Thursday, October 29, 2009

The View from the Sidelines

It is almost incomprehensible to consider what is alleged to have happened on Saturday night at Richmond High School in California. According to published reports, a 10th grade female student was gang raped and beaten in an attack that lasted for an indeterminate length of time after she left a Homecoming dance at the high school. There is at least one report that the attack upon her lasted for upwards of two hours. As of midday yesterday, five arrests had been made.

What takes this story from "almost" incomprehensible to "beyond the pale" of incomprehensible is the report that while multiple actors are alleged to have taken part in the attack, even more people are alleged to have - at a bare minimum - borne witness to the attack without doing anything to stop it. "I would say we're looking at four to seven active participants of sexual assault and extremely violent felonies. We're also suspecting there were up to a dozen people who witnessed what had happened and their involvement is unknown," says Richmond Police spokesperson Lt. Mark Gagan.

Clearly, local law enforcement in Richmond, which has already been busy, will continue to be so in its continuing efforts to investigate the matter and to bring to justice whoever is responsible. Presuming that the reports about the bystanders are accurate - at least in part - they are a bit bracing are they not? Reports of gang violence are - sadly -no longer surprising. Reports of mass indifference are always more than a bit depressing.

Police are looking for potentially as many as a dozen spectators and between four and seven actual rapists in this case. Police say some people walked by and actually participated in this crime. No one called police and to make matters worse, authorities told ABC7 some of these people may have recorded this entire rape on their cell phone cameras. Whether the police apprehend all of those who were responsible for the rape and assault of the young girl and whether those responsible are ultimately prosecuted and made to answer for what they have done, it is certain that not all of those who are alleged to have stood around and watched will be made to answer for what they did. Or more properly what they failed to do.

At least not in the criminal justice system anyway. Whether the rest of their lives treats them kindly remains to be seen. If what is alleged to have happened on Saturday night did indeed occur, then the bystanders may want to make a deposit in Ye Olde Karma Bank in the not-too-distant future. Just to be safe.


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