In a truly shameful and terrible act of victim blaming, a lawyer for one of the adult males charged in the gang rape of an 11-year-old Cleveland, Texas, girl likened the child survivor to a spider that lures victims into its web. That’s correct. The defense attorney’s argument is that his client and nearly two dozen other males were seduced by a child.
The whole case was disturbing to begin with, but the sickening argument takes it to another level of awful. According to Jezebel:
20-year-old Jared Len Cruse is accused of gang-raping an 11-year-old Cleveland, Texas girl along with twenty of his male friends over the course of four months; you may remember our coverage of the story last year. But because she said “yes” when defense attorney Steve Taylor asked if she had been a “willing participant” and acknowledged that she hadn’t made an “outcry” until questioned after sex tapes of the assault started circulating around Cleveland High School, Taylor argued that she was “the reason” that twenty teenagers and adult men raped a child on videotape.
But there’s still a major problem with Taylor’s “soul-suckingly disheartening story”: Even if the girl said “yes,” as Chad Langdon, a former Cleveland Police Department sergeant and the lead investigator in the case, pointed out, 11-year-olds cannot legally consent to have sex.
Here’s the exchange between Taylor and Langdon in court in which Taylor uses the “spider” metaphor:
“Like the spider and the fly. Wasn’t she saying, ‘Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly?’?” Taylor asked.
“I wouldn’t call her a spider,” Langdon replied. “I’d say she was just an 11-year-old girl.”
“I hope nothing like this ever happens to your two teenage sons,” Taylor snapped back.
Prosecutor Joe Warren asked Langdon what he would do if his own sons had been involved in such a case.
“I would not whitewash it or sweep it under the rug,” the detective said.
Cruse is already behind bars, serving an eight-year sentence after being convicted on charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He’s the second of the 20 males to be tried in the girl’s sexual assault.
“Seven juveniles have received probation and six adults got 15 years in the slammer after pleading guilty in exchange for plea deals,” Jezebel’s Katie J.M. Baker writes. “Is there anyone in the area who wasn’t involved in assaulting this girl, I mean, anyone who wasn’t lured in to her whorish web?”