A Highland Park Student is Accused of Rape, and Culture Map Kicks Off the Victim Blaming
Update, January 29, 2013: A Dallas County grand jury has declined to indict Romo.
On Tuesday, Ryan Adam Romo, an 18-year-old Highland Park High School senior and star baseball player, was charged with sexual assault of a child, a second-degree felony. Romo is accused of raping a HPHS classmate after a Ghostland Observatory concert at the Palladium Ballroom Saturday night.
Given the ingredients involved -- a prominent high school athlete, a rape allegation, and an alleged victim who knows the person she's accusing -- it seemed inevitable that there would be a lot of chatter about the case, and probably some poorly informed opinionizing from the peanut gallery. We just thought it might take longer than one day.
Shows what we know. Claire St. Amant, the managing editor at Culture Map Dallas, the newish digital-media venture, dove right in with both feet yesterday, in a bizarre article that asks, "Is this Highland Park baseball star a rapist?"
St. Amant doesn't have the answer to that, obviously -- the ink is barely dry on Romo's bond paperwork after his release from Lew Sterrett Tuesday. There is no public information available apart from the arrest warrant affidavit.
Here's what we do know: according to the arrest warrant affidavit, the alleged victim and Romo "know of each other only in a school setting." After the concert, they caught a cab together to Romo's Chevy Tahoe. They climbed in the back seat and began kissing, the affidavit says. But when Romo eventually removed his pants, the victim told him she didn't want to have sex.
"Defendant Romo told Victim Smith [a pseudonym] it would be ok and to allow it to happen," the affidavit reads. The girl then screamed and told Romo to stop several times as he raped her, she told investigators. After it was over, he drove her home; her mother noticed she was upset and asked what had happened. Eventually the girl told her: "I said no, but he didn't care."
The girl was taken to Medical Center of Plano; a sexual assault exam revealed vaginal tearing and and abrasions on her buttocks. After a follow-up exam with her regular gynecologist, the doctor told investigators he believed the trauma he observed "to have been forceful."
University Park Police recorded two conversations between the alleged victim and Romo between Sunday and Tuesday. In the first, he told her he'd had fun and that the two should "hang out again." He also offered to buy her the morning-after pill "if she was really worried about it," the affidavit reads. During the second, she told him: "I wish it didn't happen like that," and "Like I wish, cause I said stop... I said no... I wish you'd stopped, you know, or not done it."
Romo replied, "Okay, you're making me feel bad. Wow."