By Calvin Palmer
A week ago, a woman in her fifties was allegedly gang raped around 8:00 p.m. on a street in Riverside, Jacksonville, not far from Five Points.
Fire rescue vehicles turned up along with two police cars at the Grassroots Natural Market, on Park Street, where the unfortunate woman, battered and bleeding, had sought refuge. Owner Jack Robison called the police.
At first, the story was that she had been run off the road while riding her bicycle and the person/persons had stolen the bicycle. It then changed to her being robbed of her bicycle by three young men. The final version was that she had been gang raped, as well as being robbed.
In the order of heinous crimes, a gang rape is probably second down from murder, especially when it occurs on a street, and yet The Florida Times-Union did not report the crime until yesterday. No surprises there.
A gang rape is a hard news story and hard news is not the strong suit of The Times-Union. Its front page rarely carries a news story of any form.
But in trying to follow good journalistic practice, the newspaper did seek a comment from Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The police were not prepared to comment on the case.
Something does not quite add up here. The police have no comment on a gang rape committed early in the evening on a residential street?
The low-key treatment of this case by the police and The Times-Union’s tardiness in reporting on it raises some questions.
If the woman had been gang raped, surely the police would have commented something along the lines that they are seeking three males between the ages of whatever and given a brief description to try and establish their identities, with the hope of arresting the woman’s attackers.
But this silence is bizarre. It almost begs the question of whether it was indeed a gang rape.
In another time and another place, someone would get to the bottom of this puzzling story.
It is incumbent on newspapers to uphold the truth and inform the public. Sadly, for the citizens of Jacksonville, that role was long rejected by The Times-Union in favor of manipulating people’s minds and feeding their ultra-conservative paranoia.