In a case that has pitted law-enforcement officials against advocates of victims’ rights, prosecutors in Sacramento County, Calif., have detained a 17-year-old girl for twice failing to appear in court to testify against the man accused of raping her.
The prosecutors say that testimony from the teenager, who twice ran away from a foster home before scheduled court appearances, is critical in the upcoming trial against a man who has a long criminal record and is also suspected of raping at least one other woman. But the teenager’s lawyer and victims’ advocates say that the detention would discourage others, especially those who have been sexually assaulted, from coming forward. They described the move as a setback in a state with some of the country’s strongest laws protecting victims.
I understand the need to get victims and witnesses to testify. I understand being embarrassed in front of the judge when your lead witness doesn’t show up. But we’re talking about a 17-year-old girl who is a rape victim and in foster care — not exactly someone who has a lot of support or resources, or is living a low-stress life.
The trial against Mr. Rackley is now scheduled to start on April 23. The suspect, a convicted felon with a criminal history two decades old, was identified by the teenager because of a large swastika tattooed on his chest, Ms. Franco said. According to prosecutors, DNA evidence from the suspect was also found on the teenager. Lawyers from the Public Defender’s Office representing Mr. Rackley could not be reached for comment.
I can’t imagine why a teenage rape victim who lives in a foster home would be scared to testify against that guy. I’m sure that jail is definitely keeping her safe from a man with two decades of felony convictions, lots of time behind bars and white supremacist ties. Nice work, California. Keep advocating for the public good.