for July 17th.

Here’s how the charges against Castro stack up—and please note that the numbers represent counts against him. I don’t see the need in typing the word “counts” over and over again:

  • Kidnapping – 512
  • Rape – 446
  • Gross sexual imposition – 7
  • Felonious assault – 6
  • Child endangerment – 3
  • Possessing criminal tools – 1

I guess that rules out parole, probation or a reduction of his sentence for good behavior, huh? And since he will be going away for the rest of his natural life—unless the state elects to take that from him—I have but one thing to say to Ariel Castro.

Good bye.

Castro Kids Speak Out

Angie Gregg was shocked by her father’s evil deeds (courtesy of CNN)

Falling victim to someone as sick and depraved as Ariel Castro—the man charged with the kidnapping and rape of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight in Cleveland—is obviously a terrible thing.

Just look at what he did to these young women over the course of a decade of captivity in his Seymour Avenue home: abducting them as children in broad daylight; keeping them chained up; raping and impregnating them; forcing one to miscarry as many as five babies; forcing another to actually have his child… the list goes on and on.

Of course, being the child of a monster like Castro is no easy task, either. Especially once you discover that the man you loved—and the man you thought loved you—was in fact torturing young women and keeping horrible secrets from those closest to him.

I cannot imagine what these kids—now adults—must be feeling right now. But in the case of Castro’s daughter, Angie Gregg, I don’t have to try to imagine it; she basically laid everything out in an interview with CNN recently.

Before she knew about the horrible things her father did, Gregg described her dad as a “friendly, caring and doting man.” Her childhood with him seemed ordinary enough, for the most part. Castro would take her for rides on his motorcycle and sometimes lined children up in his backyard for haircuts—which seems much more ominous given Castro’s crimes.

Unfortunately, though, life with her father wasn’t always happy. Castro accused Gregg’s mother, Grimilda Figueroa, of cheating on him and often beat her “like she was a man.” Gregg witnessed many of these attacks, as did her sisters. Eventually, Figueroa had enough and left Castro.

Anthony Castro is Ariel’s son (courtesy of LinkedIn)

Gregg was the only daughter who stayed behind because she believed the excuses her father gave for his violent behavior. And she remained with him until she was grown and moved away.

Now married and aware of who her father really was, Gregg remains shocked, appalled and, most of all, disgusted. To her, Castro  is “the most evil, vile, demonic criminal” ever. And given what he did to these young women—two of which Gregg knew in her school days (DeJesus and Berry)—she now says that Castro is “dead to [her].” And who could blame her?

What’s most frightening about Gregg’s new-found knowledge of her father is how every little detail from her past suddenly started to fall into place. Things she once found slightly strange—but not all that suspicious—now seem so much darker and disturbing. Here are a few specific examples that she referenced in her interview:

  • Any time Gregg visited her father, his house was locked up tight,  he would appear in a window, motion for her to wait and then take an abnormally long time to reappear. When he finally did, he would always ask her to come around to the back door. Never was she—or anyone else—permitted to enter through the front.
  • Gregg and her husband visited Castro and occasionally ate dinner with him, but he always had music playing very loud. And when she asked to go upstairs to see her childhood bedroom, he always made excuses, like there was too much junk in the room. Little did she know that “junk” was actually a young woman being held captive.
  • At one point, Gregg and her husband were living in Indiana and invited Castro to visit, but he always declined because he never wanted to leave home for more than a day at a time. Now we know why.
  • A few months ago, Castro showed Gregg a picture of a 6-year-old girl on his cell phone and claimed it was his girlfriend’s daughter—this was the same story he told a neighbor who saw him at the park with a young girl last Sunday, the day before his captives were freed and he was arrested by police.

How horrifying must it be to realize that every time you thought things were normal with your father, the truth is that he was doing evil and despicable things to women roughly your same age? Women you once knew as children?

Gregg is understandably beside herself and now wants nothing more to do with her father… ever.

“There will be no visits; there will be no phone calls. He can never be daddy again,” she told reporters. “I have no sympathy for the man. To go to the vigils, to show these girls the footage of their parents’ pleas for their return, to rape, starve and beat innocent human beings… I am disgusted.”

Poor woman.

Castro’s son Anthony has also been affected by his father’s terrible crimes and was initially suspected of being the rapist/kidnapper since they share the same first name, Ariel. He was, of course, cleared once police arrested his dad.

Oddly enough, Anthony noticed some peculiarities similar to those shared by Gregg with regard to their father. The most notable is that whenever Anthony visited Castro, he was rarely—if ever—allowed inside the house. His last visit actually occurred a short time ago, not long before Castro’s crimes finally came to light.

Ariel Castro and the home where he kept young women captive (courtesy of the BX Daily Bugle)

“I last saw my dad two weeks ago at the house, but he didn’t let me in. He never did,” Anthony told MailOnline, a British news site. “The last time was several years ago and even then it was for about 20 minutes.”

What’s even more bizarre is that Anthony—a self-proclaimed “journalist turned banker” who graduated from Bowling Green University with a degree in print journalism—once interviewed Nancy Ruiz for a 2004 newspaper article. Ruiz is the mother of Gina DeJesus, who had been missing for just a few months at the time of the interview.

Now Anthony knows the truth: it was his own family responsible for the young girl’s disappearance. And this isn’t easy for him to accept, as I’m sure we can all imagine.

“If I had known anything about this, there is no way I could have not done something about it,” he said. “I wrote about it ten years ago and now it is so close to my family. It’s unbelievable.”

Unbelievable is right. And it just goes to show that no matter how well you think you know someone—even your own flesh and blood—the truth is that no one can truly know the evil that lies within. It just sucks that something horrible like this had to happen before Gregg and Anthony Castro discovered the truth about their father. My heart goes out to them, to be sure.

Rape Jeans

Stop victim-blaming when rape occurs (property of Peace Over Violence)

For her senior service project, McKenna Nerone of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin decided to so something a little different. And it was something many students her age likely never considered.

To raise awareness about rape, Nerone is joining Denim Day USA on April 24th and collecting jeans. which will then be used to represent rape statistics.

“Every two minutes in America, someone is raped,” she said recently. And when Nerone did the math, she figured that 1,050 rapes occur within each school week.

So she’s collecting 1,050 pairs of jeans to visually illustrate this statistic later this month.

“It’s one thing to say 1,050 people are victims. I think it says something different to actually see what that means in a different form.”

Denim Day USA began in 1999 as a protest to an earlier ruling by an Italian court. In this particular case, a teenage rape victim’s attacker went free because the tight jeans she was wearing supposedly indicated her consent.

In other words, she was asking for it. Why else would she wear jeans that were painted on?

Ridiculous.

If you ask me, Nerone should be commended for her civic responsibility and altruism. Rape is a serious issue in this country and around the world, as evidenced by recent news of girls being raped on buses in the Middle East, tourists being gang raped in Mexico and endless others that go unreported.

McKenna Nerone (property of M. Nerone)

However, I must confess that when I first heard this story, I thought she was wearing a pair of jeans emblazoned with all kinds of rape statistics—like the fact that 80% of rape victims are under the age of 30; or 54% of all sexual assaults are never reported; or two-thirds of all rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.

I’m sure jeans like that would cause quite a stir, but it’s likely the accompanying controversy would distract from the message. I much prefer Nerone’s approach.

And I’m not the only one.

Nerone’s project led others in nearby Milwaukee to establish a Denim Day Milwaukee page on Facebook, where anyone interested is welcome to donate to this worthy cause. Check it out here.

There are also businesses in the Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Greendale, Brookfield and Waukesha communities where locals can donate to Nerone’s Share-A-Pair effort. Please consider dropping by one of them if you live in the area and have some old jeans to spare!

To Rape No More

This face tormented victims for decades (courtesy of AP/Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office)

After 35 years on the lam, it looks like luck has finally run out for convicted serial rapist Gary Irving—otherwise known as Gregg Irving in Gorham, Maine, where the fugitive has been hiding for more than three decades.

Now 52, Irving was 18 when he was convicted of raping three women in Massachusetts. On one occasion, he held a young woman at knife-point and threatened to kill her if she didn’t comply with his demands. On another, Irving knocked a woman off her bicycle, dragged her into the woods and raped her repeatedly.

We’re talking about a real “salt of the earth” kind of guy here. And yes, I am being quite facetious. He’s trash.

What happened in that Norfolk County court in 1978 boggles the mind. The judge—the Honorable Robert Prince, I’m supposed to say—in his profound judgment (facetious) saw fit to grant Irving bail after he was found guilty of raping those women. In his mind, he was allowing Irving and his family time to prepare for what was to come, possibly a sentence of life in prison.

In reality, he was providing Irving with exactly what he wanted: a get out of jail free card.

Irving obviously skipped bail, took off and successfully reintegrated himself into society up north. And despite changing only his first name—to something like Gregg, which seems kind of obvious to me—the authorities never found him, at least not until recently. How in the hell did they miss that?

For years, Irving worked installing telephones in Gorham businesses. And during his absence, he was added to the Massachusetts Top 10 Most Wanted list and even appeared on such shows as Unsolved Mysteries and America’s Most Wanted.

I guess the people of Gorham don’t watch much television. Otherwise you’d think someone would have recognized Irving after catching one of these programs.

Irving at the time of his arrest (courtesy of Reuters

Instead, he lived on and could have possibly repeated his criminal behavior in Maine. In the opinion of Louis Sabadini, the prosecutor in Irving’s original rape case, “rapists generally have a tendency to commit that crime over and over again, so I don’t know what he has been doing all those years.”

Just to be safe, the Maine police are reviewing unsolved rape cases to see if Irving could be connected to any of them. And based on what Sabadini said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were.

Fortunately, this predator is now safely behind bars in Portland. And this time, he’s being held without bail, which is a nice touch. Irving is also getting a weapons charge since police found a number of illegal firearms in his home.

In other words, he could be going away for a long, long time. The unfortunate thing, though, is that even if Irving gets a life sentence, it can never compare to the time he spent free.

Time he stole from three young women—and maybe more—I might add.

Are They Rapists?

Protesters outside the court house (courtesy of Michael D. McElwain/Steubenville Herald-Star/AP)

Today, the judge in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case is expected to deliver his decision on whether or not high school football players Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond are guilty.

The young men have been charged as juveniles for rape by digital penetration of a very drunk 16-year-old girl. If convicted, they both face imprisonment in a juvenile facility until they are 21, roughly 4 years.

Incidentally, digital penetration refers to the use of fingers, not some weird cyber sex/computer hacking thing or worse, inserting digital technology into… well, I’m sure you get the picture, as gross as it is. I suggest getting a cover or air-tight case for that iPod if you must participate in such a bizarre and unhygienic act.

But I digress.

On Friday, several key witnesses testified and made life even worse for the young defendants. The first was Evan Westlake, the designated driver who took Mays, Richmond, Mark Coles and the victim to Coles’ home on the night of the alleged rape. And what supposedly happened in the car and later that evening?

Words like tragic, sick and criminal certainly come to mind.

According to Westlake, Mays “fingered” the young girl in the back seat of his Volkswagen Jetta while Coles watched and even snapped some video on his cell phone. Coles later said that only minutes before this “photo shoot,” outside the party, the three boys stood around the passed out girl and offered each other money for being the first to urinate on her.

Thankfully, no one stepped up, at least not for this depravity. The worst was yet to come.

Westlake eventually reached Coles’ house and helped everyone get inside. Before he left, he walked into the basement and stumbled upon a situation most of us would find disturbing. The young girl was lying naked in the middle of the floor, on her side, and had vomited. Beside her was Mays.

He was naked and slapping his penis on the side of her hip.

At the same time, Richmond was lying behind the drunk victim and penetrated her vagina with his fingers “halfway to the knuckle,” as Westlake put it.

“It wasn’t what I expected to see,” he testified Friday. And when asked why he didn’t stop it, Westlake confessed that he “didn’t know exactly what rape was” and thought it involved “forcing yourself on someone.”

Since it didn’t seem Mays and Richmond were forcing themselves on the barely conscious girl, Westlake didn’t think anything was wrong. He said his goodbyes and recounted the response he got from the alleged rapists: “See you Monday at football.”

Yikes.

Another eyewitness who took the stand Friday was classmate Anthony Craig. He stumbled in to the same basement scene as Westlake and observed the young victim.

“She wasn’t moving. She wasn’t talking,” Craig said under oath. “She wasn’t participating.”

This was confirmed by a text message recovered from Mays’ phone that described the victim as “barely moving,” as well as all sorts of eyewitness testimony.

The defendants: Richmond and Mays (courtesy of WEWS)

Before leaving the house, Craig snapped a picture of the naked victim and sent it to several friends, including Coles, who supposedly sent Mays a text about it later.

“Like serious Trent,” Coles supposedly wrote. “You can’t be doing that. And is that your… semen on her stomach?”

“Ha ha ha. Yeah,” Mays texted back.

I forgot to mention that Mays allegedly sprayed his victim with man juice. Disgusting.

The unfortunate thing about Friday was that all the guys who testified against Mays and Richmond received immunity for doing so. We’re talking about one guy who drove them around and two guys who stumbled across the rape, but did nothing to stop it.

Craig even took a picture, for Christ’s sake!

Saturday wasn’t much better for the defendants, but it beat the hell out of Friday.

On Saturday, the 16-year-old victim took the stand and described what little she recalled of that fateful August evening and morning after. And let me tell you, it wasn’t much.

She remembered mixing vodka with slushies at the party, but her only other memory was of waking up on the curb the next morning, dirty and vomiting. This fell right in line with the stories of numerous eyewitnesses, all of whom described her as being extremely wasted and far too drunk to move or speak.

In the days following the rape, the victim learned more about what happened from friends and classmates, some of whom shared pictures and other information online. One classmate posted a video of himself making fun of the assault, and that finally prompted her to visit the hospital and, subsequently, identify her attackers.

She didn’t want to identify them, though.

“Honestly, I was praying that everything I heard wasn’t true,” she said Saturday. “I didn’t want to get myself into drama because I knew everyone would just blame me.”

Sadly, she’s probably right. And I imagine that’s why so many rapes go unreported each year. What a sad state of affairs.

At any rate, it looks as if this case will come to an end soon, hopefully by the end of the day. I’ve tried to be as fair to the defendants as possible in this article—using words like alleged and supposedly throughout—but the evidence and eyewitness testimony is difficult to ignore. Between you and me, I think they’re guilty as hell and need to be locked up.

Of course, a guilty verdict still means that only two of the five rape participants will be incarcerated, so will justice ever truly be served? I, for one, have my doubts.

UPDATE: As expected, the judge in this case found both teenage boys guilty of raping that drunk, 16-year-old girl. Looks like their next stop will be in a juvenile detention facility. I certainly hope they both learn the error of their ways.

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