Updated on Dec. 11, 2018, 11:53 a.m.
“It was just one of those nights,” Abigail Finney told Buzzfeed news. She was a 19-year-old freshman at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana when it happened. She was hanging out at her boyfriend’s dorm room. While he and his buddies were playing video games, she retreated to the loft bed and got busy on her laptop. Her boyfriend would check in on her every once in a while.
As the night petered out, Abigail fell asleep. She woke up to someone fondling her breast from behind her. She let him slide his hand under her pajama pants and they had brief intercourse before she stopped it to use the bathroom.
It was only when she climbed back into bed that she saw him and realized what happened: It wasn’t her boyfriend. It was one of his buddies, Grant.
Her shock and confusion was overwhelming, to say the least. “I was like, ‘I feel violated. This feels wrong. But I don’t know if it’s illegal.’”
Although she was unsure of the legality, she still pushed for a rape charge against Donald Grant Ward. But because Indiana law defines rape as an act of aggression or involving an unwilling victim, Grant was acquitted earlier this year. His attorney, Kirk Freeman, argued that even though she believed he was someone else, she still consented to the sex. Adding that this isn’t any different to how some men assume another identity to seduce women into having sex with them. “[L]ots of women this weekend are going to have sex with Navy Seals, going to have sex with football heroes, going to have sex with guys that rescue kittens from the middle of the interstate, and are going to have sex with men who tell them, ‘I love you,’ and, ‘I’m ready for a commitment,’” he said. “Just because they are lying doesn’t make it rape.”
How f*cked up is that?
What’s more, according to The New York Post, “The verdict only reinforced the feeling of unreality for the young woman.” Abigail said, “I was pretty angry. I felt like I’d wasted a year of my life because I could’ve been trying to heal, but instead I was reopening the wound over and over again.” She also reportedly began suffering anxiety and nightmares and had to take time off from school. “My therapist even called the trial a second trauma, so I guess I felt like I had done all that for no reason.”
Again, that is so messed up. Thankfully, our laws include “fraudulent machination” as one of the circumstances in which rape can be convicted. Still, this shows just how problematic the justice system can be. Let’s not forget, there was a time when rape wasn’t a crime. Because historically, we live in a patriarchal society, where men feel it was within their right to violate women. And when people finally recognized it is immoral and should be considered a crime, it was still men who drafted laws. Obviously, they had difficulty in trying to fathom what should constitute as rape and these laws had to undergo different revisions.
Following this incident, a call for reform was naturally the next move. Sadly, Buzzfeed reports that Sally Siegrist, a former Indiana state legislator, was unsuccessful in doing so. “I’m not sure we could effectively legislate all of the cases where somebody lies, because then you get to the point where, [okay], the guy said he was on the football team and he’s not,” she said.
Also, this incident exposes how ironically sometimes the law is used to escape justice instead of get one. That’s the thing. Everyone knew this should be rape. I bet even Grant’s lawyer did. As one netizen pointed out, if it isn’t rape, then what would you call it? It’s so infuriating to know a “technicality” allowed a creep to roam free, and possibly victimize other women. Meanwhile, Abigail will forever suffer the repercussions of that night.
We still have a long way to go.
Art by Marian Hukom
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