Restorative justice

Rape victim recounts meeting her rapist in jail, offering him compassion

Carmen Aguirre (Facebook)

In a prison in Canada, Carmen Aguirre sat face to face with the man who raped her, and offered him compassion.  Aguirre and another victim, Laura, met with the rapist, John Horace Oughton, who was once known as the Paper Bag Rapist, through a meeting arranged by restorative justice advocates, Aguirre describes in a moving essay she wrote for The Guardian.

Three decades earlier, Oughton had held a gun to Aguirre’s head when she was 13, smoking a cigarette in the woods with her sister, and then he placed her blouse over her face and raped her. He was finally arrested when she was 17 and was convicted on 14 counts of rape and assault.

At the jail in Canada, Oughton offered Aguirre and the other victim snacks as part of his “Buddhist practice to make an offering.” He told them he was learning compassion, but could not apologize to them because he did not remember the attacks. A diagnosed psychopath, Oughton said he could not feel remorse. Aguirre said she accepted his answer, but offered him one of her own.

“John, I have spent many years pondering why you did what you did to me. And I know why,” she told him. “It was to teach me compassion. Even in the moment, during the actual attack, I could feel your pain. I could feel it right here. And so I want to thank you.”

Read the full account at The Guardian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *