Teacher defiled with offensive graffiti while passed out

This is a pretty horrific story. In 2007, a public school teacher, while at a party with other teachers from her school, had offensive graffiti drawn all over her body after she had passed out on the floor of the living room.

According to the police report, Etheridge, Town, Piechotte and Woodworth stopped at Town’s home on the way to McKinney’s house, which is a short distance from the school. There, according to the report, they decided to smoke marijuana and Town produced and provided the drug for the three women, who went to the garage to smoke it. The teachers then continued on to McKinney’s house.

Later that night, after more alcohol consumption by all involved, Piechotte crawled between a coffee table and a sofa in McKinney’s living room. There she passed out.

According to the report, Town and Beebe decided it would be “funny” to draw on Piechotte’s unconscious body. The two proceeded to draw penises on her legs, glasses on her face, write the word “balls” backwards on her forehead and write their names on her stomach. Much of the writing was sexual and crude. McKinney and his wife, as well as Etheridge and staff member Phil Rutkowski, watched the drawing. McKinney took pictures with his digital camera, and at least one person took pictures with a cell phone

You can see the pictures here (scroll to the bottom), but warning, they are graphic, possibly triggering and definitely NSFW.


Two additional things that are important to note: Piechotte is an out
lesbian and claims there was non-consensual sexual activity earlier in
the night.

The most upsetting part of this story is the lack of action taken
against the teachers involved by either the public school system or the
local authorities, despite the fact that Piechotte immediately went to
the police the next day.

The article touches on the “legal gray area” of what folks are
referring to as drunk shaming. It’s probably not an uncommon
occurrence, particularly in settings where binge drinking occurs. It’s
also not one our legal system (at least according to this account)
seems to know how to handle.

I’m not sure how physical evidence like these really horrific
photos, taken by the people involved, of blatantly sexual things being
written all over her body–including her exposed upper thigh–is
difficult to prosecute. At the very least I would expect action from
the school system which employs these folks. There is clearly a lack of
consent when someone is passed out.

I think Piechotte actually said it best herself:

“While I am dismayed that both my employer and Michigan’s
legal system have failed to recognize the brutality of this incident by
not taking any tangible action,” she said. “It underscores the need to
have meaningful dialogue about the underlying issues that enable a
culture of bias and violence to exist, so that others will not suffer
as I have.”

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96 Comments

  1. Phenicks
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m wondering the same thing. There was NO REASON to post a link to tho epictures no one ever needs to ee another person being humiliated.

  2. Chelsa
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    This. Exactly. You said it better than I could have…

  3. britgal
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    That’s for the law to figure out I guess – it’s all a matter of applying more general laws to specific situations. But nobody has to enshrine it explicitly in law that I shouldn’t wear dirty knickers on my head crotch facing out to the supermarket for me to know that I shouldn’t do it and I may get in trouble if I do.
    Makes me think of prosecutions involving the chopping off of hair or shaving of eyebrows.

  4. the.empress
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    i agree that marijuana should be legal for every citizen, but its not. and when i was in high school, i got kicked out for failing a drug test. how would it be fair to do that to the students, but not the teachers?

  5. dirty democrat
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Exactly! It’s a little too similar to the Rihanna-battered-face pictures, which I believe Feministing editors criticized! I feel that readers could still feel proper outrage on behalf of this woman without unnecessary (and perhaps invasive) physical proof.

  6. dedqgirl
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I don’t think her profession is relevant at all. She was out partying with coworkers whom she thought she could trust. The fact that she happens to be a teacher is only relevant in the back story – it being the end of the school year and whatnot or whatever. But would it matter if she were a nurse? A soldier? What about a CEO or a stay-at-home mom?
    Personally, I think identifying her as simply a teacher makes her less sympathetic. If you only read the headline there’s no way of knowing if the teacher was male or female. It strikes me as influencing readers to be more sympathetic to refer to her as a woman, especially a young woman.

  7. syndella
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I must say, I don’t understand all these phonetic spellings. What’s the point behind them?

  8. Brianna G
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Because they have to maintain order in the classroom.
    Kids can be cruel, and dumb. If they know that their teacher gets drunk/high on the weekends, or had stuff written over their bodies, and it was posted on Facebook, they’ll find a way to see the pictures, and then the teacher will lose all authority in the classroom. Teachers need to be above that for the students to respect them enough to learn from them.
    It’s rough, but it’s something every teacher knows going into the education training– your students are not mature enough to handle the idea of you breaking the law, or getting drunk, or having sex outside of marriage, or even something as tame as having a tattoo or belly-button ring. They will think less of your for it, and you will be unable to manage the classroom and unable to teach. We KNOW this going into it. We KNOW teaching means we need to hide any aspect of ourselves that might cause our students to lsoe respect for us.
    Think of your time in high school. Would the average teenage boy pay attention to his work if he knew the teacher was a porn star? Would the average student respect a teacher who makes the same mistakes they do? Students at my school had enough trouble respecting teachers who had nose studs.
    Like politicians and preachers, teachers accept when they are hired that they are going to sacrifice certain aspects of their freedom in favor of keeping up appearances. So yes, they are held to a higher standard. They agreed to that standard.

  9. TroubleBaby
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Ditto. I don’t understand why, according to some, it’s not to okay to grope or rape a woman while she’s passed out, but it’s apparently okay to draw obscene stuff on her while she’s passed out. Including a penis and the words “Enter here” with an arrow pointing up her thigh to her vagina. I think if most people saw graffiti like that on a poster on the subway they’d be offended. This was done on an actual woman.
    And what’s the argument here – oh, RAPE’s not okay, but any other way people want to amuse themselves with your unconscious body is acceptable, because you were stupid to get that drunk? And lots of people got drawn on in college and in their opinion it’s no big deal, so too bad if you don’t like having your clothes pushed up and penises drawn on your body, you don’t get to feel offended? And don’t forget it’s your fault for getting drunk and being stupid, and the punishment for drunkenness and stupidity is the loss of bodily autonomy?
    “…maybe the other teachers shouldn’t have gotten drunk and high to the point where they chose to graffiti the woman.”
    Seriously.

  10. britgal
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t sure from the news report that it was one of the men with pens whom she said assaulted her in the bathroom. It could have been one of the women. Perhaps I missed something. Either way, not okay.

  11. Kathryn
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t mean to imply that anyone had advocated only punishing the victim for the drugs. I was talking more about the comments here that imply she shouldn’t have gotten high/drunk and passed out if she didn’t want this to happen to her, because, for some reason, people seem to believe that gives others the right to graffiti her body.
    As for legality, there isn’t a specific law here, but it seems like it is (or should be, but that might be an entirely new issue) a grey area, at the very least. And even if there wasn’t assault, it still seems to me that being touched in private areas such as the stomach and upper thigh, with a pen or with a hand, is still harassment and inappropriate. But I guess that interpretation is going to vary from person to person. Which, in my opinion, is one reason why they didn’t get a criminal prosecution in the case.

  12. kawada15
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Ok, I read all the comments and among the blurry of people blaming/defending the woman and people complaining about both, I was trying to piece what I actually thought. Many of you, on both (multiple) sides of the case made good points and we all should definitely respect each others opinions (even if we do not feel respected by their comment). I think that would solve some of the commenting conflicts on this site. :D

  13. nobody
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    This comment has been deleted because it violates our comment policy.

  14. Crumpet
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Well, I take issue with the people who just absolutely have to let all kids and parents know that Mrs Miller who teaches 5th grade math posed for Playboy when she was 18. They make sure everyone knows about something they think they want to protect people from. I do agree that posting things like this on the internet shows extremely poor judgment and if people want their business private they should leave it that way.

  15. Crumpet
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    But i also wanted to point out that parents also agree to accept their responsibility for being good role models to their kids, yet they don’t get ‘fired’ for getting rowdy when the kids aren’t around.

  16. Melaith
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Mmm, I’d have to disagree with you, sorry. It really depends on the school board, but for my district, I’d have to say that she would likely be fired. Likely the same anywhere else in BC or Alberta (I’m not too familiar with any other provinces, sorry). The first thing you learn as an education student is that you’re expected to be a role model 24/7, and although speeding might be an exaggeration, downloading illegal movies would certainly get you fired if you were caught (then again there’s the whole issue of how it was downloaded blahblahblah).
    While you’re certainly allowed to drink, teachers here are strongly encouraged not to even go to bars (what if a child’s parent saw you drunk? You could get fired alone for that.) And while I’m certainly sure that some of my colleagues may participate in illegal activities, it is all about public image. I’ve heard of a recent case where a teacher was dismissed for simply having drunken pictures posted on his facebook page. Some child’s parent saw it, and well, you can imagine the end.
    I think the problem here isn’t that these teachers were participating in illegal activities, but the whole issue of public image. It’s something that all teachers are aware of, and commit to when they enter the career.

  17. Femgineer
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    The link to the pictures is the same exact link to the article. In order to read the article, one would be exposed to the pictures whether or not the second link with the disclaimer existed.

  18. NapoleonInRags
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    You do understand that this is victim blaming right?
    So people who go out and get drunk after work can’t be committed to their jobs? Gosh, I guess most of my friends must be uncommitted layabouts.
    This is entirely about your notion of what should constitute decorous behavior.

  19. NapoleonInRags
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, it looks like we’re all going to have to get used to this bullshit if we stick around.
    Anti-feminist comments have outnumbered supportive, inclusive, safe comments on numerous threads of late.
    I bemoaned this fact on a thread last weekend and was called, among other things, ‘intolerant’ for suggesting that such folks were trolls. They may be trolls, they may be folks who want to come debate with a feminist, they may be folks who just haven’t read the 101 FAQs – I don’t know, but they do make it hard for folks who come here for activism, support, to engage in feminist critiques of culture et al.

  20. TiernaFeminista
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    “At college, you are SUPPOSED to draw penises on people when they are asleep- its expected, sort of like a natural course of action.”
    This makes me sick to my stomach.

  21. Cicada Nymph
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    If somebody who is a teacher chooses to occasionally drink or get high in their personal life and it is not interfering with their ability to do their job (they aren’t coming into work hungover/high/drunk and are still getting their lesson plans done, etc) and they are not advertising the fact then I don’t think they should be fired. I know a lot of school teachers and people in the social services who work with kids but who also like to go out to bars and drink (yes, enough to get intoxicated) or smoke a little pot in their home. They still perform well at their job. I do agree that the fact that these pictures were posted to the internet is a problem as teachers should not be advertising the fact that they do these things to their students by posting it on myspace, facebook, etc. However, the victim was not the one who posted this on the internet so while whoever posted this should be fired I don’t believe the victim should be.

  22. Femgineer
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    It must come as a shock that many feminists have different point of view on topics, especially one as gray as this.

  23. TiernaFeminista
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely. I feel that this space is not for me any longer. I feel as vulnerable here as I do going to read comments on these articles on mainstream news sites. This is not the way it should be. It is really spiraling out of control every day.

  24. dirty democrat
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough, but the writer specifically pointed out that the link led to the photos and described where in the post to see them, which to me places too much importance on looking at them. And even still, the article could’ve been referenced without the link.

  25. TiernaFeminista
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely. I feel that this space is not for me any longer. I feel as vulnerable here as I do going to read comments on these articles on mainstream news sites. This is not the way it should be. It is really spiraling out of control every day.

  26. SaraLaffs
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    “At college, you are SUPPOSED to draw penises on people when they are asleep- its expected, sort of like a natural course of action.”
    I’m sorry, I hate it when people get hostile on these threads, but……..
    Are you frakking kidding me?
    Sure, college seems to be a time for a lot of people when boundaries get fuzzy. But, no, violating someone else’s bodily autonomy is NEVER “expected.”
    That “(fill in the blank) is ok because, hey, it’s college!” attitude is responsible for more sexual assaults, more drop-outs, more all-around bad decisions than just about anything I can think of. If you honestly believe that, please re-evaluate.

  27. Unequivocal
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Rhetorical mockery. The idea is, apparently, that we highlight how untenable or inaccurate a particular position is by pretending that anyone who holds that position is incapable of properly expressing themselves. See “the menz” as a prevalent example.
    It’s an excellent and entertaining way of furthering feminist discourse, and we all should adopt it! Assuming of course, that you can bring yourself to overlook the fact that it reeks of elitism and privilege and strives to silence rather than engage.
    N.B. Not aimed at Cactus Wren specifically, but rather intended as a general indictment of this trend.

  28. Miriam
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I’ve turned this post to approval only for comments, since threads about sexual assault seem to devolve into victim blaming.
    I’ll also be cleaning up the thread.
    Sorry to those trying to have a real conversation here, and anyone victim blaming will be deleted.

  29. cattrack2
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Smoking pot is a crime. Its punishable by jail. Really, are those the people you want teaching your kids??? I don’t want teachers conveying to kids that its alright to break laws, esp drug laws.
    Most schools drug test athletes, or even any student involved in extra-curriculars but you want to hold the teachers to, wait for it, a lower standard??? Geez, kids can’t even carry ibuprofen to most schools, but its ok for teachers to smoke pot?
    This isn’t about morality, its about legality. I actually support pot legalization, but until its legal I don’t think role models should be smoking pot.

  30. NapoleonInRags
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    That’s not the point. This site supposedly has policies about victim-blaming, triggering comments, the safety of this as a feminist space etc.
    I understand that feminism is not monolithic, I understand that many of us will disagree with each other. I really do, I, for example, often have very different opinions on posts involving the marketing a sex, sex work, pornography etc. from many posters. I don’t accuse such people of being trolls and I haven’t been called one either.
    But surely, we can agree that a feminist site should be free from victim blaming. If not, I am perplexed about what a feminist space is.

  31. NapoleonInRags
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Miriam.

  32. Citizen Lane
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    No one is blaming her for drinking or smoking pot with her coworkers. No one is saying that she legitimized, in any way, the drawing or the rape.
    But being drawn on does not make one a victim. It’s just a stupid, immature thing to do, but it isn’t even an assault, legally, in most jurisdictions.
    I do hold the others responsible for what they did. It was crude, cruel and immature, and if they raped her, throw the book at them. But the drawing thing? Not a valid complaint. Sorry. I don’t blame her for it, but neither do I think she was victimized by it.
    (And yes, the nature of the drawings and the frequency of their use in similar incidents is a factor in determining the subjective intent of the malfeasors.)

  33. Cactus Wren
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    B-) Actually, it’s my personal (and regularly used) way of sardonically decrying the notion that if I find an unfunny thing unfunny, it’s because *I* am lacking in humor.

  34. Unequivocal
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely fair. =)

  35. cattrack2
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    So, NIR, you raise good points. This isn’t about morality though, its about legality. A couple of years ago there was a FL teacher fired because she attended a swingers club one weekend. It became public knowledge when the police raided the joint, but the charges were dismissed because it was all legal, consensual behavior. The teacher was fired anyway. See, that’s a case of enforcing Puritanism, and I disapprove of that.
    Doing something that’s illegal, well that’s different. I actually support the legalization of pot but unless & until it becomes legal, its not ok for teachers to break it. Drug use of all kinds is a serious issue for kids, and teachers, least of all, should be perceived to be encouraging it.

  36. Steven
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Fighting for the decriminalization of marijuana is part of feminism you realize.
    If you smoke marijuana you are fueling the drug war in Mexico. If you do cocaine then you are fueling the drug wars in South America. If you do opiates you are fueling the drug wars from Afghanistan to Thailand.
    And I mean actual fucking wars over the supply networks that lead to hundreds and thousands killed each year and disstabilizes whole countries.
    The revenue go to killing police officers, politicians, judges, and the innocence that get caught in the way. Not to mention the other dealers.

  37. Tara K.
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    But don’t most people still operate under the gender association of teacher = female? I think so.
    And specifically, teacher = redeemable, honorable, Madonna-esque female.

  38. JesiDangerously
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I believe in standing against unjust laws, and marijuana laws in this country are completely unjust. If I weren’t personally completely uninterested in smoking pot myself, I’d do so just for the civil disobedience of it all.

  39. davenj
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Uh-huh, but the consumption of marijuana is, currently, a criminal activity.
    Teachers have a morality clause in their contract that allows for their firing in cases like this.
    Guess what, teachers can’t just get drunk off the job. It’s not that simple.
    The job of a teacher involves being subjected to the scrutiny that comes with being a role model. Therefore teachers ought be fired for participating in criminal activity if such activity comes to light.
    The issue of decriminalizing marijuana, which I support, is irrelevant here. Whether or not marijuana should or should not be legal is irrelevant. It isn’t legal.
    I take issue with your tone as well, using such phrases as “anyone educated” and “I suggest you do serious research”.
    I would ask you to be less hostile and to understand that the job of a teacher is different than many other jobs. As someone working on an EDU degree I can say that I would expect to be fired if I ever admitted to smoking weed while employed as a teacher. So would most any other teacher. It’s part of the job to be a role model, and that means not doing things that are illegal.
    That doesn’t mean giving up the fight for decriminalization, but it does mean not consuming what is currently an illegal drug.

  40. TiernaFeminista
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. I appreciate it, but still wish it could be more preventitive somehow.

  41. JesiDangerously
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    The victim blaming in this thread seems to be coming from the fact that some people don’t think a crime was committed, and thus, that there is no victim. Which is weird.

  42. Rhoanna
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Smoking pot is a crime, but that doesn’t mean people should be punished for it (if one supports legalization of pot). Before Lawrence v. Texas, should teachers have been fired for violating sodomy laws? It might have been legal to do so, but it is unjust to do so, because the laws criminalizing those behaviors are unjust. (Just like the drug test laws for athletes, etc.)

  43. scarleteacher
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Legal grey area, ok, I get that. But I don’t think that means absolutely nothing can be done. Surely some sort of charge that necessitates counseling or community service could have been brought.
    I really don’t think it’s the schools job to discipline these teachers though until there is an actionable charge pressed against them. That line of logic might seem a good idea right now, but taking away the ability of teachers to have private lives in the name of “you’re not a good role model” is a quick route to deciding that gay/socialist/dungeon going/non-christian teachers aren’t “good role models” either.

  44. JesiDangerously
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    “If you smoke marijuana you are fueling the drug war in Mexico.”
    Even if you grow it yourself? Really?

  45. Steven
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    But it cannot be a legitimate feminist position that a poorly paid, overworked segment of our population (and predominately young women, by the way) should be expected to stand in as a moral pillar for the rest of us.
    I think that everyone should be a role model, all the time.
    And what you wrote seems a little sexist. Would you be less willing to let men have a little slack when it comes to being a moral pillar?

  46. Miriam
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Yes, me too. I think we’re going to start having all sexual assault thread approval only, and we’re looking into bringing on someone to focus on comment moderation exclusively.

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