Archive for the ‘Targeting Women’ Category

Lance Stephenson, Francisco Rodriguez and Mark Fields, what do you think of when you hear these names? Sports, right? Athletic, famous, skilled and maybe even a hero. When it comes to domestic violence, these names resound once more but the news is toned out by homeruns, 3 point shots and touchdowns. Is there a double standard when it comes to some athletes and domestic violence charges?

See article below:

It has been a bruising two weeks for the girlfriends of a few high-profile athletes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

On Monday Indiana Pacers rookie Lance Stephenson, 19, was arraigned on charges of felony assault, menacing and harassment in New York City for allegedly attacking the 21-year-old mother of his child. Prosecutors in the Brooklyn DA’s office allege that Stephenson pushed his girlfriend Jasmine Williams down of flight of stairs at her Coney Island, N.Y., apartment building early Sunday morning. With the victim lying at the bottom of the stairs, Stephenson, according to a criminal complaint made public by the DA’s office, then picked up her head and slammed it on the bottom step. Williams was later treated at an area hospital for head and back wounds.

Four days earlier, Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez was arrested outside the team’s family lounge at Citi Field and charged with assaulting Carlos Pena, the 53-year-old grandfather of his infant twins. According to published reports, Rodriguez had been verbally berating his girlfriend, Daian Pena, with f-bombs before Pena came to his daughter’s defense and was assaulted. Pena was treated for injuries and he and his daughter were granted a protection order against Rodriguez.

The publicity around the Rodriguez arrest overshadowed another domestic violence incident that occurred the same day and involved former

Carolina Panthers linebacker Mark Fields. Authorities in Arizona arrested Fields for allegedly beating the mother of his 6-year-old daughter outside a child care facility in Goodyear. Witnesses told police that Fields, 37, grabbed his ex-girlfriend by the throat and choked her before throwing her to the ground and threatening to kill her. Fields faces felony charges of aggravated assault and interfering with an educational institution and a misdemeanor count of endangerment.

It’s pretty sobering to visualize a big muscular athlete knocking down a woman or pummeling a grandfather. Against the sheer violence involved in each of these cases, it’s easy to overlook the fact that each of these incidents played out in front of plenty of witnesses. Typically, domestic violence is the kind of crime that goes on behind closed doors, where bullies carry out threats and violence without fear of being seen or caught.

But athletes are less prone to fear consequences, especially when it comes to their off-the-field behavior. Fields confronted his ex-girlfriend outside a child care facility at 5 o’clock on a Monday afternoon. Rodriguez couldn’t have picked a more public place to berate his girlfriend and strike her father than at a ballpark, never mind the fact that there were security guards on hand.

Most of us would consider this behavior pretty brazen. Yet athletes who run afoul of the law are used to getting out of jams. Look at Stephenson. While starring at Abraham Lincoln High in Coney Island Stephenson and a teammate were arrested in October 2008 for allegedly sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl inside the school. At the time, Stephenson was being recruited by schools like North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis, USC and many others. He was on his way to becoming the all-time leading scorer in New York state history and leading his team to four consecutive New York City championships. He’d become such a big phenomenon that a courtside announcer had nicknamed him “Born Ready” and a reality web series about him was being planned under the same name.

All of that was jeopardized by the felony sexual assault case pending against him. But here’s where it pays for an abuser to be an athlete. After Stephenson pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, the University of Cincinnati offered him a scholarship. He became the Big East’s Rookie of the Year in 2010 and was selected drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of June’s NBA Draft. It was as if the incident at his high school didn’t matter.

But these matters often come back to bite teams that sign players with a rap sheet. Now Pacers GM Larry Bird has to decide what to do. If Stephenson is convicted on felony assault charges for the incident last weekend, he’ll face a minimum of seven years in prison. The team just signed him to a contract that reportedly guarantees him $700,000 this year and $800,000 next year. The only thing Bird has said so far is that the organization will send a clear message to the community that cannot be ignored.

The only person who needs a clear message is Stephenson. He may have been born ready to play hoops, but the game is doing him no favors by enabling him to keep skirting responsibility for his actions. Until his case is resolved, the last place he should be is in an NBA uniform.

The case against Rodriguez is a little different. The Mets signed him to a three-year, $37 million contract. The team is reportedly looking into whether they can void the contract on account that Rodriguez injured his pitching hand during the clubhouse incident. The team ought to consider voiding the contract based simply on the fact that an assault was committed on team property. Most employers wouldn’t hesitate to dump an employee that displayed violent behavior in the workplace, particularly if he was arrested.

Earlier this year, NBA Commissioner David Stern came down hard on Washington Wizard teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton after the two were involved in a locker room dispute involving guns. No shots were fired. But both players pleaded guilty to possessing unlicensed firearms and Stern suspended them for 50 games on the grounds that it was “potentially dangerous” to other players and anybody else that might have been around.

The length of the suspensions raised a lot of eyebrows. But these players had brought guns into the workplace. Moreover, Stern was reacting to the fact that there are simply too many pro players getting arrested on gun charges these days.

Domestic violence is an equally pervasive problem. Yet teams and the leagues seem afraid to tackle it with the same degree of seriousness. During the offseason, Miami Dolphins lineman Phillip Merling was arrested after his pregnant girlfriend called 911 and begged for help while she was barricaded inside the couple’s bathroom.

The police report states:

Merling, knowing that Kristen Lennon is pregnant with their second child, did intentionally strike the victim on or about the face and head against her will causing redness and swelling. The victim also sustained a laceration to her lip.

Merling, who has pleaded not guilty, is 6-foot-5 and weighs more than 300 pounds. He was jailed and charged with aggravated battery on a pregnant woman. Still, Dolphins GM Bill Parcells failed to suspend Merling. That prompted one writer to chide Parcells for having stated at his introductory news conference back in 2007 that he didn’t want any “thugs and hoodlums” on his team. Yet when the Dolphins minicamp opened earlier this year, the player slated to replace Merling in the lineup was 6-7, 305-pound lineman Tony McDaniel, who had been arrested on domestic violence charges earlier in 2010 after his girlfriend called 911. As a college player at Tennessee, McDaniel was charged with felony aggravated assault after punching a man’s face and breaking four bones, for which he later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

I understand why the leagues are concerned about the number of players that carry guns. Wherever there’s a gun there’s a risk of danger. But the fist of pro athlete is also capable of being pretty lethal. If GMs aren’t willing to suspend or dismiss players that abuse their wives or girlfriends, maybe it’s time the leagues start cracking down. The situation has gotten beyond embarrassing.

Jeff Benedict is a distinguished Professor of English at Southern Virginia University and the author of several books on athletes and violence, including Out of Bounds and Pros and Cons. Check out his website at jeffbenedict.com.

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/jeff_benedict/08/18/krod.stephenson/index.html?eref=sihp#ixzz0y78FWpyM


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Jack the Ripper, a serial killer who preyed on prostitutes in 1888 London, may have a 21st century protégé.

Rocky Mount, North Carolina, has been restless due to the unexplained disappearances of nine women since 2005.  These woman happen to be prostitutes who use this income to either support their children or drug habits.  So far, six bodies have been recovered without any evidence, raising suspicion that the killer is a meticulous professional.

But why kill prostitutes?  It is believed that in this case, it’s because they are perceived as useless wastes that “won’t be missed”.

Vivian Lord, chairwoman of the criminal justice department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said that if one killer is responsible, he is likely trying to cleanse the world of prostitutes or deliberately picking victims he knows won’t be missed.

These women do indeed have families that care for them even if their profession isn’t terribly desirable.

Juray Tucker, the mother of 37-year-old Yolanda Lancaster, missing since February, said she wants to help with fundraising but doesn’t get much time now that she has to care for her daughter’s children.

The worst part is that only since this past June, when the latest decomposing body was found, has the FBI gotten involved.

Read the entire story here (Fox News).

Only someone who is so careless towards human life would have no problem with over four years of killing.  Even though these women “jump in and out of cars”, they’re still human beings struggling for a decent life.  They’re women stuck in a degrading career, trying to take care of their families.  Why do they “deserve” to die?

What makes you or me a more important soul and thus deserving life more so than one of these nine women?

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Bob Herbert, a columnist from the New York Times, recently published a thought-provoking yet ultimately unsettling article regarding accepted misogyny in the US.

We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment.

While some might consider his views to be a bit on the pessimistic side, Herbert highlights a striking point in today’s society:

One of the striking things about mass killings in the U.S. is how consistently we find that the killers were riddled with shame and sexual humiliation, which they inevitably blamed on women and girls. The answer to their feelings of inadequacy was to get their hands on a gun (or guns) and begin blowing people away.

Read Bob Herbert’s article here (New York Times).

The sad part is, this has nothing to do with “today’s society” or “today’s media”; women have been victims of horrid abuse for centuries.  What do you think happened when Ghengis Khan and his fellow merciless warriors pillaged villages in Iraq in the 13th Century?   How about how in certain societies in the Middle Ages, prostitution was regulated and organized in order to keep “rape under control”, so that men wouldn’t basically lose their minds from sexless lives.  Who can forget the Rape of Nanjing (caution: link is graphic), where between 20-80,000 women were raped by the Imperial Japanese Army?  The disgusting misogyny that we see today has always existed in time; with the invention of fast-paced media including the internet and 24-hour news televison, we just become more exposed to and aware of it.

On that note, with the widespread utilization of the internet, we can more easily spread the word about domestic violence than ever before.  With blogging and embedded videos, we can spread the word about abuse as soon as it occurs.  While the reality of life is brutal and oftentimes unforgiving, we may live in the best time period for women’s activism.

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With some crimes, you truly wonder if the criminal is indeed a human being — or simply an animal with a gun.

At 8:15 PM on an ordinary summer Tuesday in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, a man entered an LA Fitness’ aerobics class with a duffel bag, shut off the lights, and fired bullets into the room of trainees.  George Sodini, a 48-year-old systems analyst, didn’t open fire in a random spur of violence — he was specifically targeting women.

“He targeted this aerobics class,” said Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt. “He had this class circled on a schedule in his home.”

Sodini killed three women, wounded five others, and finished by killing himself.  One of the victims, the class’ instructor, had just announced her pregnancy.

Like angry people tend to do, Sodini placed blame on others for the troubles in his life.  The troubles from his perspective were caused by women and how they’ve rejected him over the years.  With a blog in his name, Sodini made very clear his infuriation with women, stating openly that he hadn’t had sex in nearly 20 years.

Read the rest of the story here (Fox News).

There is no correlation between lack of sex and murder.  What we have here, is a man who had no real reason for what he did.  Hating women was simply an illusion Sodini had, which masked the deep-rooted problem he had: lack of benevolence toward humanity.

This is a godless man who floated in a disconnect between humanity and digital noise.  His most intimate interaction (that is publicly known) was with his blog.  His targeting of women and the blank, indiscriminate killings show he long ago burned his bridges with humankind.  At the end of his actions, Sodini took his own life — the surest way to avoid the courts and jailtime, thereby eliminating the particular closure some need to cope with the death of a loved one. Instead of committing a crime and being arrested, Sodini likened himself to a tornado: a natural force that cannot be reasoned with, destroying lives, and then disappearing into air without explanation. A suicide at the scene of the crime is not the same as jailtime or state execution; it was all part of his plan, which indeed came to fruition.  Sodini successfully escaped justice.

What he left behind is an unquantifiable mess of horror and grief.  Because Sodini indiscriminately declared war on a gender, he created unforgettable memories that will haunt the people of that gym, especially the women, who know that this man came for their blood.

It is difficult to stop society’s outliers especially when they do, in fact, hold a stable job and don’t physically appear to be threatening.  If more people would flag blogs like his — ones that actually outline his precise plans and intent — then hopefully we can prevent crimes such as this.  It is maddening that Sodini targeted women in his vicious shooting spree, but it is also sickening how someone can degrade into a defunct shell of a human.

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