Kevin Rios, age 23, was convicted of raping two women. Kudos to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber for doing the right thing and realizing the laws about rape apply to everyone -- no matter how you make your living. Kevin Rios raped two women. That’s the fact.
According to the NY Daily News, however, Rios was convicted of raping a babysitter and a hooker, iconic figures rather than flesh and blood women. The NY Post refers to a babysitter and a prostitute, and while we thank you, NY Post, for that bit of respectful terminology and we understand that playing up that whole virgin/whore dichotomy sells papers, it’s really not helping and it’s really not objective journalism.
How either one of those women make their living is germane only to the fact that nothing was done when the first woman reported her rape by two men and something was done when the second woman reported hers. What they did for a living is only relevant if you’re reporting that story--the story of why some victims are treated as if they don’t matter and others are handled with care.
Kevin Rios told the prostitute, as he and another man raped her at knifepoint in 2006, that he was able to do it, and get away with it, because "You're a hooker -- I can kill you and no one would even care." The police and the DA’s office had Rios’ DNA, his license plate number and the victims car was found a block from his home. No one bothered to investigate. Apparently, Rios was at least half right when he said no one would care.
This case lay dormant for two years after the first rape. Nothing was done—until a babysitter was raped as well. Had the police or the DA’s office cared about the first reported rape, the second rape need not have happened at all. How many others might there be, unreported or un-investigated, in the two years spanning the first and the one that got him caught?
Kudos to Judge Farber for treating the women as survivors of rape, victims of a crime rather than pigeonholing them as good girl / bad girl. We should be able to take that kind of blind justice for granted. That is the way it's written, but we all know better.
In 1981, I was working in the Times Square strip clubs when I was raped. The police had done nothing when my husband had attacked me two years earlier, not even with my parents by my side trying to get them to prosecute. As a woman working in Times Square, I knew better than to bother going to them with this. I didn’t have it in me to take more abuse and so my rape became part of the estimated 60% that go unreported.
I, for one, will remember Judge Thomas Farber's name and the fact that in his courtroom, a crime victim is simply that, a victim of a crime.
photo courtesy of Julia Arielle
Jodi Sh. Doff is a New York-based writer and photographer. Her work frequently includes autobiographical elements of drug-use, alcoholism, and the strip clubs and nightlife of New York City’s Times Square. As part of the harm-reduction/street-outreach movement, she educated and advocated for active addicts and street prostitutes, while working towards the decriminalization of prostitution. www.onlythejodi.com