Righteous readers respond to recent rape reportage, and our Best of Austin issue garners a kudo or two.
I am writing to attempt to correct several errors in the article written last week ("Raped Twice?" [Oct. 12] by Jordan Smith), which questioned why the Travis County Attorneys Office had filed DWI charges against Ms. Virginia Glore. I will restrict my comments to the portion of the story which deals with the DWI because I have no jurisdiction or authority and limited information regarding the rape allegations or the investigation of the rape allegations. I repeatedly made that point to your reporter, but nonetheless my comments regarding the DWI evidence were incorrectly reported as referring to the evidence of a possible rape.
What confuses the discussion is that the analysis of both the DWI and the alleged rape includes claims by the defendant that the state of her admitted intoxication was involuntary rather than voluntary.
The point ignored in the article, however, is that the actual evidence on the question of whether the defendant's intoxication was involuntary is totally different in the DWI than the evidence on the same issue in the rape analysis. Why? Because the defendant, by her own admissions and by the observations of others, consumed high amounts of alcohol in a short period of time completely voluntarily before she encountered the situation in which she suspects she may have been involuntarily tricked into consuming some drug other than alcohol.
Without going into the evidence presented to my office, which indicates an even higher level of voluntary alcohol consumption, the defendant's admissions in your article itself indicate voluntary consumption of drinks containing at least eight to nine shots of alcohol by the defendant prior to her entering the situation in which she believes she may have been tricked into involuntary consumption of a drug other than alcohol.
That presents strong evidence on which to base the DWI charge. If there is good reason to disregard that evidence or to dispute it, that will be considered at the upcoming court hearings, not because the defendant can get someone in the press to distort the DWI evidence in order to pressure the police, prosecutors or judges before the hearing is even held.
Regarding the completely different but serious issue of possible involuntary drugging of the defendant and a possible rape, I can only say that she deserves for those claims to be fully and fairly investigated. In this regard, your article is correct.
I have been doing this job for over 20 years. I try to do a fair job of enforcing the law. Sometimes that involves deliberately evaluating the facts on a particular case while you are being pressured to ignore them. That is especially challenging where the defendant is a sympathetic figure in a separate case. I think my obligation is similar to your obligation in complicated cases: Be honest and avoid manipulation by any side to the dispute.
Travis County Attorney
[News editor Michael King responds:
1. Despite his claim to the contrary, County Attorney Oden is accurately described in Jordan Smith's story as pointing out "his office has no jurisdiction over the rape case."
2. Despite his claim to the contrary, Oden explicitly said he "tends to believe" that Glore is fabricating the claim of being drugged and raped. Why does he believe so? Because "the police say those claims are not credible."
3. Although Virginia Glore was arrested three to four hours after (as she voluntarily acknowledged to investigators, and as is reported in the article) she had consumed all or part of several drinks, Oden accuses the Chronicle of "distort[ing] the DWI evidence in order to pressure the police, prosecutors or judges before the hearing is even held." Oden hides behind his insistence that the DWI charges and Glore's allegations of GHB rape are completely unrelated, but now abruptly supports a full and fair investigation of the drugging/rape charge (since he doesn't have to do it).]
Read It Twice
I just read this week's excellent cover story "Raped Twice?" by Jordan Smith [Oct. 12], and I am completely disgusted and appalled by the APD's handling of the case concerning Virginia Glore and Charlotte Hughes. I found Ms. Glore's and Ms. Hughes' accounts of the evening of August 4, 2000 to be completely creditable and there is no doubt in my mind of what happened to them that horrible evening.
The APD's investigation is lacking in many areas, one in particular is why the bartender was never questioned. He certainly could have added some important information to the investigation. And why the APD, Detective Beth Young to be specific (a woman no less), would deny the administration of a rape kit test that would have proofed conclusively what happened that evening is beyond me. All Ms. Glore has been trying to do is find out the truth about what happened to her, and the APD has successfully prevented that.
The facts laid out in Ms. Smith's well-researched and well-documented article also contradict almost every comment that APD Commander Duane McNeill made in defense of the APD's handling of Ms. Glore's case. And if other Austin police officers share Commander McNeill's opinion that women lie about being raped when it's convenient for them to do so, then it becomes very clear why Ms. Glore's case was given such a low priority and has been handled so poorly.
Personally, I'd like to dropkick the APD into the 21st century and purge that organization once and for all of the attitude that the victim is responsible for the actions of their abuser. If the APD's handling of this case is typical of how rape and sexual assault cases are handled, small wonder these crimes are underreported.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to rant.
Karen Neumann Jones
Protect the Victim and the Accused
Regarding the article 'Raped Twice' [Oct. 12] and the woman. Without a doubt, any woman who says she has been drugged and raped should be tested for evidence; both for the victim and the accused rights.
Regarding the police and their brutal questioning: People aren't eggs, they are not going to break. It is the police's duty to ask the tough questions and get to the truth. Has anyone forgot how brutal it was in prison for the Barton Creek rapist whose DNA proved him innocent after more than 10 years in prison?
What should happen in a case with so many questions like this is for Ken Oden and some of his prosecutors to get off their political high-horse and let the woman have a dismissal with a signature of non-suit against the city and police.
It is interesting to note a few years ago the head of domestic assaults, Lt. Michael Kimbro was charged with sexual misconduct and besides a reduction in rank to Sgt., no criminal action occurred. Now there's a sympathetic $ ear!
Regarding SafePlace, without victims, they get no funding. I'm not sure if they're always interested in what the truth is.
Victims Need a SafePlace
In light of your recent article about Virginia Glore and her experience with the Austin Police Department ["Raped Twice?" Oct. 12], we felt that an important perspective should be made available to your readers, particularly those who are deciding whether or not to contact the police after experiencing an assault.
In addition to providing counseling and other supportive services for survivors of sexual violence, SafePlace also works to improve the experience of victims as they seek justice for their attacks. For instance, SafePlace staff and trained volunteers are available 24 hours to meet victims at emergency rooms to support them as they go through medical and forensic examinations, and to advocate for those victims as they interact with police officers. Further, we have an ongoing relationship with law enforcement to foster a better understanding of the needs of victims. This has been and continues to be a productive and positive relationship.
The decision to report a sexual assault is a difficult and personal one. Our goal as victim advocates is to allow each person to make that decision in a way that will ultimately benefit their lives. If you have experienced sexual assault, and would like assistance, please contact us 24 hours at 267-SAFE. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
Executive Director, SafePlace
Women, Be Careful
Thank you for your story "Raped Twice" [Oct. 12] Every woman should have the right to request a rape kit. This should not be the decision of some male police officer in the APD or anywhere else. This should be a fundamental right for women.
The story in the Chronicle should serve as a warning for every female who goes into a social situation, especially bars. Watch your bartenders. Be aware of who is around you and have your hand wrapped around your drink at all times, because if someone slips you a drug and than rapes you, the APD will think you are bluffing.
[Ed. Note: Shelton is an employee of The Austin Chronicle]
'20th Anniversary': Revisionist History?
Happily reading the Chron history ["20th Anniversary Issue," Sept. 7], until I come upon the following: "The March 1984 Music Awards Show marked a coming of age for the paper. The show was produced in-house by the current team of Margaret Moser, Nick Barbaro, and Louis Black."
[Ed Note: Sam Staples stage-managed and actually produced many, many Austin Music Awards Shows over the years, including those first ones. We meant to indicate that we had taken responsibility for the booking and content of the Awards Show. Staples actually ran the show.]
From Alcoa's Antagonists
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Chronicle, for Neighbors for Neighbors' designation as Best Dragon Slayer in your current issue ["Best of Austin," Oct. 5]. We're in a tough struggle with a plant that at times impacts much of central Texas, and this cheer from you is very much appreciated.
"The Nicest Guy to Finish First" ... To receive this recognition from The Austin Chronicle is one of the highlights of my 40-plus years in Austin ["Best of Austin," Oct. 5]. The 18 months of effort to incorporate community input into the zoning for Robertson Hill brought together diverse groups. I venture to say there will always be the detractors, but the real congratulations and thanks go to the multitude of visionary leaders in East Austin that stuck with the process to make our development and their community a better place to live.
Resources for Guys and Dads
It is indeed gratifying to see the Austin Chronicle acknowledge, in the Chronicle's Best of Austin awards, the work of the men and women of the Men and Fathers Resource Center [Oct. 5].
Through the Texas Fatherhood Initiative, one of several programs serving men under the umbrella of the Center, the good folk at TFI for more than 30 years have done what they can to offset the cruel imbalance between the availability of family law services for women versus what is available to men. They do it all on a frayed shoestring without government, corporate or foundation financial support. Indeed, it is in the Chronicle's words, the "best affordable legal advice for guys and dads."
Dug It. Better.
Re: "Work Wiser, Not Smarter: A Few Modest Proposals for the Buzzwords of Tomorrow" ["Austin @ Large," Oct. 5], by Mike Clark-Madison.
Dug it. Better.
I'm just now getting around to accessing the Chron via the Internet in the Balkans, where I've been working on a photo project in Kosova and Macedonia. Just before I left the U.S. in mid-September I saw one of my ethnic Albanian friends who came to Austin as a refugee from Kosova in 1999. She told of her young daughter coming home from school on the day of the attacks, scared, and asking if they must move again. This brought tears to my eyes.
I have been living with and photographing Muslims in the Balkans for almost 10 years and have never heard a negative word about the U.S. The response of my friends here has been overwhelmingly one of support and concern. On the other hand, I know they have had to endure racism and ethnic cleansing because of their national origin and religion for years. I saw it today, in small ways, in the beautiful city of Ohrid, when we were overcharged several times by Macedonian Slavs, even though my friends speak perfect Macedonian as well as Albanian. The Slavs think NATO is supporting terrorism by giving in to the demands of the Albanian rebel army for equal rights for all people in Macedonia, that the ultimate goal of the fighting here is a "Greater Albania."
Nothing could be further from the truth. But until all people can accept the differences in others as being our strength rather than weakness, we shall never know peace.
Naten e mire (Good night!),
Record Review Turns Into Brownish Goop
In Raoul Hernandez's no-longer-than-average review of the Strokes' Is This It ["Phases and Stages," Oct. 12], he manages to compare them to the Ramones, Buddy Holly & the Crickets, Blur, Travis, the Presidents of the United States of America, Iggy Pop, and Davíd Garza. It seems like too much critical journalism has been infected with the style of a Hollywood pitch-man (it's Ordinary People meets House Party 2). Myself and many other grade-school children have tried the experiment of mixing every available color of paint together in the hope of creating some fantastic new rainbow color, and instead getting a pile of brownish goop. Since I'd like to go see these guys when they come to town, hopefully that analogy is more representative of the review than of the band.
Food Not Bombs
Singing "God Bless America," waving the flag, and threats of violence are ineffective responses to terrorism. Such arrogant expressions of self-love might be excused if it were not for the fact that we know the terrorists hate America for understandable reasons. We have supported Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people for 50 years. Furthermore, they see us as "the great Satan" because of our raucous music with salacious lyrics, our scantily clad women, lascivious entertainment, wasteful consumerism and carefree drinking. So they believe, rightly or wrongly, that America's "immoral lifestyle," with its global stranglehold over other cultures, threatens to destroy the morality of their people. They want to stop, or at least discredit, those pernicious influences. Their tactics are a protest against the Americanizing of the world. Their protestations would be less violent if we exhibited real concern for the plight of their people. Those who are guilty of terror tactics must be brought to justice by due process of law before the World Court. But their terrorism is a symptom and not the cause of the deeper evil which threatens the security of the world.
Poverty is terrible anywhere, but the majority of Islamic people suffer its terror in ways that rob them of basic human rights. The terrors of poverty and oppression are the root cause of terror tactics. America should offer its resources to provide Islamic peoples the land, food, housing, hospitals, schools, economic development, and freedom from oppression which they need to live in peace and dignity. That humane response to their human needs to live in peace and dignity. That humane response to their human needs would go far toward ending terrorism.
Bikes vs. Cars, the Never-Ending Story
I just wanted to correct some inaccuracies in the article about the Critical Mass/Jeep incident ["Statesman Falls Off Its Bike," Oct. 5]. I was the driver of the car that got hit. Now, I dislike aggressive drivers as much as the rest of us, but I also know the law. Much as I would love to forcibly stop someone after they cut me off and beat the crap out of them, guess what? I don't have the right to.
Yes, when the cyclists stopped traffic on Congress when the cyclists illegally ran a red light, Mike Henderson probably should have just sat on his horn like the rest of the drivers and just tolerated the delay. But he didn't. He went around the traffic and stopped at the next intersection. Too aggressive? Maybe. But we as Austin drivers all know how many aggressive offenses we witness a day that go unpunished. If a police officer doesn't witness it, basically it didn't happen.
Henderson then came to the next intersection and stopped at the traffic light -- which is where all this mess begins. The cyclists, apparently quite like Gomer Pyle, decided they had the authority to make a citizen's arrest for Henderson's aggressive driving. Now, even if they did actually believe that they had the authority to detain Henderson, I ask you, did any single person in the group actually make a call or seek out police so that the proper authorities could intervene? I'll answer this one for you -- no. Absolutely not. There is no record of a report of an aggressive driver at First and Congress, and even if there were a call -- the cyclists absolutely still did not have the authority to detain Henderson. By the way, the cyclists also harassed the passenger. "Accomplice to the crime" -- is that his charge, Gomer?
When the light turned green, Henderson asked the cyclists to please leave him alone because he was going forward. He then inched forward cautiously. When the cyclists still did not heed his warning, he proceeded. Contrary to the Chronicle's report, there were at most two cyclists still in Henderson's path when he went forward. After Henderson landed, the cyclists proceeded to slash his tires (note, this means they were armed with knives) because they decided he was a flight risk and then they keyed his car and spit into it (because as well all know, keying a car and spitting into it greatly increases the chances that it won't move).
And you know, if I were Henderson, I would have done exactly the same thing and sped off. I would have felt as threatened as he did and feel the need to remove myself from the situation. "Fight or flight" -- it's human instinct. And Henderson didn't want a fight -- would you take on 20 angry, armed cyclists?
To Critical Mass, if you want to promote your cause, taking a day every month to break the law in groups is not the way. If you're just a bunch of cyclists who decide to get back at all the drivers who cut you off all month, then call yourselves that. You're promoting a cause. You're just a pain in the ass.
And to the Chronicle: You criticize the Statesman for only getting half of the story. I guess I must have missed the part in your article where you managed to get the other half of the story (the non-cyclist perspective) -- both my and Henderson's contact information are on the police report. I object to the Statesman version as well, but on the grounds that it is biased toward Critical Mass. Henderson did not get "frustrated by the delay" and speed off. He had a green light and the right to proceed, but the cyclists would not allow him to do so. I guess the only agreement we can all come to here is that the Statesman can't ever seem to get the story right.
Support Your President
It's heartening to see Americans, both conservatives and liberals, at last uniting behind the president in our country's ongoing struggle against terrorists. Even though Bush's election was a little tarnished, with the Supreme Court rather than the voters finally putting him in office, liberals accepted the result and are according Bush the respect and support rightfully due the occupant of the office.
It's too bad the conservatives didn't do the same thing with President Clinton. He was elected by the voters without the need for a partisan Supreme Court decision. Yet, when Clinton acted against Osama bin Laden in 1998, after two of our country's embassies were bombed with American lives lost, he got little or no support from conservatives. One wonders if conservatives had enthusiastically supported Clinton against bin Laden, could the atrocities of September 11 have been prevented? We'll never know because the conservatives regarded their petty personal dislike of Clinton and their self-righteous moral outrage at his lying about trivial sexual peccadilloes as being more important than supporting the president against this country's enemies. Maybe conservatives can learn a lesson from liberals about patriotism and love of country.
I hope so.
2001, Oops, I Mean 1984
Wow, Richard R. Runde! Such flowery prose in defense of our rhetorically and grammatically challenged president-select ["Postmarks: Grow Up Chron, Part 327," Oct. 12]. I'm so pleased he confirmed that my "Bush Is a Punk-Ass Chump" bumper sticker gets under his skin ... that's why it's there.
For his information, here's a couple more "philosophies" that were "relegated to the dust bin of history" recently:
1984? It was here -- then it was gone -- now it's back.
Our Own Brand of Terror
Our leaders seem to be showing little concern for the reduction of terrorism in America. In fact, they seem intent on insuring that there will be more to come. The use of bombs on the Taliban, who, most likely, have packed their strongholds with innocent civilians, has stirred the Muslim world into a frenzy of hatred. It was bad foreign policy that led to the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, and now we are doing more of the same. Our leaders are busy accelerating the creation of many more terrorists.
Although our media showed many pictures of the Twin Towers attacks, they are showing very little of the acts of terrorism that we are now endorsing. I had to find out what was going on by tuning my computer in to BBC. What happened to freedom of the press? Are we still living in a democracy?
John Elton Bills
More CIA Imperialism
Adrian More labels Cyprus, Panama, and the Cayman Islands as "rogue" states that deserve to be bombed for allegedly harboring bin Laden's money, the latter accusation made by James Woolsey, former director of the CIA ["Follow the Blood Money," Sept. 28]. Of all the moronic and infantile reactions to the tragedy of Sept. 11, this one surely competes for top honors. I do not know what can be argued against Panama and the Caymans (although I suspect little or nothing), but if Mr. More had an elementary knowledge of the situation in Cyprus he would have thought twice before opening his mouth. For the record, Turkey ruthlessly invaded Cyprus in 1974 with arms provided by the United States and under the full backup and support of the CIA (Yes Mr. More, that's the same agency Mr. Woolsey worked for ...). The island has been divided in half since 1974, with the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus in the south part of the island and the Turkey-controlled puppet regime in the northern occupied part, a well-known heaven for Chechnyan Islamic fundamentalists and bin Laden's associates.
If there's a country that deserves to be bombed that would be Turkey, the world's preeminent sponsor of state terrorism, targeted not only against its neighbors (Cyprus and Greece) but to its own citizens as well (the Armenians and the Kurds). If Mr. More wants to do something about the tragedy of Sept. 11 so that it is never repeated, he should start questioning United States foreign policy; otherwise, I suggest he enjoys the tourist attractions in Florence and keep his big mouth shut unless he has something intelligent to say.
Bush: A Dangerous Man
Thanks to Michael King and the panel at tonight's (Oct. 11) discussion in Bass Lecture Hall regarding events of Sept. 11. I would like to contribute my thoughts on the general topic of: Where do we go from here? With the possible exception of bombing the rest of the world back into the Stone Age, I don't see where we can go. Honesty and justice would be a good place to start, but it isn't likely President-Select Bush is going to start that now. How can he? Smoke would come billowing out his ears before he would admit that, yes, the U.S. intended for 600,000 Iraqi children to die from the start of the Gulf War; yes, we knew all along the pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan was not producing chemical weapons; yes, the U.S. trains terrorists at the School of the Assassins, and yes, he stole the election.
Not only is Bush painting himself into a very tight corner, he is painting in the rest of us as well. How convenient for Mr. Bush we have a national disaster days before the media was about to release their results of the 2000 Selection. How convenient that every issue from the death penalty to ozone depletion will be put on the back burner. Does everyone remember the allegation that we picked up the Japanese attack en route to Pearl Harbor with our radar? Of course radar was brand-new and the U.S. wanted, even needed, to enter the war. And does everyone know about Bush Sr.'s advisor to Iraq, April Gillespie, who informed Saddam Hussein that what he did with Kuwait was his own business? Lastly, the second plane that crashed into the WTC, while it was being tailed by an F-16, was not shot down even though it gave no indication of veering away while the fourth plane was apparently downed, thus destroying any evidence to the identity of the hijackers, even though it appears the passengers overpowered them. What could all of this possibly mean?
Why can't I see where to go from here? If Bush proceeds unopposed, he will engulf the entire world in conflict, including the possibility of nuclear weapons, and, with the fear of widespread terrorism and legislation like Senate Bill 1510, revoke any semblance of civil rights. And if our brothers and sisters were to awaken and challenge Mr. Bush? With his limited imagination, what other alternative would there be than a conventional coup and martial law? Please, forgive my cynicism, perhaps one of your readers can show the way.
Good luck to us all,
Bin Laden Once a Friend
Pete Jamison's letter ["Postmarks: No Obligation to Afghans," Oct. 12] is unfortunately typical of many on the Right who think they know it all when in reality they know nothing.
Pete ought to realize that it was U.S. leaders (while keeping the population of this country blissfully ignorant) that were at least partly responsible for getting the people of Afghanistan into this mess in the first place. Osama bin Laden, a known fanatic at the time, was welcomed to the White House by none other than Ronald Reagan (that beacon of freedom held up by the right) as one of the "moral equivalents of the Founding Fathers" (Raygun's words, not mine), and trained and equipped to fight as a jehadi. Once the perceived threat to American interests was over, the Afghans were quickly abandoned with bin Laden in their midst. Now that the U.S. has decided that he's actually the enemy, the poor Afghan folks are again caught in the crossfire. To make things worse, the bombing of Afghanistan by the U.S. has meant that food and other aid is not getting to the Afghans. (Forget CNN's constant harping on about the 37,500 rations. There are several million starving people in Afghanistan.)
As for rising up and overthrowing their moral slavemasters, how are you supposed to do that when you're starving and beaten down? We certainly didn't expect the residents of postwar Germany and Japan to do that without help. Following Jamison's demented logic, the residents of Lower Manhattan ought to be left to their own devices so they'll rise up and overcome the terrorists.
The moral thing to do this time round is not to abandon Afghanistan but to ensure that a peaceful leadership is in place, and minimal aid be given to enable the Afghans to rebuild.