• Alex Garland
  • "END SILENCE STOP VIOLENCE" Women rally to support the victims of convicted rapist Danford Grant on Monday.

Danford Grant, a former city prosecutor and attorney at the Stafford Frey law firm, was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a King County jury on Monday for raping five women—some at knifepoint—at massage parlors in Shoreline, Greenwood, and Bellevue.

Grant had earlier pleaded guilty to five counts of third-degree rape and one count of first-degree burglary, but initially he and his defense lawyers had denied the allegations and claimed that the sex was consensual. He'll be registered as a sex offender, but with "good behavior," according to KIRO 7, Grant could be released in 15 years.

Representatives of the victims read their statements in court. "I read articles in the news and some reader's comments that said these were 'just Asian prostitutes,'" said one. "Then the defense lawyer said this was consensual sex and prostitution. It made me sick to my stomach."

And a victim identified as C.Z. said, "Just because I'm an Asian woman who works as a massage therapist doesn't mean I offer sexual services. I am proud of my dignity."

  • Alex Garland
At the start of his sentencing on Monday, the group API Chaya, which supports gender violence survivors from the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, held a rally outside the King County courthouse. Sarah Rizui, its director, said they were there to support the survivors "who are brave enough to speak out and in support of those who cannot," especially those who don't feel safe reporting crimes because of their immigration status.

And in a statement, API Chaya explains:

Here’s the bottom line. It doesn’t matter if you are a masseuse, from the United States or a different country and culture, if you are a sex worker or have been a sex worker. None of these factors are valid in defense of rape or sexual violence of any kind… period.

And as far as the discussion about Asian culture is concerned, where is the discussion about Danford Grant’s culture? What culture are we blaming for the fact that Danford Grant, and many other seemingly upstanding men, are rapists? And what about Dandford Grant’s culture as a powerful, white male with resources at his disposal in a society that far too often blames the victim?

Grant thought he could get away with these crimes by targeting Thai and Chinese massage therapists because he saw them as vulnerable, not able to stand up to him or report him to the police. This mindset has continued through his defense, playing on the stereotype that Asian women who are masseuses are sex workers and, as such, are not able to or have no right to say "no."

According to the National Institute of Justice (PDF), just 20% of adult victims of sexual assault report the crime to the police, and only 37% of perpetrators are prosecuted.

Alex Garland contributed reporting.