What rape apologism looks like

A Florida jury convicted Denise Harvey of five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor in 2008. The victim was a boy on her son’s baseball team. Harvey assaulted the 16-year-old boy several times at his father’s home and her office. She faces a 30-year sentence she will likely not serve.

Why? She applied for and was granted refugee status in Canada.

I will repeat that: Harvey was convicted of sexually abusing a minor. She faces 30 years in prison. To avoid the prison sentence she filed for refugee status in Canada. Canada granted her request.

One more time: Canada granted refugee status to a convicted sex offender fleeing her sentence.

Here is the explanation for this embarrassment: 

The Immigration and Refugee Board initially granted asylum to Ms. Harvey. In federal court documents, the board notes that there was no evidence that the sex was not consensual. The physical relationship was only illegal because of the age difference, the documents state.

The IRB decided Ms. Harvey was facing cruel and unusual punishment by Canada’s standards, which was also in disregard, it said, of ‘‘accepted international standards.’’

In Florida, it is illegal for a person over the age of 24 to have sex with a person 16 or younger. In Canada, the age of consent is 16. If the accused is in a position of trust or authority, the age of consent is 18.

Let us stop there. Harvey is not a Canadian citizen and the crimes did not occurred in Canada. They occurred in the United States and Canadian law does not apply here.

I wrote about Harvey in 2008 when she was convicted. I noted then that I was not sure if the 30-year sentence was the right call. Yet the quibbling over whether the sex was consensual is a moot point. The law states that the act is illegal regardless of whether the minor consented. That is the same language used in Canadian law. In other words, if one had consensual sex with a 15-year-old in Canada, it would still be illegal despite the minor’s consent.

Things were not that simple for Harvey’s application:

Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration then appealed to the Federal Court of Canada to overturn the decision. In a decision released in July, 2013, the appeal was granted and Ms. Harvey lost her refugee status.

The judge in the appeal case ruled the IRB had not provided adequate reasoning explaining why Ms. Harvey’s sentence contravened international standards. “We do not know which of Ms. Harvey’s arguments on the question of ‘accepted international standards’ were or were not accepted and why that was,” wrote Justice Anne Mactavish.

This federal court decision cleared the way for a new IRB hearing.

Florida assistant state attorney Nikki Robinson noted the absurdity of Canada granting refuge to a convicted sex offender because she is a convicted sex offender:

“It is incomprehensible to me that Canada would grant her any type of immigration relief under these circumstances,” she said in an email to the National Post.
Barry Golden, senior investigator with the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Miami, Fla., said Ms. Harvey’s case will remain open in the U.S.

“If she does come back to the States there will be an active arrest warrant for her,” he said.

“This type of crime, any felony where you’re sentenced to 30 years, that’s a severe crime,” he said.

This is an excellent example of what actual rape apologism looks like. It is not something publishing half-naked pictures of women or juries not convicting enough men charged with rape. It is a government protecting convicted sex offenders because of who they are.

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26 thoughts on “What rape apologism looks like

  1. Pingback: What rape apologism looks like | Manosphere.com

  2. Wow.

    Thank you for stating a truth that will I suspect be uninteresting in large part. It is, nonetheless, an important truth.

    He must be about 24 years old now. I wonder how he is doing, because I’ve heard so many boys/men talk about chemical dependency, poor relationships, (the long list of effects) after this kind of experience. A problem with rape apologism is it makes it difficult to see, much less do, anything to prevent all the negative effects of the rapes of men and boys.

  3. I usually find myself agreeing with you, but this is one case where your interpretation of the situation and Canadian law is deeply flawed. This isn’t rape apologism insomuch as it’s an unfortunate loophole in an extradition law that is democratically applied to everyone regardless of their country of origin and how morally repugnant they are.

    As I understand it, Canada does not generally allow the extradition of people who’re convicted felons to countries where they may face cruel or unusual punishment, torture, or death. If a female Saudi Arabian who committed adultery and was sentenced to death by stoning managed to escape to Canada and applied for refugee status, Canada would likely grant it to her because sending her back to her home country would be tantamount to participating in an execution. Your suggestion that “the law is the law” and “the crime didn’t occur here but there” would mean that you’d have no problem sending that woman back to Saudi Arabia to her death.

    Lest you think that I’m grasping at straws or making a ridiculous argument, this is the exact situation that occurred with serial killer Charles Ng…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Ng

    ….managed to escape to Alberta from California, where he was facing the death sentence for having committed between 11 and 25 murders with Leonard Lake. The man was a vile scumbag and Canada was in no way condoning what he’d done, but they had an issue with sending him back to the U.S. because of California’s law on capital punishment. I believe that the issue was resolved when the conclusion was reached that Ng’s death wasn’t imminent since he hadn’t been put on trial yet and sentenced to die, so there was no moral conflict.

    The same law that protects my fictional Saudi Arabian adulterer also protects Charles Ng and Denise Harvey, even if the three crimes are nowhere near comparable in severity.

  4. If She had been sentence to death by stoning or was going to be sent to Abu Grave to be tortured for information on Al Quada you would have a point. Getting sentenced to 6 years per rape is hardly out of the ordinary let alone an extreme punishment for which there should be moral out rage over. The only point of “outrage” is that she has the wrong genitalia to be a bad person.

  5. Situations involving execution are different than someone facing 30 years for a sex crime. One can argue about the morality of executing someone. What is the argument in this case? That Harvey did not like the sentence? There are scores of other people who did not like their sentence who are granted refuge.

  6. “The only point of “outrage” is that she has the wrong genitalia to be a bad person.”

    No, that’s not it at all. And no one in that article, as far as I can tell, is claiming that fact. That’s a spin some people are trying to apply to it.

    “One can argue about the morality of executing someone. What is the argument in this case? That Harvey did not like the sentence?”

    It’s quite clearly stated in the article, the relevant section of which you quoted:

    “The IRB decided Ms. Harvey was facing cruel and unusual punishment by Canada’s standards, which was also in disregard, it said, of ‘‘accepted international standards.”

    That was the reasoning. The sentence was considered excessive by the standards of Canadian law, which is why she was granted refugee status. You may consider it laughable or ridiculous, but that’s the legal reasoning.

    Make no mistake, I’m not happy about the verdict any more than you are, but the problem here isn’t that the sexual offender “has the wrong genitalia to be a bad person”. It’s the Canadian legal loophole that she took advantage of, and, to a lesser extent, the stupidity of Florida’s laws in general.

  7. @Lunar

    Do you think if the genders were reversed would the judge in the case have made the same ruling? We’ll never know, but I can tell you this, there probably would have been a lot more media attention if she did. 😉

  8. While you’re right that we’ll never know, considering that Canada, for several years, avoided extraditing a known serial killer because he was facing the death penalty (as mentioned in my original comment), I think that there’s a better chance it might’ve happened than you’d think.

  9. Nah, the decisions stinks and it doesn’t surprise me it was overturned.

    Just because something isn’t a crime in Canada doesn’t make you an automatic refugee. We Canadians are touchy about the death penalty, but nothing in statutory rape feels like cruel and unusual punishment. The age of consent is now 16 in Canada, so for a few months less, it would also have been a crime in Canada… hardly excessive then. The “accepted international standards” also smell really fishy and I really doubt there is such a consensus.

    It kinda reminds me of the documentary “Dear Zachary” , another case where the Canadian extradition process was too soft on a female American criminal… with tragic consequences.

  10. Uh… now that I’m thinking about it… the actual sentence was 30 years? I thought that was the maximum possible sentence, but no, that’s what she got apparently. What the hell did she do? I don’t think you usually get close to that much even for an aggravated sexual assault in Canada. 30 years sounds pretty nuts, to be honest. What’s up with you yanks?

    An exaggerated sentence can be cruel and unsual punishment, but it has to be very exceptional. Hmmmm…

  11. “Uh… now that I’m thinking about it… the actual sentence was 30 years? I thought that was the maximum possible sentence, but no, that’s what she got apparently. What the hell did she do? I don’t think you usually get close to that much even for an aggravated sexual assault in Canada. 30 years sounds pretty nuts, to be honest. What’s up with you yanks?”

    She had sex with the 16-year-old five times and was thus charged with five separate counts of unlawful sexual activity, so the five six years sentences stacked on top of one another for a grand total of three decades in prison. That’s Florida for you. Between their idiotic felony murder law, the “stand your ground” fiasco surrounding Trayvon Martin, and what happened with Bieyanka Moore, I’ve become convinced that lunatics or morons are in charge of that state.

  12. Well, Sailor Moon, you’ve got me convinced! There are merits to her case and I don’t think this has much to do with apologism, although my usual skeptical self wonders if the immigration board would be as sympathetic if a man were to show up before them with a statutory rape conviction and a very heavy sentence.

  13. Glad to know, Beluga, even though I wasn’t really out to convince anybody. 🙂

    I must admit that this story has put me in a difficult position. On an emotional level, I completely agree with Toysoldier and the others that this is a pretty embarrassing situation for the Canadian government to be in and it’s cringeworthy to see a law with a perfectly reasonable rationale behind it perverted in this way. However, touting this as an example of the double standard that exists when it comes to the treatment of male and female sex offenders is misleading.

  14. The IRB decided Ms. Harvey was facing cruel and unusual punishment by Canada’s standards, which was also in disregard, it said, of ‘‘accepted international standards.”

    I stand corrected. The argument is that Canada does not like Harvey’s sentence. The claim that the punishment is unusual for Canadian standards falls flat considering how many men have been sentenced to far worse for lesser offenses. It also falls flat considering that the United States is not the only country to hand out stiff sentences for sex offenses. The Canadian government argues very weak legal reasoning.

    As for Harvey’s sex playing a role, I think that still applies. I could not find any example of Canada granting men the same leeway.

  15. Wow, I didn’t know that I could commit crimes and get away with it by going to Canada. Good to know!

  16. She’s not serving her sentence (reduced) in Canada. It’s apparently not a crime here. So the stuff about fighting extradition for serial killers and murderers doesn’t apply. She raped someone in the US under US law. She was convicted in a democracy, in a democratically elected state where she has never been prosecuted for who or what she is until she broke a law put into place by people she and others elected and legitimized.

    What this ruling does is opens Canada, my country, is open us to something a kin to the Mariel boatlift. Using this case every person in the US sentenced beyond Canada’s 25 year-limit is now able to attain refugee status in Canada and all these rapists are now welcome.

    We can argue whether or not what she did is rape. But there is no argument whether or not it is rape under Florida law. Either America is a legitimate, sovereign country with laws written by the people and for the people, or it’s not. If, at this point America decided to take her back, I wouldn’t be upset with them coming into my country and just taking her. To me, that is what this feels like we’ve done to the US.

    It’s not ok. America is not Saudi. America is not Mexico. This is a clear and disgusting case of sexism. At this point I would demand Canada release all information on rape cases seeking refugee status in Canada prior to this because of excessive terms or because of statutory rape– but that won’t happen. This despite the fact men are charged more and more often and for longer, especially when it comes to rape.

    But maybe she has a case. It is unusual for a woman to have to pay for her crimes. And Canada is making sure it never happens.

  17. I agree with Canada on this one, the age of consent in most states is 16. A 30-year sentence for that is draconian, and that’s an understatement.

    If Florida gives that to a woman, I can’t imagine what they would give a man, and surely Canada would deny a man who did the same asylum.

    it’s important to point the hypocrisy when it comes to unequal treatment of the genders on these issues, but to condone Florida’s ignorant barbaric behavior on this and its sentence is asinine.

  18. “She didn’t get 30 years, though, she got 5 six-year sentences. To me six years isn’t a lot for forcing oneself sexually on a minor.”

    Consecutive sentencing seems inappropriate in this case.

    Given that the sex was consensual other than that the boy was 16, I’m not convinced that there was significantly more harm in having sex 5 times rather than just once.

    If 6 years is appropriate for one statutory rape, I’d say that 8-10 years is appropriate for five incidents.

  19. She didn’t get 30 years, though, she got 5 six-year sentences. To me six years isn’t a lot for forcing oneself sexually on a minor.

    Peterman, Harvey actually got 15 years per charge. The judge allowed all but one of them to be served concurrently. That is how she ended up with 30 years. She must complete the first 15-year sentence before starting the next. However, it is possible that she could get good time reductions. That said, I agree with others that given the nature of the crimes the 30-year sentence seems excessive.

  20. The thirty year sentence SEEMS excessive?
    I’m not even sure she should be serving any ‘sentence’ at all, but when murderers in my state (MD) often get 20 or less, this is ridiculous.
    Now MAYBE there was some aggravating factor we are not aware of. Unless one has the court and evidence documents in these cases , one often can’t rely on the press to put things in any kind of perspective, esp given that sex and scandal sell.
    But it she really was getting sentenced to not a year or two but thirty years merely for five otherwise consensual (and perfectly legal in my State) sexual encounters with someone who is arguably a young adult then yes, I feel that is not only excessive, it’s an abomination for any concept of ‘the punishment fitting the crime’.

    So based on what we have here I don’t feel it is rape apology to support Canada’s decision.
    Now sadly, it might still be the case that they wouldn’t do so for a male in the exact same situation and if so, I condemn the double-standard, but we are not faced with here.

  21. Going to break all your little hearts here. She’s going to get a 30 year prison sentence for what would be legal in Canada. That’s why she’s getting refugee status.

    Same way we’d give refugee status to women in Iran who flee to here to avoid being stoned to death for sex outside marriage.

  22. This article is what gender inverted feminism looks like. KILL ANYONE WHO BANGS A WILLING 16 YEAR OLD SIMPLY BECAUSE ITS AGAINST THE LAW!! PITCHFORKS! RABBLE RABBLE!

  23. Going to break all your little hearts here. She’s going to get a 30 year prison sentence for what would be legal in Canada. That’s why she’s getting refugee status.

    I am aware of why she fled to Canada and why the Canadian government is protected a convicted child rapist. The point is that it still morally objectionable regardless of whether the Canadian government condones women having with children.

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