Saturday, 6 June 2015

Ronnie Radke Gang Rape Accusation: My Thoughts

Oh boy, this is gonna be unpleasant to talk about...

Let me start this article off by stressing this: I do not intend for anything that I say in this article to be victim blaming. I might not personally know anyone who has been raped, but I have read stories from people who have been raped explaining how awful the situation is to a victim. I find rape as a whole to be a disgusting thing that can have no justification, as nobody, no matter how unpleasant a person they are, deserves to be raped.

Similarly, I do not write this article intending it to be a defence of Ronnie Radke: beyond reviewing Falling in Reverse's most recent album for a website I do writing for (which I thought was a somewhat schizophrenic mess of an album, but still potentially enjoyable if you like pop punk and metalcore, if you're curious as to my opinion on it), I have never had to listen to anything he has been on and I have no intention of ever seeing his band live because I was simply not interested in them. If these accusations are indeed true, then I hope that he gets returned to prison and stays there for a long period of time, for anyone willing to commit rape (whether on their own or as part of a group activity) is not someone who should be allowed to walk freely among people or be seen as an idol by anyone.

With all of that said, let's get into this.

A recent story that has been in the news of the metal scene is that, on the 3rd of June, Ronnie and his bodyguard is claimed to have gang raped a woman (I will do what most of the media has not done and refuse to name her out of respect to her privacy) after Falling in Reverse's show in Salt Lake City, Utah. I will leave out the details of the victim's injuries (again, out of respect to the victim), but the basic gist is that she was apparently gang raped, during which time she was fighting back and, when those involved were done, they dumped her on the side of the road. The victim's posts mentioned that she had got a rape kit (I will be honest, I have no idea how readily available those are, so I'm going to have to assume that those can only be obtained after getting in contact with either the police or a hospital) and that those involved in committing the crime had been arrested by the police as the tour bus was leaving and had posted bail the morning after the event.

I have to say, that very last detail already seems a bit off to me. I'll admit, I don't know how the legal system works in the US (I'm British), but I'd have thought that you'd have had to be charged with something first to have to post bail. If I'm wrong, I'll accept my error and retract this whole point, but I can't help thinking that something doesn't add up with that detail. Bear with me for a second if I am wrong, because this still could be worth paying attention to: an allegation is not the same as being charged with something. If you've been charged with something, you would have to post bail to leave prison, but the news so far has only stated that it's an allegation, which could well mean the police did not find sufficient evidence to charge those involved. That does NOT mean it didn't happen (and a charge for the crime could indeed have happened and it's just not been communicated very well), just that they'd not need to post bail to leave if they weren't charged with the crime.

I also feel I must echo the sentiments of Coverkillernation with regards to his response to this and point out to the friend of the victim that telling people not to make jokes or start an open mic forum on the internet is not something that's going to happen, even if it's on something as serious as this. The sad truth is that, on the internet, there is no topic that is completely safe from having jokes made about it and there's no topic which will avoid having comments made connected to it that are sickening to read (even now, there are some parts of the metal scene where mentioning female vocalists results in horrific amounts of misogynistic comments and other comments that could potentially set off triggers to those who have PTSD from being raped in the past). While I get that some people just want to vent about stuff when something awful like this happens, it is not exactly a way to avoid people doing stuff like that: if anything, the fact they have to tell people not to make jokes or start talking about a friend being raped probably says more about the people who follow them than anything else! I would stop short of saying the friend should have just kicked the wall instead of venting, but, if you've been on the internet for any real period of time, you should probably be aware that sometimes, there are occasions when not talking about something where anyone can read it, no matter how serious it is, is actually the more sensible course of action.

I should stress, again, I'm not trying to victim blame and I certainly don't want people to get the idea that I'm saying "You should have kept your mouth shut" to the victim's friend: these are just my thoughts on this and I'm trying to give as balanced a view on it as I can.

With that said, we now have to look at Radke's side of this story. His side of things is that nobody connected to the band was arrested in Utah and that, while police were at the scene, they were called to the scene by someone connected to the band because someone was under the influence of something and the band were concerned about them. Thus far, evidence indicates that Radke is at least telling the truth on the first part, as the Salt Lake City Sheriff's Department has no record of Radke being held by them, but the Murray City Police Department (which Falling in Reverse's attorney stated were the ones actually called to the scene) have, at the time of writing (so this might well have changed while I was writing this), not provided any evidence in support of or against Radke's claims, so this could well be proven to be wrong.

Honestly, there are two things that I find strange about this side of the story (one of which is TECHNICALLY answered, admittedly). The first is that the fact Radke opted to release the statement only to AltPress is a VERY odd move. It's very likely that he didn't want it everywhere to avoid a lot of people finding out about it and minimising the potential for this whole thing to go nuclear, but the problem is that giving the statement to only one website could also be disputed as being a case that he does not want to be caught out by being proven to be lying. If Radke DID do it and had put out the statement on every website he could, then he'd be in a HUGE amount of trouble with the media when revealed to have lied. Considering Radke's not exactly got a good reputation due to his time in jail and two other incidents in the early 2010s, I wouldn't blame him for wanting to avoid the situation becoming big because most people wouldn't believe his side of things at all, but choosing to only give the statement to one website could be read into really badly.

The other one is that, in his statement, he does not directly acknowledge the crime that he has been accused of. Now, to be fair, he DOES say "[t]his isn't the first time people have taken it upon themselves to spread ugly, unsubstantiated claims about myself and my friends" in his statement, so it's obvious that he's including this incident alongside a few others in a general comment there, but I feel he should have acknowledged what he's been specifically accused of and directly stated that he didn't do it, as a case could be made that he didn't directly challenge the claim.

Ultimately, though, I can't say this is a situation that either side will walk out well from. If Radke is innocent, then the victim has brought a HUGE amount of trouble upon herself for several reasons: lying about a serious event which causes serious emotional distress to those who suffer from it, attempting (probably not deliberately) to take an innocent (in this case) man's liberty from him by using his bad reputation against him, wasting valuable police time, trying to ride off of controversy, sympathy and another person's fame to secure their own fifteen minutes of fame and exploiting popular opinion of rape to attempt to organise a witch hunt on an innocent man (OK, that one might be stretching it a bit, but seriously, do a search on what support is out there for male rape victims sometime, then consider how male rape is depicted in the media and compare both of those details to the same circumstances for female rape. You might be surprised at what you find...). However, Radke's reputation will forever be stained (remember, being accused of committing rape, even if you're later proven innocent of it, can SERIOUSLY damage your reputation among people due to people assuming that you did actually do it and just avoided going to court over it) and, with his previous reputation making it easy for people to go "There, you see, I knew he'd never changed!", there's a very good chance that Radke's career (and, by extension, Falling in Reverse's career) would take a huge hit, possibly even ending it.

If Radke is guilty, however, then, frankly, he is a horrific example of a human being who has proven that he does not deserve another chance in society. Rape of any sort is one of the worst things you can do to a human being and, if he did do it, then he does not deserve any place in society ever again. However, the victim will almost certainly be forever hounded by rabid fans for basically destroying Falling in Reverse and putting Radke back in prison, meaning that chances are that she's never going to hear the end of this matter, despite what she said being the truth. Even if that doesn't happen, she's going to have to live with the memory of what Radke (and the people with him) did to her for the rest of her life, and, from what I've read, it sounds like she's had stuff like this happen before to her, so chances are good that she might well have serious PTSD, suffer from depression and/or be suicidal, even before this incident.

What do I suggest everyone interested in following this do for now? Well, it's nearly half past two in the morning where I live and I need to go to sleep, so I'm not going to do anything myself, but I'd suggest that everyone reading this who is able to dedicate some time to following this avoid making any firm decisions on who is the one that's made this situation happen and wait to see what the police report from Murray Police says.

I fully intend to follow this article up with something a bit less serious than this once I've had some sleep and done my other stuff that I need to do, as I don't want to keep talking about serious stuff like this, so, if you do want to keep following the news on this story, then I have to urge you to look elsewhere, because I'm going to go back to doing my usual brand of stuff when I wake up.

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