I probably should not write when I’m angry. I definitely should not write when I’m angry, stressed out, have no kitchen ceiling because our toilet overflowed, my son is suffering his second concussion in an equal number of years, one of my hounds has some weird, rare leg disorder that is probably going to cost a small fortune to fix, I gained two pounds this week after losing twenty since February, I’m premenstrual, and I swear I have more wrinkles on my forehead today than I did last night before I went to bed.

But I’m gonna write, anyway. Just prepare yourself. You’ve been warned.

So… there’s this rapist out there, some spoiled rotten piece of crap kid who went to Stanford because he was a great swimmer, but instead of studying hard, swimming fast, and minding his own business, he decided he was going to take advantage of a young girl who’d had too much to drink one night. He claims she gave consent, and told the judge that she wanted to have sex. But see, the first red flag for me with that ridiculous line of crap is that after she said, “Sure, let’s do it!”, the dude drags her behind a dumpster and does all kinds of horrible things to her while, somehow, she falls asleep? If we’re to believe this rapist, I would imagine the conversation went something like this…

“Hey, Girl. I’m a really good swimmer, like, I could possibly, maybe, like, go to the Olympics or something. My abs are, like, rock hard, and I know Michael Phelps (I bet he doesn’t know Michael Phelps at all). You should have the sex with me.”

“Oh yes. I like swimmers. And you have nice, really crunchy-like, sort of greenish-blond hair, just like I like, so yep. Let’s have the sex!”

“Ok! Great! How about we go somewhere romantic? Back to my dorm room? Or I could spring for a hotel? Or what about your place?”

“No way! I would prefer it if you would knock me unconscious (because she obviously wasn’t unconscious yet because, remember, Rapist said she gave consent), drag my body around this parking lot a little bit, then put me behind that dumpster over there and have the sex with me. Don’t forget to penetrate me with some foreign object, as well as your (tiny, I’m guessing here), penis, cause that sounds like a lot of fun and I’m sure it won’t be at all painful, then maybe you could be sure I have as much dirt, leaves, broken glass and gravel all over my body, in every crevice and opening, because, again, I think I’d like that a lot.”

Yep. I bet that’s how it went.

So, Rapist (I’m sorry accused Rapist at that time), goes to trial, gets convicted, and is sentenced to six months in jail and some probation. Um… WTF?

During the trial, Rapist’s dad, whom I think we should refer to as “Douche Bag” from now on, wrote a character-witness letter to the judge to plead for leniency for his rapist son. I get it. I mean, If my son couldn’t enjoy his medium rare grilled filet mignon anymore after he raped a girl, then, yes, I think I would, too, be devastated. My son should have his steak, eat it, and enjoy that piece of meat thoroughly, shouldn’t he, no matter how many criminal acts he’s committed? Damn that drunk girl who likes having the sex behind dumpsters! She ruins steak for everyone!

Douche Bag wrote that his rapist son’s life was “deeply altered forever” over “20 minutes of action.” You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Douche Bag called the rape “action.”

Lord help us all.

Not once does Douche Bag apologize for his rapist son’s actions. Not once is the victim mentioned in this letter and how HER life will forever be altered. I can bet you she hasn’t felt much like eating a good, grilled steak, since the attack, either, and I’m guessing she will have to live with her horrible memories and nightmares for a lot longer than six months.

At least Stanford won’t let the guy step foot on their campus ever again, because from what I hear, they have a plethora of dumpsters there, and apparently, this particular rapist seems to think dumpsters are the most romantic spots on earth to do the deed.

Thank God that two students passing by noticed something wasn’t right the night the rapist was attacking his victim behind that dumpster. Rather than ignore the scene, they confronted Rapist, pulled him away from the girl, and held him there until police arrived. If it wasn’t for those brave students, Rapist might be sitting in his backyard right now while Douche Bag grills him a big ol’ slab of bloody meat, as they discuss the rapist’s best swim times, and how many seconds he needs to cut from his 400 IM to make it to the Olympics.

Don’t even start with me on the victim blaming, either. Should she have been drinking that much? Probably not. Was it stupid? Yes, it was. But now she’ll be paying for that mistake for the rest of her life. She’ll blame herself a million times. She’ll go over the events of that night in her head over and over again until she can’t think straight. She may never forgive herself for one night when she decided to drink too much and walk home alone. And she has now paid the ultimate price for that mistake. She was violated and used, all because of one night of drinking. So I think the victim blaming should stop. She’s been punished quite enough.

And you see, that night could have been different. Rapist could have chosen NOT to rape. He could have noticed this girl walking and realized she needed help. He could have called her a taxi or an uber. He could have walked her home and left her his phone number. He could have taken her to get a cup of coffee and sat with her until she felt better. Instead, he saw his prey was weak and vulnerable, and he chose to move in for the kill.

I think about my two sons and how I’m going to talk with them about this situation. I have talked with my oldest son already about consent in regards to holding hands, kissing, and all that “stuff.” He’s not ready yet for any of it, but I want him to know the rules before that time comes. If a girl says, “No,” the answer is NO. If she is unsure at all, the answer is NO. If she is incoherent, incapacitated, or otherwise not able to communicate for some unknown reason, the answer is still NO.

My son wants to go to Stanford. He has been dreaming of attending college there for years. We know it’s a long shot for him. He’s a great student with many awesome qualities, but we both know how hard it is to get into a school like that one. I hope my son reaches his goal, and he gets into Stanford. And I hope, when he’s there, he remembers our conversations about consent, drinking, girls, sex, good choices, bad choices, and he decides to be the person I have worked so hard to raise. I hope that if he sees a girl in trouble and in need of assistance, he asks her if she would like him to call her an uber to get her home. I hope she says she does, and I hope he stays with her, pays for her ride home, and makes sure she gets into her dorm room safely without following her inside.

What the swimmer kid/man did to that girl was a crime. It was a violent, horrific, selfish crime and six months in county jail isn’t enough of a punishment. When will we all decide that no matter who the victim, no matter who the criminal, we punish as a result of what crime was committed, not by who committed the crime? Because this rapist was a young, smart, white, privileged, Olympic hopeful, his sentence was light. The judge bought into the idea that his life would be ruined if he were to serve real time for his crime; never mind that Rapist may very well have ruined his victim’s life.

Now this rapist has a chance to serve his six months in jail, one year of probation, then go out into the world and live again, eat steaks again, swim again, and possibly, rape again. Yes, he will have to register as a sex offender, so that’s gonna suck for him, but it’s what he is. He is a sex offender. He is a rapist.

I pray his victim finds peace. I pray she one day will feel safe. I pray she never has to go through anything like the night she was attacked, and I pray that her rapist does his time, admits his crime, apologizes, matures, and never commits another crime as long as he lives.

Most of all, I pray that we all decide it’s time to stop blaming the victim, stop blaming other people, stop blaming other factors, and start blaming the criminals who are truly responsible for their own choices and behaviors, and start making them accountable for their actions. And I pray, for the love of God, that parents STOP trying to cover up their child’s bad behavior by excusing every single wrong action and choice their child makes. If your kid is an asshole, get your shit together, figure out how to help that kid, and stop making excuses for him or her.

Being young, white, privileged, athletic, handsome, and even going to Stanford shouldn’t automatically excuse you from doing wrong or keep a judge from sentencing you to a proper amount of time in prison if you have been convicted of committing the crime.

I’m still angry. But after reading this post a few times, I’m now realizing that I’m a very lucky person. I bet the girl who was raped by the swimmer dude would be happy if her biggest problem right now was an overflowing toilet or a hound dog with a leg issue.

And to that girl I say…

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are a survivor.

You have made a difference.

You will be okay, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day, you will be okay.


Photo credit: CameliaTWU via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Tammi Landry-Gilder

Tammi is an author, wife, mother and blogger who lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan, with her husband, two sons, three dogs, and too many fish in a tank to count.