Finally, a Judge Who Dispels the Myths of Rape ‘Once and For All’

Last month, a judge in California sparked outrage after sentencing 23-year-old Stanford student, Brock Turner, to a six-month prison sentence after he was indicted on five charges of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. While the prosecution recommended six years in prison, the judge’s unbelievably lenient sentence for the three-time All-American swimmer was seen as an obvious example of white privilege. It also highlighted the double-standard of victim-blaming, because the victim had been drinking on the night of the attack. In light of judge Aaron Persky’s unconscionable decision, a Canadian judge is being praised for using a similar case to dispel the myths of rape.

Just like the Turner case, the trial involved an upper-class male, York University medical student Mustafa Ururyar. Last February, Ururyar escorted Mandi Gray back to his Toronto apartment after a night out. Upon arriving at the apartment, Ururyar became angry with Gray calling her “needy” and a “slut” before forcing her to perform oral sex on him. Later that night, he raped her. Ururyar would plead not guilty to sexual assault and claimed the encounter was consensual. His lawyer, Lisa Bristow, would victim-blame and attack Gray’s credibility throughout the trial, saying:

“You could have phoned someone. Instead, you chose to go home with someone who was angry, berating you and yelling at you.”

“Your career was more important than getting a violent rapist off the streets?”

“You didn’t fight back in any way?”

“You lay in bed all night next to the person who violently raped you?”

“You could have called 911, but you didn’t.”

Judge Marvin Zucker wouldn’t stand for the victim-blaming and rebuked the character assassination that took place place in his court. “The court was constantly reminded, told, as if to traumatize the helplessness, the only one we can believe is Mr. Ururyar, because she, Ms. Gray, cannot remember,” the judge said. “We must not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error.” The court would find Ururyar guilty of sexual assault, and Zucker used the trial to highlight the terrible effects of victim-blaming in his 179-page verdict. “The myths of rape should be dispelled once and for all,” he said. “Without consent, ‘no’ means ‘no,’ no matter what the situation or circumstances. 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.”

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Here’s an excerpt from Zucker’s verdict:

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 behavior. 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.

Mustafa Ururyar and Brock Turner were both men of privilege that didn’t fit the sex-offender stereotype. But their actions were just as heinous as those perpetrated by any other rapist. The important difference is how both men were treated by their country’s judicial systems. In Turner’s case, the court protected the perpetrator because of his race and class. But Zucker’s court used the crime to point out the danger that exists in stereotyping rapists and prosecuted Ururyar to the full extent of the law. Although justice was served in the case of Mandi Gray, she believes the system shouldn’t be praised for doing what it’s designed to do. “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 said in a statement.

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