“Sex” Watch: Colorado Vail Daily edition

We all know the problem of the mainstream media calling rape “sex”, and calling raping or being raped “having sex with”. I now bring you what is expected to be a far too regular feature: “Sex” Watch.

Today, it’s the Vail Daily.

jeremyraysmithrapistitsnotsex

D.A.: Eagle man jailed for sex with girl, 13

EAGLE, Colorado — A man who had sex with a 13-year-old girl in 2006 and who later threatened her with a knife will go to prison for three years, said Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.

District Court Judge R. Thomas Moorhead sentenced Jeremy Ray Smith, 20, of Eagle, to three years in prison Wednesday. Smith will serve two years of parole after he gets out of prison and will have to register permanently as a sex offender, Hurlbert said.

In a separate case, a jury convicted Smith of unlawful sexual contact in June for looking under a bar bathroom stall at a woman’s private parts Aug. 28. He is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.

“He is obviously a pretty bad guy, so we’re happy he’s going to prison,” Hurlbert said.

The 13-year-old girl in the first case said Smith coerced her into having sex, but he did not threaten her or use physical force, Hurlbert said. However, the circumstances don’t matter because a 13-year-old cannot consent to having sex, according to law, Hurlbert said.

Smith threatened the girl last year — when she was 14 — with a knife at the Eagle County Fairgrounds, Hurlbert said. She was not injured, Hurlbert said.

Smith had pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child in a position of trust and menacing with a weapon and was sentenced on both felony charges.

“Attempted” sexual assault? Was this a plea bargain? He was in a position of trust, and he raped her and later atthreatened her with a knife, and we’re still calling this “sex”?

Also notable is the fact that the DA seems only really convinced that he is a “bad guy” because he also peeped under a bathroom stall at an adult woman. The raping and waving knives at children – not so much a big deal in itself, unless he’s shown himself to be a “bad guy” in other ways. He faces up to two years in jail for the peeping conviction.

They don’t mention what the “position of trust” was, but of course this makes it so much worse. They also seem to have completely missed the point that coercion into “sexual activity” is rape, no matter what the age of the person involved.



Categories: gender & feminism, language, media, violence

13 replies

  1. “coercion into “sexual activity” is rape”
    Sadly, that’s not the case everywhere, legally speaking. It SHOULD be, and hopefully it will be, someday. In the meantime, though, women should be aware of just how hostile the law can be to our lived experiences. (not saying the writer meant to do us any such favor)

  2. This always baffles me. I mean, I know our culture can be messed up about rape. I know the apologists love to cry about false accusations and what-about-innocent-until-proven-guilty (while happily failing to extend the same courtesy to the victim).
    But the girl in question is 13. That’s not “questionable”. That’s not “grey”. At the very least, even if she was thrilled to pieces and jumped up and down screaming “Take me now”, it’s still STATUTORY GODDAMNED RAPE. I don’t want to play compare-the-trauma with other cases of rape, but out of every scenario possible, THESE kinds of cases are the ones where none of the bullshit rape apology should apply, surely?*
    *I say this full in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, is saying “But maybe she LOOKED 18!!!”

  3. Why is someone who rapes a person charged with, what appears to me to be, the euphemism of sexual assault and not the good old fashioned ugly crime of rape.

    Some time during the late 70s or 80s I understand that the name of the crime was changed to sexual assault.

    What were our legislators considering and thinking of when they changed the name of the crime from rape to sexual assault?

    Possibly why some/many journalists and others confuse rape with sex, whether maliciously or otherwise, is because the word sexual is used in what I see as a legally pasteurised term for rape.

    Please feel free to pull these ideas to pieces.

  4. How incongruous is that grinning mug shot? What a strange photo to have released with their story.

  5. They also seem to have completely missed the point that coercion into “sexual activity” is rape, no matter what the age of the person involved.

    THANK YOU.

    What were our legislators considering and thinking of when they changed the name of the crime from rape to sexual assault?

    Good question. I think that in some cases, the idea was to define “sexual assault” legally as “rape and unwanted sexual contact that does not involve penetration” in order to strengthen the laws. Rape is sexual assault, but sexual assault is not necessarily rape. This certainly isn’t the case in all places, though, and there is all kinds of really weird terminology all over sexual assault laws, like “indecent assault” where I’ve had to search and search around to finally figure out that it does mean “sexual assault.” In these cases, I think that yes, the idea is to diminish and mask the true nature of the crime.

    Possibly why some/many journalists and others confuse rape with sex, whether maliciously or otherwise, is because the word sexual is used in what I see as a legally pasteurised term for rape.

    Even if this were the case, there’s absolutely no excuse. Journalists of all people should understand both 1. how the law works well enough to correctly write about it and 2. how the English language works. So I don’t actually buy it. I’m going more with the aspect of ingrained rape culture and attempts to uphold it by portraying even convicted rapists as somehow having gotten a raw deal from women who had “morning-after regret” or whatever the fuck they’re calling the made up phenomenon now.
    I’ve written about this referring to rape as “sex” issue before, and had suggested to me that it ought to be a feminist project to get the media to cut this shit out. It’s certainly not feminism’s most pressing concern, but I do think that it’s really important — so Lauredhel, I’m glad that you’re taking on the task (as you have been). As I’m sure that it will come up again on my blog, do you mind if I borrow your graphic with a credit when it does?

  6. do you mind if I borrow your graphic with a credit when it does?

    Oh please do, and encourage others to do so. Consider it Creative Commons-Noncommercial-Attribution.
    I favour putting it next to mug shots, especially grinning mug shots.
    Haven’t been quite up to tackling the Kyle Payne sexual assault yet, because I’m seething too much.

  7. I recently read (and shouted at – I do that) a similar piece in one of the Norwegian online papers. A fifty-something man was convicted of repeated sexual abuse of his stepdaughter, who was 11-13 at the time. The journalist (and, for all I know, the court) referred to it as sex and the actual conviction statement said that the jail term (as usual, waaaay to lenient) was set shorter than the prosecutor wanted because “the court does not find that any force was used”.
    Yup.

  8. And in other news
    This is interesting, although I think they might be treading a fine line as to legality / sub judice.

  9. Helen: that story gives me the flying heebie jeebies.

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