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Does the Murrieta Police Department Really Even Care?
Photos Shannon Fosgett has posted on social media since allegations began.
CAN MURRIETA POLICE DEPARTMENT GIVE JUSTICE TO MALE VICTIMS?
Rape is a double violation. It violates your physical body and your mental will. It is someone claiming your body as their own tool of satisfaction.
Rapists justify their actions. They make excuses, they blame the victim, highlight their own need for love, or desire to be loved, and successfully bend the reality of their victim to keep their actions hidden and protected.
Rapists of children learn to master these skills. Master manipulators, they learn to “groom” their prey. In studies of sexual predators, similar deliberate tactics are often used to help select victims and engage them in sexual abuse. Like the wolf in Grandmother’s nightgown, sexual predators use trust, confidentiality, and their position to leverage a child’s accessibility in their favor. They create a relationship of trust and then they abuse the innocence they have been entrusted with.
Recently, the ongoing investigation into Murrieta Valley High School teacher, Shannon Fosgett has revealed a ruthless wolf. One that befriended her students and passed out her personal cell phone to help with homework. One that participated in school functions to gain access to victims. One that showered favoritism on some students while abusing others. One that repeatedly took students from their classes in order to go for coffee or speak privately in her empty classroom.
As Fosgett’s disturbing behavior is slowly unveiled, however, more disturbing behavior is coming from the Murrieta Police Department. Behavior recently highlighted in social awareness as “victim blaming.”
Victim blaming is societal and ideological justification to hold the victim of a crime partly or wholly responsible for what they suffered. It is an active element of rape culture which tends to normalize rape and trivialize the suffering of rape victims.
In the last several weeks, as Fosgett’s case has become a vague memory for everyone but her victims, the police have wandered haphazardly through their investigation.
Victims ages are changed and mistaken. Material is lost and threats made are swept under the rug. All the while, Shannon Fosgett walks the streets of San Francisco and San Diego out on bail. A warrant for her phone, laptop, and ipad wasn’t even served until this Wednesday, Dec.16 . Almost three weeks after allegations were first made.
Furthering the sense of danger and victim blaming felt by students at MVHS, the Murrieta Police Department’s own press release introduced the statutory rape of the student with the words; “As the relationship grew.” When confronted with the re-victimization these words caused, Sergeant Phil Gomez defended the release.
“While everyone is clear that he is a victim, the truth is that at any moment he could have said no. You’re a big guy and you could have said no or stopped it at any time. He chose to go to her house and he didn’t tell anyone. That’s why I can’t charge her with rape. [In California, the charge of sexual conduct with a minor is statutory rape] While I understand your concern, the reality of that this is the most vanilla statement we could have released. While I did not personally approve this, it was written by the lieutenant, this is the most generic release we have and these words aren’t incorrect because it was a relationship. Just like relationships can be in different forms, this was a relationship because you participated.”
The normalization of rape and the blaming of male victims only furthers the damage committed by the perpetrator, and reinforces the grooming and brainwashing suffered. In the Washington Post, by Simone Sebastian, Sebastian highlights the pervasiveness of this attitude in our society.
“Growing evidence shows that boys who are sexually preyed upon by older female authority figures suffer psychologically in much the same way that girls do when victimized by older men. But in schools, courts and law offices, male victims are treated openly with a double standard, according to interviews with a dozen experts in law, psychology and social work.
But all of the experts agree that the discrepancy in the treatment of victims of nonviolent sexual abuse by their high school teachers is real. And it shows: Male victims typically receive lower awards in civil cases, the experts say, and female perpetrators get lighter sentences.”
When confronted with the fact that this choice of words put the victim at risk for cyberbullying, harassment, and character assassination, Sergeant Gomez and Det. Jimno immediately replied that this was simply to be taken as a fact of life.
“You will have to get used to students harassing you, or texting you that you had willfully participated. That’s just the way it is. You seem to be a strong guy and you're handling this well.”
Despite this reassurance from the Murrieta Detectives, Cyber bullying is outlined in the California Penal Code as a crime, punishable by law.
Furthermore, the California Penal Code(Cal. Pen. Code § 653.2.) focuses on cyberbullying as “posting personal information to cause fear.”
For the children threatened on the weekend of Dec. 5-7, “Any person who electronically posts or transmits:
personal identifying data of another person, or
a harassing message about another person
with the intent to cause the other person to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety of family members commits a misdemeanor crime in California. (Cal. Pen. Code § 653.2.)”
So once more, we ask does Murrieta care? Is the Murrieta Police Department doing due diligence in protecting the people, and most importantly the children of Murrieta?
Are boys victims or willing participants? When will perpetrators be held up against the full extent of the law, rather than a case clearance percentage, or a perversion of the Alford plea?
How do we entrust schools like Murrieta Valley with the lives and welfare of our kids, yet stay quiet as they fail them? Again. And again.
Since 2011, Murrieta has fallen from the 3rd safest city in the U.S. to the 47th. Who do we hold responsible and who do we turn to?
If you have any information or knowledge of a crime being committed against a child, reach out. If you don’t care and take action, will anyone else?
Parents of Murrieta Valley High School students, talk to your sons. Please make this a time of open discourse. There may be more victims afraid to come forward. There cannot be fear or a shaming of victims. A teacher is not to violatate the trust of a student. The kids of Murrieta are our future. They are the heroes in this case. Bring the truth forward so these boys can find justice. At a time when we celebrate the birth of a man child who brought peace on Earth, let us remember the dreams we have for every boy born to every mother.