News report would like you to know rape victim was drinking

A news story out of New Orleans shows yet again where the focus on rape reporting goes

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published March 24, 2015 11:07AM (EDT)

     (AP/Gerald Herbert)
(AP/Gerald Herbert)

Here, let me fix this for you, Times-Picayune. "Woman raped on Bourbon Street." That's all you need to say to communicate in your Monday story that a woman was sexually assaulted by two men, at 9 in the morning.

Instead, for writer Heather Nolan's slender 79 word report, the words "night of drinking" manage to appear three times: once in the story headline, once in its photo caption, and once in the article itself. This is what "police said" about the 30 year-old who was raped in a vehicle by persons unknown.

Tell me, Ms. Nolan, what the most important aspect of this information is. Tell me if you've run similar stories, suggesting for example that a man was beaten and robbed after a night of drinking. Tell me, NOLA PD, if you've learned anything at all since the searing November report that revealed your special victims unit failed to investigate over a thousand sexual abuse reports over a three-year period, that you failed to follow protocol an impressive 60 percent of the time. Tell me, anybody, that you understand that even in New Orleans, when a person is unable to give consent it legally constitutes rape. Not rape with an asterisk, just rape. Or just keep telling me what you've already told me, three times. That she was drinking.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

MORE FROM Mary Elizabeth Williams

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

New Orleans New Orleans Police Department Rape Rape Culture Sexual Assault