Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Rape is a Crime. So is Silence.

Disclaimer: I am writing about a topic I know nothing about. I am a man. I have never forced myself upon a woman, never been forced, and it is a topic that I feel no one is talking about. I live in the progressive San Francisco Bay Area and I am experiencing a wave of shock at the three incidents I have heard about recently.

This is America…California…San Francisco…and it feels like I am living in a primitive or totalitarian society.

All three incidents (as much as I was told) involved women who reached a point where during the attack they went still, played dead, from fear that they could not stand more physical abuse and pain, or maybe for fear of their lives. They tried to mentally detach, to distance themselves from what was being done to them.

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As far as I understand, this desperate survival act, compromised their ability to have the criminals who did this to them brought to justice. The fact that the physical evidence could have been from just having ‘rough (consensual) sex’ means that they are not believed that they were raped, and are often treated as sluts, liars, or unstable.

The fact that the women I spoke with were apprehensive about reporting the crime to the police is a terrible reflection of our police force. Why are they having to report this to a man, in a uniform, who symbolizes ‘power-over’? Do we not have enough women in the police force that it is standard procedure for a woman police officer to interview the (female) victim?

So this is a man’s world. Maybe, but here is California we are blessed with some amazing women in leadership. Where the fuck is Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and the other strong women leaders I look up to and admire? In my work, and the activism part of my life, I meet such incredibly strong, empowered women. Why the silence? Where are the men in power who have the responsibility to protect all citizens?

When I first came to California, a gay friend was explaining the fight to crush DOMA here. He said something like: It has to start here. California is a start-up nation, not only in hi-tech, but in social policy. If it can be done anywhere, California must lead the way to change.

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That a person must walk around for the rest of his/her life with this crime eating away inside, constantly in a  state of hyper-vigilance, being a painful reminder every time someone close tries to be intimate with them, is a life sentence.

Bringing the rapist to justice will never erase what they did to the victim, but it might go some way to closure. At least there is not that haunting feeling that the assailant is still walking free.

If we are to suggest that America has any claim to moral and social leadership, if we are to preach freedom to the world, then we must eradicate this criminal act and the damaging silence that surrounds it.  

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, Wycaan Master Book 1 and The First Decree, Ashbar – Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

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3 thoughts on “Rape is a Crime. So is Silence.

  1. Ah, caray! (Spanish)

  2. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/09/norwalk-math-tutor.html

    http://www.sgvtribune.com/technology/20111114/victim-13-pleads-in-bellflower-court-to-give-convicted-molester-what-he-deserves

    http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?id=8347625

    BELLFLOWER — A 13-year-old molestation victim pleaded with a judge Monday to give Kumon Math & Reading teacher who molested her “what he deserves.”

    “I’m not confident, I’m not comfortable socializing with anybody and it’s hard to trust people,” said the girl, whose name was withheld because she is a victim of a sex crime by her Kumon teacher.

    Her statement came at the sentencing of her molester, Frank Chung, a 63-year-old local man who molested her and allegedly two other girls at his Norwalk Kumon Math & Reading tutoring business.

    “I just want what he deserves,” the victim calmly but quietly told Bellflower Superior Court Judge Leland Tipton moments before Chung was sentenced to eight years in prison.

    The 13-year-old victim is one of three girls who told authorities they were attacked by Chung at the Kumon Tutoring Center, and she was the first victim to come forward, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Detective Rudy Acevedo.

    Chung was arrested Sept. 8, and charged with lewd acts with a minor based on the allegation he molested the 13-year-old on a number of occasions at the Kumon learning center.

    When news of his arrest broke, the other two victims came forward and additional counts were added to the charge, Acevedo said.

    Chung pleaded no contest to a single count related to the first victim in exchange for eight years behind bars.

    Upon his release, Chung will be placed on three years parole and the charge, considered a violent sexual offense, leaves a strike on Chung’s record, said Acevedo, who is assigned to the Special Victims Bureau.

    The defendant is the owner of the Kumon Learning Center and worked there for five years with children providing after-school Kumon Math & Reading tutoring, according to the criminal complaint.

    He worked in a similar capacity at Kumon learning centers in Northern California for the past 25 years, bringing him in contact with countless children, detectives said.

  3. The problem with Kumon Math & Reading is that sex scandals have been perpetrated by the Kumon family themselves. So who can blame many of the franchisees for sex crimes?

    http://archives.starbulletin.com/2004/09/17/news/story2.html

    When my sister first opened a Kumon center in Atlanta the son of the founder of the Kumon Math & Reading company was involved in a major sex scandal with a franchisee Debra Tajiri, who owned two Kumon Math & Reading centers in Manoa and Kailua. She later claimed that Hiroshi Kumon had ruined her life after they had an affair and began asking him for money over a 21-month period beginning in March 2002. An employee of Debra Tajiri, the Kumon franchisee, later allegedly extorted $150,000 from a son of the founder of the Kumon learning method in exchange for 2,000 “compromising” photos. Debra Tajiri and one Sean Yonehiro, whom she hired to work in her centers as an assistant, were later arrested and faced a charge of sending international extortion communications which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Both were arrested after Yonehiro met with an FBI agent posing as Kumon’s attorney at Ala Moana Park and took from him a bag containing what he believed to be $150,000. At the time of the affair, Hiroshi Kumon was Director of Kumon Institute of Education in Japan, the parent company of Kumon North America, one of five regional headquarters worldwide responsible for operations in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

    An individual who went by the name “Max Lee” and who had been e-mailing Hiroshi Kumon while he was in Japan threatening to release compromising photos of Hiroshi Kumon if he didn’t pay for them. The complaint does not describe the photos but does say that Lee threatened to release the photos if Kumon also did not send more pornographic pictures of himself. More than five years after their affair, Debra Tajiri (the Kumon franchisee) allegedly began e-mailing Hiroshi Kumon asking for $500,000 to remodel her house, the complaint said. In those e-mails, she allegedly told Kumon that “you have taken a lifestyle from me,” and that she was considering filing a lawsuit. She also accused him of infecting her with a venereal disease and said that he should pay for her medical treatment. Kumon allegedly paid her more than $350,000. Later Debra Tajiri, the Kumon franchisee, allegedly continued asking Kumon for money, saying electricity at her home was shut off and that she could not pay contractors to finish work on her home. Debra Tajiri, the Kumon franchisee, e-mailed Hiroshi Kumon again, saying she needed $550,000 to secure a building contract. When he didn’t respond, she e-mailed him saying her life was “hell” and was over, and asking him why he had not sent money. Investigators learned that the e-mails sent by “Max Lee” came from an account belonging to Debra Tajiri and from her Nipo Street home.

    One of three vehicles spotted at Kumon franchisee Debra Tajiri’s residence was a white Ford pickup truck that was later seen at the Hawaii State Library — the first meeting Lee allegedly requested for Kumon’s representative to bring the money. A man was seen walking around the library on that day before leaving in the white truck registered to Yonehiro, who lists a Nipo Street address as his residence.

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