This one is just plain fucked. Four young men participate in the rape of a 16-year-old girl at a house party (she’s now 20). She was unconscious, and they gang-raped her, spit on her and scrawled obscenities on her naked body with a marker. Because she was passed out, she doesn’t remember the rape itself.
But since these fine young men decided to record their endeavors, there’s a videotape.
One of the men, who videotaped the incident but didn’t have sex with the woman, has pled guilty and is going through a state-run boot camp as punishment. One of the other men fled to Albania, where he is at large.
While the woman was testifying on the witness stand, the defense wheeled out a television to play the tape. She became visibly upset, obviously not wanting to relive the experience by watching it in front of a court room full of strangers. Put yourself in her shoes for a minute: How many of us wouldn’t be upset if we were sitting in a chair in front of a room of dozens of strangers, and a tape was brought out showing us stripped naked from the waste down and sexually assaulted by two men while a third wrote on us with a magic marker?
But the judge has ordered her to watch it or be held in contempt and face jail time. Which is about as fucked up as it gets.
The defendant should absolutely have the right to face his accuser in court. He has had that right, and she has answered every question asked of her on the stand. And I don’t think anyone is arguing that the video shouldn’t be shown at all. But how does it further justice to force her to watch this video? Let her leave the room and show it. Let the defense attorney make whatever point he’s trying to make with the video. But forcing her to watch it is simply cruel.
Of course, just as problematic is this Chicago Tribune article (registration required) which, after detailing the situation, inexplicably ends the article with:
The fourth defendant, Sonny Smith, 20, of Brookfield, who operated the camera, pleaded guilty to child pornography and was sentenced to the Illinois Department of Corrections boot camp.
In another rape case in 1995, a woman who had accused then-U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds of sexually abusing her when she was 16 was jailed for seven days after refusing to testify against him. She later recanted.
Reynolds was convicted and sent to prison but was pardoned by President Bill Clinton after serving more than 2 years.
…I don’t get it. So there is this rape case, and the fourth defendant pleaded guilty, and then did you know that there was once this other rape case that has nothing to do with this, and the accuser recanted? Totally irrelevant. And really biased. This whole situation — the trial and now the coverage — is just sickening.
Thanks to Julia and Jessica for the link.
- Naming by Jill June 20, 2007
- Miscarriage of Justice by zuzu December 20, 2006
- Covering Rape. by G.D. July 24, 2009
- When is rape at gunpoint not rape? When it’s “theft of services.” by zuzu October 16, 2007
- Judgment Day by zuzu November 6, 2007