Far too much commentary on social networks and elsewhere on the web about how University of Virginia student Hannah Graham was dressed and her state of intoxication at age 18 when she disappeared 10 days ago in Charlottesville.
City police at the home town of the University issued arrest warrants this week seek a 270-lbs black man with dreadlocks.
Jess Leroy Matthew Jr. is sought on a charge of abduction with an “intent to defile” and reckless driving. He has been a patient technician at the UVa Medical Center for the last two years and a part-time assistant coach for the Covenant School football team. Now he’s on the run after appearing at the Charlottesville police station and demanding an attorney. Then he sped off from the Charlottesville police station.
Matthew’s menacing face is plastered all over newspapers, on TV stations and the world wide web. So are the photos of Graham in her hip-hugging tight pants and bare-midriff blouse with cutouts that exposed some more skin.
“Look at how she was dressed,” wrote one woman on Facebook. “She was asking for it.”
“She’s 18 out drinking on a Friday night at a party school,” wrote another. “She made herself a target.”
Hannah Graham’s attire is not unusual for an attractive young woman in college. I’ve seen more skin on a teenager at a Floyd County high school football game this year.
Was she drunk? Likely. So what? She’s 18 at a major university. Rightly, or wrongly, that’s a rite of passage at that age and in that environment.
Many teenagers experiment when they go away to college. It’s part of the ritual. Sadly, the threats out there are part of the threats that are real and increasing. Graham is one of five attractive female students at Virginia who disappeared over the last five years. Morgan Harrington’s remains were found in a field but others are still missing.
At this point, we still do not know what has happened to Hannah Graham but the odds say what did happen was not good and not something she deserved or sought. We should be hoping she is found alive, offer compassion for her family and friends, and put a lid on the judgments or recriminations for a victim.