Judge Dispels The Myth Of The ‘Perfect’ Rape Victim In Powerful Verdict

“For much of our history, the ‘good’ rape victim, the ‘credible’ rape victim has been a dead one.”

That’s just one of the many powerful statements Ontario Court Justice Marvin Zuker said in court last week while delivering his verdict in a Canadian university rape case. The judge announced that he found the defendant guilty of sexual assault and proceeded to point out the insidious effects of victim-blaming in his 179-page verdict. 

“The myths of rape should be dispelled once and for all,” Judge Zuker read aloud in court last Thursday. “We cannot perpetuate the belief that niceness cannot coexist with violence, evil or deviance, and consequently the nice guy must not be guilty of the alleged offense.” 

The case, which began in February, involved Mustafa Ururyar and Mandi Gray, two doctoral students at Toronto’s York University. According to The Guardian, the two had been casually dating when Gray went to Ururyar’s apartment one night in January 2015. 

As the two made their way back to Ururyar’s apartment, Gray said he became angry and started calling her “a slut” and “needy.” Gray testified that Ururyar forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her later that night. 

Ururyar had pleaded not guilty to sexual assault, claiming that he and Gray had engaged in consensual sex on the night in question. According to Judge Zuker’s verdict, Ururyar’s defense repeatedly attacked Gray’s character and attempted to discredit her story throughout the trial. 

Judge Zuker was not accepting Ururyar’s “twisted logic,” as he said in his verdict. The judge denounced Ururyar’s defense, calling it all a “fabrication” that is “credible, never,” adding, “I must and do reject his evidence.”  

The judge described how traumatizing the defense’s character assassination must have been for Gray and condemned a culture that is so quick to victim-blame: 

The court was constantly reminded, told, as if to traumatize the helplessness, the only one we can believe is Mr. Ururyar, because she, she Ms. Gray, cannot remember. What a job and a real bad one, trying to shape the evening. We must not create a culture that suggest we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error.

How can you prove it? You don’t remember. He knows you don’t remember. He is going to write the script and he did. Testimony incomplete, memory loss, etc. etc. And, of course, typically, no dialogue in the story. One full sentence by Ms. Gray? What is it? No power, no voice, defenceless [sic]. To listen to Mr. Ururyar paint Ms. Gray as the seductive party animal is nothing short of incomprehensible. He went or tried to go to any length to discredit Ms. Gray, if not invalidate her. Such twisted logic.

… There is no demographic profile that typifies a rapist. There is a danger of stereotyping rapists. When the accused is a friend of the victim and uses that relationship to gain, and then betray the complainant’s trust; there may be a need to be informed in order to recognize and understand the accused’s predatory behaviour [sic]. No other crime is looked upon with the degree of blameworthiness, suspicion, and doubt as a rape victim. Victim blaming is unfortunately common and is one of the most significant barriers to justice and offender accountability.

…The responsibility and blame lie with the perpetrator who takes advantage of a vulnerable victim or violates the victim’s trust to commit the crime of sexual assault. Rape is an act of violence and aggression in which the perpetrator uses sex as a weapon to gain power and control over the victim. It is too common to redefine rape as sex and try to capitalize on the mistaken believe that rape is an act of passion that is primarily sexually motivated, It is important to draw the legal and common sense distinction between rape and sex… There is no situation in which an individual cannot control his/her sexual urges.

Towards the end of his statement, Judge Zuker clarified  what consent really means and why a survivor’s actions before the assault should never be used to excuse rape. 

“Without consent, ‘no’ means ‘no,’ no matter what the situation or circumstances,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if the victim was drinking, out at night alone, sexually exploited, on a date with the perpetrator, or how the victim was dressed. No one asks to be raped.” 

In his verdict, the judge actually underlined that last sentence (on page 172 in the embedded statement below). 

The same day Judge Zuker read his verdict, Gray released a public statement in response to Zuker’s powerful words. “I am tired of people talking to me like I won some sort of rape lottery because the legal system did what it is supposed to do,” Gray wrote. 

In a conversation with reporters after the hearing, Gray called the verdict a “huge victory,” but added that Zuker’s statements can’t undo the trauma she’s endured. 

“I think it’s massive, these statements,” Gray said. “But, I mean, these statements don’t un-rape me, first of all, and nor does it erase the process that I’ve had to go through.”

Read Gray’s full statement, which she also published on Facebook, below. 

Ururyar’s sentencing will take place Sept. 14.

Read Judge Zurker’s full statement on the verdict below. 

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Orlando Attack Survivor Says He’s ‘Not OK’ After Devastating Tragedy

MTV’s acclaimed documentary series, “True Life,” is taking a heartbreaking look at how survivors of the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida are coping in the weeks following the tragedy. 

In these clips, survivor Tony Marrero opens up about the challenging recovery process. Marrero’s best friend, Luis Vielma, was one of 49 people who were killed in the attack. 

“People think that because I got released from the hospital and I’m in rehab right now, that I’m OK,” he says in the first clip, which can be viewed above. “I’m not OK, and not only physical. I can’t even start with mentally.”

In the second clip, Marrero visits the Pulse nightclub, where a makeshift shrine to the victims of the attack, which targeted members of the LGBT community, has been erected.

“True Life: We Are Orlando” also marks a brand-new format for the popular franchise, which launched in 1998. Though the TV episode won’t air until Aug. 15, viewers will be able to meet the subjects and follow their stories while the series is still being filmed. MTV will release exclusive videos during the production on social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat Discover, ahead of the episode’s premiere. 

Survivors Patience Carter, Tiara Parker and Joshua McGill will also be profiled in the series

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A Shocking Number Of LGBT Adults Went Hungry Last Year

Each week HuffPost Queer Voices, in a partnership with blogger Scout, LGBT HealthLink and researcher Corey Prachniak, brings you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit our page dedicated to the topic here.

2.2 Million LGBT Adults Went Hungry Last Year

The Williams Institute has a new report and great infographic on food insecurity in the LGBT community. They found 27 percent of LGBT adults (approximately 2.2 million people) didn’t have enough money for food at least once in the last year; that’s 1.6 times the rate of non-LGBT adults. Racial and ethnic minorities were particularly affected, for example 42 percent of LGBT African Americans experienced food insecurity in the past year.

Queer Use of Alternative Tobacco Products Doubles or Triples Average

Annual findings from the largest tobacco survey reporting new information on our use of alternative tobacco products: LGB adults use e-cigarettes at 2 times the rate, cigars and cigarillos at 2.75 times the rate, and hookah at 3.6 times the rate of heterosexuals. Young adults were at highest risk of using all alternative tobacco products.

Federal HIV Initiative Highlights Stories of Trans Women of Color

The CDC’s Act Against AIDS initiative launched a new effort to tell the stories of transgender women of color, a group that is disproportionately impacted by HIV. Stories from Whitney, Jamie, and Jada were accompanied by promotional materials with the goal of sharing positive messages of transgender women living with HIV. 

Cervical Cancer Doesn’t Care if You Have a Beard

The first step in changing our health disparities is shining a spotlight on them, so it’s great to see Newsweek report on the challenges faced by trans people with cancer. As they say, there’s a dangerous lack of data on trans cancer issues. Community advocate Kellan Baker notes, the new HHS rule banning trans discrimination is a “game changer” but now the challenge is to get coverage without legal fights.

LGB Older Adults Self-Report Better Health but More Drinking

A new report analyzing two waves of federal LGB survey data shows three notable areas where LGB elders differ then the rest of the population: they are more likely to report being in “Excellent/Very Good Health”; more likely to get a flu shot; and more likely to drink. The researchers caution the small sample may have obscured other differences; the survey they used does have a history of undercounting bisexuals, who usually have more extreme health disparities than lesbians or gay men. 

Walgreens and HRC Publish LGBT Guide for Pharmacists

Walgreens and Human Rights Campaign are shipping out 70,000 guides on how to make pharmacies LGBT inclusive and competent. The guide includes a primer on LGBT health disparities, including heightened use of alcohol and tobacco, and the healthcare needs of trans individuals.

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Florida Man Has World’s Greatest Criminal Alias Ever (Trust Us!)

When police in Largo, Florida, arrested Jeffrey Forrest Poole on charges of violently resisting a police officer, the authorities made sure to list things like his age, weight and address in his arrest report.

Officers also included an alias that Poole has allegedly used in the past ― and it’s pretty awesome, as well as NSFW.

But more on that later.

Police were called to the 37-year-old suspect’s home on a reported domestic disturbance early Sunday morning.

When the officer arrived, according to the criminal complaint, Poole exited his home and said, “I will beat every cop’s ass!” 

Then Poole “raised his right fist and began to extend it towards my face in an attempt to strike me,” the arresting officer wroteaccording to The Smoking Gun.

Since Poole was arrested and taken to the Pinellas County Jail, it is highly unlikely he made good on his ass-kicking promise.

Poole was charged with assaulting a police officer and violently resisting a police officer. He remains behind bars in lieu of $5,150 bail.

What makes this case interesting beyond Pinellas County is one tiny detail: The criminal alias Poole has previously used, one “Dickface Johnson.”

That name showed up because Poole was either asked if he had any alias or a record on file under that name, according to Brobible.com.

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