Sadly, we know that sexual harassment and assault is rampant in our culture, including in public spaces like our streets and the town bar. Here’s an example: Last summer, a drunk 43-year old male police officer named Robb Evans walked into a bar, walked over to a woman, and reached up her skirt and assaulted her. The bouncers threw him out.
A jury convicted him of sexual abuse (a class 5 felony) and, after an internal investigation, thankfully he was fired from the police force.
“Arizona trial Judge Jacqueline Hatch, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ), decided that Evans’ actions did not warrant jail time — sentencing him probation and 100 hours of community service. Evans also will not have to register as a sex offender. Yet, while Judge Hatch apparently did not view the disgraced former cop’s actions as particularly serious, she had some very harsh words for the woman he assaulted:
Bad things can happen in bars, Hatch told the victim, adding that other people might be more intoxicated than she was.
“If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said.
Hatch told the victim and the defendant that no one would be happy with the sentence she gave, but that finding an appropriate sentence was her duty.
“I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it,” Hatch said to the victim in court. “You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.”
Hatch said that the victim was not to blame in the case, but that all women must be vigilant against becoming victims.
“When you blame others, you give up your power to change,” Hatch said that her mother used to say.”
The Arizona Daily Sun reports that the judge also said that “even going to the grocery store after 10 p.m. can be dangerous for a woman.”
When a cop sexually assaults a woman and then a judge practically supports him, is there any wonder so few survivors of sexual abuse or harassment want to report it?!
The survivor of the assault is not standing for this kind of victim-blaming and is calling for an apology from the judge. Someone else started a Change.org petition you can sign calling for the judge to step down.
Here’s contact info if you want to tell the judge how you feel about victim-blaming:
Honorable Jacqueline Hatch
Judicial Assistant: Kathy Sandstrom
200 N. San Francisco St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Sadly, the judge’s comments show just how pervasive victim-blaming is in our culture and how even women, especially older women, help perpetuate it. In my own experience of giving talks about street harassment, it has only been older women who have made inappropriate comments to me like, “Well, with the way girls dress these days…” I know that they were raised in a different era when that was the dominant mentality, but times have changed and their unhelpful comments need to stop.
When I hear women victim-blame each other, I also feel badly for them. Their attitude suggests that they think men sexually assaulting and harassing women is so inevitable that the only way women can be safe is to stay home/dress conservatively/have a male protector.
I’m not so cynical, nor do I have such a narrow picture of sexual assault.
I’m glad to be part of a generation that by and large doesn’t want to “prevent” sexual assault by blaming women and telling them to stay home after 10 p.m., but instead understands that sexual violence happens in homes/schools/workplaces/bars/streets/subways to women and men, boys and girls. We want to change the cultural acceptance and normalcy of sexual violence and harassment and we do our best to work with allies of all genders, ages, and backgrounds to make that happen. There are many older people who agree with us and work with us and I hope that one day people like Judge Hatch will too.Share on Facebook