On November 5, 2010 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a story by Todd C. Frankel under the headline “A Missouri Town’s Doubts about a Sex Torture Case.” One of the perprtrators in this case, James Noel has pled guilty to human trafficking and participating in the torture and rape of a young woman, and all other charges against him in a federal indictment out of the Western District of Missouri Office of the United States Attorney, including himself participating in torturing her by linking an electrical decive to her genitals and knowing that she was in severe pain and unable to escape.
The Post-Dispatch article’s headline is itself victim-blaming and sensational in a way that does victims and survivors of rape, torture, and human trafficking an extreme disservice by perpetuating doubt and re-enforcing damaging assumptions. The article raises doubts about the victim’s veracity and focuses soley on town members’ opinions, who speculate that the victim, according to the indictiment a “mentally defecient” teenager when Edward Bagley, Sr. took her and allegedly began grooming her for torture and sex slavery, was a willing participant. Frankel quotes townspeople and relatives as saying such things as, “They no more held that woman captive than a man in the moon,” and “I just can’t believe they’re saying stuff like that…sounds like an excuse.”
For more information, and to sign a petition against the coverage, go here. (Thanks, Simone!)