After the tragic death of Paul Walker on November 30th, news outlets across the country were casually printing the fact that Paul, 40, and his girlfriend, 23-year old Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell, had been together for seven years. That didn’t make sense to me, because it meant that they would have started dating when Paul was 33 and Jasmine was only 16, but that’s what I was seeing everywhere, and it really upset me.
So…I wrote it up. I didn’t believe that people could’ve known about it in advance and thought it was no big deal, so I brought it up in a post very simply pointing out how old Jasmine was when they started dating, and expressing disbelief that no one had realized this during his life. I later found out that it had been a big news item in 2009, but I hadn’t heard about it then, and it had pretty much slipped back under the radar until now.
I believe that a relationship between a 16-year old and a 33-year old is both predatory and inappropriate, especially given Paul Walker’s wealth, celebrity, and good looks, and said as much in the several articles I wrote about it, one detailing my own experience in a similar situation and another pointing out that Paul had allegedly dated another 16-year old named Aubrianna Atwell before he met Jasmine, when he was 28.
To me, that signals a pattern, and one that’s all too common in our society. I wanted to draw attention to it in order to create a dialogue and a conversation, not to suggest that his death was any less tragic. For me, the two things were separate: I became aware of the information due to the tragedy of Paul’s death, but the two don’t affect each other at all.
But regardless of what I intended, the comment sections on all three posts soon spiraled out of control, with over 1,200 comments on all three posts combined. I did receive some great support and encouragement as well, but as you’ll see from the responses I’ve included below, a lot of the feedback I got was not only shocking, but extremely discouraging and even disturbing, at times.
Others felt he shouldn’t be held accountable for anything due to the fact that he was dead.
Some targeted my openness in sharing my own story, calling my morals into question because they didn’t like the content of my post. A lot of people fell back on the law, telling me that since we don’t know the state the relationship began in, it was probably in one where the age of consent was 16 and not 18.
Some of them are on here twice because they helped me prove my own points on maturity by advocating my death just for writing something negative about a man they’ve never met.
Many people were okay with it because they assume that her parents were as well.
‘Love is love’, said an 18-year old who wants to date him herself just because he’s handsome and she’s seen him in movies.
This was an especially unfortunate discovery.
This 17-year old wanted to make sure I understood that just because it’s being written about as fact in every news outlet covering his death, I shouldn’t have assumed it was true.
They also felt it was important to note that 16-year olds have boobs, which I guess supersedes the law and renders them ‘not children anymore’. Or something.