Joshua Dolezal, Rachel Dolezal's Brother, Faces Sexual Abuse Charges. Could This Be Why Her Parents Spoke Out?
One of the most pressing questions coming out of the Rachel Dolezal case is why her parents, Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal, chose to speak out on their daughter's race after Rachel, who is white, had represented herself as a black woman for years. It seems the source of the family divide might lie in a legal battle. According to the New York Daily News, citing sources and obtained court documents, Rachel's brother, Joshua Dolezal, is facing multiple sexual assault charges. Rachel is supporting the alleged victim, not her older brother (and only biological sibling), which is why the parents went public with Rachel's real race, the newspaper alleged. Joshua did not return an emailed request for comment Wednesday morning.
Joshua was charged in 2014 with four felony counts of sex abuse of a minor, the New York Daily News reported. Joshua is accused of assaulting a 6-year-old child in Clear Creek County in 2000 or 2001 when the family lived in Colorado, according to The Denver Post, citing an obtained arrest affidavit. The alleged crimes were reported in July 2013, and the alleged victim told investigators that Joshua abused another person. The newspaper said Joshua is free on $15,000 bail. His trial is set to take place in August, according to ABC7 Denver.
Joshua Dolezal is an associate English professor at Central College in Pella, Iowa, where he has taught since 2005. According to his university bio, Joshua's areas of interest are American literature, creative nonfiction, medical humanities, and sustainability. He's worked summer jobs doing trail maintenance for the U.S. Forest Service, according to his LinkedIn, and he also enjoys running, songwriting, and cycling. Joshua wrote a memoir called Down from the Mountaintop: From Belief to Belonging, which was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2014. His poetry has been written on at least one of Rachel's artworks, "The Shape Of Our King," which has been accused of plagiarizing J.M.W. Turner's 1840 piece "The Slave Ship."
Joshua's memoir, from which excerpts were published by The Washington Post, not only offers an account of Rachel's broken marriage to her first husband, Kevin Moore, who she divorced in 2004, but also depicts the Dolezals as a tight-knit family whose religiosity carried into their names.
I know [my mother] is praying silently, trying to envision me as my namesake — the firstborn leader of his people — the way she thinks of my sister, Rachel, in relation to the Jewish matriarch who wept for her exiled descendants.
When describing Rachel's appearance, Joshua wrote:
Pale light washes through the window over her neck. Wisps rise from her hair. They are the color of the light.
None of the Dolezals have publicly commented on Joshua's Colorado case. Raw footage of a KHQ TV interview showed Lawrence avoiding questions about legal matters in the family. "It's better if we don't [comment]," he told KHQ. "It's a separate matter." Rachel has also accused her parents of abuse in a number of interviews over the years, though they have denied those allegations.
In an interview with Spokane newspaper The Spokesman-Review soon after her racial scandal took storm, Rachel appeared to imply a legal case was at the root of her parents' actions against her.
Rachel Dolezal dismisses the controversy as little more than an ugly byproduct of contentious litigation between other family members over allegations of past abuse that has divided the family. She’s particularly suspicious of the timing, noting that the allegations broke on her son’s birthday and come as the Colorado lawsuit filed by her sister against their brother nears a key juncture.
Joshua's case is actually a criminal one and not a civil lawsuit, and it's important to note we don't know whether his alleged charges are really what's driving this family schism into the public spotlight. In an NBC News interview, Rachel even doubted whether Lawrence and Ruthanne were her parents. But whatever the problem is, this instance of misrepresented race has definitely become much more complicated.
Image: NBC News