Crime

If No One Ran From the Room Crying, He Wouldn't Be Doing His Job

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Cheyenne, Wyoming, Police Officer John Gay travels from school to school, warning students about the sexual predators lurking on the Internet. During a recent visit to Windsor High School in Windsor, Colorado, he got a little carried away, haranguing 16-year-old Shaylah Nordic over her allegedly provocative MySpace page in front of an assembly of her fellow students:

"He basically just said I was asking to be raped," said Shaylah Nordic, a Windsor sophomore.

A photo from Nordic's MySpace.com page, depicting her in a T-shirt and shorts, bending over and pointing at a new pair of shoes, was displayed on a screen in front of two separate student assemblies.

"He was saying that the posture of her rear end could be appealing to a sexual predator," said Ty Nordic, Shaylah's father.

"He did this in a mocking way," Ty said. "He took a pretty innocent picture and made it look sleazy."

Ty says Gay told the students that older men would be masturbating to her picture.

"She was belittled, embarrassed and humiliated," Ty said.

After Shaylah burst into tears and ran from the auditorium, Gay realized he had gone too far, so he apologized. Just kidding. He called her on her cell phone and asked her to return, thereby proving his point that creepy men could get her contact information from her MySpace page.

There is some disagreement between Gay and the Nordic family (as well as other students who witnessed his presentation) about exactly what he said—whether, for example, he claimed to have shown Shaylah's photograph to an imprisoned sex offender, who said he would use it as a masturbatory aid and added that if he ever met Shaylah he would "tear her up." But Gay does not dispute the general thrust of his comments, which amounted to a warning that Shaylah had in effect posted a "Rape Me" sign.

Shaylah, who has taken down her MySpace page, told Windsor Now the experience was especially upsetting because "my whole life I've really prided myself on being a Christian girl and having this pure image." Now teachers and fellow students look at her differently. "He just completely ruined that reputation that I worked for," she said. "He basically called me a slut."

Although no teacher or administrator intervened during Gay's presentation to save Shaylah from his harassment (which several of her fellow students vocally protested at the assembly), Principal Rick Porter apologized afterward:

I have some apologies to make. I don't want to apologize for the message that I'm trying to send because I am trying to educate kids in some of the dangers of the world that they work with every day. Some of the ways that [Gay] approached it offended, embarrassed and are hurting some of our kids. 

Porter deserves some credit for apologizing. But when he booked Gay he had seen him in action and knew his technique involved using information from students' MySpace and Facebook pages to publicly put them on the spot. The fact that he asked Gay to visit his school anyway, not to mention the fact that Gay feels justified in using his Scared Modest approach to begin with, can be understood only in the context of the general panic about online sex offenders. Porter and Gay both seem to think they're dealing with an emergency in which harsh measures are required to prevent girls from being abducted, raped, and/or murdered, a danger Gay repeatedly invoked.

Yet such outcomes are rare even among Internet-related sex crimes, the vast majority of which involve consensual encounters between teenagers and adults. As investigators at the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center have shown (PDF), the typical "online predator" (who targets teenagers, not prepubescent children) does not conceal his age or his sexual interest and does not use force or the threat of violence to get his way. Something like 95 percent of sex crimes that involve the Internet also involve the knowing cooperation of the victim. So while authority figures like Porter and Gay are warning teenagers to look out for violent perverts who may use their online information to kidnap and assault them, the real danger is both more subtle and more obvious. The University of New Hampshire researchers found that the teenagers most at risk of sexual overtures from adults were those who "interacted online with unknown people and also engaged in a high number of different risky online behaviors," such as "having unknown people on a buddy list, talking online to unknown people about sex, seeking pornography online, [and] being rude or nasty online." In other words, it's not simply a matter of posting personal information (which by itself was not associated with an increased risk of come-ons) or putting up a picture that might titillate a rapist (or a cop). 

[via The Freedom Files]

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  1. I think the creepy old man masturbating is named John Gay.

  2. Indeed.

    “””””He did this in a mocking way,” Ty said. “He took a pretty innocent picture and made it look sleazy.””””

    Government agents are getting good at making their perception your reality.

  3. “””for example, he claimed to have shown Shaylah’s photograph to an imprisoned sex offender, who said he would use it as a masturbatory aid and added that if he ever met Shaylah he would “tear her up.” “””

    So this officer gave what he believed to be child porn to a prisioner for sexual purposes? Isn’t that a crime?

  4. well, pushing the seemingly obvious point that posting personal information on the internet is probably not the coolest of ideas seems like a pretty decent track to take.

    but this?

  5. So would that family-friendly news agency who likes editing news articles call the officer “John Homosexual”? (Hoping somebody gets that reference from a month or so ago)

    Sounds like this guy was trying to get himself psyched up to be “Mr. Bad-Ass Internet Cop” and took it way too far. So does he get suspended/fired for using bad judgment or for being a piss-poor actor?

  6. The fact that a 16 year old girl interpreted “old men will get off on your picture” as “you’re a slut” illustrates to me that the girl is a bit full of herself, as many 16 year old girls are.

  7. We need to have a minimum age for the internet! And internet licenses!

    Because if we just had those things nobody would ever do anything stupid.

  8. I plan to solve the problem by locking my daughter in the basement when she finishes fifth grade. She can come out when she’s thirty.

  9. “””The fact that a 16 year old girl interpreted “old men will get off on your picture” as “you’re a slut” “””

    From above story
    “But Gay does not dispute the general thrust of his comments, which amounted to a warning that Shaylah had in effect posted a “Rape Me” sign.”

    She got the she’s a slut idea because the cop was equating her photo to a rape invitation. Not simply some dirty old man desire.

  10. madmikefisk,

    So would that family-friendly news agency who likes editing news articles call the officer “John Homosexual”?

    Thanks to that story, I kept thinking I was watching Tyson Homosexual drop the baton (insert obvious “drop the soap” line here).

  11. Sounds like it could be a defamation of character lawsuit.

  12. Any reason why Officer Douchebag couldn’t have used a random MySpace page belonging to someone who didn’t go to that school?

    Not that the extreme scare tactics are particularly appropriate or helpful, but that would’ve at least avoided the public humiliation.

  13. The fact that a 16 year old girl interpreted “old men will get off on your picture” as “you’re a slut” illustrates to me that the girl is a bit full of herself, as many 16 year old girls are.

    Uhh, she had a guy telling her that a picture she posted made criminals horny and that whatever she was doing in the photo, which she considered innocent, was in fact provocative.

    I’m not surprised that a 16-year-old girl takes that as “you’re a slut” when it’s done in front of an auditorium of her peers. Plus I’d bet you a lot of money that this cop’s approach is through shaming and not educating.

  14. I think I’m suffering from a disease called “Outrage Fatigue Syndrome”. Normally, adults treating a captive audience of *not adults* this way would get my blood up. But I’m just vaguely irritated that the assembled kids didn’t just rise as one and slay him. Or, barring that, just walk out en masse.

  15. It would be easier for me to form an opinion on this article if it included the slutty pictures.

  16. TWC, I like the way you think.

  17. Were there any sexual predators before the internet?

  18. Any reason why Officer Douchebag couldn’t have used a random MySpace page belonging to someone who didn’t go to that school?

    Because he’s a bully who obviously likes the shaming aspect of his job (what kind of person who does this doesn’t)?

  19. Josef Fritzl | August 25, 2008, 4:33pm | #

    TWC, I like the way you think.

    I was thinking the same thing, but couldn’t remember that guy’s name OTOH. Beat me to the Google.

  20. So, “slut” now means “girl who men want to rape because of a photo.” Thank you for clearing that up for me.

  21. Are you deliberately being obtuse, Jeff?

  22. So does he get suspended/fired for using bad judgment or for being a piss-poor actor?

    New around here, huh?

  23. But I’m just vaguely irritated that the assembled kids didn’t just rise as one and slay him. Or, barring that, just walk out en masse.

    Bravo!

  24. A photo from Nordic’s MySpace.com page, depicting her in a T-shirt and shorts, bending over and pointing at a new pair of shoes, was displayed on a screen in front of two separate student assemblies.

    And- since nobody has asked, yet, and inquiring minds want to know: did the shorts say, “Juicy” across the back?

  25. Or, alternatively, “Jesus has got my back.”?

  26. Teenagers aren’t usually that bold, Elemenope. Not in my experience anyway. They are usually just a little too soft to understand the differences between right and wrong in these scenerios, probably especially because it involves a police officer.

    But yes, if they protested, that would have been nice

  27. And I quote: “he basically called me a slut”

    No condemnation of a photo based exclusively on how it will perceived and acted upon by others equates to the subject of the photo being of loose morals or promiscuous character.
    If the cop had said that “this photo will make kiddie-killers want to kill you,” would she interpret it as “you obviously want to die”?

  28. If said officer had pulled several photos off of MySpace as examples of content that could be considered potentially enticing without singling out one student and then followed up by encouraging use of Facebook (where friends have to be invited), this would have been fine. As it was presented, he lost his audience and thereby gutted his prevention message – in addition to being a dick.

    You can argue about the merits of this program (as well as Dare and the DUI crap) – I think they’re pointless. But WRT this case, he was ineffective as well as cruel and should be reprimanded.

    By the way, if there is a 16-yr. old girl alive who is unaware that bent over in a T-shirt and shorts might be tittilating, her parents should be smacked and she better be in a chastity belt. She’s already old enough to be Driving in Cars with Boys, or taking the late night bus trip for school. I mean what the hell?

    And TWC, let me know how that works out for you.

  29. Jeff P –
    She’s a teenage good Christian girl. Just imagine how sensitive she is and how inflated everyone around her probably sees every sin. I wouldn’t say he called her a slut, but I think that point is irrelevant given that we know what he did do and say

  30. There is so much wrong with the way this cop did his presentation I won’t bother to detail it.

    Obviously the dumbass has no experience with H.S. girls. I dare say that lack of experience incluses his own high school days.

  31. I agree, my point is that her outrage came from an “it’s all about me” point of view, as it usually does when you’re 16. He didn’t call her a slut, or even come close.

  32. By the way, if there is a 16-yr. old girl alive who is unaware that bent over in a T-shirt and shorts might be tittilating, her parents should be smacked and she better be in a chastity belt

    Regardless of whether she knew that (which is entirely possible), she’s still going to blow a gasket if you call her on it. Duh. Calling her on it is basically calling her a trollop, because you are saying “you did a provocative pose and knew it but are pretending not to in order to have guys think you’re hot”.

    Frankly, I would have been astonished if she had had any other reaction.

  33. She’s a teenage good Christian girl. Just imagine how sensitive she is and how inflated everyone around her probably sees every sin.

    Good point, Reinmoose.

    Also, Christian or no, teenage girls have to deal with the fact that many, many people around them are (often creepily) obsessed with their sexuality.

    She probably spends a great deal of time convincing various people she is conversely neither a prude nor a slut, so she’s right to be upset when someone groundlessly threatens her carefully balanced reputation.

  34. her outrage came from an “it’s all about me” point of view,

    Being singled out as an example of an “internet ehibitionist” has nothing to do with it.

  35. -x-

    insert where needed

  36. Don’t advertise the goods if you don’t wanna make it with hoods.
    Let’s hope this young “lady” learned her lesson.

  37. “Obviously the dumbass has no experience with H.S. girls. I dare say that lack of experience incluses his own high school days.”

    That wasn’t my fault – those stuck-up girls wouldn’t even give me the time of day. But now I’m getting my revenge.

  38. You folks with real jobs are just jealous because I get paid to look up titillating pictures on the Internet.

  39. I agree, my point is that her outrage came from an “it’s all about me” point of view, as it usually does when you’re 16. He didn’t call her a slut, or even come close.

    He didn’t call her a slut — he basically said she posted slutty pictures. (which based on the description don’t sound like inherently slutty pictures) I don’t see how that makes his actions acceptable or how that makes the girl’s reaction an overreaction.

    In the same way when a woman gets raped and the rapist says “well she wanted it or else she wouldn’t have dressed that way” or she was “asking for it by dressing provocatively and acting flirty” this douchebag cop was implying something similar. He was saying that her pictures were asking someone to rape her.

    The biggest problem with all of this, to me, is the idea that people should restrict their actions however benign or innocent because others MIGHT interpret it or use it in a way to justify/excuse their own bad behavior.

    How is what this cop did any different than telling a rape victim “well if you dressed more modestly you might not have been a victim”.

    People shouldn’t be attacked/belittled/criticized for not altering or basing their behavior in a way that takes into account the degenerates and the assholes out there.

    Just because I didn’t lock my door one night doesn’t mean that I am asking someone to rob me. Regardless of whether my door is locked, the thief is the problem, not the victim.

    And he singled her out — so yeah, it was “all about her” in this particular instance.

  40. The fact that a 16 year old girl interpreted “old men will get off on your picture” as “you’re a slut” illustrates to me that the girl is a bit full of herself, as many 16 year old girls are.

    Why are you adding insult to injury?

    I’m at a loss as to why this story offends you, and why, even after all this, you would make the girl the guilty party.

  41. Chicago Tom, thank you for catching this:

    “And he singled her out — so yeah, it was “all about her” in this particular instance.”

  42. On the very narrow question of whether he directly called her a “slut” or whether his words–taken in isolation–should be interpreted that way, Jeff P. is right.

    But with the context of “You’re inviting men to rape you” (paraphrase) and the full public humiliation aspect of this event, it’s clear that he was trying to imply some pretty nasty things about her. Whether “slut” is the most precise description of what he was implying, as opposed to some other very negative word, is largely irrelevant. Given the stress she was under I can’t fault her for parsing the word “slut” out of it as opposed to some other negative word.

    Bottom line: He needlessly, unfairly, and very blatantly humiliated her in public, and assigned very negative (and unwarranted!) sexual interpretations to her actions. The fact that in this moment of distress she inferred “slut” from his character assault, as opposed to some other (perhaps more accurate) word, is completely irrelevant.

  43. EDIT to first sentence: “…Jeff P. may be right.”

    I can’t help but think that if this guy hadn’t been a cop, and he had confronted a teenage girl with “You’re inviting rape” (paraphrase) as an interpretation of a MySpace profile, right now he’d be in jail.

  44. First the students at Windsor High School had to attend an assembly on Internet safety from Cheyenne, Wyoming, Police Officer John Gay.

    After that, they were called in to a lecture on the proper use of firearms, given by the cops of “Reno 911!”

  45. So, this cop, John Gay by name, who’s an expert at internet safety, would he be the John F. Gay III who lives at 4502 Darnell Place in Cheyenne, Wyoming? Presumably not, because he knows all about controlling information on the internet, so I wouldn’t ever find him.

  46. “Ty says Gay told the students that older men would be masturbating to her picture. ”

    It takes one to know one. $100 says Officer Asshole was beating off to the girls picture in his cop car, just before he entered the school.

  47. The fact that a 16 year old girl interpreted “old men will get off on your picture” as “you’re a slut” illustrates to me that the girl is a bit full of herself, as many 16 year old girls are.

    He said that she dresses and acts in a way that makes guys want to have sex with her – and he seemed to imply that she did it on purpose.

    I don’t know what they called it at your high school, but generally, a girl who intentionally dresses and acts in ways to get guys to want to have sex with them are called sluts.

  48. So while authority figures like Porter and Gay are warning teenagers to look out for violent perverts who may use their online information to kidnap and assault them, the real danger is both more subtle and more obvious. The University of New Hampshire researchers found that the teenagers most at risk of sexual overtures from adults were those who “interacted online with unknown people and also engaged in a high number of different risky online behaviors,” such as “having unknown people on a buddy list, talking online to unknown people about sex, seeking pornography online, [and] being rude or nasty online.” In other words, it’s not simply a matter of posting personal information (which by itself was not associated with an increased risk of come-ons) or putting up a picture that might titillate a rapist (or a cop).

    Actually, none of those online behaviors expose you to sexual abuse by a predator. At all.

    You know what exposes you to sexual abuse by a predator? Meeting in real life. Having him come to your house, or your going to his house, or consenting to meet him in public somewhere.

    If you don’t meet in real life, if you’re in that 95% you’re totally safe.

    So Officer Gay could have saved a lot of people’s time and energy and this young girl’s sensibilities if he shortened his presentation to “Post whatever you want, flirt all you want – hell, tease if you want – but never meet anyone in real life for any reason whatsoever.” Presentation over. Thank you, good night.

  49. It is not reasonable to think that the girl in question did not post that particular photo because she thought it was either “hot” or at least “cute” (and either way attractive. That her peers that she wishes to impress see it and say “hey, she’s hot” or at least “lookin’ good!” is exactly why the photo is there.

    It is reasonable that she did not consider that older men, criminals and others would be lusting after her and jerking off to her photo.

    However, in this day and age, that particular fact of the intertubes is becoming increasingly hard to be ignorant of…..

  50. Maybe its a generational thing, but when I was in high school (the ’70s) a girl had to actually put out frequently, and not be too particular with whom, to obtain that title. Anything short of that was simply a “tease.”

  51. As someone who was in high school only a decade ago, I can guarantee that the word “slut” is used by teenagers very loosely. I know because I (ashamedly) used the word myself when talking about girls who “dressed that way.”

  52. Kellie,

    As someone who was in high school this decade, I would agree that the term slut is used often.

    Jeff,

    I would say the broader definition arises from the assumption that those girls are putting out. The tease that you describe was a very rare breed (at least at my school), so she would probably be assumed to be screwing around.

  53. I just read through the comments on the News 9 site and I need to take a shower. Ninety percent of the responses are from creepy authoritarians supporting John F. Gay III in his sado-pervy crusade. The comments are dripping with sexual projection, concern trolling, taliban-esque shaming and a pervasive belief that everyone else in the world is a pedophile.

    These people love a Daddy figure. If the good officer had decided to rape a student onstage at the assembly (just “to teach her a lesson,” of course), it would probably merely reduce his internet approval rating by half.

  54. If she’s 16, she’s legal (in most states).

    Just sayin’.

  55. “Something like 95 percent of sex crimes that involve the Internet also involve the knowing cooperation of the victim. ”

    How is that a crime?

  56. Don’t forget after Officer Oink attacked her in public she went crying from the room. He then called her on her cellphone and posted her phone number for everyone in the assembly to see. He demanded that she return for more humiliation. She is now getting harassing phone calls because this creep gave out her phone number.

  57. How consensual sexual affairs can be construed as acts of ‘predation’ is beyond me. Regardless of how creepy and non-conducive to heterosexual monogamy they may seem to you, the truth is they are almost always more painful for the parents, who have lost the virginity of their most precious assets, then they are to the teens, who are much smarter and more loving than most people will ever give them credit for. This is especially true when the affairs involve hot teenage boys, who rarely get pregnant.

  58. Just when you think cops can’t get more evil and sadistic.

    There really needs to be an examination of who exactly we’re attracting to the business of law enforcement. it’s seems that is loaded with ex-jocks, bullies and sociopaths.

    At least she’ll have one thing burned into her memory by this incident. Officer Friendly isn’t your friend. He’s a fascist thug with a gun and the power of the state out to abuse and destroy you. He’s your enemy.

  59. At least she’ll have one thing burned into her memory by this incident. Officer Friendly isn’t your friend. He’s a fascist thug with a gun and the power of the state out to abuse and destroy you. He’s your enemy.

    I think it is more likely that she’ll learn only two things from this incident:

    1. Officer Gay is a douchebag
    2. Not to post on MySpace

    Neither lesson need achieve the abstraction you assign. I doubt heavily she will generalize it to all cops from this one douchebag. But, who knows? Maybe she will.

  60. Jeff P., perhaps if there weren’t an elaborate, unrelenting, culture-wide system of social control that uses the entire range of emotional manipulation (humiliation, guilt, aggressive ‘disappointment’, etc.) and even outright violence and intimidation to police women’s sexuality, maybe then we could take Officer Gay’s friendly “heads up” as something harmless. But we’re talking about the real world here.

  61. Look: The officer merely wanted to protect a 16-year-old girl from being harassed, publicly humiliated and sexually traumatized by some sleazy sexual predator. Having a cop do it first totally pre-empted this.

  62. Elemenope: “I think I’m suffering from a disease called “Outrage Fatigue Syndrome”. Normally, adults treating a captive audience of *not adults* this way would get my blood up. But I’m just vaguely irritated that the assembled kids didn’t just rise as one and slay him. Or, barring that, just walk out en masse.”

    Or better yet, slay him and then rape her. They were _both_ asking for it :). But better if she escapes and they burn LA… I can see her slight blonde head bobbing above the waves, glinting like a foiled cork, an ineradicable and unsinkable bit of detritus in this second flood, and modern plague.

    Or maybe the cop was just a douche and should be fired. Either way, this is pretty funny as well as being a bit disturbing. If it were my daughter, or sister, or acquaintance, I’d want to take the cop out and have a long painful sado-masochistic talk with him.

  63. Oh, and Franklin: Sing it brother, keep singing it.

  64. I plan to solve the problem by locking my daughter in the basement when she finishes fifth grade. She can come out when she’s thirty.

    Didn’t someone more or less try that in Austria? <ducks>

  65. Untermensch: I’m afraid you’re geographically a bit off- this young girl’s famous diaries were written in Amsterdam, and the measures you refer to can only be said to have worked in that she never went on myspace after the start of her confinement. All available evidence indicates that she remained something of a flirt. It could be called a limited victory in that there are no records that indicate that she became much of a tart in later life.

    But I should caution you- you might offend some people by alluding to her case in this context.

  66. It’s always hard to tell if someone is deliberately misunderstanding your deliberate misunderstandings. Such is life, I suppose.

  67. bubiyuqn:
    a reporter in Amsterdam writing about Austria?

    sher. geography much?

    the cop fuqd up. not fun. not nice. not generational. singling out a teen for that sort of thing is awful and wrong.

    blaming the victim is really messed up.

    of course… looking at his relationships, i guess it’s not surprising.

  68. whether, for example, he claimed to have shown Shaylah’s photograph to an imprisoned sex offender, who said he would use it as a masturbatory aid and added that if he ever met Shaylah he would “tear her up.”

    If this turns out to be true, it’s the wackiest idea ever. A cop showing myspace picks of teens to a sex offender–

    “How about this one? Would you rape her? This one? Too chubby? Ok, this one, rape or just sexual assault? This one here?”

  69. Pics plz.

  70. If I was Shaylah’s father, I would file a complaint against John Gay for downloading kiddie porn. I’m sure Mr. Gay’s defense attorney would start explaining how innocent the picture is as soon as he gets the court summons.

  71. “””Bottom line: He needlessly, unfairly, and very blatantly humiliated her in public, and assigned very negative (and unwarranted!) sexual interpretations to her actions.”””

    Isn’t that defamation of character?

  72. I live in Windsor. This story has been blown way out of proportion. Ask some kids, they’ll say Gay said This and This and This. Ask other kids from the same assembly, and they’ll say he never said This and This and This.

    The high school has hosted an after-school session for students to come and talk about what happened. One student showed up. It’s the same old same old. Lots of uproar and opinions based on rumor and gossip.

    I wasn’t at the presentation, but my kid was, and he stated the obvious: What we were told in that assembly is nothing anyone with half a brain doesn’t already know.

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