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Serving Orcas, Lopez and San Juan County

WEDNESDAY, April 2, 2014  VOL. 47, NO. 14  75¢ 

PEOPLE | Find out what your neighbors are up to [2] OPINION | Letters from our readers [4,5,7] COMMENTARY | Awareness about autism [9] ARTS | Student writes essay about race [11]

Young rape victims speak out

After more than a year of harassment from the community, two young women tell their story

Editor’s note: This story contains graphic language and topics. Reader discretion advised. by COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG Editor/Publisher

Mike Lockhart/Fish and Wildlife Services

Birds of a feather by CALI BAGBY Staff reporter

The San Juans draw people in with pristine beaches, sparkling waters and fascinating animals like killer whales. But high in the tree tops and floating through the sky are hundreds of creatures that inspire wonder and awe. To encourage others to find out more about the many winged species in the islands, the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce is presenting the Birds and Wildlife Festival from April 10 to 12. BirdFest offers walks, talks, workshops, and activities are ideal for all ages and experience levels. “Birding is one of the best excuses to travel,” said biologist Kim Middleton. “You can bird anywhere and it’s truly an excuse to get out into nature.” According to Middleton the Puget Sound Basin has the best year-round birding locations because of the temperate climate. “I was blown away by the number of birds on the island,” said Festival Director Michell Marshall. There are about 200 common birds in the San Juans, split between the winter and the summer. For instance, waterfowl and raptors nest in the arctic in the summer and tropical birds come to our region for the warmer months. The swapping period for these two groups occurs in April, so it’s the perfect time to see arctic and early tropical migrant birds. The spring is also the time to see bald eagles, black oyster catchers, murres, aucklets and alcids. Specialty birds that will be gone by April are varied thrush and golden crown sparrows. For Middleton, it’s not just the birds, but also the birders that create a fascination. From a behaviorist and an animal trainer perspective, Middleton said the brain craves

random reinforcements. A great example of this type of reinforcement is bird watching because you never know when or where you are going to see a bird. “It’s also the challenge of identifying a species ... you never know what you are going to identify,” said Middleton about what draws people to birding. “It makes us want to work harder.”

BirdFest events BirdFest will kick off with an opening night dinner and reception on Thursday, April 10 at Rosario Resort. The featured speaker will be noted conservation biologist Thor Hanson. Author of the book “Feathers,” Hanson will share his knowledge of all things “wild” on Orcas Hanson’s topic is “Touchstones: Feathers, Seeds, and the Nature of Everyday.” There will also be a silent auction with lodging, dining and gifts. Festival events get underway on Friday and Saturday (April 11 and 12), and will include: bird/nature walks with local birding experts, including Middleton; kayak and boat trips; workshops on birding and wildlife painting and photography; and a community parade featuring bird and wildlife costumes. Friday and Saturday evening conservation lectures from prominent scientist and wildlife experts include: “Bluebird Reintroduction in the San Juan Islands” with Kathleen Foley of the San Juan Preservation Trust; “Salmon: A Keystone Species: Stories About Salmon, Eagles, Orcas and more” with Barbara Rosenkotter, San Juan County Salmon Recovery Coordinator; and “Raptor Research” with Bud Anderson of Falcon Research Group. Tickets for opening night dinner, and select other events are on sale now. Complete festival details can be found at www.OrcasIslandBirdFest. com.

The last thing Danika and Ariahna expected was to be shamed by their community. The two teens, who were the victims of rape, say the treatment they received after going public with their story ranged from verbal abuse to online name-calling – by both peers and adults. “For the past year, I have been spit on, threatened, called a whore, a slut, a liar, you name it,” said Ariahna. “People looked at me with disgust almost everywhere I went … I am so disappointed in the behavior that the majority of islanders have displayed that I no longer feel proud calling myself a resident of this beautiful island.” Peter John Anderson, a 22-year-old Kirkland man who grew up on Orcas, confessed to sexually assaulting Danika and Ariahna in Sept. 2012 at party on the island. He pleaded guilty this past November to two counts of third-degree rape. On Feb. 28, he was sentenced in San Juan County Superior Court to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $650 in fines and fees. The teens say that despite Anderson’s confession, many people blamed them because they were intoxicated at the time of the assault. “I was completely unable to speak, walk, stand up, let alone consent to sex with a man who I had never met beforehand and was much older than me,” Ariahna said. “Engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor who is completely incapacitated is wrong. I am astonished that I should have to spell it out, and even when I do, people still put the blame on me.” Both girls, in addition to being under the age of consent, were

incapacitated at the time Anderson raped the two, at separate times, hours apart, on the same night. At the time, Anderson, then 20, was four years older than both victims. It was not the first time he had been accused of a sex crime in the San Juans. In 2010, at age 18, Anderson was accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and prosecuted on a charge of second-degree rape. That case was dismissed after six months when the girl opted against testifying at trial. Danika says some of the worst comments were made on Facebook and news sites that reported on the case. She has since moved off the island because of the treatment she experienced. “We were bombarded with hate-mail on social media sites … calling us liars, saying that we should be ashamed for trying to send an innocent man to prison,” Danika said. “It didn’t matter that


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Islands' Sounder, April 02, 2014  
Islands' Sounder, April 02, 2014  

April 02, 2014 edition of the Islands' Sounder