Indiana Professor Murdered; Killer Claims Sexual Assault

[Trigger warning.]

This is just so, so heartbreaking and infuriating:
Don Belton, an assistant professor of English at Indiana University and one of the leading African-American voices in academia, was found stabbed to death in his Bloomington, Ind., home Monday, the Associated Press reports. Twenty-five-year-old Michael J. Griffin has admitted to the stabbing, police say.

Griffin reportedly said he stabbed the 53-year-old Belton because the professor sexually assaulted him on Christmas Day and then showed no remorse, according to court papers. Griffin said he went to Belton's home on Sunday to confront him about the assault and that an argument and scuffle ensued. According to the probably cause affidavit, Griffin then stabbed Belton with a 10-inch military style knife after Belton failed to "show or express any type of feeling that what had taken place was a mistake." Griffin is being held in county jail and is expected in court for an initial hearing on Wednesday.
Quite obviously, I have no way of knowing whether Belton sexually assaulted Griffin. Andy notes that Griffin alleges "Belton sexually assaulted and raped him in front of his girlfriend while they were intoxicated," and, according to the AP report, it was the girlfriend who called police "saying she thought her boyfriend might be involved in the slaying," but she has since reportedly left town; police are looking for her.

Other facts we know: Griffin had served (with honors) in the Marines, an organization not known for its queer-friendliness, although there are plenty of straight former Marines who aren't homophobic and plenty of gay former Marines who are out. Belton's journal "contained an entry saying that he was 'very happy' that someone named Michael had entered his life," not a typical habit of rapists, although the then-boyfriend who raped me sent me a letter asking how could he "not love a girl who cries when she comes," (willfully?) mistaking my sobbing at the pain of rape for the ecstasy of orgasm.

So, what we know ultimately tells us nothing.

That may seem like a point not worth making, except that in cases like this it's hard not to make assumptions (rape revenge! gay panic defense!), even though patience is the only thing that can bring us closer to the truth right now. Anything else is speculation based on (and thus reinforcing) stereotypes and rape culture narratives. So I'm not going to make any guesses.

In any case.... RIP Don Belton.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus