Townspeople also wonder what needs to be changed about the culture of the Marine Corps -- and of the town itself -- that would be so slow to make a connection between a rape charge and the disappearance of a pregnant Marine.
"Absolutely she would still be alive if the Marines had taken her seriously," said Marsha Williams, who lives across the street from where Lauterbach was staying. She said sheriff's investigators didn't knock on her door until Jan. 7, when they asked her to leave a note for Lauterbach's housemates.
"She was missing for three weeks yet it took them until Jan. 7 to come to that house?" she said. "That's too much of a gap."
The Lauterbach family holds the highest respect for the Marine Corps. They're a military family, going back for generations, and Maria's father, Victor, is in an Air Force Reserve unit at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. They sent their daughter off to the military believing it would be a safer environment than college because of the structure, authority and celebrated brotherhood of the Marines.
"She'll always have somebody watching out for her," her parents reasoned.
Now, Mary hopes the tragedy will prompt some soul-searching on the part of the Marine Corps. Among the changes she will advocate: a guaranteed base change for Marines who bring forth rape allegations.
"My instinct tells me the majority of rapes are not reported. For a woman to come forward and complain about a rape takes a lot," she said. "It took Maria a lot."
As Cesar Laurean remains hidden from authorities, many questions remain unanswered about the sad, disturbing saga of Maria Lauterbach.
None are more painful than the ones tormenting the family. What if Maria had never made up the story about her brother? It may have been a cry for attention, a reaction to the stress of Marine Corps life.
It may also have been fatal.
"Because someone might have perceived credibility issues, that doesn't mean you can just presume they're lying," Mary Lauterbach said. "Think about it. My daughter was a beautiful girl with a beautiful figure and perceived credibility issues. That set her up to be the perfect victim."
The above is from Mary McCarty and Margo Rutledge Kissell's "Marine's rape claim failed to raise red flags: Mother says slain lance corporal wanted to be sent to Iraq rather than be around alleged attacker" (The Dayton Daily News). Maria's mother Mary Lauterbach is speaking and explaining how some of her remarks were distorted. (We didn't note that remarks, visitors e-mailing insisted they needed to be noted because they were "true" -- as it turns out, they were distortions.) Maria's corpse was (finally) discovered in the backyard of the man she'd accused of rape, Cesar Laurean who is still on the run. If those in command didn't believe Maria, that was all the more reason to take some action. They did nothing.
When she disappeared in the middle of December, they did nothing. A body, which would turn out to be her body, was announced found on January 11/12. That was found by the sherrif's office. The military did nothing. When the sherrif's office began to suspect foul play, the military still didn't have Laurean under watch -- which is how he was able to leave the base early Friday morning (Jan. 11th).
They did nothing. They did nothing when she was alive (which was why she was expected to attend meetings with the man she charged with raping her). They did nothing when she disappeared. They did nothing and they need to explain why.
Not believing Maria's charges isn't an excuse. If anything, disbelief means that they really should have geared up to send a message regarding filing false charges.
But instead they didn't take it seriously, the charges of rape. They didn't take it seriously for Maria or for Laurean. They just whisked it under the carpet and hoped it would go away.
Maria's dead. Laurean's on the run. If the military command had done their job, that might not be the case today. But they didn't do their job, they didn't take a charge seriously.
Claiming, as some want to whisper today and one military spokesperson said last week, that they didn't believe the charges doesn't matter.
If someone brings charges of a crime, you take it seriously. If you think they are false charges, you especially take that seriously. That's true in the civilian world, it's especially true in the marines which is supposed to operate under a 'higher' code of conduct.
Why wasn't Maria -- whether they thought she was raped or thought she was lying -- moved to another base? Why was she required to attend meetings with the man she said raped her? It's very unlikely that she'd be dead or Laurean on the run today if the military had done the basics and reassigned one of them to another base.
As expected, Maria grew up in an anti-choice family. So after she decides to keep the child resulting from what she stated was rape, it's not a surprise that she would refer to the rape as an "incident" in an e-mail to a friend in July. The reporters seem to place some significance on the term "incident." And the significance seems to be that Maria may be saying it wasn't rape. They should have spoken to a rape counselor. And they should have considered that "I was raped" in an e-mail isn't usually how victims refer to a rape when first introducing it as a topic. The fact that Maria used "incident" only strengthens that claim of rape.
It's equally true that the military command wasn't speaking to Maria's mother. So the distortions that appeared in the press about Maria (after she was missing) aren't an excuse for the military. If the military wants to claim that they didn't believe Maria (which at least one spokesperson has claimed publicly), then they better explain why.
Did she make other false charges earlier? Where's the disbelief coming from?
It wasn't coming from the distortions in the press that appeared after Maria was missing.
Who was working the case? What were they factoring in?
Were they factoring that she was raised to believe abortion was a sin? Or did they just say, "Well she's keeping it, so it wasn't rape."? There are serious questions that need to be answered including the contact (not limited to scheduled meetings) that took place between Laurean and Maria. Did he work on her? Did he tell her he loved her? Did he try to offer some "we don't want our child to grow up under the ugly stain of rape"? What was going on?
What counseling was Maria receiving? She stated she was a rape victim. Her upbringing and beliefs didn't allow for abortion. A woman who will be giving birth to a child resulting from a rape needs counseling. I'm firmly pro-choice but that remarks is not "She's nuts! She needs counseling!" That remark is noting very clearly that Maria had made her decision, she was giving birth, and due to the fact that she would be giving birth to a child that resulted from rape, she needed counseling to address both what happened to her and issues she may or may not have with the child when it was born as well as how she would be explaining the baby immediately and later in life. She decided to keep the baby, that was her decision. No counseling was needed to change her mind. Counseling was needed to allow her to deal with issues from the rape and to address issues that would arrive after the birth.
Turning to Iraq. Today, the US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi-National Force - West was killed while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province Jan. 19." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Center Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack in Arab Jabour Jan. 19. "
In other reported violence today . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that left three people wounded, a Gayara car bombing claimed 2 lives and left nine injured, an al Hajjaj bomber killed himself and 15 others (eight more injured) while attempting "to assassinate the security deputy of Salahuddin province Ahmed Abdullah was was in the mourning tent of his dead uncle" (the assassination was unsuccessful), a Muqdadiyah bombing that injured two police officers and Mecca al Mukarrama primary school was "destroyed with explosives". Dean Yates (Reuters) reports the number wounded in the attack on the US collaborator jumped from eight to ten and notes, "Monday's attack took place in al-Hajaj village, 5 km south of Baiji, home to Iraq's biggest oil refinery. The city, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad, has been the scene of a number of bombings in the past few months. On Dec. 25, a suicide bomber killed more than 20 people in the city." [Yates also notes a January 8th bombing -- when the US military "dropped 30,000 pounds of bombs on a suspected al Qaeda safe haven south of Baghdad".] Reuters notes: "U.S. military aircraft hit more than 30 targets with 35 bombs weighing a total of 19,000 pounds in air strikes in Al Jabour".
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a home invasion Sunday night in which "a 35 years old mother and her 13 years old daughter" were killed. Reuters notes an armed clash in Falluja in which 4 "members of a U.S.-backed neighbourhood police patrol" were killed (two more wounded) and 2 unknown assailants were killed.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses discovered in Baghdad
At Inside Iraq, a McClatchy Iraqi correspondent offers a link to a video and a translation in "This is how kidnapping look like:"
Are you Sunni or Shiite?
Are you Sunni or Shiite?
Are you Sunni or Shiite?
Are you Sunni or Shiite?
The wife says: Tareq.. Tareq
Sunni or Shiite?
That's an excerpt.
Turning to US politics Iraq related. Obama's whining he's being distorted on Iraq by Bill Clinton -- he's not being distorted. (And there are many more examples than Bill Clinton has listed.) Sedonna e-mails to complain about Leroy Chapman Jr. (South Carolina's The State) who doesn't do the basic work and "can't even provide the correct webaddress for Hillary's fact check on Bambi." The fact check can be found here. Were it just the fact that Chapman provides "www." when there is none, I'd give him the benefit of the doubt but he's got the whole address wrong in his article. Before filing it under bias, note that he also gets the web address for Obama wrong. A better example of bias or stupidy can be found in Larry Margasak's AP story (link provided for laughs, it's trash, but trash-lite) where Bambi's ever-changing position on the illegal war (or as he termed it once, the 'dumb' war) is dismissed with, "When Obama spoke to the Chicago Tribune in July 2004, he did comment on his position and that of Bush, but clearly qualified his remark." That wasn't what Bill Clinton was talking about.
Monica Davey (New York Times) reported July 26, 2004 in "A Surprise Senate Contender Reaches His Biggest Stage Yet:"
He opposed the war in Iraq, and spoke against it during a rally in Chicago in the fall of 2002. He said then that he saw no evidence that Iraq had unconvental weapons that posed a threat, or of any link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.
In a recent interview, he declined to criticize Senators Kerry and Edwards for voting to authorize the war, although he said he would not have done the same based on the information he had at the time.
"But, I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports," Mr. Obama said. "What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made."
"I don't know." That's what he told the New York Times in July of 2004. He repeated that many times (before he announced his presidential run) and you can read the write up by David Remnick (The New Yorker, November 2006), where Bambi was again unsure how he would have voted. Asked about differences between himself and Hillary Clinton. He responded:
I think what people might point to is our different assessments of the war in Iraq, although I'm always careful to say that I was not in the Senate, so perhaps the reason I thought it was such a bad idea was that I didn't have the benefit of U.S. intelligence. And, for those who did, it might have led to a different set of choices. So that might be something that sort of is obvious. But, again, we were in different circumstances at that time: I was running for the U.S. Senate, she had to take a vote, and casting votes is always a difficult test.
The conversation with Remnick is also available as an audio download. There are many, many more examples. Real reporters would be able to find them. Liars and idiots aren't interested.
Meanwhile IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com.
margo rutledge kissell
the new york times