An 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas was gang raped by a group of 18 boys and men, up to the age of 27. This is an irrefutable fact, as the act was taped with one of the perpetrators cell phones and shared among students, presumably at both Cleveland Middle and High schools. The New York Times reported this week on the incident (which took place back in November), noting that “a rape had taken place” and that the victim “was ordered to disrobe and was sexually assaulted by several boys,” adding, “She was told she would be beaten if she did not comply.”
But the Times article isn’t a piece of unbiased reporting. Author James C. McKinley Jr. shows his true colors when he asks how the criminals could “have been drawn into such an act.” He then answers his own preposterous question by accusing the 11-year-old victim of dressing “older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.”
In other words, she asked for it. An 11-year-old. Shockingly, though, not only do McKinley and contributing reports by Mauricio Guerrero blame the victim for her horrific assault, they also blame her mother.
McKinley quotes a neighbor of the victim as saying, “‘Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?…. How can you have an 11-year-old child missing down in the Quarters?,'” the run-down neighborhood where the gang rape and its recording took place. It’s unclear where the victim’s mother was and if she knew where her daughter was during the attack, and it seems the victim and her mother are essentially in hiding, as they have since moved to an undisclosed location.
McKinley all but directly asks for sympathy for the poor men and teenage boys who were “drawn in” by the Bonne Bell makeup on this clearly amoral 11-year-old, saying, “Churches have held prayer services for the victim. The students who were arrested have not returned to school, and it is unclear if they ever will.” Don’t you understand? These men and boys have suffered enough! Why continue to punish them for a little harmless fun? This gang rape is tearing the community apart, all because the authorities are actually paying attention to the crime.
The Times published a Letter to the Editor criticizing McKinley’s coverage of the story, but has yet to issue an official apology. In fact, they say they stand by the piece. NYT spokesperson Danielle Rhodes Ha told Yahoo!:
Neighbors’ comments about the girl, which we reported in the story, seemed to reflect concern about what they saw as a lack of supervision that may have left her at risk…. As for residents’ references to the accused having to ‘live with this for the rest of their lives,’ those are views we found in our reporting. They are not our reporter’s reactions, but the reactions of disbelief by townspeople over the news of a mass assault on a defenseless 11-year-old.
If you care about this story and the abysmal way it was handled by the New York Times, sign Change.org’s petition demanding an apology from The Gray Lady.