Dexter Yarbrough And The Breeding Conditions For Rape
Feministing pointed me to a story about the highest-paid cop in the state of Colorado, Dexter Yarbrough. He was until his suspension the chief of police at Colorado State University. He was suspended, apparently, when the administration was unable to continue its pattern of turning a blind eye to a “reign of terror” (in the words of one former officer) that drove all opposition from the force. His wrongdoing is legion, and as Jessica noted (h/t at Feministing to Brad), he told a class full of aspiring officers, “women want the dick, even when they say ‘no.’ They want the dick.”
So he’s an outright rape apologist. And, as many of the essays in Yes Means Yes note, rape already happens in conditions when rapists can safely violate victims because of structural inequalities. Miriam Zoila Perez wrote about the experiences of immigrant women; and to an extent all of the essays in the “Fight The Power” category grapple with it. What worse set of risk factors could there be than a rape apologist in a position of power over a group of students, with a badge and a gun and the ability to arrest, with a department under his control, and with the University looking the other way?
I argued here that rapists will rape when they have a “social license to operate,” when they know that their conduct will be defended, minimized or covered up. Dexter Yarbrough knew that all of his misconduct would be defended, minimized and covered up.
Allegedly, during his tenure, he:
-Told aspiring officers in class to give informants drugs for information
-Told students that, when he was a Chicago officer, he “beat ass”
-Forced all dissenters out of the department
-Hit a rock with his cruiser, but required subordinates to falsely report it as a hit-and-run accident
-Took over three rooms as his offices, leaving just the holding cells for interrogation
-Interfered in proper arrests to protect student athletes
Also, and tellingly, a female corporal from the department brought a complaint, which she settled confidentially, and she now works for another department.
People complained to the administration and got stonewalled. The officer whose report about the car damage was discarded in favor of the false hit and run report complained and got nowhere. Students complained. Subordinates complained. Nothing happened. He got a pass long after it was clear that he was a problem.
First, it is not news to women that if they attempt to use the judicial process they often run into people and even a system dedicated to protecting the rapist and attacking the complainant. It damned sure isn’t news to Michigan 2L.
Second, I’m going to go ahead and say that I take Yarborough at his word about what he thinks, and that therefore I conclude that he’s probably a rapist. He clearly doesn’t think women have the right to tell him “no.” And, since his experiences with power were that it entitled him to whatever he wanted and he could abuse it without consequence, he almost certainly did. If the University actually investigated (which they won’t, because they want this to go away quietly, because they were complicit), I expect they would find that he forced or coerced a women or women into some kind of sexual activity. I know that in my gut — a subordinate or a suspect or a student: someone. Men who get away with abuses of power and believe that no does not mean no will invariably visit sexual abuse on women, because everything around them tells them they will get away with it.
I don’t know if that woman or women will come forward. They don’t owe it to me or you or anyone else to do so. But I believe she is out there, and maybe they are out there, and I hope that seeing Dexter Yarbrough fired gives them, at long last, some sense of peace.