Letter: Gazette used wrong term for child rape

April 26, 2013
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Might I gently suggest you find a term other than “seduction” to describe former Boston Mayor Andrew Peters’ relationship with his 11-year-old cousin Starr Faithfull? No doubt you but reproduced a previous generation’s description thought to be diplomatic at the time, but as a modern newspaper, plain labeling would be less confusing and far more accurate: It was rape. It would not even at its best be considered “statutory” rape, as 11 would not have been considered an age to consent even under medieval English law. The sad—not seductive—tale included the mayor drugging her with ether, a sordid payoff of hush money to her stepfather years later when discovered, and ended with her suicide (or possibly murder) off a ship, washed up on a Long Island beach at the age of 25, her short life one of addiction and unhappy love affairs.

In future, please weigh such wording with a tad more deliberation, as I’m sure the Gazette does not mean to offer an umbrella of excuse for any sort of rape, but especially not in a case where such a crime was committed against a child.

However, the brief history of Boston mayors was an interesting article.

Lynn McSweeney

Jamaica Plain

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