We are all still angry over Brock Turner’s court ruling last June. If you read the victim’s 12 page testimony she read in front of the court room, you would understand the lack of justice brought to someone who survived something horrific and painful.
Her testimony inspires me to levels I’m not sure I can describe. I cannot believe the courage this young woman had to stand up in front of a court room, in front of her abuser, and tell everyone her story. She speaks about the night she went to an undergraduate party with her sister to drink and have fun. While there, Turner took her outside and sexually assaulted her behind a dumpster. Her hair was covered in pine needles, she was so intoxicated she could barely speak. Two Swedish men on bicycles happened to be riding through the area and saw Turner on top of her as she lay unconscious and intervened.
I think about those two men a lot and silently thank them for their quick action. Every day, I hope there are more like them. This week, I learned there is at least one more like them.
Christian Garcia is a football player at the University of Florida. He works security at a bar in Gainesville. On July 21, he was working when he saw two people having what appeared to be consensual sex behind a dumpster. Initially, he rolled his eyes at what appeared to be drunken antics.
When he noticed the girl was unconscious, Garcia quickly intervened.
Garcia told WFOR-TV “I mean, I know this isn’t right. If she were drunk, there was no way possible she could have given consent.”
Garcia pulled the man off her, dodged his punches, and discovered the most horrifying thing to me about the assault: his friends were present as it happened.
The papers report that the victim could not keep her eyes open, could barely speak, and couldn’t stay awake long enough for police to finish questioning her. And the perpetrator thought it might be necessary to keep backup nearby. These “friends” standing and watching over her assault were not for her protection. They weren’t there to defend him if she fought back. Why would he need multiple people present?
I cannot tell you, because I wasn’t there. But I will raise the question: who was the assailant protecting himself from? What I know is Christopher Shaw has been arrested and charged with sexual battery, claiming he didn’t touch the young woman who Garcia saved. This contradicts the video evidence police have reviewed.
I know silence is contagious. I know if multiple people are ignoring a situation, others are likely to follow. I know if there’s someone taking video, others may believe there is nothing to hide and the event in question might be something we will want to remember later. This is rape culture in action.
Police have reason to believe Shaw has assaulted other women. I have not received any news reports that anyone intervened. I am thankful Garcia was there for this woman who never deserved the pain she’s feeling at the hands of a professional. I am beyond thankful the police are cooperating with the victim. I hope she is given the justice she’s completely due.
Stand up. Call it out. Stop giving in to silence.
Photo credit: Washington Post