Tell the New York Times to Apologize for Blaming a Child for Her Gang Rape
  • Petitioned Arthur S. Brisbane

This petition was delivered to:

Public Editor, The New York Times
Arthur S. Brisbane
Executive Editor, The New York Times
Bill Keller
Publisher, The New York Times
Arthur Sulzberger Jr

Tell the New York Times to Apologize for Blaming a Child for Her Gang Rape

    1. Shelby Knox
    2. Petition by

      Shelby Knox

      New York, NY

On March 8th the New York Times published a story by James C. McKinley Jr. titled "Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town." The assault it described was, indeed, heinous: an 11-year-old was gang raped in an abandoned trailer house by as many as 18 men, with suspects ranging in age from middle school students to a 27-year-old. The attack came to light because several of the suspects took cell phone video of the assault.

Also appalling was the way in which New York Times reporter James C. McKinley reported the victim blaming sentiments of members of the Texas community in which the rape occurred as truth. McKinley insinuated the young woman had it coming, writing, "They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said."

Mr. McKinley also gave ink to community members who are more concerned about the impact raping a child will have on the suspects than being raped will have on the young victim. Mr. McKinley quoted Sheila Harrison as saying, "“These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”

1 in 4 American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. A culture that blames victims for being raped - for what they were wearing, where they were, and who they were with - rather than blaming the rapist is a culture that tacitly condones rape. A society that is more concerned with how being held accountable for rape will impact the perpetrator than for the well being of the victim is a society that doesn't take rape seriously.

The New York Times contributed to this dangerous culture by publishing this article by Mr. McKinley without asking him to edit out his and community members' editorial victim blaming.

Tell the New York Times to issue a published apology for their coverage of this incident and publish an editorial from a victim's rights expert on how victim blaming in the media contributes to the prevalance of sexual assault. No one ever deserves to be raped and no victim should ever be told it was their fault. New York Times, we expect better. We demand better.


Recent signatures


    1. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      NYTimes publishes follow-up that manages to avoid victim-blaming, reveals girl was gang-raped on multiple occasions by men with criminal histories:

    2. Reached 40 signatures
    3. Shelby Knox
      Senior Campaigner

      Huffington Post Highlights Campaign to Get an Apology From The New York Times

    4. New York Times Blames 11-Year-Old Girl for Her Gang-Rape

      judith meskill
      Petition Organizer

      The New York Times is under fire from bloggers and nearly 20,000 members to date. Why? It all started with this story by New York Times reporter James McKinley that insinuates an 11-year-old-girl is to blame for her own gang-rape.

    5. Reached 30 signatures
    6. Shelby Knox
      Senior Campaigner

      The Village Voice gives voice to members' calls to the New York Times to apologize

    7. Reached 17 signatures
    8. Shelby Knox
      Senior Campaigner

      Under intense pressure, New York Times tries to do damage control:

    9. Reached 15 signatures
    10. Shelby Knox
      Senior Campaigner

      New York Times readers are rebelling:

    11. Reached 12 signatures
    12. Shelby Knox
      Senior Campaigner

      A Former Washington Post Reporter on Why the New York Times Coverage is Wrong

    13. Reached 8 signatures
    14. Shelby Knox
      Senior Campaigner

      Mother Jones Calls Out New York Times on "Rape Friendly Reporting"

    15. Reached 3 signatures
    16. Shelby Knox
      Senior Campaigner

      AlterNet Breaks Down Exactly What's Wrong With The New York Times' Coverage of Child's Rape:

    17. Reached 500 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Lori Bales CRESCENT CITY, CA
      • over 3 years ago

      It doesnt matter what you wear or what kind of personality you have no means no and nobody deserves to be raped!!!! I dont care who you are

    • Penelope Rumble DOWNER, AUSTRALIA
      • over 3 years ago

      The article was disgusting, written in such a way as to maximise sympathy for the rapists and emphasise the damage to their futures and to the community of a prosecution, rather than the damage to the victim and the community of the rape itself. It's shameful. The Times should take this as an opportunity to improve its reporting of rape.

    • Lydia Locherer TORONTO, CANADA
      • over 3 years ago

      Victim blaming is never ok.

    • Rachel Peters EXPORT, PA
      • over 3 years ago

      I find it difficult to believe that a little girl put clothes on with hopes that eighteen men would put themselves into her. Blaming an eleven year old who has likely never even menstruated is not the answer to this horrific event.

    • Brianna Mangino PARKSIDE, PA
      • over 3 years ago

      My only question is whether or not one of these rapists wrote the article? If this is not the case, I also am concerned with the lack of editing involved upon publishing a story with such sensitive material. Nothing that child did or said could possibly justify what those men did to her. "Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town" is by far the most insensitive, ignorant story I have ever read and the New York Time should be mortified.


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