Rachel Bunting

kyle payne

I have refrained from blogging on this situation because Cara @ the Curvature has done such a phenomenal job with it. However, I’ll blog it now, because the situation is “resolved” – inasmuch as a sexual assault can ever be resolved.

For the full story of what actually happened, visit this link – a history of the blog entries about this case by Cara. I’m just going to offer a few thoughts, assuming you all already know what happened.

Payne was sentenced yesterday, and received 6 months in county jail (as opposed to federal prison). His sentence was actually longer, but a significant portion of it was suspended, and he also received several years probation and 10 years parole (which begins at the end of his probationary period). Despite what I would consider the leniency of the sentence, I have to say: thank goodness he’s serving some sort of time.

A few other thoughts:
Kyle has taken to updating his last blog entry – a exhibitionist move if ever I saw one. In his latest update, edited in yesterday after his sentencing, Kyle says the following:

I am pleased that the victim had an opportunity to describe in her own words the effects of my hurtful and abusive actions – her words have given me a lot to think about, and I hope the experience, as well as the outcome of the hearing, helps her continue on a path toward healing.

With this statement, Kyle is pretty arrogantly claiming privileges that aren’t quite his. I’m not entirely sure that he has the right to be pleased about anything, and I’m definitely sure that his victim’s statement was not made to pacify his guilty conscience. I also think that he should know, considering his extensive experience with rape crisis counseling and anti-assault advocacy, that his wish for her healing is not meaningless – but rather, slightly horrifying. For an assailant to attempt to identify or empathize with the victim in any way, I would imagine, dirties up the situation quite a bit.

Kyle’s updates to his blog are clearly attempts at painting himself as a sympathetic character. Unfortunately, Kyle fails to realize that these postings actually make him out to be even sleazier than he appeared before.

The other thing that’s bothering me is Kyle’s attorney’s assessment of Kyle’s actions (emphasis mine):

F. Montgomery Brown, who served as Payne’s attorney, argued for a deferment while documenting how “the blogosphere lit into” Payne.

“Why was this kid so sensational?” Brown asked the court. “Because he made a spectacle of himself, in part. … But being a hypocrite is not a sentencing factor.”

Several feminist bloggers have written about the case because Payne had been so public with not only his feminist leanings, but his advocacy on behalf of victims of rape and sexual assault.

“He can’t be penalized for exercising his Constitutional rights,” Brown said of the blog post. “Frankly, I’m asking the court to be creative.”

So according to Brown, in light of Kyle’s “advocacy on behalf of victims of rape and sexual assault,” his behavior was simply hypocritical. Brown’s characterization of the events as “hypocrisy” reveals his lack of understanding about the real dynamics at play here. Kyle Payne held positions of authority on campus, acting as a crisis counselor and a resident adviser. To use those positions to achieve personal, sexual gain is certainly hypocrisy, at the very least. But it’s quite a bit more than that, and even the District Court judge only got a part of it right when he called it a “major violation of trust.” It’s also a horrific abuse of power, a display of intimidation and the desire to control, and an attempt to exercise ownership over another person’s welfare.

Consider this: if an adult is arrested and charged with sexual assault on a child (which we, of course, commonly call molestation), and that adult held positions of leadership in organizations that focused on children – sports leagues, summer camp, scouting programs – we, as a society, would not call that adult’s behavior “hypocritical.” Rather, it’s likely we would term it pathological, systematic, calculating. We would likely assume that the reason for the adult’s involvement would be to use the proximity of the children to his/her advantage.

Isn’t it time we see Kyle Payne for what he is?

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