I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more daily than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, & LGBT advocacy.
Can We Get Sex Crime Punishment Right?
In November 2018, news erupted of at least eight incidents of assault or sexual assault occuring at St. Michael's College School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, rocking the St. Michael's community and raising questions about how bullying is handled in schools. Charges were laid in three of those incidents, according to Toronto Sun, and over the last while, three boys were waiting for their sentencing to have been finished to discover their fate for their role in some of the crimes. All three in this incident were each given two years of probation.
Now, lest one think that I am making light of a serious matter, or applauding the fact that these boys were effectively given a slap on the wrist for something their victims will be paying for the rest of their lives, I assure you that I am not. In fact, it astounds me that three young boys—all roughly around the age of 15 or 16—who engaged in a violent sexual assault would get so light a punishment.
Much has been made over the years about how there are different levels of the law for the rich and for those who are not so wealthy. The fact of the matter is, these boys who wisely pled guilty for their crimes need to understand that there are consequences for violent offenses, including jail time. Two of the boys sexually assaulted their victims with a broom handle. The third filmed it. Not only does such behavior indicate a significant depravity among those who perpetrated the crime, but giving the trio nothing more than probation indicates a lack of understanding on the part of the judge of the sort of impact that this sexual assault will have on their victim.
I am usually a fairly gentle soul. I usually believe in giving people second chances. However, when it comes to issues such as sexual assault, I believe in order to properly underscore the severity of what the boys did, they do need to go to jail. To an extent, seeing these boys punished would also help the victim see that the crime is being taken seriously and people are being appropriately dealt with.
To give these boys nothing more than probation serves nothing more than to show their victims that what happened to them does not matter. The victims in this matter are going to be scarred emotionally for life. The three who committed the crime and admitted to it will have a sealed criminal record because they are underage.
Should the kids who committed the crimes be punished for the rest of their lives for what they did? No. However, this does go beyond a simple matter of "they're kids and they made a mistake." They chose a weapon to commit the crime with. One chose to film the incident, for God's sake, no differently than he would film a cute dog video or a cool skateboard trick. I've no idea how far that video spread before the police got involved, but imagine the fear and humiliation that the victim had and probably continues to have that the video is still lurking somewhere online?
Admittedly, I do not have the details of this matter. However, the optics of the situation are awful for the victim, and really, for the justice system involved in this case. Sure, the kids who committed the crime are exactly that—kids—and they had enough sense to plead guilty. It could very well have been their very first criminal charges, and hopefully their last. Perhaps the judge in the case believed that by giving the boys probation they have learned their lesson?
We live in a world where if a woman is sexually assaulted, there are significant traumas involved for the victim if she reports to police what happened. I've heard of instances where women have been asked what they were wearing and so forth, as though something as simple as their clothing could have provoked a sexual assault.
What about the male victims of sexual assault? Do you think the victims here would have found things any easier to bear as this case was investigated? Sexual assault, especially one involving a weapon as the method, leaves you raw and vulnerable, and the victims here will possibly feel even more so given their assaulters received nothing more than probation.
Now that the perpetrators of the crime have been given probation, the male victims here will no doubt feel that justice has very definitely not been served in their case. I know I wouldn't.