Douchebag of the Week, 6th Installment

Rape-culture-picAaannnddd we’re back! It’s been two weeks since our last DBOTW segment, and it feels good to get back in the thick of douchebaggery. With that being said, our Douchebag of the Week for this installment is someone you probably haven’t heard of before now: Joseph DiBenedetto. He’s a defense attorney who made an appearance on Fox News this past week to give some “expert” opinion on the proceedings of a rape case. So before we get into his… eerr… qualifications for Douchebag of the Week, let’s set the scene.

Back in January 2012, young Daisy Coleman, who was 14 at the time, was left in her front yard in Maryville, Missouri in freezing weather, after having consumed an unknown amount of alcohol and (allegedly) being raped by Matthew Barnett, a 17-year-old football player. Daisy woke up, lightly clothed in 22-degree weather, and was taken to the hospital, where doctors discovered vaginal tearing consistent with rape. Barnett was arrested and charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. He admitted to having sex with Daisy, but insisted “it was consensual.” Given the ages, Matt was not charged with statutory rape, since that requires that either the offender be 21 or older, or the victim be under the age of 14. A county prosecutor has called for a special prosecutor to review the case, and possibly charge Matt with felony statutory rape.

This case is similar to the recent rape case in Steubenville Ohio, in which several teenage football players nearly got away with rape thanks to the favoritism of people in power in a small town. Thankfully the people of the Internet brought light to this issue, and those men were finally arrested. In the Maryville case, Matt Barnett is known as “the popular guy.” He’s a football player, and the local sheriff’s office (along with many other judges and prosecutors in the town) tried to shame Daisy and make claims that “she was asking for it.” Her brothers even got death threats at their high school, with students quickly taking sides on the issue.

joseph dibenedettoFox News was covering this story, and specifically focused on the news that a special prosecutor had been requested. Naturally, they didn’t know anything about the legal aspect of this development, so Shep Smith brought on the prickface himself, Joseph DiBenedetto, who offered almost no actual legal input to the discussion. Instead, he quickly turned the discussion to Daisy and made himself look like an ass in the process.

“There are telltale signs of this girl actually lying. She is leaving her home at 1 a.m. in the morning and nobody forced her to drink. And what happens? She gets caught by her mom, she’s embarrassed and the easy way out here is, ‘Mom, someone took advantage of me.’”

Ladies and gentlemen, the Douchebag of the Week. Not only did DiBenedetto fail to commentate on the legal issue at hand, he adds his own completely ridiculous viewpoint to the overall situation. Obviously his comments are inflammatory and shameful, but it’s also worth nothing that he was brought on as a legal analyst. Fox News counted on him to provide a lawyer’s perspective on this case, and to clarify how the law applies here. But did he do that? No. Instead, he slut-shamed and took part in the ridiculous phenomenon known as “rape culture.” 

rapes_causes_sign_m-445x297It’s one thing to argue for or against a particular movement in a legal case. I’d understand if he argued that Matt Barnett shouldn’t be charged with statutory rape because of the legal precedents or yada yada yada. But to accuse someone, who has clearly been raped, of faking it and making the whole thing up as an excuse to get out of trouble, is completely demeaning and just wrong. As if his first comments weren’t terrible enough, DiBenedetto went on to add a sliver of legal opinion, while still sounding like a complete fuckwad:

“But what did she expect to happen at 1 a.m. in the morning after sneaking out? I’m not saying — assuming that these facts are accurate and this did happen — I’m not saying she deserved to be raped, but knowing the facts as we do here including what the prosecutor has set forth, this case is going nowhere and it’s going nowhere quick.”

I literally cannot emphasize enough how much of an asshole Joseph DiBenedetto is in this segment. It’s absolutely disgraceful to try to downplay a rape. Period. If you have any shred of decency in your body, you know that. Obviously Joseph DiBenedetto doesn’t have this decency, which is why he’s our Douchebag of the Week. One thing needs to be made clear to Joseph: no girl “asks” to be raped, nor does any girl deserve to be raped. When we enter that dialogue, we’re taking the focus off the person who raped someone else, and that is not what needs to be done. Forcing someone to have sex against their will is wrong, and we shouldn’t give that kind of perpetrator any loopholes with which to get away with rape. Alcohol has nothing to do with the situation. If she’s not conscious enough to say “no,” you shouldn’t be assuming that she’d say yes. No means no. Lack of consciousness means no. The end.



L.A. Times


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