There is more than a little bit of hypocrisy with respect to the outrage in the U.S. about China’s treatment of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s following her sexual assault complaint against Chinese ex premier Zhang Gaoli.
Things are not going so great in the United States for victims of sexual assault.
MONEY AND JUSTICE
I had to twice check the date on a story published this week by The New York Times because it seemed like a relic from the 1970s.
Christopher Belter, then 16 and a student at an elite private boys school, pleaded guilty to the sexually attacking four teens (including the rape of at least one victim). He faced up to eight years in prison but instead was sentenced to probation.
County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III of Niagara, N.Y., claims he “prayed over” the appropriate sentence in the case and concluded that “incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate” for Belter.
The Buffalo News reported that Peter M. Wydysh, an assistant district attorney, did not make a sentencing recommendation to the court. This is unusual, especially since Belter pled guilty to four counts of sexual attacks on teenage girls.
Is it purely coincidental that Belter comes from an extremely wealthy family?
The Times notes Belter’s father is Christopher Belter, a senior partner at Goldberg Segalla, a large law firm where, according to The American Lawyer magazine, some partners earn up to $1 million a year. The Belter’s were divorced and young Christopher’s mother is remarried to Gary Sullo, the chief executive of Tramec LLC, a privately held company that supplies parts for heavy duty trucks and, according to Dun & Bradstreet, has annual sales of $110 million.
Christopher lived with his mother in what became a “party house” where teens consumed liquor, marijuana and Adderall.
Judge Murphy agreed that there was “great harm. There were multiple crimes committed in the case.” But apparently it was not enough to make young Belter serve prison time.
Most people would agree the great harm suffered by Belter’s victims of sexual assault spilled into the criminal justice system, including into Murphy’s courtroom.
(Murphy is age 69 and, thankfully, must retire at age 70 pursuant to state law. It may be a discriminatory law but at least it will get Murphy off the bench.)
Then there is Time’s Up, a non-profit “charitable” organization that exists to “create a society free of gender-based discrimination in the workplace and beyond.” Time’s Up was a spin off of the #MeToo movement, which arose in the context of the failure of the criminal justice system to address long-term sexual violence by financier Jeffrey Epstein and former movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
Time’s Up just laid off most of its 25 full-time staffers in the wake of revelations that two top executives, Roberta Kaplan and Tina Tchen, helped former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo fight accusations of sexual harassment by at least 11 women. Time’s Up also refused to support a former Cuomo aide, Lindsey Boylan, who claims Cuomo kissed her on the lips and harassed her.
The firings point to a systemic failure of the U.S. criminal justice system to protect girls and women from sexual violence. Instead, women must turn to non-profit organizations that are susceptible to money-grubbing and self-interested bureaucrats who operate with little oversight by boards of directors.
The current Time’s Up board also is “stepping aside” to give the organization’s new interim CEO “the ability to refocus the organization’s leadership to suit its mission and needs.” Four members, including Ashley Judd, will remain “to help ensure a smooth transition.”
In short, it is more than a little bit hypocritical for officials and organizations here to demand that China show that Peng is not being penalized for lodging a sexual assault allegation against a prominent figure and that her charge is being properly investigated. Where is the outrage for women and girls in the U.S.?