Recently I’ve started a new series called Sunday Shout Out where I can provide links to news stories, blog posts, and other things that I think are interesting and noteworthy. If you’re interested in participating or being featured in my next Sunday Shout Out, just drop me an e-mail.

I was going to talk about the election, NaNoWriMo, the Contemps, and a whole bunch of other things in this week’s Sunday Shout Out.

But then I read an article that I received via American Libraries Direct, and I had to say something. For the uninitiated, American Libraries Direct is a weekly newsletter sent out to a list serve that highlights news, blogs, and YouTube videos pertaining to libraries. This headline caught my attention: “Teen gets 3 years for library sex attack”.

Now, initially, I’m thinking that it was some teenagers having sex in the library, which is an occurrence that is supposedly happening all the time according to a Friends episode (luckily I’ve never witnessed this act myself). Click the link, and no, it’s not two teenagers, but a teen who sexually assaulted a librarian. The details are graphic, outrageous, and had me fuming.

[Prosecutor Michael] Boyce said the “horrendous” attack has had a “devastating” effect on the woman, who feels ashamed and embarrassed and can’t return to the library where she worked or the small village where it is located.

She is still fearful of the teen, who studied her driver’s licence during the attack and threatened to “destroy” her face, cut her head off, and kill her and her family if she didn’t do as he said.

“During the attack, she was convinced by (the teen’s) actions that he was going to kill her,” said Boyce. “She is thankful she is still alive.”

The then-16-year-old, who pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault, robbery, intimidation and breach of probation, admitted to nearly knocking the woman unconscious before binding her wrists and ankles with a belt, phone and computer cords.

She was then forced to crawl on her stomach from one section of the library to another, where he sexually assaulted and twice attempted to rape her after locking the library doors.

The troubled teen, who had grown up in foster and group homes, told a psychiatrist he had a taken a combination of marijuana and speed before the attack.
Read more:

The article, along with this earlier article when he pled guilty to the attack, both said that there was a possibility of charging the teen as an adult, but they ultimately decided against it. His sentence, THREE YEARS. But in actuality, he’s only serving 21 months, with the remaining 15 months receiving “conditional supervision in the community.”

Now, I see a couple of problems with this outcome.
Number One: It certainly sounds to me like this librarian has been severely traumatized by this experience if she can’t return to the library or “the village it is located.” So this guy (I REFUSE to call him a gentleman or a man, because real men don’t do this to women) has disrupted her life to the point where she needs to find new employment, and possibly a new residence. If she is so scarred by it, and rightfully so in my opinion, is she capable of finding work in another library, or will she find it necessary to find an entirely new profession?

Number Two: I have very little, if any tolerance, for people who take drugs or become alcoholics. I’m sure I might anger some people out there, but everyone has a choice to start drinking or doing drugs, and everyone knows the hazards that can result from use of these substances. This teen had apparently enjoyed marijuana and speed before the attack. I shake my head at the thought that lawyers might have considered using that as a defense (it doesn’t say in the articles I’ve found, and he pled guilty anyway).

Number Three: This incident was not a robbery gone bad. This was a malicious, repeated attacks. He didn’t just assault her, he didn’t just attempt to rape her once, and he didn’t just threaten her family. He did it ALL. I get sick just reading the articles. And he gets less than two years in jail. That’s less than a year for each time he tried to sexually assault her, never mind the physical, emotional, and mental abuse that he wrought on this poor woman.

Number Four: The teenager was 16. I don’t know the legal age of majority or consent in Canada, having lived in the United States my entire life. Frankly, I don’t care. Because even when you’re little, you learn that “No means NO” and you don’t touch people if they don’t want to be touched. You learn that in preschool. Sixteen year olds are more than capable of rationalizing (as an adult should) that people are not be taken advantage of. PERIOD.

Number Five: Finally, I think the straw that breaks the back is the timing. Both articles mention that the attack occurred just after Christmas, Dec. 28th. This was probably the first day the library was open after the Christmas holiday, depending on the library. The guy has probably ruined Christmas for this woman for the rest of her life, as ever year she’ll recognize the anniversary of this crime.

It always frustrates me when people think all librarians do all day long is read. That’s not what we do. We order books. We plan story times. We plan other programs. We answer lots of questions. We troubleshoot computers. We work with the public. It’s that last part of our job description that puts us at the most risk. Working with the public. Over the last year, I’ve heard of people dying in the library, naked people in the library, and crazy people verbally lashing out at library staff. (Thank goodness all at different libraries). Just last month, a librarian/bouncer at Dayton Metro Library interceded in a domestic dispute in the parking lot. I chuckled when I saw that article, although in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have. We can’t all be lucky enough to have a black belt or a bouncer on our staff.

Library work is apparently getting more dangerous. Just a few weeks ago, I reviewed Black Belt Librarians, which emphasizes attitude and approach when dealing with unruly patrons. I shudder to think what could happen to other library workers, or myself, in the future. Attitude and Approach are not going to influence patrons bent on causing trouble on pain to either you or your patrons.

Ironically enough, I come home and turn on the news and the TV show Private Practice is dealing with the same issue of sexual assault at your job. I realize that you, especially women, are at risk anywhere. But there should be a level of safety that prevents these opportunities from happening. So I encourage everyone who’s reading this to right now, set up a buddy system. Walk out of your place of employment together, with whoever is there at the same time. Regardless of whether or not you like them, hate them, or have nothing else to talk about. You can keep each other safe for the 30 seconds it takes you to walk to your cars. If you work late or work alone, then find someone, a friend, a spouse, a parent, who you can call. First one to lock up calls the other one, or if they don’t hear from you within five-ten minutes after close, then they call you. This attack took time, and if someone had been expecting her, police might have been notified ahead of time and been able to stop it sooner.

Be careful out there, my fellow library staff. I’m rooting for all of us to make it safely to retirement, or at least to make it safely home.