Although I’ve written about this case in an earlier post, there’s no shortage of things to say about it. We have to look at the Wayne Treacy case not merely in isolation, but in the larger context of similar violent crimes committed by those of a similar age. For example, Jason Hartley, who strangled a girl to death after they had sex, was 15 at the time of the crime and has been sentenced to 20 years. Another teen, Wayne Proctor, was 19 when he committed seven counts of armed robbery and one kidnapping. Mr. Proctor received 15 years. It seems to me that Mr. Treacy should at worst receive the same sentence as anyone else who has beaten someone into a coma. Miladin Kovacevic, who was an adult of 23 at the time he beat and kicked Bryan Steinhauer into a coma, received two years, as did two other men who participated in the attack. Zach Sowers was beaten into a coma on June 1, 2007 and died on March 25, 2008. One of his teen-aged attackers, Trayvon Ramos, was sentenced to 40 years, while the other three received eight years. On the extreme end of coma beatings, there’s the case of Jason Lenz, a 35 year old adult who beat his girlfriend’s two year old son into a coma, and the boy later died. Mr. Lenz was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. I bring these cases up to emphasize a few points A) Wayne Treacy wasn’t an adult at the time of the crime and should be treated the same as any other juvenile offender. B) The crime of assaulting someone until he or she lapses into a coma should be punished in a more or less uniform manner, according to state law. C) Prior offenses should always be taken into account at sentencing; Wayne Treacy has no prior offenses.
Frankly; had Josie Lou Ratley been a black male, I doubt this story would have garnered anywhere near as much coverage. If this has been two black males with questionable histories; members of the Bloods and Crips, let’s say, and one had stomped the other into a coma, how likely is it that HeadLine News would want to interview the FaceBook page supporters of the assailant? It’s because this was a male on female crime and a crime committed against a young white female that has prompted public outrage and or sympathy for the “victim.” I strongly believe that had the Josie Lou Ratley incident of 3/17/2010 involved two minority males, or two females, especially minority, this story would have been perceived differently, and the defendant handled differently. Nicole Townes, was beaten into a coma on February 28, 2004 at age 12 during a party for having kissed the boyfriend of another girl. Her assailants were all female. One adult, Monique Baldwin, was sentenced to 30 years, and another was sentenced to six years. One of the juvenile assailants, aged 14 was sentenced to a group home. Another juvenile, Seletta Broaddus, who kicked and stomped on Nicole with high-heeled boots pled guilty to first degree assault, and her sentencing was transferred to juvenile court. I mention Ms. Broaddus, not only because of the similarity in the crime committed by Wayne Treacy, but also to dispel the notion that a female attacker would not or could not inflict just as much harm as Wayne did.
Another angle here is cyberbullying. Remember the Megan Meier case? Some will immediately say that Wayne Treacy wasn’t bullied, but I say that bullying doesn’t have to be one-sided. In that case the troubled girl, Megan, was being bullied online and eventually committed suicide. Megan’s family got all the sympathy and those who did the cyberbulling were so ridiculed and shunned that the family was forced to leave town. In the Wayne Treacy case there was mutual textual abuse/cyberbullying, but because Wayne directed his anger and despair outward instead of inward, he’s gotten very little sympathy. Had Wayne committed or attempted suicide, Josie Ratley and her family would be perceived far differently than they are now.
Bottom line: Don’t sympathize with Josie Lou Ratley just because she’s a white female. Don’t demonize Wayne Treacy just because he’s a male.