As many as 20 people witnessed the brutal rape of a 15-year-old girl in Richmond, Calif. Saturday night. That sentence alone made me stand up, get mad, call some friends and rail about the horrific vision of it all. It’s hard to fathom the sheer callousness and cruelty of the bystanders.
Not only did some of those 20 folks stand and watch, some of the onlookers and participants cheered it along, and videotaped it with cell phones.
Would one or more of them dare to post those videos on Youtube? And if they did, how many people would click in to watch the heinous violence against this child? I’d be afraid to tally up the number of people who would actually log on to watch the unfolding of this act of rape.
But that’s the kind of world we live in, isn’t it? Remember when a certain R & B star (R. Kelly) was accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl? Remember the circulation of the video? How many people sat down at their computers and watched that travesty?
Let’s pray that these cell phone video tapes of the rape in Richmond never make it to Youtube or receive any kind of circulation.
Let’s pray that the next time someone witnesses a criminal act, like the vicious rape of a child taking place, that they have the courage to shout at the attackers, call 911, call for help, run to help the victim.
Unfortunately in this case, nobody called 911, nobody tried to stop the sexual violence, nobody came to this young girl’s rescue. Nobody.
I wish and hope and pray that the onlookers to this crime will be arrested. “Witnesses are rarely prosecuted for failing to report a crime,” Eugene O’Donnell, a New York law professor told ABC news.
"I can't tell you how many cases I had where there was someone standing feet away from a rape, and I wanted to try them as an accomplice but couldn't," Linda Fairstein, a former New York City sex crimes prosecutor, told ABC.
How many cases? How many cases, indeed. Even one case like this is too much.
This whole incident brings to mind the plot of a movie made in the late 80s titled, “The Accused.” Based on a true Massachusetts rape case, the movie features Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias, a young woman who goes to a bar one night and has a bit too much to drink. She finds herself in a room in the back of the bar dancing to music playing on a jukebox. She flirts with a man on the dance floor and that man, also drunk, begins to sexually assault her. Two other men hold her down while this happens. Then a few other guys, who are looking on, also rape Tobias, while others cheer, chant and egg him on. After the brutality ends, Tobias runs sobbing from the bar out onto the highway to find help.
In Roger Ebert’s review of this movie he writes:
This is the first film I can remember that considers the responsibility of bystanders in a rape case. The drunken fraternity boys and townies who climb on the furniture and chant and cheer are accessories to rape, although our society sometimes has difficulty in understanding that.
How difficult is this to understand?
I believe that the proliferation of easily accessed pornography on television, the internet and other places has a lot to do with the ease with which some can stand by and watch such a thing happen. Too many are desensitized to violence, especially sexual violence that they see constantly in the media and other places.
It shouldn’t be hard to understand that it is just plain, flat-out wrong to watch such a brutal act of violence against anyone, especially a child. And it is also wrong not to at least pick up a phone (which at that point shouldn’t even be considered to be a recording device), and dial 911.
What do you say?