BLOG 7/1/16

Turner’s Sexual Assault 

stuebenvilleOn Tuesday June 7th I read the story in the Toledo Blade about the Stanford University swimmer, Brock Turner, who was let off with a six month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. A very important part of the story is the outcry that the very lenient sentence invoked. In that same edition of the Blade there was another story of a 33 year old former firefighter, Thomas Watson, who sexually assaulted a seventeen year old girl and was sentenced to 120 days of work release, three years of community control, 300 hours of community service, a $1,500 fine, and $5000 in restitution. That sentence of 120 days of work release translates into four months of spending the night in the jail but being free to go to work each day. How can this slap on the wrist be Wood County’s idea of justice?


Certainly there are significant differences in the two cases. In the Stanford case the prosecutor called for a sentence of six years and it was Judge Aaron Persky stating that Turner “will not be a danger to others” who decided on the six month sentence. In Wood County, assistant prosecutor Gwen Howe-Gebers actually recommended the astoundingly lenient sentence that was imposed by Judge Reeve Kelsey. The Blade article states that prosecutor Howe-Geber entered into a plea agreement with the defense “after weighing the case and the best interests of the victim”. Without a doubt the prosecutor in the Stanford case had a stronger case since she had witnesses. Yet it strains credulity to think that four months of pseudo-jail and five thousand dollars in restitution could in any context provide justice for the seventeen-year-old rape victim.


I am sure that prosecutors and judges must weigh the odds of securing a conviction when they enter into a plea agreement rather than taking a case to trial but the circumstances of this case pose serious questions as to the ability of rape victims to receive justice in Wood County. From the account in the Blade it appears that a substantial part of the justification for not going to trial is the fact that the victim was so traumatized that they did not wish to put her through a trial. Clearly she was indeed traumatized, what seventeen-year-old rape victim would not be? There were numerous declarations of sympathy and concern for the victim, from the prosecutor, the judge, and the rapist himself. Perhaps the victim has been so harmed by her attacker that she would not be a good witness or hold up through a trial. But that is why we have prosecutors and judges. The weight of justice must not rest so heavily on any defendant, let alone a teenage rape victim.

The criminal justice system is not a tool for revenge nor should we expect it to have the capacity to make the victim whole. But the extent of the harm to the victim and the impact of such crimes on the community should be reflected in the sentence. The sentence that Mr. Watson received demonstrates why so few rape victims even bother with the criminal justice system. As a community we are all betrayed when our courts fail to hold sex offenders accountable for their actions. The most egregious aspect of the plea agreement is that this sexual predator will not have to register as a sex offender. If this is the best they can do for rape victims and for the community perhaps it’s time for early retirement for assistant prosecutor Gwen Howe-Gebers and Judge Reeve Kelsey. written by Anita Rios, President of Ohio NOW

Ohio NOW stands with the LGBT community in morning and in the rejection of hatred and fear. Each of us must be free to love who we love.


glbtby Anita Rios, President of Ohio NOW  The events in Orlando over the weekend leave me so sad that each word chokes. But we have to continue to speak up and stand up in love and compassion for the LGBT community. For several years NOW chapters have participated in Pride events throughout the state. NOW will have a table at Toledo Pride and will march in the parade on August 26th and 27th. We will also participate in Columbus Pride on June 17 & 18, and in Cincinnati Pride on June 20 & 21. Let’s show that we will not let hatred and fear rule us and make these pride events the biggest ever!

As we consider how to prevent future acts of mass violence let’s call for tighter gun control laws. Respect for the second amendment is not in conflict with common sense gun control. Let’s call for a ban on assault weapons and for a reasonable waiting period for all gun purchases. As citizens and as voters we have the power to make this the last time that a person filled with hate and or madness walks into a nightclub or a school or a movie theater and creates horror. We can do that by making sure that people who value guns more than people do not get elected to office. Hold candidates and elected officials responsible for where they stand on gun control. Do not vote for candidates who do not pledge to make our communities safer through common sense gun control.

As we consider solutions to violence and hatred let’s remember that terrorists do not represent Islam any more than Timothy McVeah represented Christianity. In my home town of Toledo, Muslims are a vital part of the fabric of the community. They are the doctors, my mom’s oncologist and my husband’s first neurologist, the lawyers, the business people and the wonderful restaurateurs who contribute to my community every day. We have far more examples of the exemplary citizens and human beings who make up Islam than those few sick individuals who make the news. To find out what Islam really means we can look to Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha who put her career on the line to save the children of Flint from lead poisoning. She spoke up when no one else would and was ridiculed until she was proven right. That example of courage and compassion is one that we must look to as we seek answers and solutions in the aftermath of the killings in Orlando.


“Deal Me In”

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill April 27, 2016

Washington, DC – Donald Trump is doubling down on his gender-based attacks on Hillary Clinton, charging that Secretary Clinton doesn’t have the “strength” or “stamina” to be President. And after winning last night’s primaries, Trump said, “If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote.”

No one should doubt what Donald Trump thinks about women. When he called for women to be prosecuted for having abortions, he meant it. Donald Trump isn’t playing the role of a tough-talking political outsider who refuses to be politically correct. Donald Trump is just another boorish, babbling bigot who disrespects women.

Hillary Clinton enjoys strong support among women voters and that support will grow as more voters focus in on the policies she is promoting. She invites us to look at her promises and then hold her accountable for them when she is president. But Donald Trump dismisses these thoughtful, practical solutions as “playing the woman card.”

I prefer the presidential candidate who tells us the truth about the issues that matter in this election. I stand with Hillary Clinton when she says, “if fighting for women’s healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”

As we look towards the November election, two things are clear. One is that Donald Trump won’t shut up or moderate his attacks on women for having the audacity to be leaders in politics. But we also know that Hillary Clinton won’t hesitate to stand up to Donald Trump’s hate speech with a positive message that unites us–women and men–and calls us to bring down the barriers and lift up those who have been left behind.

March 23, 2016 from the UltraViolet Action – Despite Donald Trump’s sexist, racist comments, Amazon is promoting and profiting from him and his brand.1

The online behemoth sells Trump’s line of menswear–even though companies like Macy’s bailed on Trump’s brand of hate last year.2

Trump is inciting violence at his rallies and spewing vitriol that white supremacists like David Duke love.3 So why is Amazon continuing to support the Trump empire? Many of us use Amazon, and the company has responded to our pressure before over the selling of sexist products. It needs to follow suit when it comes to Trump products. Will you add your name now?

Tell Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: “Reject Trump’s sexism, racism, and xenophobia. Stop selling Trump products.”
Sign the petition

Macy’s realized last year that Trump’s outrageous statements, including calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” deriding and objectifying women by calling them “bimbos,” “fat pigs,” and in one case, “a young and beautiful piece of ass,” were bad for business.4 NBC, Serta, and even NASCAR have joined Macy’s in dumping Trump.5

And that was before Trump said he would stop all Muslims from entering the U.S., before he refused to denounce the endorsement of a white supremacist, and before he started encouraging violence against brave protesters disrupting and even shutting down Trump rallies in Chicago, Kansas City, and Miami.6 Trump has gone so far as to say that protesters should be carried out on a stretcher, and he even said he would pay the legal fees of a supporter who was arrested for assault.7

Yet despite this huge public outcry, Amazon still directly sells Trump ties and shirts and allows its vendors to sell Trump campaign merchandise, including a bumper sticker that says “Trump that bitch!” and features pictures of both Trump and Hillary Clinton.8

Macy’s did the right thing–but only after its customers and members of the public pressured it. And Amazon has listened before: In 2013, after UltraViolet members spoke out, the company pulled a “zombie ex-girlfriend” shooting target.9 Now it’s time for Amazon to Dump Trump.

Add your name.

Thanks for speaking out.

February 16, 2016 When Republicans blocked LBJ from filling a vacancy, “liberals made them pay for it” reminds Prof. Josh Zeitz in Politico:   “From the date of Fortas’ resignation, the seat stood vacant for 13 months until Nixon nominated a compromise candidate, Harry Blackmun. Blackmun, in turn, went on to pen the court’s decision in Roe v Wade.”

NOW renews call for federal investigation into Sandra Bland’s death

December 30, 2015

Washington, DC – Anyone who doubts that the U.S. criminal justice system is in crisis need look no further than Waller County, Texas, where a grand jury has declined to issue any indictments in connection with the death of Sandra Bland.

Ms. Bland, a vibrant 28-year-old graduate of Prairie View University, who had returned to Texas to accept a job at her alma mater, was verbally and physically abused by white trooper Brian Encinia in the course of a routine traffic stop. She was arrested and held in the Waller County jail, where she was found hanging in her cell after three days. The local authorities say it was suicide, but her family and friends believe there was foul play.

Six months ago, NOW called for a federal investigation into the circumstances of Sandra Bland’s death, and we renew that call today. The public deserves an honest and transparent accounting. What was said and done to Sandra Bland during those three days at that county jail? What help did she request? Were her requests denied or delayed? Who made those decisions?

To gain a full understanding of Sandra Bland’s death, it is also imperative to take Waller County’s ugly history of racism into account. The Ku Klux Klan burrowed into the area in the 19th and 20th Centuries, and lynchings of Black people took place there from the late 1800s to the early 1950s. White officials’ targeting of Black residents continues right into the present, exemplified in the repeated recent efforts to suppress the vote of Prairie View University students through unlawful intimidation, restriction and regulation.

Officials in Texas failed Sandra Bland, from the moment Trooper Encinia began verbally and physically abusing her to her death in custody three days later. Their apparent unwillingness to hold anyone accountable for her needless suffering and death is not acceptable. With the whole country now watching this case, it is time for the U.S. Department of Justice to step in.