All politics are local, people say. Which until recently, we have mostly discounted. That is, until we read a news story on our little town by the Better Government Association, “Accused of Raping Intern, Cop Still On Force,” published March 10, 2015. This is old news that resurfaced recently when the Better Government Association put a spotlight on the situation and suggested that Forest Park did not appropriately handle their investigation of this case, in which a police officer was accused of buying liquor for, and raping, a 19-year-old police force intern in a squad car.
The case was settled, but there are suggestions that it was not adequately investigated. We have no interest in rehashing the details of the case or dredging up surely painful memories for the intern mentioned in the story. We want to focus on something that has bothered us ever since we read this story: our mayor’s comments on the case.
Mayor Anthony Calderone’s take was that the offending officer — who plied the girl who reported to him with liquor, to the point she was incapacitated — was “seduced” by her and “beyond the ability to reject it.” Also: “To this day I don’t believe a crime occurred,” he says. “There was poor judgment. But crime and poor judgment are two different things.”
These are not quotes befitting a person in his position of moral and legal authority over the police force or the citizenry of Forest Park. Calderone’s quote suggests the belief that men are without responsibility for their actions when it comes to sex. This attitude is old-fashioned, at best; at its worst, it’s a perpetuation of rape culture. At least it tells me, as a woman, exactly where I stand in the eyes of someone like Mayor Calderone. As a man, I feel it degrades us to club-wielding Neanderthals.
Our culture has thankfully moved on from such antiquated views. I think it’s time for Forest Park to move on as well.
Neil and Kathy Driscoll