UPDATED JANUARY 27, 2012 – Today, the Orange County District Attorney’s office charged Richard Aldana with seven felony counts of lewd acts on a child.
Good news, indeed.
Original post: International human rights groups cry foul when rape victims are stoned, imprisoned or forced to marry their rapists. But in sunny California, the news is almost as disturbing.
Last week, Richard Aldana, a popular teacher at JSerra High School (an independent Catholic high school that is endorsed, but not owned, by the Diocese of Orange) was arrested for raping a 14-year-old student. The school immediately fired the teacher when they learned of the circumstances around his arrest, according to school spokesman Bill Rams.
So far, so good. But story goes downhill … and fast.
It took less than 24 hours before students at the school (Catholic school students, mind you) went on expletive-laden rants in the comments of local news websites. They blamed the victim, called her names, said that her parents are only after money, and asserted Aldana’s innocence, although they, like the rest of the public, know nothing of the circumstances of the allegations and arrest.
Within a couple of days, students formed a Facebook group in support of Aldana, wore “Free Aldana” t-shirts, and some pretty awful musicians wrote a song about the arrested teacher.
But what was missing? No one publicly reached out in support of the girl—someone who may have been a friend, confidant and a part of their support system. Not a single student at the Catholic school has done anything so small as publicly offer a prayer for a child crime victim. The students don’t know who she is, yet they blame her without question.
That’s the good news.
Enter Aldana’s criminal lawyer. His strategy: slaughter the child. In an article in the local newspaper about how the victim’s mother attained a restraining order against Aldana, attorney Michael Molfetta called the girl a liar (remember Jim Boeheim, anyone?), stated that his client might get his own restraining order against the girl (who can’t drive – she’s 14, remember?), and that her parents “shouldn’t go out and buy a yacht right away,”
Note: while there was enough evidence to arrest Aldana, NO civil suit has been filed. The victim’s parents have hired an attorney, but looking at the treatment that their daughter has received, who can blame them?
So here is my question: On what planet is it EVER okay to defame a sex crime victim? Especially one who is FOURTEEN YEARS OLD?!!
I am not saying the Aldana is definitely guilty. That’s for the police and the prosecutors to determine. But what I am saying is that the behavior of JSerra’s students, Aldana’s lawyer and school administrators (who refuse to apologize for baseless attacks on the victim) is reprehensible and should be stopped. I don’t know what the school is advocating, but it certainly has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
By allowing these attacks to continue, JSerra is fostering a dangerous, pro-crime atmosphere where any victim of violence is scared and shamed into silence. Think about other young crime victims at the school. Students who are victims of rape (no matter the perpetrator), incest, abuse, and domestic violence are NEVER going to come forward if they see that other victims are run over by the bus as school administrators watch and smile.
I have yet to see any kind of apology from school officials for the actions of these students, although the CEO did publish a letter in the local paper about the arrest and allegations.
What should these students be doing? They can support Aldana all they want. But they should do it quietly and privately. They should understand that posting Facebook pages and printing T-shirts do NOT work in the teacher’s favor in the eyes of investigators. In fact, these actions, as well as posting comments on news articles that say “he is my good friend,” “he is always there for me – day and night,” and “everyone liked to hang out with him,” are examples of grooming behaviors and mirror exactly what happened with admitted and/or jailed perpetrators Michael Harris, John Lenihan and Alex Castillo.
What should Aldana’s attorney Michael Molfetta be doing? He should defend his client in the criminal courtroom and NOT attack a CHILD crime victim. What judge will look kindly on any defendant whose attorney is violating ethics and lacking common decency? What jury would ever side with a man who beats up on kids in the press?
What should the school be doing? They MUST immediately apologize to the alleged victim and her family for the student attacks (that’s cyber-bullying). They MUST tell their students how to support Aldana quietly. They MUST show the Christian values that they charge $10,000+ a year to “impart” upon the student body. If they don’t, there are possibly dozens of other crime victims at that school who will never get help, never report, and never heal.
Whether or not Aldana is guilty, there are many people in south Orange County with blood on their hands.