Last month, Steven Bradford was initially sentenced to probation without jail time for raping an 11-year-old girl when he was 21. The judge’s explanation for his leniency was that the 11-year-old lied about her age, suggesting that her actions led to what happened.
To blame a child for the acts of an adult is egregious.
We must stop blaming victims of sexual violence. No matter what a person does — whether lying about her age, drinking or dressing in a certain way — no one deserves to be raped.
The only reason the judge revised Bradford’s sentence to 88 months in prison is that his original sentence was so lenient it was deemed illegal (12-13, A10, “Prison, not probation in rape case”). The law is clear. It is the responsibility of the adult, not the child. Until we all understand this, we will continue to revictimize survivors by blaming them.
Julie Donelon of Kansas City is president and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault. Lisa Mizell of Overland Park is the chief executive officer of the Child Protection Center. Each organization is based in Kansas City.