Why were the 14 and 15-year-girls subjected to sexual assault examinations?

The story of the two 18 year-old LHS baseball players and their underaged dates is more complex, and ultimately more horrifying to me, than the first Ledger story makes it seem. Today’s story is more thorough, but it still misses a very important issue that parents and kids need to know.

exam roomMuch remains unclear to me after reading the actual report, speaking to Polk Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilder, and reading this morning’s Ledger story.

But here’s the bottom line: What started with two pairs of teenagers being naughty – doing more than just “making out” and yet not having sexual intercourse – ended with two high school seniors in jail facing years in prison. And their “victims” – who insisted on the consensual nature of the naughtiness – provided “a sexual assault kit” and the clothing off their backs to an RN and a doctor at LRMC at 2:30 or so in the morning. This is in black and white in the police report. Just so you know what’s involved in a sexual assault kit, check out this wikipedia entry.

Here’s a partial list of the stuff found inside:

# Tube for blood sample
# Urine sample container
# Paper bags for clothing collection
# Large sheet of paper for patient to undress over
# Cotton swabs for biological evidence collection
# Sterile water
# Sterile saline
# Glass slides
# Unwaxed dental floss
# Wooden stick for fingernail scrapings
# Envelopes or boxes for individual evidence samples
# Labels

Stuff that might be required for a sexual assault exam includes:

# Toluidine blue dye
# Drying rack for wet swabs and/or clothing
# Patient gown, cover sheet, blanket, pillow
# Needles/syringes for blood drawing
# Speculums

This is how we protect children from consensual fondling with their dates in this county.

It’s not clear from the report what was done to the girls at LRMC — what the “sexual assault kit” entailed at that specific moment. But Wilder told me the deputy contacted the girls’ parents after the deputy discovered them and that the parents gave permission for the sheriff’s office to “fully comply” with what the law requires to arrest and prosecute someone on lewd battery charges. That, according to Wilder, includes the sexual assault exam.

This jibes with Grady Judd’s quotes from The Ledger this morning:

“We didn’t choose the conduct. We didn’t write the laws,” Judd said. “The (girls’) parents were very adamant and wanted prosecution.”

and

Judd said the father of the 14-year-old girl was distraught during the investigation at what had happened with his daughter.

“He was livid,” Judd said of the father. “We had to calm him down.”

I asked Wilder if the girls were required to take the exam if they didn’t want to, even if their parents gave consent. He said no. I then asked Wilder if the girls consented to the exam, and he said they did. I then finally asked him if anyone, with the sheriff’s office, the hospital, or their parents, ever told the girls they didn’t have to take the exam. He said he did not know.

If you are a medical professional who was present during this, and your conscience is bothering you, email me at townsend@lakelandlocal.com. I want to talk.

Now let’s back up for a second. I was unfair to the investigating deputy in my post yesterday morning. When he discovered the teens, about 11:30 p.m., they were in various stages of near nudity. The report has conflicting accounts of how nude. Really, it does. But given those circumstances, late at night, the deputy probably couldn’t have just said, “get dressed and get on your way.” If he had, and something bad had happened to the girls, jerks like me would have crawled all over him. It was wrong for me to criticize him for his actions at the scene. I apologize for that.

But what’s clear from his report is that all four kids quickly fessed up to their naughtiness: basically mutual masturbation. That’s the battery. Penetration with a single finger – in both cases. (Sorry for the graphic stuff, but we’re all adults here at LL.) At absolutely no point was coercion alleged; and the deputy never expressed any suspicion that the girls or boys were lying. He also never expressed suspicion that the kids actually had traditional intercourse — or even planned to.

In other words, what were the RN, the doctor, and cops looking for from the sexual assault kit samples? Fingerprints? What was the evidentiary value? Why does the law require a kit for lewd battery? In the absence of good answers to those questions, it’s hard to see the exam and the time at the hospital as anything but punitive. After all, the cops have confessions.

I hope this wasn’t a rape exam as a punishment for fondling. It’s bad enough that the boys face felonies. But this is how we protect their “victims”? By violating them in the cold, sterile conditions of a hospital, surrounded by solemn adults and knowing they may send their boyfriends/dates to prison and otherwise ruin their lives.

You tell me what’s closer to rape. We have lost our freaking minds in this country. Parents and cops alike.

Sheriff Judd told The Ledger, “As a daddy, if my 14-year-old girl was engaging in that conduct, the safest place (the boy) can be is in the county jail.”

Is the safest place for your daughter some room at LRMC draped in a sheet in the middle of the night?

Understand, parents, what this case shows. If you let your 15-year-old daughter go out with her 18-year-old boyfriend – and he touches her girlyparts, and the sheriff’s office finds out, they may very well call you asking to take a sample. I know what my answer would be. Maybe I’m just less morally sound than some of our commenters or the girls’ parents, but the very idea that this question gets asked horrifies me.

Creative Commons License photo illustration credit: Maggie Osterberg

25 thoughts on “Why were the 14 and 15-year-girls subjected to sexual assault examinations?

  1. What parent in their right mind would allow their 14 or 15 year old daughter to date an 18 year old? There is a lot of parties involved in this horror show and it starts there. Whatever happened to just say no? Can’t parents say no to their kids? I know I do.

    I was watching the local news with my two sons, 17 and 20 years old when this story came on. The question came up about the girls responibility is this matter. If it is a truly consensual act, are the girls not part of that crime? Compare to going along on a criminal act, like robbery. How are these girls innocent?

    Mind you my boys that it was gross to date someone so much younger, and totally wrong in their peer groups.

    I also understand what you’re saying about the exams the girls had at the hospital. I, too, have a daughter and would never subject her to such a procedure; unless there was a true assalt case against her will. Seems like punishment to me for the girls being “bad”. Need to know if they were given the option of saying no to the exam, or were lead to believe they had to submit.

  2. What parent in their right mind would allow their 14 or 15 year old daughter to date an 18 year old? There is a lot of parties involved in this horror show and it starts there. Whatever happened to just say no? Can’t parents say no to their kids? I know I do.

    I was watching the local news with my two sons, 17 and 20 years old when this story came on. The question came up about the girls responibility is this matter. If it is a truly consensual act, are the girls not part of that crime? Compare to going along on a criminal act, like robbery. How are these girls innocent?

    Mind you my boys that it was gross to date someone so much younger, and totally wrong in their peer groups.

    I also understand what you’re saying about the exams the girls had at the hospital. I, too, have a daughter and would never subject her to such a procedure; unless there was a true assalt case against her will. Seems like punishment to me for the girls being “bad”. Need to know if they were given the option of saying no to the exam, or were lead to believe they had to submit.

  3. These young girls have been victimized in more ways than you can imagine. The humiliation they will face at school is just the tip of the iceberg. I agree that the system has done more damage than these young boyfriends could have. To subject your daughters to possibility of forcing this into a sex crime is the rape of innocence here, not the making out with the boyfriends. Whatever the young men “did to them” (with them), the fact that it was consensual makes the difference in this, not the age. (We are, after all talking about high school, not perverts or pedophiles preying on children) SOME parent knew their young girls were not at home, all parents have been to high school and know the drill. No generation has been successful in ensuring that their young will not have sex until marriage. To humiliate the young men is humiliating to the young women. I understand the parents of the girls to be furious, but to create a situation whereas the young girls are not taught that they have the ability and authority to say NO is unfortunate. The girls are indeed victims here, but not by their boyfriends.

  4. These young girls have been victimized in more ways than you can imagine. The humiliation they will face at school is just the tip of the iceberg. I agree that the system has done more damage than these young boyfriends could have. To subject your daughters to possibility of forcing this into a sex crime is the rape of innocence here, not the making out with the boyfriends. Whatever the young men “did to them” (with them), the fact that it was consensual makes the difference in this, not the age. (We are, after all talking about high school, not perverts or pedophiles preying on children) SOME parent knew their young girls were not at home, all parents have been to high school and know the drill. No generation has been successful in ensuring that their young will not have sex until marriage. To humiliate the young men is humiliating to the young women. I understand the parents of the girls to be furious, but to create a situation whereas the young girls are not taught that they have the ability and authority to say NO is unfortunate. The girls are indeed victims here, but not by their boyfriends.

  5. As a parent is my responsability to teach my children, both males and females of what is apropiate and what is not. For me to neglect that and then cry wolf when something happens is hipocrite and irresponsible. In this case the parents knew about the dates and should had excercised their given right to deny permission considering the boys where older and the girls are minors under their care, unless those houses are run by children, which in any case will be a disgrace. Also instructions should had been given about time to return home and clear orders of no sexual activity if that was going to horrify the parents. The dad getting livid after the facts is simply acting like the child that gets caught with the hand in the cookie jar, since he is in the open with his less than responsible actions concerning his daughter, he throws a tantrum trying to diffuse his guilt.
    In this case the question is why these parents allowed this girls out to begin with? They should had been more proactive in their lives to prevent this. Not all kids engage in sex during a date, others do. But when they do is either peer pressure or lack of guidance from their parents. Now there is not only four teens in trouble but also four families in turmoil.

  6. As a parent is my responsability to teach my children, both males and females of what is apropiate and what is not. For me to neglect that and then cry wolf when something happens is hipocrite and irresponsible. In this case the parents knew about the dates and should had excercised their given right to deny permission considering the boys where older and the girls are minors under their care, unless those houses are run by children, which in any case will be a disgrace. Also instructions should had been given about time to return home and clear orders of no sexual activity if that was going to horrify the parents. The dad getting livid after the facts is simply acting like the child that gets caught with the hand in the cookie jar, since he is in the open with his less than responsible actions concerning his daughter, he throws a tantrum trying to diffuse his guilt.
    In this case the question is why these parents allowed this girls out to begin with? They should had been more proactive in their lives to prevent this. Not all kids engage in sex during a date, others do. But when they do is either peer pressure or lack of guidance from their parents. Now there is not only four teens in trouble but also four families in turmoil.

  7. I agree! This is a misuse of the law! And MORE of a violation to the girls!

  8. I agree! This is a misuse of the law! And MORE of a violation to the girls!

  9. The ones to watch here are the prosecutors. They have more discretion
    than the sheriff does on this sort of thing. It looks like one of them
    was charged with both battery (basically, penetration) and molestation
    (basically, sexual contact that isn’t penetration), and the other with
    just molestation. The prosecutor could drop those charges, add more,
    or change them to something less after taking a closer look at things.

    My personal opinion is that these sorts of things are extremely
    fact-specific, and it’s tough to saw how this particular situation
    should play out without talking to everyone involved, hearing all
    sides of the story, etc… For example, it would not be uncommon at
    all for a young victim of rape or molestation to say that sexual
    contact with her boyfriend was consensual in an initial interview even
    if it wasn’t. How likely is that to have happened here? It may be
    unlikely given that sexual maturity is reached prior to intellectual
    maturity, but it can’t be ruled out.

    The heart of the more broad policy question is whether it ought to be
    the case that 15 year olds do not have the legal capacity to consent
    to sexual contact with 18 year olds. I don’t think anyone would
    disagree with the assertion that in the absence of consent a very
    serious crime has been committed. But should we draw a bright line at
    some age and say that, no matter what, someone under age X is always
    molested/raped when the other person is age Y or over? Today, we do.

    One practical problem is that if you give 15 year olds the legal
    capacity to consent, nearly EVERY case of rape/molestation involving
    18 and 19 year old boys (it’s usually the boy who’s older) will hinge
    on a question of whether the girl consented.

    That means that in nearly every such trial, the girl will get called
    to the stand and cross-examined about every detail of the incident and
    whether she consented or not. Just like adults have to do today. If
    you change the law, then you doom 14 and 15 year olds to having to
    give this sort of testimony. Isn’t that a pretty ugly situation?
    Shouldn’t we have some age at which sexual contact is always illegal?

    Billy, if you were to write the law, how young does the girl have to
    be and how old does the boy have to be for consent not to be a
    defense? Or do you envision a different paradigm entirely?

    With respect to the rape kit, certainly there ought to be was to
    improve the way we treat victims of sexual assault, especially minors.
    I would assume if your 15 year old daughter had not consented, you
    would want the assailant charged with the crime. How would you want
    them go about having the necessary evidence gathered?

  10. The ones to watch here are the prosecutors. They have more discretion
    than the sheriff does on this sort of thing. It looks like one of them
    was charged with both battery (basically, penetration) and molestation
    (basically, sexual contact that isn’t penetration), and the other with
    just molestation. The prosecutor could drop those charges, add more,
    or change them to something less after taking a closer look at things.

    My personal opinion is that these sorts of things are extremely
    fact-specific, and it’s tough to saw how this particular situation
    should play out without talking to everyone involved, hearing all
    sides of the story, etc… For example, it would not be uncommon at
    all for a young victim of rape or molestation to say that sexual
    contact with her boyfriend was consensual in an initial interview even
    if it wasn’t. How likely is that to have happened here? It may be
    unlikely given that sexual maturity is reached prior to intellectual
    maturity, but it can’t be ruled out.

    The heart of the more broad policy question is whether it ought to be
    the case that 15 year olds do not have the legal capacity to consent
    to sexual contact with 18 year olds. I don’t think anyone would
    disagree with the assertion that in the absence of consent a very
    serious crime has been committed. But should we draw a bright line at
    some age and say that, no matter what, someone under age X is always
    molested/raped when the other person is age Y or over? Today, we do.

    One practical problem is that if you give 15 year olds the legal
    capacity to consent, nearly EVERY case of rape/molestation involving
    18 and 19 year old boys (it’s usually the boy who’s older) will hinge
    on a question of whether the girl consented.

    That means that in nearly every such trial, the girl will get called
    to the stand and cross-examined about every detail of the incident and
    whether she consented or not. Just like adults have to do today. If
    you change the law, then you doom 14 and 15 year olds to having to
    give this sort of testimony. Isn’t that a pretty ugly situation?
    Shouldn’t we have some age at which sexual contact is always illegal?

    Billy, if you were to write the law, how young does the girl have to
    be and how old does the boy have to be for consent not to be a
    defense? Or do you envision a different paradigm entirely?

    With respect to the rape kit, certainly there ought to be was to
    improve the way we treat victims of sexual assault, especially minors.
    I would assume if your 15 year old daughter had not consented, you
    would want the assailant charged with the crime. How would you want
    them go about having the necessary evidence gathered?

  11. Billy, great post. Sheriff Judd and the PCSO have crossed the line on this one. Ridiculous protectionism.

  12. Billy, great post. Sheriff Judd and the PCSO have crossed the line on this one. Ridiculous protectionism.

  13. I’d be willing to be my last dollar it wasnt these two young girls FIRST rodeo!
    Livid dad should open his eyeballs to his darling daughter! Put her on the stand.
    Check her myspace and facebook for naughty pics and other! Heck check her phone records. The darling daughters are just as guilty. But hey I dont write the laws either!

  14. I’d be willing to be my last dollar it wasnt these two young girls FIRST rodeo!
    Livid dad should open his eyeballs to his darling daughter! Put her on the stand.
    Check her myspace and facebook for naughty pics and other! Heck check her phone records. The darling daughters are just as guilty. But hey I dont write the laws either!

  15. I agree that it probably isn’t baby girl’s first time at doing this. But as an individual with 20 years of law enforcement experience, I also know that baby girls could also have very well had sexual intercourse prior to the police showing up. They could have just as easily been threatened, or their families threatened, if they told or the girls could feel that they would never get to see their “boyfriends” again and no one would be the wiser. So don’t go blaming the police for doing what is necessary to protect a child from a monster that should not have been out there with her from the start. And you are right. We don’t write the laws. But we do have to follow them. It would NOT be in the best interest of the child or the parents, if the police did not do the “rape” exam. What parent would want to find out in 6-8 weeks that their 14 year old daughter is pregnant. I know that I would not!

  16. I agree that it probably isn’t baby girl’s first time at doing this. But as an individual with 20 years of law enforcement experience, I also know that baby girls could also have very well had sexual intercourse prior to the police showing up. They could have just as easily been threatened, or their families threatened, if they told or the girls could feel that they would never get to see their “boyfriends” again and no one would be the wiser. So don’t go blaming the police for doing what is necessary to protect a child from a monster that should not have been out there with her from the start. And you are right. We don’t write the laws. But we do have to follow them. It would NOT be in the best interest of the child or the parents, if the police did not do the “rape” exam. What parent would want to find out in 6-8 weeks that their 14 year old daughter is pregnant. I know that I would not!

  17. I appreciate your willingness to take a 2nd look at your initial reaction. I’d like to add my 2 cents as well. I’ll leave the parenting remarks to others as I just have 2 young girls and haven’t been there, plus, other commentors have already shared how I feel.

    It is probable that the young girls were consenting, but out of fear, not out of a desire to experience sexual pleasure. They may not have realized the danger they could be getting themselves into. Playing with a boy’s sexual desires is dangerous and risky if one isn’t prepared to follow through. Rare is the boy who is willing to stop at just fondling the girl without expecting something in return. On first getting caught, it is most face saving for the girls to say it was 100% consensual. I believe it would be the natural response of the caught girl. It helps her maintain her standing with the boy, with her peer group, and keeps her from getting anyone in trouble.

    Was the rape kit over the top? Sounds like it. Should they have waited for the parents to arrive instead of getting over the phone consent. For sure. I would want to look in my daughter’s eyes before asking her to subject herself to such an intense, personal evaluation.

    I appreciate your coverage on this subject… traditional media wouldn’t go here.

  18. I appreciate your willingness to take a 2nd look at your initial reaction. I’d like to add my 2 cents as well. I’ll leave the parenting remarks to others as I just have 2 young girls and haven’t been there, plus, other commentors have already shared how I feel.

    It is probable that the young girls were consenting, but out of fear, not out of a desire to experience sexual pleasure. They may not have realized the danger they could be getting themselves into. Playing with a boy’s sexual desires is dangerous and risky if one isn’t prepared to follow through. Rare is the boy who is willing to stop at just fondling the girl without expecting something in return. On first getting caught, it is most face saving for the girls to say it was 100% consensual. I believe it would be the natural response of the caught girl. It helps her maintain her standing with the boy, with her peer group, and keeps her from getting anyone in trouble.

    Was the rape kit over the top? Sounds like it. Should they have waited for the parents to arrive instead of getting over the phone consent. For sure. I would want to look in my daughter’s eyes before asking her to subject herself to such an intense, personal evaluation.

    I appreciate your coverage on this subject… traditional media wouldn’t go here.

  19. To LHS Baseball Fan – be careful how to characterize the “victims” here. What are they guilty of? There are no laws on the books that could be used to charge these girls. Your pseudonym automatically makes any comment you make suspect in my book. Let’s not fling mud and call names.

  20. To LHS Baseball Fan – be careful how to characterize the “victims” here. What are they guilty of? There are no laws on the books that could be used to charge these girls. Your pseudonym automatically makes any comment you make suspect in my book. Let’s not fling mud and call names.

  21. I can see that the girls may not have seen anything wrong with what was going on, or they could have been like so many other teen-age children. The key here being children, they may have been fearful of not having “older” boyfriends anymore. As far as what ever the girls think is “consensual”, they are not old enough to make that call. Regardless of how mature they feel they are, this is why we have a school in this town just for pregnant girls. Because their judgment in these matters is not good, not all but most, they are not of consenting age. And the fact that their parents knew that they were dating 18 year olds, that is absolutely foul. I don’t think that the boys should be branded pedophiles, but the girls parents should be charged with neglect for allowing these relationships to continue.

  22. I can see that the girls may not have seen anything wrong with what was going on, or they could have been like so many other teen-age children. The key here being children, they may have been fearful of not having “older” boyfriends anymore. As far as what ever the girls think is “consensual”, they are not old enough to make that call. Regardless of how mature they feel they are, this is why we have a school in this town just for pregnant girls. Because their judgment in these matters is not good, not all but most, they are not of consenting age. And the fact that their parents knew that they were dating 18 year olds, that is absolutely foul. I don’t think that the boys should be branded pedophiles, but the girls parents should be charged with neglect for allowing these relationships to continue.

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  24. This is a case of very poor, irresponsible parenting. I have two teen girls (one attends LHS) and you can believe I know where my girls are at Midnight! I would never allow them to date 18 year old boys and if I ever did they would have their “date” in my living room with a movie and popcorn not driving around in their trucks. All four teens should be punished but not by the police. They are teens being teens! The girls need a lesson from their Mothers on how to conduct themselves as young ladies and the boys need a lesson from Dad in self restraint. If these boys are prosecuted and labeled “sex offenders” the girls should be prosecuted and labeled “morally challenged”. The parents should be prosecuted and labeled “poor parents”.

  25. This is a case of very poor, irresponsible parenting. I have two teen girls (one attends LHS) and you can believe I know where my girls are at Midnight! I would never allow them to date 18 year old boys and if I ever did they would have their “date” in my living room with a movie and popcorn not driving around in their trucks. All four teens should be punished but not by the police. They are teens being teens! The girls need a lesson from their Mothers on how to conduct themselves as young ladies and the boys need a lesson from Dad in self restraint. If these boys are prosecuted and labeled “sex offenders” the girls should be prosecuted and labeled “morally challenged”. The parents should be prosecuted and labeled “poor parents”.

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