Star Jones

Star Jones
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Innocence: Badly Beaten...and Bruised

October must be the month for school dances in California.
Three weeks ago, I flew out to Los Angeles to help my 15 year old god-daughter prepare for her first one.  I think I was more excited than she was at one point in the evening when she let me do her makeup and hair, help her pick out jewelry and once we figured out she was wearing open toed shoes...I even painted her toenails; 'cause that's what "Aunties" do!  She and her 5 girlfriends had chipped in for a limo for the evening and I cried as the baby I held in the front of a church 15 years earlier standing next to her parents...left for her first school dance.  I was so filled with joy for what this would mean in her memory bank.  The jokes they would tell, the stories they would have, the boys they would giggle about.  Oh, to be 15 on this night...I wouldn't want it again...but I sure as heck wanted the experience for her.

Fast forward just two weeks later and I imagine another family doing something very similar in Richmond, California.  A 15 year-old and her mother or "Aunties" helped pick out a cute dress, some high-heeled shoes and decided on the hair do that would "set it all off" because the big dance at Richmond High School was that night.  I'll bet she met her girlfriends at the dance, they laughed and danced and pointed out the cute fellas.  Boy was she going to have stories when her dad picked her up from the dance.  At 15, she probably walked out of the gymnasium thinking...this is the best night of my life...

She couldn't have be more wrong.  At around 9:30pm, she walked out of her school and accepted an invitation to hang a little bit longer in a courtyard...literally yards from the school.

What she walked into was not a group that wanted to add to the joy of her night, but a group of about a dozen boys and young men already well into gallons of vodka. I don't know if it was peer pressure that made her drink with these guys or a desire to just extend the fun of the evening, but soon after a few drinks of brandy, the guys starting propositioning and pressuring her for sex.  Probably sensing the imminent danger she was now in, the girl said no.  But these men weren't taking no for an answer.
What ensued was 2 1/2 hours of vicious and horrific beatings and raping, at times with a foreign object. The scene attracted onlookers, some calling others over by cell phone, and eventually there were as many as 10 men or boys sexually assaulting the girl while another 20 looked on, laughing and snapping pictures.  After suffering a horror that cannot be adequately described or imagined, the police finally rescued this semi-conscious, beaten, bloodied and brutalized child.

She has a long road to recovery.  I've interviewed enough rape victims over the years to know that no woman ever "gets over" a rape...the best you can hope for is to "get through" the trauma and re-build your trust in humanity.  I send this child and her family prayers of strength as she starts that process.
Becoming "whole" again is her job with the help of her friends and family, but we, as a society have a job also.  First and foremost, we owe it to her to find each and every one of her attackers, and all those who induced, persuaded, convinced, prompted, encouraged, instigated, incited, urged, goaded, aided, assisted and facilitated this attack to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

We in the media owe it to her to report this story and follow this investigation with the same fervor and attention that we would give the family of a six year old allegedly floating through the sky in a makeshift balloon.

Law Enforcement owes it to her to passionately pursue justice on her behalf as if she were a 15 year old blond middle class girl gang raped by a bunch of thugs outside a suburban homecoming dance. The community where the attack occurred may be minority, poor and notoriously violent, but justice should be blind to race, economics and culture. When violence happens to wealthy photogenic "good" girls we  take it on as a nationwide pain; well this child of a working class community deserves our collective pain as well. 

I refuse to believe that I live in a society that deems the life and pain of a less privileged woman less important.  But allow me to remind you that when Kanye West hijacked the microphone from Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards, the collective outrage was palpable.  Society cared so much that Twitter crashed and everything from Facebook to the talking heads of every news network, blog, and radio station across the country was awash in calls for Kanye's head. I pray that we show this young woman who will need a "village" to help her heal from the wounds of this attack that we don't live in a culture in which oceans of humanity will speak up for a celebrity who hardly needs attention or help, but have no voice for a girl is brutalized behind a school by two dozen men and boys. 

My 15 year-old god-daughter came home from her school dance with a cadre of memories that will last a did this 15 year old and it breaks my heart.  I can't close my eyes now without thinking of what she endured...and survived.  And none of us should sleep soundly until justice is done.


  1. I listened to the report as they said "no life threatening injuries." What, pray tell, do they consider the lasting mental, psychological and spiritual effects of this horrific crime? Maybe her lung wasn't punctured but her faith is sure to have been. If a two and a half hour vile, inhumane torture session doesn't qualify as life threatening, I don't know what does. Yes, I know the medical/legal terminology but I wish they'd used other words. As the mother of a young girl, I'm fearful each time she steps outside. Any parent has to be worried sick after the last few weeks of murder in Chicago, beatings and rape. In addition to praying for these victims and their families, we must all become, once again, keepers of each other's flocks.

  2. Perfect reflection on our media's coverage. I cant decide if its actually society's lack of intellegence to worthier matters of our attention. Perhaps I will each time tweet someting regarding this little girls suffering. I it will be part part in keeping the story alive until all of the attackers are brought in for justice. And to shine light on the shame I feel for those who didnt help. Also lets not forget the negligence of the police on duty. I vision them sitting in their cars eating doughnuts and talking on thier cell phones thinking hmmm seems like an unevenfull night. Instead of patroling the area. I thought that was the point of having police officers on stand by. I'm in Florida. I havnet heard anything more about this horrible traumatic and seriously degenerate event. I join you in Prayers for this girl and her loved ones. I will work on praying for her attackers. But for now I'm too angry.

  3. Oscar L Phillips Jr.November 1, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    Miss Jones, I follow you on twitter and I thank you for bringing this atrocity to my attention. Hopefully there are other who are as similarly affected as you. I know I am. I am embarrassed by "our own" people at times, this most assuredly being on of them. I am outraged that I haven't seen or heard this story in the media. If it is being reported, it is hidden in benign sounding headlines so as not to draw interest. I am angry, but what can I do? How can I help? I have no money or status. I know...I'll pray for her and for us.

  4. my stomach is in knots, my gag reflex is palpable. the violence that women have endured from men is excused in so many various subtle forms on a daily basis. when we speak up at each small one, we are regarded by men as "butch dykey feminists." *a very effective method to shut us up* (even amongst each other) when we swallow each small slight and injustices we set ourselves up for traumatic and agonizing torture. and we sacrifice one of us like this poor damaged spirit of a teenage girl. God bless her. and God give us the courage to address insult (even if it is small) to stop it at every step of the way.

  5. Ms. Jones,

    I'm pretty sure I am leavng this comment in the wrong space, but I'm a little new at this. Yes, this crime brought me to tears. I too have prayed repeatedly for this young woman's healing, spiritual & physical, but I wanted to leave a comment just for you.

    I have long watched and admired your professional accomplishemnts, and the grace and integrity you brought to every project. Your "valley" experiences, aren't exactly a secert, but I am so happy to see that yet again, GOD's annointed has made it through. As a viewer, and lover of legal commentary, the landscape of television just isn't the same if you're not there. Congratulations on your seat at "The Insider" and on every endeavor you have ahead of you. I love the way you do what you do. You are truly an amazing journalist, and I sincerely wish you all things good. May GOD continue to light your path and cover you with his grace. Keep up the great work and the glamour.

    Ms. Wilson

  6. Wow Star, Yes I too read this story and your right. I have not read any follow up on how the case,the young victim,etc are doing. Perhaps we all should open forums online,via twitter,myspace,fb address this kind of sick, distructive behavior among the youth. Also alarm the parents to talk to thier girls, and stress the importance of not feeling peer pressure, and when leaving these functions, how important it is to come home and not follow any crowds going to the next party,etc. This is also, reflective on what the media considers news worthy. Very Unfortunate. I'm going to link the story to my facebook page. Thx u for opening this blog.

  7. This whole event breaks my heart and the entire episode makes me sick. But, what really makes me sick, is the lack of empathy from those watching and egging on the attackers.

    What has happened to our youth that this atrocity could happen to a girl. They all had phones, yet nobody called for help.

    I am the mother of three sons, and hope that they have enough character and humanity that they would reach out to help anyone in such obvious distress.

    Somewhere along the way, all of these attackers were let down by the adults in their lives. They obviously were not given the moral lessons so vital for living a good, decent and caring life.

    An earlier commenter blamed the police. I think the blame started long ago when these attackers were small and under the care of adults that didn't do their job.

  8. Like you, although I have not officially stood up in a church or synagogue, have the honor and pleasure of being called "Auntie" to the children of people I consider family (even though we do not have the biological or legal recognition). To relate this girl to my six year old "niece" - I only hope that she will be open to me being there on the night of her first dance - makes this personal. The life and pain of this less privileged CHILD is not less important than any other. You stated that anyone who "induced, persuaded, convinced, prompted, encouraged, instigated, incited, urged, goaded, aided, assisted and facilitated this attack" should be procecuted. I think it is time, in the 21st century to include those who stood idly by and watched to be procecuted as well. Wasn't it Maya Angelou who stated (I paraphrase) that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem?


Your comments are welcome as long as they are in keeping with the spirit of this blog. They must be positive about your life, your community, our nation or our world. They must elevate...not denigrate...and if you criticize me or my position...state your name and email address so I know who you are and can address you directly. My rules. Star