The Death Of Morality: The Richmond High Rape

You are watching something horrible happen.  It is something so bad that you have to turn your head away, cover your eyes and wish that you hadn't seen it in the first place.  Yet, you look back; almost as if it were a train wreck.  

The odd feeling of extending an arm or simply standing back is all apart of our human nature.  That need to fill our curiosity, but not necessarily feel compelled to help us just a quirk of human nature.

On Saturday, October 24, Richmond High School in Richmond, California held its annual homecoming dance.  While students were supposed to be at the dance 20 or more people felt the need to watch, too just look one more time.  Not one of them felt the need to help while a 15-year-old girl who was repeatedly gang raped in front of them for over two hours.

How does this kind of thing happen in this day and age? The victim, a 15-year-old girl, decided that night to go to her homecoming dance.  The plan was to meet up with her friends and have a fun night without the pressures of taking a date. 

Dressed in her sparkly purple dress, dangling earrings and silver shoes, she stayed and danced with her friends until 9 p.m. She left the dance, called her dad to come and get her, and then waited for him on a park bench out front. 

A few minutes later Cody Ray Smith, her 15-year-old friend, came up. He talked her into going behind the gym with him to hang out and party a bit; he basically peer pressured her.

Over ten attackers raped and beat her while dozens of other kids watched, laughed and took pictures. The violence finally stopped when 18-year-old Margarita Vargas called the police. Vargas wasn't even at the dance. 

She was at home watching a movie, when her brother-in-law came in and panicked about the attack. Word spread quickly to everyone except the police. Mortified at what she heard, Vargas called the police and asked for them to help. 

When the police arrived the kids scattered. One boy was left there, still violating this girl, still trying to put his pants back on; the boy was her friend.  He and six other boys ranging in age from 15-19 have been arrested and arraigned so far.  The other alleged attackers are still being sought after while one has been released.  As for the onlookers, that watched, did nothing and nothing happens to them. 

California state law says it is illegal to view a crime against a minor.  In California a minor is defined as anyone 14 and under; she doesn't qualify as a minor.Imagine being violently beaten and raped over and over, by people you know and trusted, for that long.  Imagine what had to be going thru her head. 

Do you finally just check out?  Stop thinking?  Or do you live thru every second of your unrelenting torture?  Only to re-live it again and again until you're and old woman and can't remember any longer. 

Every night for the rest of her life, she will be haunted by the thunderous sound of the kicks, the blows, and the violations to her body.  Every night for the rest of her life she will wake up in horror remembering all those kids standing by, watching, laughing, making fun of her and taking pictures of her being tortured.  Just imagining that is more than enough.

What leads up to anyone acting this way?  Hormones can't explain it all.  They couldn't have just been wrapped up in the moment or pulled into that "mob mentality."  There must be more. Will they wake up every night for the rest of their lives replaying what they did and saw? This should haunt them forever.  They are chained to their conscience and all those flashbacks.

What has happened to our morality that allows us to make excuses for this kind of behavior?  It is unbelievable that some would go so far as condemning the victim and blaming her for drinking at that age.  These people are just as bad as the people that stood by and watched.   They are plunging the knife in further.

This is a little girl. She is someone's sister, someone's daughter and could have been any of you.  She got stuck in a situation she couldn't get out of.  Otherwise she would have gotten out.  That little girl's life is changed forever and here we stand in judgment.Mothers know that their children the reason for waking up in the morning.

Children are young and impressionable; they are forever searching for the right answers.  Adults are responsible for sending them in the right direction. No matter who we become in life, our legacy will always be how decent we were. 

It doesn't matter what your social status is, how much money you have: good morals shouldn't be an option.  They should be your legacy.  Sandy Banks, an editorial reporter from the Los Angeles Times, went to Riverside High School after the attack and talked to some of the kids there. "The kids who watched were scared to tell, afraid that ‘snitching' would make them targets.  ??

Or they thought the girl was a willing participant; that it might be a gang initiation ritual. Guys get ‘jumped in' to gangs, girls get ‘sexed in'," said Banks.  "?Or they didn't intervene because they didn't know the girl and didn't feel compelled to help a stranger.  On a big, racially mixed campus like Richmond, you stick with your own and mind your business."

Our campus is just as racially mixed as theirs.  You walk out on the quad and see this group over here and that group over there; quite similar to high school. We naturally fall into cliques.  But, if you saw a girl, maybe even one you didn't like so much, getting worked over by a group of guys, would you run to help her?  Would you put your neck on the line to get her out of that situation?  Or would you "play it cool" and walk away shrugging it off?  Making sure no one thought you were "the looser that stopped the fun". I If it was your sister, your daughter, your friend, would  you help then?  Or would you still walk away?  Our choices make us who we are, what would yours be.