Monday, October 11, 2010

Hate Crime: The Party in Roslyn Gone Wrong?

While Central Washington University prepares to enforce its policy on underage drinking by handing out suspensions (including, presumably, the young women who were victimized in the incident), the larger question of whether a hate crime occurred at the Roslyn party is going unaddressed. Underage drinking in Kittitas County and how it should be handled is already a sensitive issue here. It's part of the debate in the County Prosecutor's race. Should every minor in possession charge be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law?

Last summer I had the opportunity to sit on a jury in Lower County District Court evaluating an underage drinking situation. Many of my fellow jurors expressed serious concern that county resources were being expended on such a trivial matter. Richard Young who is running for County Prosecutor has publicly indicated that he feels too much attention is being paid by the County Prosecutor's office, under County Prosecutor Greg Zempel, on taking minor in possession charges to trial and not settling them before trial.

Whatever the approach is to handling the underage drinking situation accompanying the dreadful and horrifying incident of what appears to be the deliberate and "targeted" drugging of women, I worry over the possibility that this is a hate crime against women that will not be addressed or appropriately reported as such. The Matthew Shepard Act passed in 2009 specifically expanded federal hate crime law to include the reporting of crimes motivated by a victim's perceived or actual gender. Whether the FBI could become involved in investigating this matter is determined by whether the act is a felony and whether the federal government had jurisdiction or one of several other qualifying events occurered such as a failure to act by state and local officials or a request for for federal assistance from local officials.

Let us insist that there will be accountability for the perpetrators of this incident as well as their victims. And, if the evidence continues to indicate this was a targeted attempt to render women as a class vulnerable, let us not forget what happened and hold our state and local officials accountable as well for following through and investigating and reporting this as a potential hate crime.

Update: No date rape drugs just Four Loko.

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