Two adult men who raped teen girls have walked this week. WTF is wrong with our system?

If you thought the ridiculous outcome of the Brock Turner case was a fluke, think again.

Two stories have come through the news cycle this week that show just how messed up our justice system can be when it comes to sexual assault. Two adult men. Two teen girls. One man luring a 14-year-old to his house, giving her alcohol, then raping her. Another man finding a 15-year-old in an online anorexia forum, convincing her to leave her family to live with him at 16, and then holding her captive for a year as his sex slave.

The former pled guilty and won't spend a single day in jail. The latter served eight months in detention and has been sentenced to time served, meaning he will spend no more time in jail.


If you feel like there must be something missing from these stories, there is—namely, justice for the victims and any semblance of human decency.

Shane Piche raped a 14-year-old he met while driving her school bus.

According to the Watertown Daily News, Shane Piche was 25 when he met his 14-year-old victim as her school bus driver. The fact that the girl rode a school bus should have been a clue to Piche that sex with her was not an option, regardless of consent. But after communicating with her on social media, he lured her to his house with gifts and alcohol, and then he raped her.

The former Watertown City School District bus driver who admitted in a plea deal in February to raping a 14-year-old...

Posted by Watertown Daily Times on Saturday, April 27, 2019

This isn't a he said/she said case. She said "He did this." He admitted, "Yeah, I did that." There is no question that the rape happened.

And somehow, under New York law, the guy was able to walk away as a Level 1 sex offender with no jail time. Level 1 means he is considered low risk and won't be included in online sex offender databases. He's not allowed to be alone with anyone under 17 other than friends and family, and he had to pay around $1400 in fees. He'll receive sex offender counseling while on probation, but no jail time.

Oh, and you know why Judge McClusky designated him a Level 1 sex offender instead of Level 2, which the D.A. requested? Because he had no prior offenses and only had one victim.

Only one victim. Ugh.

Michael Wysolovski spent less time in jail than he did keeping his teenage victim in sexual captivity. Seriously.

If Shane Piche's story didn't leave you scratching your head, this one from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will.

Michael Wysolovski found his victim in an online anorexia forum when she was 15. By the time she was 16, he'd convinced her to run away and live with him. Her family didn't know where she was for a year.

Michael Wysolovski, 31, was arrested on false imprisonment, aggravated sodomy, interference with custody and cruelty to children charges.

Posted by CBS News on Sunday, June 25, 2017

In 2017, she tried to leave, but Wysolovski wouldn't let her. She reached out in an anorexia forum and someone there alerted the FBI. According to her father's statement, when police found her at Wysolovski's home she was malnourished, had ringworm, and suffered from back problems from being repeatedly held in a dog cage.

According to the AJC:

"The victim and Wysolovski agreed to enter a “consensual non-consensual” sexual relationship, a type of BDSM (bondage, domination, submission, masochism) relationship in which the partners agree to simulate non-consensual sex acts, prosecutor Michael DeTardo said during the plea hearing. Over time, Wysolovski violated the set boundaries for this arrangement, refusing to use 'safe words' and using 'excessive force' including biting and physical violence. The victim, who was anorexic, initially encouraged Wysolovski to control her eating habits and kept journals detailing her desire to lose weight, DeTardo said. Wysolovski later used food to punish the victim or force her to perform sexual acts."

The age of consent in Georgia is 16, and prosecutors said there was too much "gray area" to submit the case to a jury. Wsyolovski was indicted on charges of rape, aggravated sodomy, cruelty to children, false imprisonment and interstate interference with custody, but the rape and aggravated sodomy charges were dropped as part of his plea deal. He was held for eight months before he made bail. He has to register as a sex offender and is on probation for 10 years.

For holding a teen girl hostage and sexually abusing her for a year, this fully grown adult man who should know right from heinously wrong was detained for eight months and will serve no further jail time.

Eight months. That's it.

Our justice system seems to forget that teens are still children—and that women are actual human beings.

Some people will try to blame the victims here, claiming that they put themselves in the situations they ended up in. But these girls were 14 and 15 when they met their rapists. Young teens. Impressionable youths. No adult male in his right mind should be thinking about having sex with these girls, much less coercing them or forcing them to do anything that's been described in these cases.

But to actually commit these crimes and not even go to jail? How did we get here? How do we place more value on the life of a grown man who victimizes girls than on the life of the girl he victimizes? How can our justice system fail so miserably at dispensing justice?

There are people serving jail sentences for marijuana possession, a crime which is no longer a crime in 10 states. And yet admitted rapists walk among us having served no time? How do they get away with that?

Someone explain how any of this makes sense, please, because I've grown tired of trying to understand it every time it happens.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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Like millions of others, I tuned in last night to watch Oprah Winfrey's interview with (former) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Although watching "The Crown" has admittedly piqued my curiosity about the Royal Family, I've never had any particular interest in following the drama in real life. As inconsequential as the un-royaling of Harry and Meghan is to me personally, it's a historically and socially significant development.

The story touches so many hot buttons at once—power, wealth, tradition, sexism, racism, colonialism, family drama, freedom, security, and the media. But as I sat and watched the first hour of just Oprah and Meghan Markle talking, I was struck by the simple significance of what I was seeing.

Here were two Black women, one who had battled sexism and racism in her industry and broke countless barriers to create her own empire, and one who has battled racism and sexism to protect her babies, whose royal lineage can be traced back through 1,200 years of rule over the British Empire. And the conversation these women were having had the power to take down—or at least do real damage to—one of the longest-standing monarchies in the world.

Whoa.

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Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

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This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

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When 59 children died on Christmas Eve 1913, the world cried with the town of Calumet, Michigan.

Woody Guthrie sang about this little-known piece of history.

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AFL Labor Mini Series

A one-man drill operation

In July 1913, over 7,000 miners struck the C&H Copper Mining Company in Calumet, Michigan. It was largely the usual issues of people who worked for a big company during a time when capitalists ran roughshod over their workers — a time when monopolies were a way of life. Strikers' demands included pay raises, an end to child labor, and safer conditions including an end to one-man drill operations, as well as support beams in the mines (which mine owners didn't want because support beams were costly but miners killed in cave-ins “do not cost us anything.")

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Few child actors ever get to star in an award-winning film, much less win a prestigious award for their performance. That fact appeared to hit home for 8-year-old Alan Kim, as he broke down in tears accepting his Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor/Actress, making for one of the sweetest moments in awards show history.

Kim showed up to the awards (virtually, of course) decked out in a tuxedo, and his parents had even laid out a red carpet in their entryway to give him a taste of the real awards show experience. When his name was announced as the Critics' Choice winner for his role in the film "Minari," his reaction was priceless.

Grinning from ear to ear, Kim started off his acceptance speech by thanking "the critics who voted" and his family. But as soon as he started naming his family members, he burst into tears. "Oh my goodness, I'm crying," he said. Through sobs, he kept going with his list, naming members of the cast, the production company, and the crew that worked on the film.

"I hope I will be in other movies," he added. Then, the cutest—he pinched his own cheeks and asked, "Is this a dream? I hope it's not a dream."

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