Thursday, February 12, 2015

Questionable Police Work In Columbus, Ohio

You see this face? This is the face of a fifteen year old who was lured away from Ohayocon, an anime convention in Columbus, Ohio, in the early morning hours of February 1st. She was lured away by a grown man who took her to Blacklick (about fifteen miles away) and held her for two days. He let her go because the news coverage and all of the talk freaked him out. Dropping her off in the clothes she left in, he went on his way. And there is a great chance no charges will ever be brought against him. Why? Because the cops are trying to cover their asses and their shoddy police work so they are blaming this child for everything, lying to the public, saying she planned the whole thing. She left wearing this: 
She took no extra clothes, no money, not even a cell phone charger. It was freezing the night that she disappeared. I was wearing jeans, a tee shirt, and a big thick coat and I couldn't stand to go outside to smoke. Why would she leave dressed in the above outfit in the freezing cold without spare clothes? She has two very loving, very accepting parents who support her unconditionally. Why would she leave at all? According to her, she didn't...not in the way the police say. And I believe that. I believe that because there was nothing to suggest that this kid ran away (something even the police admitted when they went through the family's hotel room the following day). I also believe that if the cops had done their job, all of this, from the time they got involved to the smear campaign they led after Ray/Ashley was found, would have been different...
Ray is trans-fluid. Sometimes, he dresses like a guy and identifies that way and sometimes, like at Cons, he dresses like a female and is known as Ashley. When his mother first came into the security room where I was working as a night shift dispatcher to see if we could contact her teenager to tell him she was going to bed, she explained this to me while giving me the description of Ray's outfit. I nodded, thought to myself that the dress sounded cute as hell, and gave this kid's gender no more thought. I kept the description given to me in my mind and I recited it repeatedly over the next twenty four hours but I did not see judgement on the faces of those that I talked to. I saw no judgement until the first police officer came in the following day while I was sitting with Ray's mother and he started questioning her...and badgering her...and finally...blowing her off. Here was an officer of the law, someone you are supposed to be able to trust when the worst happens, looking at this mother, who was experiencing the worst moment of her life, telling her that because her child dresses like a female now and then and identifies as a gay male otherwise, her child ran away. Not only that, but her child was not a top priority because he would "probably" turn up sometime that evening. When that evening came and went and there was no word, the police didn't seem worried. They didn't seem to care at all. "We see this all the time with kids like this." They continued telling this terrified mother. "These things happen at things like this." They said over and over again. Because of Ray's parents, the close friend of the family who organized the search parties, the people who shared Ray's picture and story over and over again on facebook, and the news coverage, Ray was found Tuesday walking around Downtown where he was dropped off by his abductor. That should have been the end of this family's ordeal. Instead, the fifteen year old was taken to the police and was questioned WITHOUT A PARENT OR A LAWYER PRESENT about what had taken place. His parents had to wait to see their child because they were not allowed into the room where he was being interrogated by police. Even though he told the police he was taken by a man who thought he was female and he was held from early Sunday morning until Tuesday afternoon, no rape kit was administered. During all of this, despite the clear indications that this kid could be in danger, no Amber Alert with his description was ever sent out. And the cops, despite Ray telling them he did not plan this and he did not want to be with this person during the time he was held, went to the news stations and told them Ray ran away from home and planned the entire event. The news eventually ran the family's side of the story (something I am thankful for) and they did let Ray tell his side of the story. But the police seemed determined to bring no charges against the person who did this which means, of course, that in addition to this kid getting no justice, this person will also be free to do this again, perhaps without a good outcome next time. The police also seem to feel that they did nothing wrong which means the next time a teenager from the LGBT community comes up missing, there is no guarantee they will search for him or her either. The dust has settled and people are forgetting about this already. You know how it is with news stories. They come and go so quickly. I want the Lane family to go back to their lives, to try to heal, and I am glad that they have started that process. They've been through enough. But I don't want the public to forget what happened. If the guilty are to walk away from this untouched, I at least want people to remember this happened because when the next LGBT kid comes up missing and is reported as a runaway, there is a chance we will all need to come together again to find that kid. And when the bastard that took Ray does this again, because at this rate it is almost guaranteed he will, I want us all to remember this and to remember it could have been stopped had things been different at Ohayocon this year. I have no connections with people in journalism. I don't generally hang out with reporters. I have only this blog. But if anyone out there in the great big blogosphere knows someone who might do something to help the situation with this story, pass it on. Pass it on anyway. Pass it on just because what happened here was wrong and Ray/Ashley deserves to be believed. Or pass it on because the consequences of this particular injustice could go far beyond the incident itself. 

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