May 18th, 2012

The New America: Jailing Rape Victims


Certainly rape victims are reluctant to take the stand in open court against their rapists. The woman is made vulnerable again in front of the assailant whose motivation was primarily about degrading and controlling his victim in the first place.

Now comes news that Lancaster County (Nebraska) District Court Judge Paul Merritt ordered a rape victim to testify or face 90 days in jail for contempt. He reasoned that her potential shame was less important than the county’s pursuit of justice on her behalf. For some reason, the judge’s decision was upheld in the Nebraska Supreme Court. The judge’s public bio appears below.

Kudos to Salamishah Tillet, reporting for the Nation, in April this year, in Sacramento, CA, a 17 y.o. rape victim failed to appear twice in court to face her accuser. The judge ordered an ankle monitoring bracelet as the alternative to jailing her. Prosecutors said the rapist posed a danger to society and the victim should be punished.

My, how far we have backtracked from the days of the “burning bed” defense for women victims of persistent violence.

Here’s yet another disgusting Florida story you will want to research.

31 y,o. Marissa Alexander was a repeat victim of domestic violence at the hands of her second husband, Rico Gray. The couple was estranged. She was living at her mother’s home since the birth of a daughter. On Aug. 1, 2010, the abusive Gray found a text on her phone to Brown’s first husband. Gray called her names and said “If I can’t have you, nobody going to have you.” He trapped her in the bathroom. She broke free, grabbed a gun from her car in the garage, returned to the house and told him to leave. According to her (and Gray’s initial report), she fired a warning shot into the ceiling and he fled.

She was prosecuted in Jacksonville by the same prosecutor working the Zimmerman-Martin shooting case in Sanford. Alexander was denied protection from the infamous “stand your ground” defense from her abusive husband and sentenced to 20 years in prison. No one was shot or killed, by the way.

At this site we rail against bully apologists. Apologists for rape – unconscionable you think? Think again. Here’s the reaction of one commentator to the Nebraska story who reflects the emergent “fatigue for compassion for victims” mentality infecting American society.

“don’t understand why the Nebraska judge did not simply dismiss the charges against the defendant for lack of evidence.  That said, it is wrong to cause a criminal prosecution to be commenced and then to back  out when trial time comes. Being charged and prosecuted even unsuccessfully is every bit as traumatic for the defendant as for the complainant.  Also, there is the expense to which the state and the defendant have been put based on the complaint.   I disagree with the suggestion that judges should work in tandem with victim advocates, rape crisis counselors, and rape victims.  Judges should be impartial, not part of the prosecution team.”

If the arbiters of justice in our country can re-traumatize rape victims simply to feed the system that fails them so frequently, astute observers can see how important it will be to educate courts and the entire legal system about the shame and misery endured by grown adults who complain of “bullying” and “abuse” in the workplace after states begin passing our Healthy Workplace Bill.

What say you?

Judge Merritt’s bio

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012 at 8:20 pm and is filed under Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Rulings by Courts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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  • Celia Harrison

    The courts are almost completely dysfunctional. Everyone thinks they will never have to deal with them, but anything can happen. You don’t have to be guilty or to have done anything wrong to be charged with a crime. We all think the truth will come out and we will be fine. Then when it happens you find out the prosecutors are running the show and what they want they get.

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