Email #152: “Horrific Rape of Young Girl”?

On March 22, you issued a press release titled “Goodlatte Requests Information on Horrific Rape of Young Girl at Rockville High School.” It included your letter to the director of Homeland Security, requesting case histories of two teenaged suspects, one of whom entered the U.S. illegally last August and was attending high school as a ninth grader in Maryland while awaiting a hearing in immigration court. You wrote:

“Once again, we have an example of how the Obama Administration’s lax immigration enforcement policies resulted in a life being seriously harmed – in this case, the life of an innocent 14 year-old-girl who was simply attending school… There is no doubt that such heinous crimes by illegal immigrants who were encountered by the Obama Administration, not removed by the Obama Administration, and instead actually set free in American communities by the Obama Administration, will continue to occur until sufficient enforcement has occurred… Perhaps if Sanchez-Milian had known he would likely be deported, he would not have come to the U.S. and the 14-year-old high school student would not have been assaulted.”

On Friday, both suspects were again “set free,” but this time because prosecutors dropped all charges against them. The day before the “horrific rape,” one of the suspects and the “innocent 14-year-old girl” exchanged text messages detailing their plan to have sex at school. Video cameras recorded the two walking into the bathroom together. The girl’s accounts of the incident, which included a description of her being dragged into the bathroom, changed multiple times.

Although prosecutors have insufficient evidence to bring the case to trial, it remains possible that the two suspects still committed rape. Neither you nor I have any way of knowing. I, however, did not attempt to exploit the incident for political gain. Politics aside, your assumptions of guilt appear ethnically prejudiced and, since both suspects are legally innocent, potentially libelous.

Since you were so vigilant in writing to Homeland Security, and since you were so quick to publicize your vigilance in your press release, will you issue a new press release correcting your original statements? News outlets such as the Washington Examiner reported them: “House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte is blaming the Obama administration’s ‘lax immigration policies’ for the rape of a 14-year-old girl at a high school outside Washington last week.”

Will you now use the power of your office to inform readers that both suspects have been exonerated? Will you at least add a correction to the first press release that is still available on your website? Or does this unverifiable rape no longer interest you now that you can’t use it to vilify immigrants as “heinous” criminals?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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