In Texas this year, a bipolar rape victim was thrown in jail after breaking down on the witness stand.
A Dallas Morning News editorial reports: “You read that right. A mentally fragile 25-year-old woman, who had been the victim of a violent rape and beating, was tossed in the slammer at the behest of prosecutors who were afraid she would skip town without finishing her testimony.”
The editorial goes on: “But the hard fact is that what happened to the victim — identified in court filings only as “Jenny” — is inexcusable. Using a state law most often employed to detain gang members or other uncooperative witnesses, Harris County prosecutors obtained a judge’s order to lock Jenny up in mid-December. … That was after she fled the courtroom in tears on coming face-to-face with the man who had viciously choked and raped her two years earlier.”
Is it any wonder that sexual assault victims — male or female — often don’t come forward? Or that once one person steps forward to accuse a serial sexual predator that several others soon follow?
It is even worse when the sexual predator is someone famous. Look at the case of former NFL superstar Darren Sharper.
Sharper drugged and raped several women between 2011 and 2014 and remained free despite mounting evidence … because of who he was.
A criminal justice official told Pro Publica, “If his name was John Brown, he would have been in jail. If a woman says, ‘He’s the guy that raped me,’ and you have corroborating evidence to show they were together and she went to the hospital and she can identify him, that guy goes to jail.”
The Pro Publica story continues: “Sharper did not — and continued an unchecked crime spree that ended only with his arrest in Los Angeles last year after sexually assaulting four women in 24 hours.”
Sexual assault victims are treated like they are the criminals and the system is afraid of powerful men.
Bill Cosby. Jerry Sandusky. Jared Fogle. The Catholic Church scandal.
How about the Dallas minister who was sentenced to 12-15 years for having sex with a 14-year-old girl … 20 years after the statutory rape!
And you’re surprised it takes time for victims to (1) come to grips with what happened to them, and (2) trust someone enough to step forward? Or that victims feel empowered when they see someone else who has the same experience speak up?
Yes, men have been falsely accused of sexual assault. No, we shouldn’t label someone a sexual predator without proof.
But we absolutely need to stop treating victims like they are criminals. We have to realize that the emotional trauma caused by rape can radically influence a victim’s willingness to step forward.
And we have to understand that powerful men are treated differently by the system.
Just ask the victims who have tried to speak out against them. They will tell you.
((October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I am raising money through my Red and Purple campaign to help local domestic violence and sexual assault advocates help victims. Find out more at www.redandpurple.org.))