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Attention Turns To Chrystul Kizer's Self-Defense Case After Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict

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Chrystul Kizer, Kyle Rittenhouse

In the aftermath of the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, many people are focusing their attention on another trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that is also pleading self-defense.

Chrystul Kizer, who was 17 at the time of her alleged crime, is accused of shooting her sexual abuser, Randall P. Volar III, in the head, setting his house on fire and stealing his car. 

Kizer was charged with five felonies, including first-degree intentional homicide.

She was underage when he alleges that Volar, 34, sexually assaulted her. Kizer, who is now 20, publicly talked about her story in an interview with the Washington Post, saying that she was acting in self-defense.

“I didn’t intentionally try and do this,” she said.

The specifications of the accusations against her and her legal defense have been compared to Rittenhouse. If he can argue self-defense and be found not guilty on all charges, Kizer can too, right?

Except, in a system that has failed Kizer so many times already, can she secure this win?

RELATED: Why Kyle Rittenhouse Is Wrong For Believing His Case Has 'Nothing To Do With Race'

Who Was Randall P. Volar?

Volar, the man Kizer shot, had an extensive history of sexual abuse allegations against him at the time of his death.

Kizer said she first met Volar on Backpage, a website that featured sex ads, and that he sold her to men for sex. On the night she shot Volar, Kizer said that he had pinned her to the floor when she refused to have sex with him.

Volar had previously been under investigation by Kenosha police for sex trafficking at the time of his death.

During the investigation, Volar was taken into custody pending charges of second-degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement prosecution and use of a computer to facilitate a sex crime.

Volar’s mug shot and fingerprints were taken, and he was released pending a summons and complaint as the investigation continued.

He was killed before any of the charges against him were filed.

The investigation into Volar started in 2015 after police responded to a 911 call from a 15-year-old girl who reported that a man had given her drugs and was going to kill her.

When authorities arrived, they found the girl wearing only a bra and an unzipped jacket wandering in an area near Volar’s home.

RELATED: Verdict In Kyle Rittenhouse’s Trial Will Secure His Place As A Mascot For The Far-Right

The 15-year-old girl had told police that she had met Volar when he responded to an advertisement on the Backpage website, and that he had been having sex with her since she was 14.

Defense attorney’s believe Kizer was being trafficked by Volar and that she had killed him after suffering years of abuse.

Chrystul Kizer deserves the Kyle Rittenhouse treatment.

Protestors have pointed out that if Rittenhouse can successfully claim self-defense and be acquitted, then Kizer should be granted the same right.

Kizer was facing both an immediate and ongoing threat while under Volar's control.

And, given the difficulties and dangers women in sexual abuse situations face when trying to escape, this threat was arguably more dangerous than what Rittenhouse claimed to be facing. 

Protestors have pointed out that those who advocated for Rittenhouse have been largely silent in a case involving a Black woman pleading self-defense. 

Many people are also bringing to light the horrible way the law and justice system treat cases that involve Black women, like Kizer.

A 2017 study conducted by the Center on Poverty and Inequity at Georgetown University Law School, found that Black girls are viewed by adults as more sexually mature than white girls.

Black girls that are victims of sexual assault are less likely to be believed because adults view them as older than they are.

Black girls are also at a higher risk for human trafficking because of social inequalities that affect the Black community, including situations of poverty and incarcerated parents. 

Racism and oppression are embedded and perpetuated in human trafficking cases with 62% of confirmed sex trafficking victims being Black.

Julius Kim, an attorney and former criminal prosecutor in Wisconsin, told NPR that self-defense arguments are common with any violent interaction, but are far less common when it comes to child-sex trafficking cases, which often go unnoticed.

Chrystul Kizer’s case has also been compared to Cyntoia Brown’s case.

Brown, a victim of child sex-trafficking, shot and killed a man who had purchased her for sex when she was 16.

She was charged as an adult and sentenced to two concurrent life sentences.

In 2019, Brown was granted clemency by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, and was released from prison in August of the same year.

However, cases involving women of color like Brown and Kizer, are inherently treated differently, especially when looking at the outcome of Rittenhouse.

The legal system has repeatedly failed Black women, further acknowledging the long history of violence that Black women have faced at the hands of institutionalized racism. 

An online petition has started asking Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley to drop all charges against Kizer and has over a million signatures. 

Chrystul Kizer deserves the same attention that Kyle Rittenhouse was given, she deserves the benefit of the doubt, especially in an incident that actually required self-defense to be taken.

RELATED: Joy Reid Explains The Power Of White Male Tears In Kyle Rittenhouse & Brett Kavanaugh Trials

Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.