UPDATE 2: Mike in comments has provided a link to the Complaint form for the Pennsylvania Jucidial Conduct Board. Once again, be polite, and be sure to follow the instructions. Thanks.
At least, that’s the stance of Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni.
She dropped all the sexual assault and assault charges against Dominique Gindraw, even though he stood accused of forcing a prostitute to have sex with him and three other men.
But Deni didn’t let Gindraw entirely off the hook. Because he didn’t pay her what he’d agreed to pay her for sex, and since she was in the business of providing sex for money, Deni let stand a charge of theft of services.
Deni told me she based her decision on the fact that the prostitute consented to have sex with the defendant.
“She consented and she didn’t get paid . . . I thought it was a robbery.”
The prostitute, a 20-year-old single mother, agreed to $150 for an hour of oral and vaginal sex on Sept. 20, according to assistant district attorney Rich DeSipio. The arrangements were made through her posting on Craigslist.
She met the defendant, Dominique Gindraw, 19, at what she thought was his house, but which turned out to be an abandoned property in North Philadelphia.
He asked if she’d have sex with his friend, too, and she agreed for another $100.
The friend showed up without money, the gun was pulled and more men arrived.
Got that? Because she agreed to have sex with Gindraw and his friend for a set price, and because that price wasn’t paid and Gindraw drew a gun and forced the complainant to have sex with not only him and his friend, but also with two other guys, that’s not rape, that’s robbery. Because it’s the same as stealing your neighbor’s cable.
Well, fortunately, the fifth guy who showed up asked the victim why she was crying, and got her dressed and out of there. He was a hell of a lot more compassionate than the judge, who couldn’t seem to grasp that the victim, despite having consented to sex under one set of circumstances, did not give blanket consent to every sexual act involving that particular customer. Particularly what with the presence of the gun and everything:
Deni did seem contemptuous of the victim:
“Did she tell you she had another client before she went to report it?” Deni asked me yesterday when we met at a coffee shop.
“I thought rape was a terrible trauma.”
A case like this, she said – to my astonishment – “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”
Right, because it can’t be “true” rape if the victim is in shock, or is so desperate for money that she can’t afford to turn down a paying customer before seeking help.
Frankly, this reminds me of that nutbar state legislator from South Dakota who said that the only possible person who might qualify for an exception under the state’s draconian abortion ban would be a religious 13-year-old virgin who’d been violently sodomized.*
The idea, of course, is that only virtuous women can be “really” raped, that prostitutes are public property and thus, the only injury they suffer from rape is economic, since they didn’t get compensation for what they’re putting out there on the market. The sluts-can’t-be-raped argument is a bit different, in that sluts are giving it away for free, so what’s the problem?
Fortunately, the Assistant DA is rather horrified by the whole business:
It’s true the prostitute negotiated sex with the defendant – but not unprotected gang sex at gunpoint.
“The Legislature has defined sex by force as rape,” said DeSipio, accusing the judge of “rewriting her own laws.”
DeSipio said Judge Deni’s ruling was based, not on the law, but on moral contempt.
“Certainly if a jury wants to make that judgment, they’re entitled to. But for a judge to make a judgment on a human being – I’ve never seen that before.”
This is shocking because she’s not following the law AT ALL. She’s making factual assumptions about the quality of consent that she’s not entitled to (that’s an issue for the jury). I know people got up in arms about that judge in Nebraska who refused to allow the use of the word “rape” in court, but at least he had a colorable evidentiary basis for doing so. This judge? Not so much.
BTW, the defendant stands accused of repeating the exact same crime with another prostitute only four days later. But DeSipio, the ADA, decided not to bring that charge before Deni:
The defendant was charged in an identical incident involving a 23-year-old woman four days later, DeSipio said.
Neither woman knew the other and both told identical stories. The other men involved in the attack couldn’t be identified.
DeSipio was so stunned by Deni’s ruling in the first case that he refused to present the second one.
“I wouldn’t demean her that way,” he said of the second victim, calling the proceedings “a farce.”
Judge Deni then threw out the second case for failure to prosecute.
Police Detective Jack Ryan, who investigated the incidents, said the victims in the two cases “were in fear for their lives. Since they saw one of the doers really well, it crossed both of their minds that they’d be killed.”
And isn’t it interesting, the choice of terms that Deni used when she discussed possible reaction to her ruling?
Deni acknowledged that her ruling and remarks would be controversial.
“I know I’m going to get killed on this.”
Not like those two women, Judge Deni. Or the others who, desperate for money, will undoubtedly meet Gindraw and his friends, and his gun, in an empty lot somewhere late at night.
UPDATE: Thanks to Caitlain in comments for the link to the Philadelphia Bar Association, which is recommending that this judge be retained.
You can email their chairman, Kenneth Shear, and let him know (politely) why you think the PBA should revisit their recommendation.
* Truly, any pregnancy resulting from such a violation would be a miraculous event. Since, well, sodomy is not known for its use of pathways to the uterus.
- Judgment Day by zuzu November 6, 2007
- If you don’t want to throw something (and then cry), stop reading now. by Jill December 9, 2007
- Judge to Victim: Watch Video of Your Own Rape or Go to Jail by Jill March 1, 2006
- This case minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped. by Jill November 7, 2007
- Naming by Jill June 20, 2007