The Robert Mitchell Defense: The Louisiana Generation

If you’re unfamiliar with the ‘Robert Mitchell Defense,’ it is something I pointed out in my 2001 law review article on the sexual assault aspect of the Schwenk v. Hartford case (which, despite not being an employment discrimination case, is primarily noted for truly opening the door to Title VII trans claims.)

The ‘defense’ was against:

the claim that [Washington state prison guard Robert] Mitchell unzipped his pants, pulled out his penis, demanded oral sex, grabbed [trans woman Crystal Schwenk], turned her around forcibly, pushing her against the bars and grinding his exposed penis into her buttocks.

Sounds like sexual assault, eh?  Aggravated, perhaps?  Or, at the very least, an attempt?

The defense asserted that “Schwenk’s allegations constitute at worst ‘same-sex sexual harassment’ and not sexual assault.”

(footnotes omitted)


Now, think about that.

To try to get out of shelling out damages for a sexual assault committed against an inmate (who happened to be a trans woman) by a sexually predatory guard, the entity providing Mitchell’s legal representation – which was the State of Washington (which, of course, ultimately possesses the exclusive authority to criminally prosecute sexual assaults in the state) – tried to claim that what Mitchell did wasn’t an assault but, instead, just harassment.

Had the state’s defense succeeded, it would have essentially nullified the state’s rape statutes.

It didn’t succeed.

Now, enter Louisiana:

A Louisiana parish is arguing that it should not be held liable for the rape of a 14-year-old girl in a juvenile detention center because the victim “consented” to be sexually assaulted by a 40-year-old corrections officer at the facility.

The victim, now 20, filed a civil lawsuit against her assailant, former guard Angelo Vickers, as well as Terrebonne Parish.

The age of consent in Louisiana is 17, but court documents allege that “Vickers could not have engaged in sexual relations within the walls of the detention center with [the victim] without cooperation from her. Vickers did not use force, violence or intimidation when engaging in sexual relations.”

In a comment on the case to the Tri-Parish Times, an anonymous official also remarked that the 14-year-old should share the blame for her assault, saying: “These girls in the detention center are not Little Miss Muffin.”

If the Angelo Vickers Defense succeeds, statutory rape statutes will be nullified – and it will be open season on 14, 15 and 16-year-olds in Louisiana.

Any media outlet that does not hound pre-2016 presidential anointment, corporate-media darling Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal until he is forced to take a stand on this case should have its plug pulled.


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