A couple months ago, I told you about a pretty disturbing article by Dallas’ CultureMap that was the epitome of victim blaming. It was the case of Ryan Romo, a 19 year old high school student in an affluent area of Dallas, who was arrested for raping a younger student after a local concert. His lawyer has managed to keep a pretty good lid on the case, despite an uproar of local interest. The reactions to this case have been exceedingly disturbing, as can be seen by the varied reaction of commenters on new websites reporting on this case. A writer even lost his job, speaking out against the tide of victim blaming.
Yesterday though, there was a press conference and the grand jury came back with a decision. They have opted to not indict Ryan Romo. This has let the crazies back out of the bag and flooding the comment sections. Personally, the whole thing seems rather shady.
What we know for certain is that the girl returned home after the assault and told her parents. They immediately took her to a hospital where a rape exam was performed. The doctors concluded that she had been sexually assaulted based on tearing and abrasions. The next day, she went to her regular gynecologist, who confirmed the conclusion based on the physical evidence. The police were immediately called, and a report was filed. The parents of the girl, who has still not been identified, stepped forward to ask for better rape prevention and sexual assault education in the area high school. Ryan Romo was arrested after the police recorded a phone conversation between the victim and the accused rapist where he inferred that the sexual contact was not consensual.
In my book, she did everything right. This is exactly what women are told to do in this instance, but the scenario rarely plays out as perfectly. Generally, women and girls will not tell immediately or shower prior to an exam. They usually wait until the physical evidence is gone. They don’t want anyone to know. And, they don’t want to feel violated again through the exam or to have to relive the incident by calling the police. But, this girl and her parents really did everything right.
Once the media got involved though, it became a war of words and intentions. And, the girl was torn apart in the press and by the public. She was called promiscuous. It was somehow being used as proof that she could not have possibly been raped. He was called a baseball star with a bright future. And, somehow this was proof that he couldn’t have ever raped anyone. Many, many people through the word “bad judgment” and “mistake” around. The girl’s parents were blamed for letting her out of the house. The girl was blamed for leading Romo on. The police were blamed for acting too quickly. And, Ryan Romo was coddled by saying that he was a great kid who made one stupid mistake – having sex with a minor. All these people are now holding their heads high and commending each other on standing by Romo, since the grand jury no-billed the case.
I know what you’re thinking – but how could the grand jury do that since there was all this evidence against him? It seems like an open and shut case. Well, it’s never quite that easy. A grad jury, for the uninitiated is a group of jurors that hears all the evidence and decides if there is enough probable cause for a trial. The case is presented by the District Attorney’s office. The attorney for the defendant is not allowed to present any counter evidence. In this grand jury hearing though, the judge allowed the criminal defense attorney to present evidence and argue the case.
What was this evidence that was produced that was so important that it couldn’t wait for a trial? It was a lie detector test. If you’ve watched any court tv in your life, you know as well as I that lie detector tests are not admissible in court. This test was conducted by the defense, not the DA’s office or the police. It was at the last minute that the judge allowed this to be presented.
See, that sounds shady to me. The victim was not allowed to take a lie detector test to counter Romo’s result. And, all that physical evidence apparently meant nothing. So, where exactly are we in a world were a jury of our so-called peers comes to this type of conclusion. If anything, this should have gone to trial, where it could have been judged more fairly. What was the grand jury thinking? Maybe they too have bought into this idea that rape victims lie about being raped. That sexual assault is just a convenient excuse to tell your parents where you were out to late at night. That maybe victims submit to multiple doctor’s examinations and the scrutiny of the police and media for fun.
Or, maybe it is more important that the accused was well-loved member of a sports team for his high school, his father a successful CEO at a company in Dallas and that the girl had a sexual history.
Seriously. What the hell is going on in our community for this to happen?