Too drunk to go to jail?

Imagine this: there is a party. There is beer, wine, and vodka. There are adults and children around. One of the adults drinks until they are very drunk. In that purposeful stupor, this person kisses and gropes a 12-year-boy. Later, this same person performs lap dances and straddles teenage boys. After that, this person bites a 13-year-old on his neck and makes him perform a sex on act them.

This would be a clear example multiple acts of sexual assault and rape. One would expect to see a stiff sentence, years in prison followed by a lengthy stay on the sex offender registry. And one would be right to assume that… if the offender were male. If they were female:

[Amanda Wheeler] denied four counts of sexual activity with a child and one of sexual assault but was found guilty following a two-week trial in October at Worcester Crown Court.

Today, Judge Patrick Thomas QC said he did not believe the incident on November 29, 2011, ‘arose out of paedophilia’ but was a ‘one-off’.

Wheeler, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years at Birmingham Crown Court.

According to Judge Thomas:

“I’m satisfied that this behaviour arose not out of paedophilia, although these were paedophile acts, but out of drunkenness, selfishness and a real element of childishness on your part.

“You were grossly disinhibited, but I don’t think that in you there is a tendency or proclivity towards this sort of behaviour and because of this I can regard it as a one-off.

“The aggravating features are the age of the children, the presence of other children during the offending itself and the fact that you were drunk and out of control.”

People should take note of the judge’s arguments, because he is essentially saying that if a person is drunk, they are less responsible for their actions and that one can conclude that their actions were brought on solely by drink, not by underlying intent. However, the judge was not done excusing the woman’s behavior:

Judge Thomas said statements by the victims showed the assaults had not caused them long term trauma.

He said: “It is because, and only because, of the victim impact statements, and the impact of the sentence to be served upon your children, that I think it is appropriate to step back and suspend the sentence.”

Interesting that the judge’s decision is based on the impact putting this woman in prison would have on her children. Clearly this woman is irresponsible. According to the judge, she “got paralytically drunk” and behaved in a way that “passed beyond the flirtatious”. Why should Wheeler get a pass if that is the way she behaves? Would it not be to her children’s benefit to have someone with that kind of tendency be punished and treated before she harms them (assuming she has not already)?The judge did order Wheeler to ten years on the sex offender registry, but it will be quite redundant since she still has custody and access to her own children, and therefore easy access to others.The article does not explain what the boys stated to make the judge think they were unharmed by Wheeler’s actions. If he went only by victim impact statements and not a psychological report, then he did not base his decision on anything of merit. The boys may have said what they thought would protect them from ridicule, which the judge acknowledged:

It is right to say that they show that the major impact on the children came from all of this coming to light and the embarrassment and difficulties that caused them at the time.

Likewise, Wheeler, despite admitting to have gaps in her memory, denied what happened, and the boys may have just wanted to get the case behind them. Again, the article does not go into those details.
Nevertheless, the sentence smacks of the typical double standard. A woman can prey on several boys in front of other people and literally walk out of court with a smug look of satisfaction when a man in a similar situation would at least serve a few months behind bars.

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26 thoughts on “Too drunk to go to jail?

  1. British judges seem to be some of the biggest white knights around. They love to lecture from the bench, and it appears that the more you let them lecture you, the lighter becomes the punishment they will actually hand out.

    It makes me sick just how much irresponsible behavior and criminal behavior is accused by the justice system when it is perpetrated by females. I do believe that judges are fairer in the US, at least they aren’t so blatantly paternal.

  2. But… but women don’t rape ! They should have checked their cis white straight boy privilege ! Surely they had erections, so they consented after all and remember, when women are drunk they are absolved of all responsibility.
    There, a typical Feministe answer for you.
    The only thing that cheers me up are the comments, bashing the judge for betraying justice and bringing up the obvious double standard. If it was a man he would spend many, many years in prison. Can you imagine the headlines ? “Vile pedophile in drunken rage raped innocent children”…

  3. Er:
    I read it. It doesn’t say she “made” the 13 year old, it said she “persuaded” him.
    I don’t know about you, but that changes the whole context of this to me. Forcible rape is worse than statutory rape in my opinion.
    I’m more inclined for some mercy at this point. I’m not sure sparing her prison entirely was the right thing to do, esp considering the double standard, but 13 to 15 are the ages where, while I think there should be some punishment it should be more lenient than if the person was per-pubescent and things such as (‘victim impact statements’) should have more force for both punishment and lenience.

    I think consensual sex with a 13 year old should disqualify you from teaching or leading teens/children, but it shouldn’t result in a long prison sentence or lifetime sexual offender registration.

    Anyway, we agree that if this was a man they’d probably be comparing him to Sandusky as we speak and the nooses would be out in force…

  4. This occurred in a culture where adult men do not have a substantive right to, or understanding of, consent where female violators are concerned. A thirteen year old boy has no hope of dealing with it. This woman’s actions were willful and extraordinarily predatory. Her punishment should be harsher than average.

    Where I come from she would have seen a similar result from our male judges and five years from our female judges(if a couple of recent things can be considered a pattern). I understand that judges and associated staff have been provided with sensitivity guidance across much of the western world. No guesses needed as to the providers. Guarantee that female perpetration has never featured in any of it.

  5. Mike:
    I hate to inform you of the birds and bees, but strictly speaking, 13 year olds are not children. Some of them look much older, and the people that have sex with them are usually responding to sexual cues that are not present in the normal developmental cycle of childhood. By the time I was 13, I had already spent nearly 2 years illicitly looking at Playboys, and dreaming of the women therein.

    Yes, there’s a legitimate reason to have statuatory rape laws to protect the younger teens (health, the fact that MOST adults *not the 40 year old virgin* could manipulate them sexually, power imbalances with the vast majority of adults who are still in a caretaking rule, etc) but statuatory with consent is still just sex. If any trickery, drugging, or use of power or force is involved, of course punish that, but please don’t pretend that the sex “per se” is harmful in and of itself, unless disease or pregnancy occurs. I would have no problem with the responsibility for those issues being placed on the older partner, either. I was very “hot for teacher” ( a specific one, in fact) at that age, and I doubt I’d have been as tramautized by a single safe consensual make out or sex session with her as I was by going for nearly 5 years in my mid twenties without so much as a hug from the opposite sex not named mom or grams.

  6. “I think consensual sex with a 13 year old should disqualify you from teaching or leading teens/children, but it shouldn’t result in a long prison sentence or lifetime sexual offender registration.”

    Possibly, but that’s a completely different debate. It’s clearly not why she was let off, anyway, and that’s what’s important here.

  7. Plasma:
    I was more outraged by the write up here which says she “forced” the sex on the 13 year old. Forced sex is rape, full stop.
    In fact, she convinced him, and he probably didn’t need a lot of convincing.
    That changed things for me in a big way here. As I’ve carefully explained, it doesn’t mean I think she should have been spared from some punishment altogether (as she basically was) but the fact is the law is very much an ass in these cases, and (unless British law is different) the Judge probably wasn’t left with much choice between leniency and totally destroying her life and family.

  8. I read it. It doesn’t say she “made” the 13 year old, it said she “persuaded” him. I don’t know about you, but that changes the whole context of this to me.

    To persuade in this context is to trick the boy into making a decision Wheeler wanted him to make. The article is unclear about what occurred, yet we can conclude that without Wheeler’s actions the boy would not have “consented” to do anything. In this sense, I see little difference between force and persuasion.

    I’m not sure sparing her prison entirely was the right thing to do, esp considering the double standard, but 13 to 15 are the ages where, while I think there should be some punishment it should be more lenient than if the person was per-pubescent and things such as (‘victim impact statements’) should have more force for both punishment and lenience.

    And what of the 12-year-old she groped?

    I think consensual sex with a 13 year old should disqualify you from teaching or leading teens/children, but it shouldn’t result in a long prison sentence or lifetime sexual offender registration.

    Two years is not a long prison sentence. With good time and time served, assuming Wheeler was jailed prior to trial, a person could be out of prison within 15 months.

  9. I was very “hot for teacher” ( a specific one, in fact) at that age, and I doubt I’d have been as tramautized by a single safe consensual make out or sex session with her as I was by going for nearly 5 years in my mid twenties without so much as a hug from the opposite sex not named mom or grams.

    But that assumes that the fantasy would play out as you would intend. The more likely scenario would be the teacher using you for her needs and then dropping you when you got too old for her or another boy took her attention. Then suddenly that lovely teacher who was your lover and friend not only wants nothing to do with you, but will cut the connection as if it were a hangnail. This happened to one of the boys Sandusky abused. The boy was placed in a group home and expected Sandusky, his friend and mentor, to rescue him only to be abandoned. I would imagine that the hurt of that stings far worse than the sex itself.

  10. FM, the article also reveals that things were not as settled as the judge implied in his statement. At least one of the boys was indeed traumatized.

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  12. Yeah, that’s something I don’t get about people who believe boys these age are “lucky”.

    They never think about the future consequences: Being abandonned for another piece of meat that so happens to turn the woman on or worse, if the woman should happen to get pregnant, saddled with the responsibility of paying child support.

    Next time someone mentions “I wish she were around when I was that age”, I’ll just mention these two sticking points and watch their justification collapse underweight.

  13. @Clarence

    I would imagine if you think the 13yr old is old enough to make his own decisions then you wouldnt be adverse to him being charged or at least reprimanded for taking advantage of the drunk woman, right?

  14. Toysoldier:
    You imagine I would want a “relationship” with the teacher. I could assure you I never fantasized about such a thing. I was thinking solely sex, that was what was on my brain at that time.
    I could see plenty of ways it could go bad, but I could see at least one way it could be of no harm to anyone. I’m also sure I wasn’t the only teen boy (the school was grades 7 to 9) who had a sexual or romantic crush on her, she was tall, leggy, very light blonde hair, pronounced graceful feminine cheekbones, maybe 30 at the very oldest and had a foreign accent.

    That being said, she was a teacher and entrusted by my parents with my safety, and so IF I had sex with her, that would still have been a violation of the trust the community placed in her.
    This sort of thing applies to elementary school and high school. I have no issues with teacher/student sex in college whatever the age ranges provided the student is not currently enrolled in a course with that particular teacher.

  15. Titfortat:
    I’ve already said I’m for pushing most of the onus of safe sex onto the older partner when teens are involved. So no, I wouldn’t be ok with that. No one is alleging that anyone spiked her drink and she wasn’t unconscious or in a blackout state and I’ve never argued she was not responsible for her choices including the choice to get drunk. There is one legitimate societal use for teens taking older lovers and that is to teach them about sex , which means safe sex and other things that other teens are not likely to know. Just like a “provisional drivers license”, with limited agency should come limited responsibility.

  16. “To persuade in this context is to trick the boy into making a decision Wheeler wanted him to make. The article is unclear about what occurred, yet we can conclude that without Wheeler’s actions the boy would not have “consented” to do anything.”

    This is easily your weakest argument in the whole post and thread, esp. given that she was drunk, and likely unable to formulate any coherent “psychological coercion” based(let alone something more subtle) plan.
    Like I said, he probably didn’t need much convincing.

    There’s two things we are agreement about:
    A. She should have been punished more, though I guess having her name splashed about like that in the papers (who knows, she might have made TV too) and the sex offender registration (I don’t know about Britain, but you know the issues with sex registries in the US) is some first-class humiliation, as well as the SH registration will be a Sword of Damocles over her head should she ever be embroiled in child abuse or custody issues. So she didn’t get off scot-free as so many female false accusers do.
    B. The incident with the twelve year old bothers me most because of all the others involved he seems to be the most harmed, and non-consensual groping is still NC groping. And by bother, I mean anger. Unlike the others I think he wishes he had been elsewhere when this was all happening and while he almost certainly hasn’t been permanently damaged by her, he will always have a bad memory about one of his earliest *probably his earliest* sexual experience.

  17. You imagine I would want a “relationship” with the teacher. I could assure you I never fantasized about such a thing. I was thinking solely sex, that was what was on my brain at that time.

    Who said anything about a relationship. Unless you were talking about a one-off sexual encounter, the situation you would have would be someone who apparently was interested in you who actually could not care less about you and would ditch you the moment someone more interesting came along.

    I wasn’t the only teen boy (the school was grades 7 to 9) who had a sexual or romantic crush on her, she was tall, leggy, very light blonde hair, pronounced graceful feminine cheekbones, maybe 30 at the very oldest and had a foreign accent.

    It is normal for teens to have crushes on adults. It is actually quite normal for adults to find some teens attractive. The issue is acting on and the power dynamic at play. I know there are instances where there is no inherent abuse at play. This situation is not one of this.

  18. This is easily your weakest argument in the whole post and thread, esp. given that she was drunk, and likely unable to formulate any coherent “psychological coercion” based(let alone something more subtle) plan.

    We do not know how drunk she was, and we do not know how little she was able to reason. That said, I have been around enough drunk people to know that intoxication does not hinder a person’s ability to pressure others into doing something.

    Unlike the others I think he wishes he had been elsewhere when this was all happening and while he almost certainly hasn’t been permanently damaged by her, he will always have a bad memory about one of his earliest *probably his earliest* sexual experience.

    That assumes that the other boys welcomed the unwanted sexual acts. Just because a teenager is interested in sex does not mean they want sex from any person. Also, because this was at a public event with people they likely knew, they might play off how much it bothered them.

  19. I hate to inform you of the birds and bees, but strictly speaking, 13 year olds are not children. Some of them look much older, and the people that have sex with them are usually responding to sexual cues that are not present in the normal developmental cycle of childhood. By the time I was 13, I had already spent nearly 2 years illicitly looking at Playboys, and dreaming of the women therein.

    I had a crush on a maths teacher when I was thirteen. I was taller than my father and shaving. I was singing quite passable bass. Way ahead of almost all my peers physiologically. My uncle had an easily accessible stash of porn which WAS accessed. I was, nonetheless, a child.

    I DID have sexual interactions with women a decade or so my senior at ages seven and seventeen. I have no doubt that, in isolation, had that thirteen year old crush come to fruition it would have been far more problematic.

    The “high five” responses are an expression of unfulfilled adolescent sexual fantasies which adults would do well to lose.

  20. @gwallan

    It seems to me the problem is more likely the adult fantasies rather than the adolescent ones. I would imagine the VAST majority of 13yr old males are only thinking about getting in suzie’s pants rather than her mothers.

  21. Toysoldier:

    “That assumes that the other boys welcomed the unwanted sexual acts. Just because a teenager is interested in sex does not mean they want sex from any person. Also, because this was at a public event with people they likely knew, they might play off how much it bothered them.”

    These kind of arguments really get us nowhere. OF course its POSSIBLE that none of the teens(not counting the twelve year old he’s not a teen) wanted the sexual acts, but do you really think it is LIKELY? They’ve had months and months to talk about their victim-hood if that is how they felt (which I think might be projection on your part) and they’ve said they are over it. Heck, your very argument assume its conclusion: that the sexual acts were all , or mostly unwanted. I don’t think they were, and I don’t think most of the teens felt violated by the lap dances. I guess I’ll have to research this more to find out if that article left something out. We certainly don’t know, and the article gives us limited information.

    I think it’s rather ridiculous to pretend that if it was legal tons of teen boys (and some girls!) wouldn’t be having consensual sex with older teachers and other adults. I can say that as a teen boy, my sexual attraction didn’t magically limit itself to others in my immediate age range but even stretched so far as to include a few very beautiful 35 plus women. And THOSE were the women I considered “ancient”,not some 22 to 25 year old teacher.

  22. I want to say two more things before I leave this thread go:
    I don’t think my last paragraph applies to you, as much as some of the other commenters here and our larger societal sexual memes.
    And I want to thank you for not only letting me have my say over the years (because I’ve always feared I would hurt you if you felt I was a victim blamer or something) but also for the graciousness with which you have replied, even when you have disagreed with me.

    And as usual,I can only speak for myself as the heterosexual , shy, awkward, religious teenage male that I was. Someone else’s teenage mileage may vary.

  23. OF course its POSSIBLE that none of the teens(not counting the twelve year old he’s not a teen) wanted the sexual acts, but do you really think it is LIKELY?

    Yes, I do.

    They’ve had months and months to talk about their victim-hood if that is how they felt (which I think might be projection on your part) and they’ve said they are over it.

    Imagine you are a 13-year-old boy who performed a sex act on a woman. Do you think that if you said you did not like it and that you felt pressured into doing would go over well with other kids? Likewise, if the trial is dragging on and you just want it done and over without anyone asking you about it anymore, would you say you were fine now?

    I think it’s rather ridiculous to pretend that if it was legal tons of teen boys (and some girls!) wouldn’t be having consensual sex with older teachers and other adults.

    I agree, however, the reason it is illegal has little to do with whether the child would agree to the act, but whether they have the maturity to do so and understand the consequences of that, and whether they are doing so because they genuinely want or whether an adult coerced them or took advantage of their sexual interest.

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