Why We Need to Address the Tarpon Springs Rape Culture

By now you’ve probably heard about the Tarpon Springs rape case, but just in case you haven’t, here are the basic facts:

Jared Alissandratos, a 17-year-old Tarpon Springs High School student, was charged last week with sexual battery of a physically incapacitated (intoxicated) girl.

Authorities say Alissandratos had sex with a 15-year-old girl without her permission. The charge is a first degree felony that can carry a 30-year prison sentence if convicted.

It’s a serious allegation. But perhaps equally serious and alarming was the reaction of many Tarpon Springs teenagers on social media.

The hashtag #FreeJared began trending on Twitter, along with derogatory comments aimed at the girl who accused Alissandratos.

“?#FreeJared your innocent bro, everyone knows it, she cant lie forever”

“the kid shouldn’t be suspended for such a petty crime”

“Hoe nobody raped you.”

But wait, it gets worse.  After Eve Vawter over at Mommyish wrote a post pointing out exactly HOW UNACCEPTABLE this rape culture is, she received an email from former Tarpon Springs student Dylan Fanelli.

Fanelli explained that he had also once been accused of rape. “I did not commit that crime nor was i punished due to me telling the police the true story and them using evidence to find out i told the truth, while the girl who accused me lied to them.”

He went on to outline all the ways that he was offended by Vawter’s article accusing Tarpon Springs of having a rape culture problem. For good measure, he threw in some details about how Alissandratos’ accuser has a history of lying.

Vawter published the email along with some of Fanelli’s more offensive tweets. She quickly heard from some of Fanelli’s friends, who were outraged that she would make him look bad by posting information that he had already posted publicly.

“Dylan was sticking up for a friend and gave you a few jabs of disapproval and you went COMPLETELY out of hand. I feel as though you’re actions took the case of rape back 20 steps. I understand you feel strongly for it but to do that to someone who was protecting a friends reputation?”

I could cite some more of this person’s insane logic, but it makes me so profoundly sad.

I have an 18-year-old sister and I worry about her every day. I worry that she’ll get drunk at a party, I worry that she won’t use the buddy system, I worry that she lives in a world where girls are too afraid of bullying and slut-shaming to tell the truth when they are sexually assaulted.

What are we doing wrong, where did we get so off track that teenagers in our country have this kind of attitude?

I don’t have any easy answers. But I know that we need to address it. We need to make sure our children know – in no uncertain terms – that this behavior is wrong and it will not be tolerated.

Maybe then I can stop worrying every time my sister goes out on a Friday night.

Megan Sayers is the managing editor for ModernMom. Find her on Twitter @MeganSayers  or via email megan@modernmom.com.

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