I had already condemned you, Jordan Johnson.
Jordan, this is in a way a very difficult and enlightening letter to write to someone I have never met before and most likely will never meet. Who am I? I am a new student to the University, a self-proclaimed sports enthusiast. I am outgoing and a strong young woman not quite comfortable in calling herself a feminist. Upon arriving on campus, I fell quickly into the buzz concerning your trial as well as the headline news of America’s so called “Rape Capital,” Missoula and its subsequent association with the football program as well as players on the team.
Throughout the last month, many of my friends and coworkers would bring up the trial, inquiring into the nature of my opinion. I would claim, “I don’t know all the facts. Perhaps she cried wolf, or maybe the jerk got caught for his crime.” When in reality, I steadfastly gripped my condemnation of you and what I placed on this trial; the validation of someone’s pain being justified — although to be honest I can’t be sure if it was mine or someone else’s pain I was seeking justice for. I chose not to care about how the verdict of this trial could affect your life, your plans, your family and friends — it was easier that way, because caring for someone like you might mean I would have to consider someone other than the alleged victim could be hurt by this ugly crime. It might mean I would be siding with the “type” of person I swore to loathe for the rest of my life after I was sexually assaulted: a rapist.
Why am I writing this? As a public and (what feels like) astonishingly sincere apology, because even though we have never crossed paths, I wished you ill from the moment I heard about the accusation, the kind of ill people never recover from. Something along the lines of, “Go rot, f----r” crept through my consciousness when your trial was the topic of discussion. It made me sick to think about rape, and in my rush to reinforce the character of a woman, I neglected that of the man and how quickly this type of spark could unleash a forest fire like destruction onto all the regions of your life.
Now it makes me sick to think I didn’t care to afford you any ground, reflection, compassion or kindness during a time that was at the very least harrowing for you and your family. For that, I apologize. I still don’t know all the facts, and I hope the verdict reflects the truth of the situation, but despite how much I don’t know about you or the accuser’s part in this, I do know you have a great opportunity to forge ahead in whatever manner you choose. I’m new to Missoula, the University and the highly publicized details of your life, but I am not new to the idea of redefining yourself amidst picking up the pieces when your world was shattered. I wish you the best and that after the high tide of overwhelming emotions have gone, you will see with clarity, know the ease of joy and find yourself moving through life on the “other side of the tunnel” with purposeful intent.