Sexual assault has been a pretty hot button issue these days. From exposing decades of abuse being covered up by authoritative bodies to entire towns being split over the horrific actions of members of their local youth. Here’s another one for you to process.
Elizabeth Leigh Garner, a 42 year-old former Titans cheerleader, has been arrested and indicted on charges of aggravated sexual battery and solicitation of a minor.
Back in February Garner was visiting a family. According to the police report a 12 year-old boy in the home went upstairs to the bathroom, whom Garner followed. The boy says that she asked him if he had ever been with a woman. Shortly after questioning him Garner allegedly started to fondle the young boy, attempted to undress him, and offered to perform a sexual act with him. The young boy ran to his mother, who called the police.
The police report also has record of her explanation of events:
“…that she was drunk that evening and that she got the boy confused with a man that was also at the residence”
If convicted Garner could face a sentence of at least eight years in prison.
There are two things that need to happen here if it turns out that this woman did indeed sexually assaulted this boy.
First and foremost this young boy is going to likely need a system of support to properly work his way through what happened to him and continue living a healthy life. This is going to be a bit difficult because not only is he male but his alleged attacker is not only female but a conventionally attractive female, who used to be a cheerleader for a the NFL team the Tennessee Titans. There will be people who either won’t think much of this assault or may even try to call him “lucky” for having such an encounter with a woman. And don’t forget the potential for victim blaming/shaming.
(This tweet has been retweeted over 200 times as of writing this post.)
Secondly this alleged abuser, and her alleged crime, need to be taken seriously. We’ve seen plenty of examples where someone is accused or charged with a crime and there are those who will, even in the face of strong evidence, still try to downplay the actions of the accused. This can’t be allowed to happen here. If Garner did what that police report says then it can’t just be pushed to the side as an “indiscretion”. No this is serious business and it needs to be taken seriously.
On another note someone commented to me that she needs to be, “…taken as seriously in court as they would be, were she a man…” Now I get that she is trying to say that when men are up on charges they are taken seriously. However I think there is a problem that when men are up on such charges it’s a coin toss as to whether that male defendant would be treated seriously to the point of bias and unfair treatment against him or treat him so “seriously” that more of the trial is spent of shaming/blaming the alleged victim than on trying to determine if he is guilty or not.
So no, I wouldn’t say that she needs to be treated as seriously as a man would. I’d say that both need to be taken very seriously.
If this is true she has committed a terrible crime. That young boy needs support and she needs to be held responsible for her actions accordingly.
For more related content, read Saying ‘No’ Is the Compassionate and Respectful Thing to Do