“Trial Mix”. Let’s talk about the George Huguely murder trial.

We’re now on Day 2 of jury selection in the trial of George Huguely, the University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of murdering his former girlfriend, fellow lacrosse player, Yeardley Love. I’d by lying if I said I didn’t have a dog in this fight for so many reasons. Mr. Huguely is represented by the same defense team that defended one of my rapists, and, seeing the coverage is certainly a bit of a trigger – it’s like time has stopped. Same courtroom, same Rhonda and Fran, same supporters of Miss Love, wearing pink, as my sorority sisters did in solidarity, much to the consternation and objection of Ms. Quagliana.

Courtesy: UVA Sports

It seems as though Judge Hogshire (same judge) is allowing the photographs of the crime scene, in a late decision this past Saturday night. Defense found these photos to be “prejudicial.” I daresay a jury should be allowed to see the photos of the alleged victim. Round One = Prosecution (same prosecutors, Dave and Claude).

In reading the excellent reportage from The Hook, The Daily Progress and WaPo, there seems to be a common thread among many commenters that they’ll be seeing Mr. Huguely “walking on the Downtown Mall” in about 10 years, due to the perception that Charlottesville juries are not so tough on defendants and that Charlottesville Circuit Court has a longtime history of short sentences for felony crimes. Feel free to comment on that one.

All I know is that my thoughts over the next few weeks are not with the ridiculous posturing and machinations of the defense team (they are, after all, doing their job) or how poor George had a terrible upbringing with an abusive, addict of a father and a pleaser of a mother. My thoughts are with Yeardley and her mother and sister and the notion that justice, even in the midst of a liberal jurisdiction and a media blizzard may be done.

May there be strength to all involved and prayers to the family – and wise choices on the parts of the jurors, prosecutors and Judge. I’ll be covering this and other subjects in the foreseeable future. It’s time we began to talk about this again – are University of Virginia (and other campus) women simply collateral damage behind the storied, ivied walls of a very traditional, Southern, sports-and-fraternity loving entity?

Morgan Harrington update

I never like when law enforcement goes “radio silent” on a case, but usually it’s because a) they haven’t got anything new to report or b) they do and they need to keep it from the public while they continue to piece together the investigation. They owe us, the public, nothing and while I know many folks are angry about the lack of information about Morgan’s disappearance, The Hook, a fantastic Charlottesville weekly, has done the best job of covering the story.

Kudos to Courteney Stuart, an editor of the Hook, for her outstanding reporting. Please read this article about what some witnesses are saying.

We pray for the safe return of Morgan to her family and friends. So many unanswered questions.

1) are there any photos of her that night?
2) is there any surveillance video from JPJ Arena?
3) Why is the University of Virginia choosing to remain silent about the case?
4) have the sex offenders in the area been questioned about that night?

Given the massive amount of blog commentary, Courteney has indeed done her homework, though it seems hard to get quite a few of them to stay on topic.

The University of Virginia rebuked by the Fed for attempting to silence sexual assault victims.

Four years after the college safety nonprofit Security on Campus filed a complaint against UVA for its mishandling of sexual assault cases, the Department of Education has ruled that the university has, in fact, violated federal law by threatening victims of sexual assault with punishment if they spoke about their cases.

I cannot say enough kind words about Security on Campus, the Clery Act or Annie. You can read about it here.

UPDATE: A huge “thank you” to Susan Russell, whose efforts spearheaded what happened in this case. She is a concerned mom to a survivor, an activist and the founder of an amazing website that I wish didn’t have to exist. You can check it out here.

Judge Hogshire strikes again.

So, Judge Hogshire, the judge in my case, who, by the way, would not allow my family to make any Victim Impact Statement in open Court, sentenced this thug to 2 consecutive 15 year terms (with much withheld) for gang-related beatings and trying to be a Crip or a Blood or whatever.

Nor did he read the statement I had submitted to the Court (as per law) weeks before. He had to take a recess and read it in Chambers. Which took all of 5 minutes. After I spent about a month with my famiy working on said statement.

Aggravated sexual assault? Ten years with all but 2 suspended and 5 months and change served. Perhaps the good judge ought to get out more or at least be aware that his actions do have repercussions and feelings leftover for victims’ families. Beating and gangs, obviously bad. Rape? Much worse.

Famous last words: “I know him and he’d never do this”. Blaming the victim, part 4,803.

As you know, Charlottesville is my favorite place. Ever. So imagine my ahem, dismay, in reading not only this story, but the comments. Not one person expressing sorrow for the alleged vic of Dillon Shifflett, a MySpace superstar. It’s always “where are the parents?” “he couldn’t have done this” and my fave, “Imah pray fo heeam”. Apparently, all of the Shiffletts decided to log on and weigh in.

OH, he apologized too. But once again, very low bond for a rape charge. This is not a part of the country that takes these crimes seriously and I do take offense at this. When you look at sentencing for far lesser crimes….well wait until my next post.

But can we talk about the commenters? Seriously.

University of Virginia crime update and a look back.

When I was a first year student at the University of Virginia, there was an ominous and bizarre case which became an international sensation – that of Elizabeth Haysom and Jens Soering, who were convicted for killing her parents, Derek and Nancy Haysom, in Lynchburg while Elizabeth and Jens were First Year students at Virginia. It is widely believed that Soering committed the actual murders himself upon the intoxicated and older Haysom couple. Apparently, the very grand Haysoms, descendants of Lady Astor, didn’t approve of Soering as a boyfriend to their daughter, ergo, arousing their ire and hatred. Soering’s defense is that he was clouded by sexual obsession from an older and experience woman. Soering, a German national, now maintains his innocence while proclaiming Haysom acted alone. Haysom, who keeps a blog, maintains Soering is crazy and acted alone. After the murders, when the heat started coming down, they fled to Europe and were eventual caught passing bad checks. They were known around Grounds as creepy, clingy, withdrawn and odd, geeky loners and outsiders who were obsessed with one another and, frankly, thought themselves superior.

Now comes the story of these two gems who kidnapped a guy and held him for 24 hours. What do you think of campus crime that seems unmotivated and senseless? Does this smack of the terror at Virginia Tech or is it about bad eggs in an otherwise good carton?

UVa Fraternity Men Speak Out

This, from an old friend and fraternity member – once again, one bad egg does not the carton make, so don’t ever assume being Greek equals rape. The most caring men I know came out of the UVa fraternity system, as such, I married two of them – this one man knew of two high profile rapes (I knew the vic in one of the cases)which makes me so very sad.

“I write this e-mail because, as a graduate of UVa, I am appalled by the
University’s ‘dismissive’ attitude towards rape allegations. I was a
student at Virgina from 1984-1988 and was made aware of 2 very public rape
allegations within the fraternity system. Both involved people I knew. And
one was particularly disturbing because UVa did NOTHING to take a stand on
how serious a crime rape is. It involved a woman who had a father who was a
prominent judge and a man who had a father who was an equally prominent
attorney. The school did nothing. It asked the fraternity member to leave
school for (and my memory on this is fuzzy) either a semester or a full
year, allowing him to return the following semester (or year). The fact
that he was not kicked out of UVa and asked never to return really left me
speechless and in shock. Members of this man’s fraternity used to jeer this
girl as she walked down Madison Lane to class and the University did
nothing despite complaints. I don’t think this woman wanted to press
charges and go through a lengthy trial, having her good name sullied in
press, and so i don’t believe formal charges were ever filed (i am hazy on
this as well). But the man who raped her was a fraternity brother of her
boyfriend’s and it was a very well known case. It disgusted me that the
University did nothing but have this man leave school for a period of
time, only to return while the woman was still an undergraduate. This is
NOT the 1st time that UVa has turned a blind eye to this kind of problem,
as you well know, Liz. I think UVa should have been held accountable in
your situation when they erroneously told you that the Charlottesville
police department did not have jurisdiction for this type of felony. And
they should have taken a very tough stance and sent a stern signal to the
student body (in the case that I have just described) that rape would not
be tolerated and would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law (by
expelling this student).

I would bet my life’s savings on making a statement that UVa has looked
the other way over the years on allegations of rape. I don’t say that
lightly and I have no proof of this and I love my alma matter very much.
But they have proven to be ignorant of the severity of this felony and
need to be morally and ethically bound to clear its reputation that has
been tainted over the years due to serious allegations of rape on its
hallowed grounds.

I wish you well, Liz, and hope that your healing continues.


Linking Park

Hey there! Either give me a direct link on your site or leave it alone. It’s over, thank God. The folks of your city want some news, dude, not more of me.

Enjoy the sunny day and do something worthwhile in the world! Don’t forget: http://starssurvivors.org – enjoy the new, updated version.

There’s never room to print a whole statement – so here it is.

“Having waited 20 years for justice this shortened sentence makes justice feel incomplete. I take heart in the knowledge that the punishment for this crime is more certain today in Virginia. Many would think this closes a chapter of my life but in truth has only opened another. That chapter is helping other victims of sexual assault navigate the treacherous waters I have just come through. Helping them begin their journey though the legal maze and have the courage not to be defined by this act of violence.

As a family, we continue to fight for the rights of all male and female survivors of violent crime in general and sexual assault in particular, especially the rights of children. While today is difficult for us as a family, our fear and focus is that the release of Mr. Beebe so quickly, without his having cooperated with prosecutors on the gang-rape aspect of the case, will deter other victims from coming forward to authorities. They may feel it is not worth the fight. Our message is this: please do come forward, find your voice, allow the system to work and be your own advocates. We believe that those in places of authority will exercise extreme caution in the future with cold cases. Let this case be an example not of the failures of the system, but how we can make it better.

For the general public, please rally around those who have been sexually assaulted and do not let it become something so commonplace that we are immune to its devastating impact. With grace, support, prayer and guidance, help those in need, no matter the circumstances. Believe in them and assist them in any way you can. This has never been a womens’ issue, but a human rights issue and we have the duty to protect our fellow man from harm.

We’d like to thank Chief of Police Tim Longo, Detective Nicholas Rudman, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Claude Worrell and Victim Advocate Cherri Murphy, who were so helpful to us during the past two years. We’d also like to thank the people of Charlottesville, for their hospitality and warm wishes.

We look forward to the next phase of our lives as advocates and committed and loving parents to our child, in order to make the world a safer place for her and all people.”