Austin Zehnder and Will Frey Should Feel Ashamed

And the people who tried to protect them from public scorn should also be ashamed.

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31 responses to “Austin Zehnder and Will Frey Should Feel Ashamed

  1. Indeed, name them, shame them. The long future of being reminded about their crime is important, I think, to emphasize how horrible and damaging was their assault.
    The law already has a horrible reputation for unbalanced results like this, the least lawmakers could do is try to repair things enough to improve their reputation and even gain some trust from the public.

    • Shame is a very important social function and it’s our responsibility to make sure they feel it. The apologists I’ve seen don’t seem to understand that people who do bad things should expect to be shunned and criticized by society.

      Of course, it didn’t help that some of those apologists talked about the assault as a “youthful mistake.” In other words, “boys will be boys.” I can’t stand this idea that apparently we’re supposed to allow kids to be anarchists with no sense of responsibility for their actions.

  2. Making this whole story known will actually continue a cycle of ignorance surrounding the circumstances so poorly interpreted by you as well as many other sympathizers and feminists nationwide. I am a teenage girl and I live in Louisville. I personally know each teen involved in this event, including Sumner. My unique vantage point has given me insight to what actually happened because before Dietrich even squeaked a word about any sort of picture or assault, I knew about what happened at that party. Will and Zehnder are charged with sexual assault, not rape. Please remember that in the future because while you could be thinking that they raped her and just weren’t charged with it, take my word as a girl who knows the story that Dietrich was not raped. Dietrich stated there was a video her ‘attackers’ took of the rape. As someone surrounded by teens who play lacrosse with Will and Zehnder and, therefore, are the most likely candidates to be in possession of said video, I have come in no contact with it. In fact, I have found quite the opposite because, to the best of my knowledge based on extensive research into the matter, no such video exists. Yes she was publicly humiliated; due to the fact that she, as a minor, abused alcohol and consumed enough to where her body shut down and she passed out, in plain view, half naked. I’m not defending Will and Zehnder’s actions to take a picture of her, but her participation in substance abuse led to the state which allowed her to be subjected to public humiliation by the boys’, as well as, her doing. She also stated in the Courier Journal that she cried herself to sleep and didn’t go out for months. That paraphrased statement is very interesting to me because I attended a party at her house in October of 2011 and did not have the opportunity to greet her because she was already passed out from drinking too much. Keep that in mind as you continue to watch this story, hopefully, come to a just close.

    • Sounds to me like you’re splitting hairs on top of blaming the victim.

      The fact that she was passed out drunk doesn’t change what the two did while she was vulnerable. The disgust is towards the fact that they took advantage of her vulnerability, and that they quite likely knew that people like you would use that vulnerability to redirect blame for the outcome.

      • People like me? I’m the same age and grade level as Savannah. If anyone should be empathetic towards her it’s me because I am someone who can relate to her on a level of understanding that I could have been her – had I passed out shirtless. She wasn’t raped. I have zero sympathy for her because she blatantly lied to the press and under oath. I know this because the case is being reopened due to the revelation that she was conscious when she led Zehnder back to her bedroom and subsequently passed out.

    • What’s the allegedly big thing you’re vaguely trying to communicate, here? Plain, direct language, please.

      Are you saying passing out and having images of her distributed was part of her plans?

    • I think I posted it in the wrong position before, so here you go: Must suck for you that the court documents clearly show that your friends raped the girl. So they have LIED to their peers about the incident to look better. Totally unforseeable, really. I mean for real stuoid people at least. But yeah, birds of a feather…

    • I can’t believe this response. First, you lesson the term “rape” by defining it as “sexual assault”. Against her will, they entered her vagina with their fingers, which they admitted. That’s rape. If a person held you down and did that to you for 10 hours straight – I’m sure you’d say you were raped. It doesn’t matter how long or how much, if at all it was done against her will, it’s rape. For some reason you lessen this in your mind because you know the boys, you obviously don’t like the girl, she was unconscious, and because she had been drinking alcohol.

      Her crime does not excuse or allow theirs in any way. You can’t blame her because they couldn’t keep their sexual urges in check. They had no right under any circumstance to violate her. It’s not a little thing they did – nor should it be excused as any such thing. Stop blaming the victim … imagine that you yourself were in her position.

  3. Yeah…”She was drinking” does not equate to “She deserved it” or even “She can’t complain about it. It is clear that you do not approve of her behavior and that is coloring your interpretation of the entire situation.

    Neither Bronze Dog nor I drinks. At all. And yet we are able to exist around people who do, and occasionally pass out, without condemning their choices and holding them responsible for things that are done to them while they are unconscious.

  4. This focus on her drunkenness is something that irritates me about rape culture (or sexual assault culture, functionally the same thing). If the victim is anything short of a perfect angel in twelve layers of protective clothing, it’s their fault for attracting rape/assault. It’s essentially about changing the dynamic so that rape is something passive that “just happens” and is the natural consequence of “active” vulnerability, which can be caused by getting drunk. It removes the perpetrators’ active role and fixates on the victim, as if she was actively provoking unthinking natural forces. Her “sin” of drunkenness doesn’t affect my position, and bringing it up like that insults my intelligence and integrity.

    There is some common sense in exercising caution, but it takes more than just a victim to make a rape or sexual assault. Austin Zehnder and Will Frey played an active role in turning that vulnerability into a crime, and making Deitrich into a victim of that crime. If they had been civilized people, they would have covered Deitrich up, put her in a safe place to sleep it off, and arranged for her to have a ride home. But they didn’t do that.

    They took photos of her and distributed them without her consent. That’s why they should be ashamed, and why we should use social pressure to make them feel that shame. If they aren’t subjected to social pressure, they’re only going to think about legal technicalities and loopholes to exploit so that they can repeat such behavior when they have an opportunity. They should be targeted with public scorn, shunning, and so on so that other people know their behavior shouldn’t be replicated, and so that people will know to exercise additional caution around them, since such behavior tends to be repeated.

    The “consent” Abbie is apparently trying to manufacture doesn’t change matters. It smacks of rules lawyering, using rape culture rules. She might have given drunken consent to conscious sex, but I have a hard time imagining her consenting while awake to being photographed while unconscious in such a manner or having those images distributed. Those two things are not the same. Consent to one is not consent to the other. Consent to sex is not a blank check for all forms of sexual activity. The fact that she was unconscious negated her ability to consent to specifics, to clarify what she was consenting to, or to object if the activity went a way she didn’t expect and didn’t want. That’s one reason why I’d never think to do any such thing to an unconscious person. Non-consent is supposed to be the default assumption and consent is the act of making fairly specific exceptions. Unconsciousness is an aggravating factor, not a mitigating one.

    Failure to obtain consent is what makes rape what it is. Even if you’re going to argue that Zehnder and Frey didn’t rape her because Tab A didn’t go into Slot B or whatever, it doesn’t change my revulsion about them taking sexual photos of an unconscious person and distributing them, unless someone has good evidence that she specifically consented to it. It’s functionally equivalent to rape as far as I’m concerned, and the perpetrators are still worthy of shaming.

    A similar victim-blaming trope occurs with a lot of alternative medicine, though a bit different, since diseases and injuries can “just happen” despite preventative measures. Alties will start looking for any tiny imperfection in patients so that they can blame them for getting ill, holding them to impossible standards or making up unprovable assertions, like “negative thoughts.” The idea exists because it helps reinforce the idea that if a quack treatment fails, it’s always the patient’s fault instead of a failure for the quack treatment.

  5. My aim is to educate, not to argue. I understand that through this comes argument and confrontation, two things I normally avoid but I felt compelled to face in this situation. The false interpretation of the story, such as saying Zehnder and Frey raped Dietrich when, in fact, no rape occurred, is what heats me because their lives will never be the same because of Dietrich’s lie. However, like I’ve already said, I in no way defend their actions to take the picture, and I’m happy Dietrich did what she did concerning their voyeurism. She spoke up, which is something that does not happen often. Pictures of people passed out, clothed or not, circulate among teens after almost every night of heavy drinking and debauchery and victims are expected to laugh it off, which many do. I’ve seen many images and done nothing to stop it and Dietrich, in that regard, has done more than me to change teenage habits.
    I don’t condemn her choice to drink. All of my friends, boys and girls, myself included, drink; not habitually, but alcohol is a presence. Highlighting Dietrich’s severe drunkenness is merely to question her integrity. She is not a bad person because she drinks, but because she is a minor, drinking forces her to lie. It is there, that I believe, she could be discredited because by lying about drinking, she could lie about other things too.
    So, plain and simple, the big thing: don’t assume. Don’t believe everything the media spits at you, or what Dietrich tells you for that matter, because you don’t know the whole story, and neither do I. I may have no right to delve into blogs and online articles intending to inform and hopefully change opinions.
    Society, the public, and peers can have a great impact on people. I believe teens will see this event as a catalyst, causing a transition in our view of voyeurism – from a joke to a crime. However, this same mass has, without knowing the truth, sent death threats to both Frey and Zehnder. It has forced them to switch schools for their senior year and, most likely, lose any offers to play collegiate lacrosse. If, in fact, what I’ve said is the truth, I do not believe the punishment fits the crime.
    Hopefully I’ve made all of this clear and digestible for you. My statements aren’t general and apply exclusively and specifically to this case, not ‘rape culture’. I will not be replying to whatever snarky, educated, ignorant, biased, or critical comment that you, or anyone, makes on this because, whether or not you realize, my job here is done.

    • The false interpretation of the story, such as saying Zehnder and Frey raped Dietrich when, in fact, no rape occurred, is what heats me because their lives will never be the same because of Dietrich’s lie.

      How are you defining “rape” and how does it affect what we’ve been saying? What is your point in bringing up that aspect over and over again? I’m trying to get you to make a clear point in bringing up this distinction, and you seem to just keep on ignoring what we’ve been saying about it.

      Besides, their lives shouldn’t be the same after what they did. It doesn’t matter if it was rape or “just” sexual photos. They should be made to feel ashamed.

      Pictures of people passed out, clothed or not, circulate among teens after almost every night of heavy drinking and debauchery and victims are expected to laugh it off, which many do.

      Do you expect the victims to just laugh it off?

      Also, just because the crime is commonplace doesn’t mean it’s not immoral and that the people who do it shouldn’t be subjected to public shaming. We should be able to do more as a society than just tell the victims to get over it. That’s a part of rape culture: Minimizing the suffering of the victim.

      Highlighting Dietrich’s severe drunkenness is merely to question her integrity. She is not a bad person because she drinks, but because she is a minor, drinking forces her to lie. It is there, that I believe, she could be discredited because by lying about drinking, she could lie about other things too.

      The “lie” you’re complaining about is splitting hairs as far as I’m concerned. It might not be actual “rape,” but it certainly seems equivalent from what I’ve read. Pictures of a sexual nature distributed over the internet. Of course, it’s also something of an ad hominem. If you’d like to discuss evidence, discuss the evidence, don’t rely on insinuation.

      So, plain and simple, the big thing: don’t assume. Don’t believe everything the media spits at you, or what Dietrich tells you for that matter, because you don’t know the whole story, and neither do I. I may have no right to delve into blogs and online articles intending to inform and hopefully change opinions.

      What about the courts and the guilty plea?

      And why do you seem so reluctant to inform me about what I consider important? Why are you playing these familiar roundabout games instead of speaking directly about the issues?

      Society, the public, and peers can have a great impact on people. I believe teens will see this event as a catalyst, causing a transition in our view of voyeurism – from a joke to a crime.

      That’s why I’m doing my part to bring attention to it. It is a crime, and it should be treated as such.

      • Sexual abuse in a case where rape doesn’t occur is NOT equivalent to rape. It can run the gamut, even in first degree cases. Get back to that in a minute, first why I think sexual assault but not rape happened here:
        Judging from this story in the Daily Kos, she didn’t know about the sexual assault (which it undoubtedly was) until “months later she learned that pictures of the incident had been taken and shared with others”. The misdemeanor voyeurism charge covers the pictures, since the final charges were negotiated the boys made groped her or removed her clothes or some other disgusting stuff (you can’t plea down to something you didn’t do, ie you can’t plea to robbery to avoid a murder charge if robbery didn’t occur in commission of the crime). They likely did plea down, but more likely from child pornography charges to misdemeanor voyeurism, accepting the felony sexual abuse charge to avoid felony child porn charges. It is EXTREMELY unlikely, to the point of being negligible that they would be able to plea down from rape to sexual abuse. Yes, people get away with rape all the time, but that is because of reasonable doubt or victims not wanting to testify or a whole slew of other things, not by copping plea.
        Now back to the original point: being raped, which can include any kind of genital contact, is very different from being stripped or groped or otherwise sexually abused. It just is. They are not equivalent. I’m not saying that I don’t think someone who can justify sexual assaulting someone else (but not raping them) is very different from a rapist, or that they don’t have a lot of overlap in the ways they impact the victims, but the crimes are very different in magnitude; in fact various forms of “sexual abuse” often occur immediately before rape and trust me, you would be able to tell when it changed from sexual abuse to rape.

      • Okay, I overstated some stuff before, but part of my earlier rage is that Abbie seemed to be arguing that what they were doing was frivolous and trivial. I still find it pretty damn serious, not something to be laughed off, and not something that should be accepted as “boys will be boys.” I also don’t look at this case in isolation, but in the wider context, because I see a lot of tropes that are used in others to blame the victim, discount their suffering, or otherwise excuse the crime.

        Yes, there are degrees of sexual assault.

    • How did she lie? What false representation did she give? They admitted that they put their fingers in her vagina. It wasn’t just voyeurism … they acted on it with actual penetration. Their lives should never be the same. Were she awake and held down, screaming, remembering all of it … she would never have been the same either. But her lack of memory of it doesn’t minimize their crime in any way. And, the pictures have been circulated, so that in itself will live on as humiliating. Not to mention that just as they’ll be known as rapists, she’ll be known as a rape victim. Not a fun title to have.

  6. WHAT REALLY HAPPENED!!!!

    reported July 26, 2012.

    She passed out topless after a throwing up violently from alcohol poisoning ….they only took pictures. The boys plead guilty to sexual assault because it has fewer repercussions than child pornography charges. Thus why the DA accepted the plea, in cases of “rape” plea bargains are very rare because evidence so incriminating can support the crime.

    It was only when she heard about the pictures MONTHS later and decided to take legal actions. The Courier Journal, who originally published the story, is facing a lawsuit for publishing false allegations because Dietrich used the words “rapists” and such when interviewed. She was not raped and the media now is painting the boys charged as rapists.

    NOW SAVANAGH BEGAN A WILD INTERNET WITCHHUNT CAMPAIGN ASKING FOR VIGILANTE JUSTICE FOR “RAPISTS THAT GOT AWAY”:
    http://imgur.com/owQzy

    SHE EVEN PUBLISHED PHONE NUMBERS AND ADRESSESS OF ALLEGED “RAPISTS”:
    http://fuckyoung.tumblr.com/post/28936550431

    PLZ. HELP SPREAD AWARENESS UNTIL INNOCENT PEOPLE GET HURT!

    • You’ve missed the point behind this whole campaign. What they did was shameful, rape or no rape, and they should be shamed within the social sphere. No one I know of is talking about vigilantism.

      There are still many apologists who use rape culture tropes to defend the two, since there’s a lot of overlap, which is why this topic is connected to rape.

    • It was only when she heard about the pictures MONTHS later and decided to take legal actions.

      What, was she supposed to take legal action before she heard of the pictures?

      She passed out topless after a throwing up violently from alcohol poisoning

      And this makes it okay to take pictures of her without her consent?
      they only took pictures.
      Oh, okay, I get it, only. They didn’t rape her, they just made her the unwilling, nonconsenting star of some pornographic photos. That makes it all better. They didn’t do anything wrong at all!

      Wait, that’s not it.

      PLZ. HELP SPREAD AWARENESS UNTIL INNOCENT PEOPLE GET HURT!

      First: this sentence means you want to spread awareness of your pathetically wrongheaded side of this story until some innocent people somewhere get hurt. PLZ. PROOFREAD.

      Second: one innocent person did get hurt by becoming the unwilling star of some wankers’ nudie photos. Whether or not she was drunk and passed out was irrelevant. The thing I assume you to be implying (correct me if I’m wrong) is that the two wankers in question are innocent. Well, not in the eyes of the law. They’re convicted guilty of sexual assault and, by your own admission are also guilty of child pornography but they copped a plea.

      So please stop with this childish nonsense.

  7. What I’m hearing now is that Savannah Dietrich went to a party, drank too much alcohol, took her shirt off, vomited, and passed out. Will Frey and Austin Zehnder, also at the party and probably also drunk, figured that if Dietrich was willing to expose her breasts to other party-goers, then she probably wouldn’t mind having them photographed. So they took pictures that proved that she had been behaving as a young lady ought not to behave. Among other things, the pictures showed that she was topless.

    Some time went by. Evidently, several weeks. Then Savannah Dietrich became aware of the photographs and opted for legal action. Although she was less than a year away from being able to pose nude for Playboy, she could have pursued charges against the boys for making child pornography. While such charges would have been somewhat technical, the judge might have been required to impose penalties on the boys that were much more severe than what they received from the plea-bargain.

    That’s why the boys were offered that bargain.

    There has been some confusion between what actually happened and “rape.” Rape is, by common and by legal definition, sexual intercourse without consent. That didn’t happen. But someone tried very hard to give the public the incorrect opinion that Savannah Dietrich had been raped. That someone might have been Savannah Dietrich, herself, lying up a story that would bring her maximum sympathy and create mob surge against Frey and Zehnder.

    In other words, the judge most likely wasn’t being irresponsible in telling Dietrich to refrain from identifying the boys as rapists. It seems to me now that this was a judge advising a lying girl that she had better not commit libel or slander, both of which are crimes. When the judge denied issuing any gag order, she was probably telling the truth, whereas Dietrich’s lawyers are trying to make the judge’s courtroom advice seem to be what it wasn’t.

    This is why cases aren’t tried in the media. Publicity is a safeguard from official corruption, but when what is publicized is false there’s a risk of mob surge, political reaction following public outrage over a lie that has gained wide-distribution and the status of popular belief.

    Contrast the behavior of law enforcement and the courts in the case of Savannah Dietrich with a similar case from Ft. Myers, Florida. Similar, that is, except for the fact that it involved some older teenage girls pulling off an 11-year-old boy’s pants and underwear in public, while one of the girls made a video of the assault and mocked the victim.

    Oh, and there was one other difference: the police refused to do anything about it. The girls weren’t arrested. There were no criminal charges. And the child pornography aspect of the crime was overlooked.

    http://www.winknews.com/Local-Florida/2011-06-01/Online-video-shows-Fort-Myers-boy-being-bullied

    It looks as if young female citizens get more protection from the laws than young male citizens do. Why is that?

    • What I’m hearing now is that Savannah Dietrich went to a party, drank too much alcohol, took her shirt off, vomited, and passed out. Will Frey and Austin Zehnder, also at the party and probably also drunk, figured that if Dietrich was willing to expose her breasts to other party-goers, then she probably wouldn’t mind having them photographed. So they took pictures that proved that she had been behaving as a young lady ought not to behave. Among other things, the pictures showed that she was topless.

      Fundamental question: Did she ask to be photographed and to have those photographs distributed?

      Exposing yourself to partygoers is not automatically an invitation to be photographed and have those photos distributed. Where the hell did you get that idea? That rationale sounds a lot like the rape culture argument that wearing revealing clothing is automatically an invitation to sex.

      And I don’t like the moralist language you’re using, trying to make it sound like she deserved to have those photos taken and distributed against her will, instead of focusing on what Zehnder and Frey should have done or not done. You’re blaming her for being vulnerable and treating the act of taking advantage of her vulnerability as if it were a natural consequence of mindless forces instead of a decision by Zehnder and Frey.

      There has been some confusion between what actually happened and “rape.” Rape is, by common and by legal definition, sexual intercourse without consent. That didn’t happen.

      Who’s confused about that? Examples, please.

      In my case, it’s not really that huge in importance: Sexual assault is sexual assault, and rape is just one of the higher degrees, not a fundamentally different type of crime. Previous commentators taking your side seem to spend a lot of effort trying to “clarify” that issue without discussing why I should consider it as important as they seem to think it is.

      Methinks you might be engaging in copypasta.

      Contrast the behavior of law enforcement and the courts in the case of Savannah Dietrich with a similar case from Ft. Myers, Florida. Similar, that is, except for the fact that it involved some older teenage girls pulling off an 11-year-old boy’s pants and underwear in public, while one of the girls made a video of the assault and mocked the victim.

      Oh, and there was one other difference: the police refused to do anything about it. The girls weren’t arrested. There were no criminal charges. And the child pornography aspect of the crime was overlooked.

      1. I’d have no complaint if the victim of that one pressed charges.

      2. I’m not surprised law enforcement didn’t take it seriously. The system is pretty broken a lot of the time.

      3. What’s your point in bringing it up? Are you saying that neither set of events is a crime, or that both are? I sense a big, misguided attempt at tu quoque.

      As for Zehnder and Frey getting bullied, we weren’t asking for them to be bullied, we were asking them to be shamed. We want them to know that society won’t give sexual assault a free pass without social consequences.

    • Okay, so now I’m hearing that Frey or Zehnder, or both of them, allegedly put fingers in Dietrich’s vagina, in addition to taking photographs. Now, that is a form of rape, I think. So I’ve changed my mind again. But what is the evidence in support of that allegation? Witnesses might lie from malice or by honest error. A photograph showing one of the boys doing the poking would be enough to convince a reasonable person, but is that the kind of evidence that persuaded the court to call the vagina-poking “a fact”? The epistemology of that “fact” was omitted, and it should not have been. Still, I’ve reversed my earlier opinion, again, and presently believe that Savannah Dietrich was indeed the victim of sexual assault by Frey and Zehnder. My opinion is subject, as always, to revision if new and countervailing evidence becomes available.

      • It doesn’t matter very strongly for me, since we already know they took and distributed photos of her exposed while she was unconscious. That’s enough for me to be outraged, which gets compounded by people apparently trying to act as if the two perpetrators are perfectly innocent angels because they stopped short of rape, as well as people implicitly blaming Dietrich for being vulnerable.

    • Just so you can hear a little more, CNN did more reporting from this, providing information from some of the court documents:

      CNN: Court transcripts show the teens admitted to the crime. One said “…we put our fingers in her…cause we thought it would be funny…”

      So it wasn’t the innocent thing you portray of them just happening to take cell phone pics of a girl who was drunk and taking her top off. They put their fingers into her vagina, as CNN reported the court documents stated. That was then voyeurism + rape.

      [CNN.com. http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/14/tonight-on-ac360-teen-fights-for-justice-after-sexual-assault-pictures-discovered/?hpt=ac_bn3%5D

  8. Pingback: This is Getting Annoying: Zehnder and Frey’s Defenders | The Bronze Blog

  9. gf is late in arriving, but has the benefit of the increased information that came out as time progressed. I have a hard time imagining anyone was genuinely surprised, and if they are, I’d be shocked at the naivete. Rape is a crime that often goes unreported, and given all the slut shaming efforts that come out when a victim speaks up, I can see why. We live in a society where lots of people will publicly argue that it’s the victims’ fault and treat her like the criminal.

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