I just read an article about a female traveler who was recently raped in Denver International Airport, at 12:30am, in one of the concourses. According to the story, the woman had missed a connecting flight Monday evening and had to spend the night at the airport. She said her assailant had struck up a conversation with her in a restaurant, and then followed her out of the eatery, sat down beside her and tried to kiss her, according to a family member. When she objected, the man threw her to the floor and assaulted her. He was arrested there in the airport and charged with sexual assault.
While the rape itself is tragic and disgusting, it’s not the main focus of my post today. There are several things about the story which are far more disturbing.
The article went on to say the woman saw several people walk by while the man was assaulting her and they did nothing. He was eventually pulled off of her by two airport employees and turned over to security personnel. Several people witnessed the incident and did nothing! I find that terribly sad and frightening at the same time. Have we really become a society where people will see a woman being assaulted in an airport and walk on by?
In addition, the official statement from the airport administration was also disturbing. "We have many, many layers of security," spokeswoman Jenny Schiavone told the newspaper. "We believe the airport is absolutely safe." Really, Ms. Schiavone? It’s completely safe? I’m thinking maybe that wasn’t an accurate or even intelligent statement but you might want to ask the victim in this case. Maybe I’m wrong.
Denver police said employees and witnesses responded accordingly and that calling authorities is what police advise for anyone witnessing a crime. In this day and age of violence I can almost understand that… almost. In an airport, where people are not likely to be carrying weapons due to heavy security, there are many things a person could do to stop an assault without endangering themselves. I’m pretty sure you could pick up something and hit the suspect and be justified since he was in the act of committing a crime of violence. And if you can’t bring yourself to do that, wouldn’t it be more helpful to stop and begin yelling for help, letting the man know he was being watched and making him think he was going to be caught? Wouldn’t that be more effective than simply walking by and then, maybe, making a call to the police? It’s certainly possible it wouldn’t stop him but in my opinion it would be better than the alternative.
The other thing I found disturbing was when I began reading the comments after the article. While most people vilified the suspect and showed sympathy for the woman, there was one person who basically said since she talked to him in the restaurant it was probably her fault she was raped. The contempt I feel for the person who said this is such that I can’t put it into words. A woman is engaged in a conversation by a man in a restaurant and that gives him the right to rape her? I think that’s the most disturbing thing about the entire article.
One can only hope this suspect is identified and convicted by the victim and the witnesses who walked on by and goes to prison for a long time. Maybe another inmate will strike up a conversation with him in the dining room and take a liking to him….