The attackers pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism in order to receive a plea deal. The maximum punishment is 180 days in prison and a $500 fine.
Savannah doesn’t believe the proposed punishment is harsh enough. Though the exact punishment cannot be revealed due to court order, personally even if they got the maximum it doesn’t feel like quite enough to me. Six months for sexual abuse and circulating images of it? Please.
Of course Savannah was pretty pissed about this too. Frustrated and feeling like the law didn’t serve her justice, she Tweeted the names of her attackers. Normally the names of those convicted of sexual crimes are public information, but because her attackers were minors their names had to be kept private. She might now be facing charges herself for going against the judge’s wishes.
She told the Huffington Post, “I’m at the point that if I have to go to jail for my rights, I will do it.” Wow. That’s a hugely brave statement and a very clear message to send to sexual abusers. I applaud Savannah for understanding the legality of this, still holding her ground, and dealing with the possible consequences. Savannah isn’t a victim, she’s a justice seeker.
I completely empathize with Savannah. I don’t know that I would have done things differently. But this isn’t personal for me or you the way it for Savannah, so we, as outsiders, have the benefit of looking at this picture from all sides. And although I don’t think what she did is wrong, I don’t believe that it was absolutely right, either.
We don’t know how old these boys were, but we know that they were younger than 18. They could have been 14 or 16 years old when they committed the act. By releasing their names to the public, Savannah is pretty much stigmatizing them for life. If the whole world knows what they have done, can they ever reform? Do you believe that if someone commits a heinous crime at 12 they can never change their behavior? At our youngest we grow the most. I would hate to demonize these boys in a way that means they never have a shot at really transforming into better people. With this on their public record against them, they may never be able to get jobs, make friends, or have healthy relationships.
Just to be clear, what these boys did was extremely wrong and they need to be punished. But what kind of punishment is best isn’t exactly black and white.
All I know for sure is that I would hate for Savannah to have to deal with another blow after what she has already lived through. Here’s how we can help her. There’s a petition to stop the judge from charging Savannah, with over 60,000 signatures. You can sign it here.
What do you think about the situation? Let us know in the comments!