For more than four decades, Judy Wilson has been counseling, sheltering and helping restore the lives and dignity of Ocala/Marion County’s sexual assault victims. As executive director of the Ocala Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Center — and arguably the state’s longest-serving advocate for sexual assault victims — she has seen the some of the deepest wounds that can be inflicted on a person, physically and mentally.
So I thought it would be interesting to ask Wilson what she thought of School Board member Nancy Stacy’s recent comments about women who claim to be sexual assault victims.
“What four-letter word do you want me to use?” Wilson responded.
None needed. What Wilson did tell me was that her shelter sees two to three new sexual assault victims every day. That’s here in Ocala/Marion County. And, no, they are not making the incidents up.
Nationally, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), reports that last year, 321,500 Americans 12 years old and older were sexually assaulted — that’s one every minute and a half — and 90 percent of them were women. Moreover, 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
So no, most women who claim to be sexual assault victims are not “whores” or “prostitutes” out to “destroy a man,” as Stacy wrote. And, her wacky defense of Bill Cosby? Trial, evidence jury, conviction. It wasn’t a single woman but dozens of women who accused him of drugging and raping them.
Since Stacy posted her disparaging and disgusting remarks on Facebook, a firestorm of public indignation has ensued. It’s one thing to say something outrageous in the best Trumpian fashion, to offend an entire community. It’s something else altogether to refuse to walk it back and apologize. Shockingly, Stacy repeatedly defended her asinine comments, all the while seeming to revel in all the attention. (It made Newsweek, so she’s gone national in embarrassing her board and her community.)
Ever since Stacy’s stupefying remarks were reported, almost every conversation I have in the community works its way around to, “So ... what do you think about what Nancy Stacy said?” My mailbox is full of queries from friends and readers wanting to know how Stacy can be removed from office. The chairman of her own board and the president of the Ocala City Council have castigated her publicly.
But what we aren’t hearing — except from two brave women at Tuesday’s School Board meeting — is how hurtful it is to sexual assault victims to have one of their own “leaders” mocking their tragedies. I can’t imagine the anger.
As a member of the School Board, Stacy is supposed to set an example of proper behavior, of civility, of simple decency. Inexplicably, she just doesn’t seem capable.
Since she has broken no laws, it is unlikely she can be removed from office before her term is up in 2020. And, as much as we would like her to just sit down and be quiet, that isn’t likely either. The School Board, at least, should look into censuring her, because when she goes off, as we know she is wont to do, the citizenry typically lumps the whole School Board into their condemnation.
If Stacy were rabble-rousing in the name of improving the education of Marion County children, it would be one thing. But to merely denigrate and offend others, then snicker while boasting that “I have no political correctness,” is not just unbecoming of a public official, it’s unbecoming of a human being.
Words matter. And while Stacy has defended her words repeatedly, there simply is no defense for them. Mrs. Stacy, you have embarrassed your community and your board and let down the children your are supposedly elected to uplift.
If Stacy won’t listen to her constituents, maybe she should call Wilson and offer to volunteer at the Rape Crisis Center. Then she can see first-hand how many of its clients are “whores” or “prostitutes” looking to “destroy a man.” It could be a teaching moment.
As Wardell noted in a tweet about Stacy’s remarks, #WeAreBetterThanThis. And we are.