Judge Jails 17 year-old Alleged Rape Victim: Re-visit Marsy’s Law & Amend Penal Code 881

(Update 4/16/2012 5:30 pm: The judge just released the victim from jail with GPS. As reported by huffingtonpost.com, “the judge told the teen that her case had charted rare legal territory because her detention was seen as victimizing the girl a second time. I am truly sorry for all that you’ve been through. You’ve demonstrated great courage for a young woman.”.  And, a defense attorney stated, “This may be the first time I’ve heard of a minor being subjected to that process…I think it can be characterized … as bullying.” (It took the judge over 30 days to figure that out. WOW, that’s some judicial discretion.)

What’s the quickest way to increase the chance of rapists going free? Threaten victims with jail. What?

That’s exactly what the Sacramento District Attorney Jan Scully and Judge Lawrence Brown did. They now have the distinction of jailing a 17-year-old alleged rape victim. Why? To ensure her appearance at trial. She had missed two other court appearances and the prosecution needs her for their case. So, jail forthwith. And, she has been in jail since March 14, 2012.

Is this 2012?

Have they lost their minds. Jail for an alleged rape victim? A 17-year-old young woman who was allegedly brutally raped by an alleged serial rapist. Who is the criminal here? What next, jail domestic violence victims when they recant or don’t show up?

Really, wouldn’t a shelter or safe house with electronic monitoring (GPS) have been sufficient.

When questioned, Sacramento County Assistant District Attorney Albert Locher stated, “the last thing we ever want to do is put a victim or witness in custody, but when you have serious crimes of violence and multiple offenses, you have to balance the protection of the community”, as reported by abcnews.com. (Alleged Rape Victim Jailed to Ensure Testimony 4/5/2012)

Really, Mr. DA, how many rape victims do you think will come forward now?

And, jail further traumatizes victims.

During her last 30 days in jail, the young victim has been sprayed with pepper spray, denied contact visits with her mother, and was injured during a “forced” physical education class, as reported by the Sacramento Bee. (Alleged Rape Victim must stay in custody, Sacramento judge says 4/7/2012). All while, she is recovering from the rape.

Simply appalling.

I should know. I prosecuted domestic violence cases for years and jail was never considered. I thought prosecutors fought to protect victims not bully them.

In California, victims have rights. It’s called Marsy’s Law. It was named after Marsalee Nicholas, a UC Santa Barbara college student, who was murdered and stalked by her boyfriend in 1983. The law was enacted because victims lacked adequate protection in the legal system. It grants victims 17 rights including the right to be “free from intimidation, harassment and abuse throughout the criminal and juvenile justice process” (California Constitution Article 1, Section 28(b), “The California Crime Victims Bill of Rights Act of 2008”).

And, jail is intimidation and harassment.

If a judge and a DA can’t figure out how not to re-traumatize a victim or the silencing consequences of jailing a rape victim, it’s time for the legislature to step in. It’s time to amend Penal Code Section 881 to stop the next DA or judge from imprisoning a rape victim on a material witness warrant.

And, a judicial apology could never offset the damage to a victim.

Simply my opinion, what say you?

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2 Comments on “Judge Jails 17 year-old Alleged Rape Victim: Re-visit Marsy’s Law & Amend Penal Code 881”

  1. ritabowman says:

    I have been a Victim’s Advocate and Biblical Counselor for nearly two decades, and a Domestic Relations Mediator for over eleven years.. I thought I had seen and heard everything and that nothing could surprise me. However, this is one of the most devastating abuses of the judical system I have heard of. Re-victimizing any victim is horrific, but a 17 year old teenage girl, brutally raped by her attacker and then to be brutally raped by the very system that is supposed to protect her, unbelievable. The judge and DA and everyone else who had any part of everything that happened to this precious young girl whlie in their “protective custody” should be held responsible for all her pain and suffering and the pain and suffering of her family.

    From a mother’s perspective – why not charges against all of the above such as child abuse, neglect of a minor, false imprisonment, to name a few. Sorry – this is response is more emotional and outrage and the injustice done to this poor teenager than intellectual;


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