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Dexter Yarbrough And The Breeding Conditions For Rape

January 21, 2009

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.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2009 12:28 pm

    Nope, that was me, not Brad Perry. Another point is that he was holding a position in a college and I’d guess college women are less likely to report a rape than women out of college.

  2. January 21, 2009 12:42 pm

    Corrected. In the context, it looked like a news item that Brad Perry would have spotted.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    January 21, 2009 1:00 pm

    this is a very reassuring post in understanding why/how rape happens, particularly in colleges + universities. i’d have to agree with brad, that a woman, for example, me, is/was much less likely to report while in college than out. i was raped in college and after calling a crisis line, went to the hospital the next day for a forensic exam and learned that i would have to report it if i were to get the exam. i didn’t want to take the risk of social humiliation and did not feel strong enough to face the system and therefore refused and never filed a report. it was a hard decision to make and i regret it to this day. i’d simply like to state the university and fraternity that i found particularly supportive of this “social license” – Miami University (Oxford, OH) Sigma Chi Fraternity, 1998.

  4. January 22, 2009 12:35 am

    You don’t have to report a rape just because you get evidence collected at the University of Virginia, they just strongly recommend that you let them collect evidence (“when your body is the evidence…”) so that anytime you decide in the next three years you want to press charges, you’ll have evidence at the ready. That’s what I was taught, anyway. Of course the police officer also said your drinking is relevant because if you’re drunk stupid, that means you’re incapable of consent, so it’s necessarily rape and that’s why they ask you if you’ve been drinking.

  5. A CSU Ram permalink
    February 17, 2009 4:57 pm

    Just to set the record straight (and clear CSU’s good name), Yarborough was allowed to retain his title and exorbitant pay by the administration of former CSU President Larry Penley, and his underling and designated henchman John Lincoln. Penley (assuming his consigliere made him aware) chose to turn a blind eye to the abuses and complaints being received by the President’s Office. These reports were marked CONFIDENTIAL and locked away in a safe. Only after Penley/Lincoln’s departure did the evidence see the light of day.

    Interim President Tony Frank took steps to remove Yarborough from his position shortly after assuming the Presidency, putting an end to another of the many sad chapters in the history of CSU caused by Penley’s tenure at the University.

    It’s truly sad and embarrassing that our fine institution has been tarnished by the likes of Yarborough, and the implicitly-guilty Penley. CSU Rams respect women by default, and we hope in the future that those who choose not to abide by the same high ethical and moral standards as the rest of us don’t have the opportunity to stay here as long as Yarborough did.

    Thanks for keeping the dialogue about this alive – only through a medium such as this do we have any hope of informing future universities that would consider hiring these people of the low-caliber individuals that they are.

  6. July 8, 2009 11:35 pm

    This guy works at Northern Illinois University as a cop!!! Help get the word out to get him out of there!!!

  7. Noel Janus permalink
    July 10, 2009 11:29 pm

    Please help! My school Northern Illinois University, where I have received several degrees, has hired this man!

    Even at a $100k cut in salary I know it was NOT a good buy.

    Please send MORE information, but send it to the Chicago Sun Times or the Chicago Tribune. The local Shaw Press is a disgrace, and thankfully almost out of busyness. Blessings.

    THANKS in advance.

  8. Guy Bertram permalink
    July 11, 2009 2:23 pm

    HELP! Yarborough has been hired by Northern Illinois University where my kids go to school!
    Please send any additional information to the Northern Illinois University Alumni Association, The Northern Star, The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, or the Daily Herald. The DeKalb, Il local paper is a Shaw press publication and worthless.

    NIU Star Phone: (815) 753-0101
    Fax: (815) 753-0708

  9. Marcus B permalink
    January 12, 2010 7:54 am

    I knew Dexter in college at Western Illinois University, when he was known as Dexter X, person who was trying to become a Nation of Islam member. I can’t believe he turned out like this. I though NOI members were known for respect, and discipline.

  10. Anonymous permalink
    August 15, 2012 10:56 pm

    To the person that wrote this, I have more information on what went wrong. Please contact me for more info.


  1. Police Chief: Women Want the Dick : The Curvature

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