Medium Rare

by Patrick Flanagan

Choice cuts from Acadiana's news media for Monday, Jan. 6, 2014:

Choice cuts from Acadiana's news media for Monday, Jan. 6, 2014:

C'est What? Blaming a 14-year-old rape victim
A scandal is rocking Terrebonne Parish where officials and their attorneys, according to this report from the Tri-Parish Times, are claiming a sexual encounter between a 40-year-old juvenile detention corrections officer and a 14-year-old girl was consensual. In Louisiana, the age of consent is 17, but according to the story, which was also reported by Salon, attorneys for the parish are attempting to lay the blame for the rape on the girl, who is now 20 years old and the mother of two. One anonymous parish official, in defending the victim's assailant, even went so far as to say, "These girls in the detention center are not Little Miss Muffin." The parish's official stance, according to court documents, reads: "[Juvenile detention guard Angelo] Vickers could not have engaged in sexual relations within the walls of the detention center with [the victim] without cooperation from her. Vickers did not use force, violence or intimidation when engaging in sexual relations." That argument is so flawed it's offensive, and a growing number of child sex crime advocates are coming out in defense of the victim. Their argument: The victim was 14 at the time of the sexual encounter, and regardless of her rough upgringingĀ - court documents show the teen had already endured more than a life's worth of physical and sexual abuseĀ - the bottom line is state law says she wasn't old enough to consent. The civil trial, which was continued in August, is scheduled to resume March 24.

Penal dysfunction
It's no secret, Louisiana's prison system is in dire need of reform. With our incarceration rates topping the nation - and the world, according to some figures - this editorial by The Advocate argues that the time for that change is now. The only way that will happen, and be effective, the Advocate's editors explain, is for conservatives and liberals to come together by forming a coalition on the issue, which they argue should be made a top priority during the upcoming legislative session. "What we have been doing doesn't seem to be working," says a spokesman from Blueprint Louisiana, a reform movement spearheaded by the business community. The existing system is riddled with problems and will mean overcoming issues like recidivism and the fact that so many lifers are the by-product of our state's three strikes and you're out statutes, a large portion of those being non-violent petty criminals. The Advocate, however, is optimistic, concluding its editorial with the following: "As complex as all these situations are, we think there is a good chance for some meaningful change in 2014 and look forward to specific legislation that can be debated in the Legislature in the spring."

A library-less parish
St. Landry Parish is the only parish in Louisiana without a parish library system, but according to this story from Eunice Today, an effort is under way to fill that void. There is one problem, however: Funding such an endeavor will require the parish council's approval of a millage tax election, which may not fly as some members say other issues, like drainage, are more pressing. The matter will be up for discussion at the parish council's Feb. 19 meeting.