February 13, 2013
TW: Rape, violence: In some of the most disturbing and sickening news of the day, New York state police have decided that a 15-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by three boys was in fact not sexually assaulted because both she and the boys are mentally handicapped.
In May of last year, three boys attacked a 15-year-old mentally challenged student at Martin De Porres Academy, a school for students with special needs in Long Island. According to the police report, one of the boys repeatedly banged her head against the table while the other two forced her to give them oral sex and then tried to have forcible anal sex with her. In interviews with the police, the girl explained how she repeatedly said “no” and “stop” but that the boys continued to assault her. When she came home from school that day, her mother noticed that she had blood on her underwear.
But the Nassau County Police Department recently decided to drop the case after learning that the boys also had learning disabilities and mental handicaps, which apparently made the situation far too complicated for the police department.
The department’s spokesperson told the New York Daily News , “It was more of a consensual situation with their mental capabilities.”
Of course, head-banging, blood and repeated pleas to “stop” are never consensual situations—regardless of the IQ level of the attackers. But, in this case, the police department is even further off target. As the family’s lawyer explained, the girl has an IQ of about 50 points, which puts her below the cognitive functioning level to consent to sex at all.
The school meanwhile, has played its own part in attempting to cover up the case. Only weeks after the assault occurred, the school sent a letter to the police department, that read:
“The school administration request (sic) no further police action and will handle additional behavioral and social issues with traning (sic) and additional counseling.”
The school did fire the teacher who was present in the classroom during the attack.
Women and girls with mental disabilities are frequently the targets for sexual assaults—and few of their aggressors are ever prosecuted.
According to one study, a staggering 80 percent of women with these disabilities are the targets of rape or sexual assault in their lifetimes.
People with disabilities are rarely brought into conversations about social justice struggles, like sexual violence, but that 80 percent statistic is outrageous & disgusting. If we are going to talk about rape culture, we need to include those most vulnerable to violence, including those with disabilities.