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Cleveland Gang-Rape Coverage: Chron, New York Times "Pathetic"

The popular women's Web site Jezebel, which isn't just for women, of course, has come out blasting today against the coverage of the gang rape in Cleveland, as practiced by both The New York Times and the Houston Chronicle.

Eighteen men and juveniles have been arrested in the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in the Liberty County town.

Both the Times and at least one of the Chron stories go too far in blaming the victim, a Jezebel columnist writes.

Margaret Hartmann highlighted this portion of the Times story:

Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands - known as the Quarters - said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.

"Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?" said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record. "How can you have an 11-year-old child missing down in the Quarters?"

"These are important details to include in the story!" Hartmann writes. "If the mother didn't keep an eye on her daughter and let her wear slutty clothing, clearly it's her fault that her 11-year-old was the victim of a horrifying sexual assault."

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She says, "Sadly, the Times isn't the only paper looking blaming anyone but the attackers for the rape" and cited the Chron's descriptions of the girl's Facebook page, which included talk of drinking and sex.

Describing the girl's statements about sex and drugs only serves to paint her as the type of girl who's "asking" to get raped. Publishing information like that would be wrong if the victim was an adult, and it's totally reprehensible in the case of a victim who "comes across like a little girl," because that's exactly what she is.

Update: One of the MomBloggers at the Chron discusses the item; didn't see this earlier.

Update: There's an online petition about the Times story.

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