Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rape Victim Faced With Contempt Charges For Revealing The Names Of Her Attackers Publicly

Now here's an interesting example of American jurisprudence at work.

Back in August, 2011, Samantha Dietrich, pictured above, was sexually assualted by two teen-age boys she knew. She was drinking at a party and passed out. It's uncertain whether she was simply plied with liquor until she blacked out or whether there were any additives to her drinks involved, but either way, the two boys took advantage of the situation. Not only that, but months later she learned that pictures of the assault had been taken and shared around with no one knows how many other people.

“For months, I cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t go out in public places" Samantha said."You just sit there and wonder, who saw (the pictures), who knows?”

Samantha and her parents went to the the Louisville Metro Police, and eventually the two juvenile defendants were charged with first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and misdemeanor voyeurism, whatever that may be.

Everyone involved was a minor, but Samantha is only 17 now, so among other things, she was definitely under the age of consent (18 if I remember my Kentucky law correctly), no matter how you slice this.So it was pretty much open and shut.

The two perpetrators pled guilty to both charges in late June as part of a plea bargain that remains confidential. Sentencing has not yet been officially pronounced.

Samantha Dietrich and her family say they were unaware of the plea bargain and recommended sentence until just before it was announced in court, and were upset with what they termed as a slap on the wrist.

“I felt like they were given a very, very light deal,” Dietrich said. “I wasn’t happy with it, at all.”

The judge instructed everyone involved in the case not to speak to anyone about what had happened in the court or about the crime in general, according to Dietrich.

“I was crying as she (the judge) was reading that,” Dietrich said. “They got off very easy ... and they tell me to be quiet, just silencing me at the end.”

Here's where things get interesting.

After the June 26 hearing, Dietrich went public on her Twitter account and named  the two teens who pleaded guilty.

“They said I can’t talk about it or I’ll be locked up,” Dietrich tweeted. “So I’m waiting for them to read this and lock me up. ____ justice."

“Protect rapist is more important than getting justice for the victim in Louisville.”

“There you go, lock me up,” Savannah Dietrich tweeted, as she named the perpetrators. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”

The attorneys for the two perpetrators immediately went to District Court to seek contempt charges against Dietrich for violating the judge's instruction in the matter. The charge carries a potential sentence of up to 180 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Dietrich’s attorneys in turn filed motions to open the court proceedings, arguing she has a First Amendment right to speak about what happened in her case and a right to a public hearing on the contempt charge.

Court cases involving juveniles are normally closed in Kentucky.

So, that's where things stand now.

Hard to say how to come down on this.

On the one hand, Samantha Dietrich obviously violated a judge's instructions, always a bad idea and normally a one way ticket to a contempt citation.

On the other hand, it appears that the DA was trying to shuffle this along by going for an easy plea bargain without consulting the victim or her family first, whom the DA was supposedly working for. That happens quite a lot. And it's also pretty obvious that the perpetrators of the assault didn't particularly care about Samantha Dietrich's privacy one iota, not to mention her person, which they essentially treated like a toilet. Pictures of the rape are probably still circulating and being gawked at.

The better way for Samantha Dietrich to proceed would have been to challenge the judge's court order at the time, but then, she and her family were dealing with someone from the DA's office, with all that implies....

Your thoughts?

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