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A father arrested in Utah this week has been charged with a string of felonies for allegedly raping his now teenage daughter over a period of several years. Prosecutors say the man had a system where the girl "paid" for fun privileges like a day out with her friends by having sex with him. The 16-year-old girl admits it all happened, but she says she doesn't want her father arrested.
This little girl has allegedly spent years being abused by the very person who is supposed to protect her from this sort of abuse. And like so many victims, she defends her attacker.
It's a story that is as sad as it is disgusting.
It's a story that should remind us all that just because a child "forgives" sexual assault doesn't mean that the cops shouldn't step in and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
Kids can't consent to sexual acts. They can't excuse them away either.
Cops say the girl (whose name is being kept private to protect her) told them that she didn't want her father arrested because it would "tear her family apart," despite abuse that dates back to when she was just 9 years old and allegedly occurred as much as three or four times a week.
It's a typical response for the victim of sexual abuse, but the familial relationship here makes things that much more complicated.
This isn't just any old attacker. It's her father. Sending him to prison means her whole family is -- as she said -- torn apart. Her mom no longer has a husband. Her siblings no longer have a father.
This is one of the most troubling pieces of incestuous assault cases. Sexual assault victims already tend to keep quiet because of fear and shame, but in cases of incest by a parent, the perpetrator has extra means to keep their victim quiet. They are the authority figure in that child's life, and the child is already accustomed to following their orders. What's more, telling can have far-reaching consequences. If it's a father, for example, and Daddy goes to prison, there goes Daddy's income.
It can be hard for those of us who have never gone through an assault to understand how they continue for years, but this is exactly how it happens. And that's exactly why, no matter what a victim says, they deserve justice.
What do you make of this girl's plea for her dad?
Image via Bruce Tuten/Flickr