Community Bullies Rape Victim

Last month Penn State’s Defensive Coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of sexually assaulting young boys. After the allegations became public one of the alleged victims became the target of bullying at Central Mountain High School in Mill Hall, Pa., where he had been an all-star athlete.

The young man, called “Victim One” in court records, says fellow students and even the high school football coach (who is also Assistant Principal) made verbal attacks and threats of violence after allegations went public.

When his mother reported the abuse, the school simply advised, “Go home and forget about it.” And in fact, the school’s Principal initially tried to keep Victim One from reporting Sandusky’s alleged assaults in the first place, his mother says.

Victim One’s mother has now pulled her son out of school.

In a similar case, last year fourteen-year-old Samantha Kelly became a victim of bullying which was so intense that she committed suicide. Once again, the bullying arose after her mother reported the rape (it’s unclear whether statutory or forcible) and when it became public after the local Fox News affiliate identified Kelly by name.

So sad that sometimes the community gangs up on rape victims while protecting the perpetrators.

Yet another example of the “entitlement-silence-protection” phenomenon that is all a part of rape culture.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on December 5, 2011, in feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Why is it hard for people to swallow the truth that Pen State’s defensive coordinator. He possibly ruined the life of his victims which will have big psychology damage, not to mention physical. It really scares me that a community attacks an individual instead of helping the person in a time of need. The power of group influences on individuals surprises me. They lower their moral standards and allow people to be bully and even cover try to cover it up. They dehumanize their victims, outing them from their group creating a ”them and Us”. It allows them to justify their actions believing it is okay. It’s interesting that people are more willing to protect an authority figure higher up then them. I’m giving Sandusky the benefit of the doubt and not considering him a sexual predator until he is proving guilty in the court of law. But if he did do it, he is going to get a taste of his own medicine in prison. Also feel deep sympathy for Samantha Kelly’s family not surprised a Fox News affiliate will pull something so dumb like that.

  2. Shameful. That is the only word to describe the behavior of these communities. These organizations are supposed to take allegations such as these very seriously but again we are reminded we live in a world where the victim is often for blame when sex crimes occur. Though I can understand somewhat in the case of the Penn state coach. He was a man oh high standing in his community and it is always hard to drink in when someone of his stature is accused of a crime like molestation. But in the case of the new organization releasing the young ladies name well that is inexcusable. Im pretty sure there are laws against releasing a rape victims name by news media. And what is worse is that instead of comforting and supporting this poor girl they ostracize her and drive her to suicide. It is just sickening, this community should be ashamed of their members. What a waste.

  3. It amazes me how successful people like Jerry throw their lives away for things that are so stupid. They risk everything for immoral sexual encounters like this one. I did extra research on him just now and apparently he would seduce boys- sometimes with alcohol and co-erce them. I’m assuming he was pretty good at at since there are at least eight victims, one of whom didn’t come forward until he was 19.

    THe vicim should remain anonymous and I feel it’s an insult to injury for people to tourment him. Why are they even doing it to him? Because he may be gay ? It’s ridiculous.
    As for Jerry, I’m surprised he’s out on bail. Guys like him need to get to prison for the rest of their lives. He is a threat to society. If it was my ten-year-old son he was trying to seduce, I’d want to kill him. I don’t have kids, I’m only twenty-one, but hopefull when I do have kids, I’ll be able to protect them from sexual predators like Jerry.
    Jerry is a textbook predator. I’m happy he is exposed and I’m sure he’ll get found guilty because his victims will testify. Even if he doesn’t want to go to trial, I’m sure he’ll face a long prison sentence.

  4. Gds1 Gretchen Sturkey

    This is so sad and it happens all the time. When I was in high school a girl reported a rape by a popular baseball player and was taunted for the next 3 years of school. It seems to be that the more successful the perpetrator the more hell the victim has to go through. I think it’s sick and absurd. If a victim of a crime cannot trust his or her community, rapes will soon go unreported altogether. Communities need to stick together and no matter who the perpetrator is, bring them to justice. It’s almost like the higher up the criminal the lower the victim is valued. I feel horrible to know that I live in a world were abuse is determined by popularity or class value. I hope that one day thoughts and actions that support abuse will be extinct. When laws were created there was no value placed on who breaks them. They were intended for all people, rich, poor, white and black. Human rights are just that, rights given to ALL humans. Just because ones popularity and class rank high doesn’t mean a victim isn’t worthy of justice for wrong doing against them. This isn’t right. It must stop.

  5. Catherine Knipe

    Bullying is undergoing a social change right now, thanks to popular figures leading the cause like Lady Gaga and other celebrities putting a voice to anti-bullying. It used to be that “boys will be boys” and bullying was part of growing up. It’s now finally being seen as it should be — potentially lethal. As a society, we need to continue to give voice to those that are being bullied and help them to maintain the rights they’re entitled to like anyone else.

  6. I want to start off with just talking about rape. Rape physiologically ruins a persons life. Its just as bad as killing a person. I have read so many cases of rapes and most of the criminals who commits rape once, commits it again. It affects the whole society, not just the victim. like the last year a two year girl got raped in a dollar store. the criminal had previous rape charges on him. If he would have thrown out of this world he wouldn’t have committed rape. its crazy how we have rights for criminals and not for victims. (After hearing the news, I couldn’t sleep for the whole night, thinking about the horrors what this innocent kid went trough.) I think we need some major change in the law in the case of rape. In the countries, where rape = death penalty, the cases of rape per year is really close to zero. Now bullying due to rape is also an effect of rape on society. The rape culture that’s going on over here needs to be stopped with a strong notion. Now coming back to the topic of bullying, bullying has been going on due to different psychological reasons. Number one according to me is being difference from others. It can be due to ones lunch, physical appearance or name. Basically, Its not the kids fault but its the fault of parents because they lack interaction with their kids. Otherwise kids will tell everything at home to their parents, Kids who are bullying and who are being bullied and thus will stop the whole problem. But some parents just laugh at these kid of behavior and ignorantly slip pass them. I think the solution to this can be a parent/ kid course. Where you teach kids that everyone is equal and tells parents to actively talk to their kids and know if there is any teasing going on in school. Its sad how we have people on such higher level in schools and they do not give a damn about kids. I am sorry to say but i think I can even do a better job then them and help the kids.

  7. It is really sad to read this, but also thank you so much for posting this. I think we need more and more awareness of those types of stories and hopefully soon we will see more stories where victims will not be bullied where they would be in fact winning the justice they deserve. The saddest part about this is that the same very people who are there to protect them such as school officials are the ones doing the bullying. Why?
    In additions to answers proposed earlier I think it also can be because admitting that rape happened in their school will make them admit that they did not prevent it, that they did not create this safe environment that they were supposed to create. Thus it is easier to not have the victim in their school or to make him not act like he was a victim, to erase the event from memory (think about the reaction of the main character from Kite Runner for analogy.)
    It also might be that from child hood we are programmed to think that “bad things happen to bad people”. For whatever reason the poor people feel like they have deserved it, that they have put themselves in the situations where they could have been a victim. We see the movies and books about bad guys being punished. We read about God punishing sinners etc (no religion in particular stands out as being different in this respect.) We learn that parents punish us when we misbehave. This mentality is precisely what creates the syndrom of the victim of domestic abuse thinking that s/he deserved it. This mentality is what makes society want to see that somehow this horrible act is justified and therefore there should be something wrong with the victim. It is not even about the power of the perpetrator.
    However, how this can be mended i don’t know.

  8. Melissa Aboytes

    This was a real hard article to read through without being sad. When someone is attacked they already feel guilt, anger, depression, and asking themselves why me? They need to know that it is not their fault, and its hard to wrap that around their heads especially when their attacker is someone they care deeply for.
    I can honestly say that the community of Mill Hall, Pa. are complete idiots. They are not only protecting the attacker they are making it so much harder for the victim to recover from this trauma. I can’t believe a whole community would turn its back to the one person that needs them the most, its really sad to see that the rape culture has not changed at all.

  9. This is what I see happening. People are siding with what they know because they trust what they know. Someone mentioned that the more famous a person is the more likely people are going to defend him/her when something goes wrong. Say there are two strong groups of friends in a school that don’t get along. Well if someone from the other group accuses someone from your group of hitting them, and you didn’t see it, you are going to be very defensive. At some point it doesn’t even matter if the your group member did hit that individual because you are siding with what you trust.
    The sad truth is that, even after the truth was exposed, people sided with what they knew. Denial and anger are a huge part of that and if you choose not to be angry at who deserves it than you turn on the victim. They are vulnerable and you don’t know them directly. They ruined your group member’s life, why shouldn’t you verbally beat that person down?
    Also, people can be selfish and disregard another’s needs if they feel that something has been taking away from them. This man was irreplaceable in the eyes of Penn students. So to them it doesn’t matter if you are hurting because they are too consumed with their own hurt (however less important or devastating that is).
    In terms of locking him up I am conflicted. I agree that he deserves a punishment along those lines but from a budget perspective I think that space in a prison can be much better used. House arrest seems like a plausible alternative. I know that that might not be harsh enough punishment for some people but you have to weigh everything that this case effects. He will be registered as a sex offender, and hey, you can inflict every lasting shame and embarrassment by posting a huge sign in his front lawn that says that.
    If people are concerned about the victims I think it is important to get this thing behind them as quick as possible, that’s what I would want. If they could read this I think they would be appreciative of people caring about them. As we have seen that doesn’t seem to be the case in a lot of places.

  10. I really don’t understand people. There was a sexual predator taken off the streets. It should be praised, but since it happened to a prestigious program and university, people don’t want to believe what happened. Victim One is very brave to step-forward and put themselves up in the public eye like that. People are making it so much more difficult than it has to be. I feel sympathy for the victim and I wish them the best.

  11. This article reflects the fact that not only girls, but boys also may not be desiring sex very much. It is a tragedy that the girl gave up to the rumors of the crowd. However, it is true that sex is still a weakness of people. People feel shameful to talk about sex, to report rapes or to confess their sexual faults. I think that this is long-rooted in the culture of human society and cannot be changed in a short time. However, what we can change is our attitudes when encountering sexual issues. Rather than hiding from others or extricating from our problems, we should ask for help and never give way to the inequality and unfairness.

  12. It is so sad when someone is bullied for something that isn’t their fault in the first place. Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault, and for someone to bully a rape victim is absolutely ridiculous. Also, it might bring up awful memories of the victim that they don’t want to remember. And when bullying goes so far as to make someone wish they were dead, and even attempt to kill themselves, that’s when the situation becomes inhumane. These people must have their own problems that they don’t want to face, so instead they’ll make someone feel awful just to make themselves feel better. I don’t understand how someone can go so far that they make another human being want to die. It’s shameful the way some people’s minds work.

  13. I honestly Do not know what is wrong in our society now in days, Who in their right mind bullies a victim for being raped, it wasn’t their fault. It’s not like they chose to get raped and on top of all the emotional stress they’re going through because of it they get made fun of? It astonishes me how people think it’s “alright” to hide a person’s a unjustified behavior just because they are important, or contribute to society in some way. I think that Victim’s 1 behavior was extremely courageous, just imagine if he would have never said anything, other kids would have experienced the same thing, Or the behavior would have gotten worse. So I thank and admire victim 1 for doing what he did.

  14. I don’t understand why this trend is occurring, I’ve seen it in Europe as well were a beloved person in society have raped someone and people turn around and blame the victim for taking this person away from them. It’s never the victims fault, and to have a large group saying that you as a victim is at fault is a terrible new “trend”. I think that one reason could be that people are more focused on themselves and how they are directly affected by the loss of the perpetrator rather than being able to see it from the victimes side since that doesn’t affect them the same way unless they know the person.

  15. It is a real shame that people in positions of authority are able to commit misdeeds and go unpunished. Supporters of Sandusky would rather silence his victims with bullying than speak out against him. It is a big problem when we put so much trust into authority figures. It is as though we consider them to be something other than human, we don’t think of the possibility that they are susceptible to the same vices as any. With priests, the connection they supposedly share with God leads parishioners to believe that they are infallible, so they see no harm in leaving their children with them. Apparently, this assumption of infallibility extends beyond religion although, I suppose to some, football is a religion. I’m not saying that religion is bad, I am just trying to point out that sometimes it obscures peoples’ common senses. This can cause some serious danger. So, when practicing religion or being a sport fanatic,we should all be mindful of the fact that man is fallible.

  16. This is horrible, I cant understand this. How is it that people are wanting to protect the perpatrators and not in favor of helping the rape victims? For the assistant principle to make violent threats while he was trying to defend his all star athlete and still have his job is insane to me. People in such authority or high status positions should first of all know better, and also be forbidden to act in such inappropriate ways. Im glad this was in the news because it draws attention to a very serious matter that children are facing now a days and raises awarness.

  17. Allyson Velasquez

    It seems unreal that situations like this can go untold to the authority. The scariest part is the person committing the crime in this situation is supposed to be a leader both on the athletic field, and in the classroom. It disgusts me how people can act sometimes. The school is totally at fault for trying to ignore the situation and not have the victims mom inform authorities about what happened. It’s so sad that a school, which is supposed to be a safe environment for students to learn and grow, could be run by these kid of people. If it were my child in this situation I would have not only informed all the authorities I could, but I too would pull my kids out of the school. School is supposed to be a safe environment for students to grow as individuals and learn about themselves and what they want to be.

  18. It’s sickening to think that this community values football over a rape victim’s well being. It is upsetting and embarrassing enough for a victim to come forth and relive the horrific experience that had happened to them, but to be alienated and bullied for doing the right thing and reporting a child molester is downright wrong. The whole community was not only defending Jerry Sandusky, but they drove a poor girl to commit suicide. I’m sure if it were these people’s own children that were raped they would not be too keen to protect him.

  19. I think that bullying is a major issue today especially when it gets to the point to cause someone to take their own life. And when it comes to bullying an innocent victim of any crime ESPECIALLY sexual abuse, that has extremely crossed the line. When people try to ignore the fact that the well respected person can actually commit this kind of act towards someone is sad and then to turn it on the victim by bullying or harassing them that is sickening and even worse. Why would the community favor the alleged rapist or molester just because of his social status? They ignored what the victim was going through mentally and sadly enough it caused someone innocent to lose a chance at a complete and happy life.

  20. This reminds me of the American Samoan boy who was brutally gang-raped and the media printed his name in the first pages of newspapers across the country. The brutality in this case was particularly heinous in ways that most rapes are not. He later turned 18 and he moved out of the USA because he felt he could not manage his reputation in the country. He later committed suicide, feeling unable to live down the effect on his reputation even after leaving the country. Why would a national press service do this to an underage rape victim? Isn’t there a clear law to prevent “outing” a child rape victim?

    • Typically papers don’t “out” rape victims, I don’t know if there’s a law or that’s just a policy of many papers. So sorry the policy wasn’t upheld for this young man.

      Also sad that we live in a society where the victims are seen as shamed when only the perps should be. Add homophobia, and it’s even harder on boys, who have that additional problem to contend with.

  21. I hate to say that this happens all the time but it does. That is another reason why people refuse to come out and report abuse because it just causes more abuse. Bullying on one hand is already too much to handle from your fellow classmates but to get no support from the leaders that are supposed to be an authority figure to you and set an example starts bullying you of course you’ll feel alone. Shame on the guy Jerry that had a great job and abused his power to do this and ruin those boys lives and their families. Not ruin but scarred for life. I am anti bully all the way so it most definitely makes me upset when I see things like this

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