When Words Matter

Rape. Incest. Sex.

Yesterday MPD Police Chief Cathy Lanier said there was evidence that Rodney McIntyre had had a “sexual relationship” with his 17-year-old daughter, Ebony Franklin.

That didn’t sit right with Carol, who commented on a report saying,

Someone really needs to press lanier about calling incest, rape, and murder a “sexual relationship”. It makes it sound like this poor young woman was complicit or consenting. I hope justice will be served and she finds peace.”

A similar complaint has pinged through NBC Washington’s comments board on their story.

Sexual ‘relationship’ with a teen and her dad? I’d call it rape…OK,” wrote Darren Hutchinson, a law professor at American University.

The words we use to discuss crime matter, and they matter most when we are talking about violent crime. Lanier likely chose the words she used carefully because McIntyre has not been charged with a sex crime in the case.

But what matters more than words is evidence and we don’t know the evidence of the case against McIntyre yet.

The big questions remaining:

  • Will McIntyre be charged with a sex crime?
  • What does “sexual relationship” mean in this case?
  • What, if anything, did that relationship have to do with Franklin’s death?
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