A woman who has been victimized in a sexual assault, especially a violent incident that involved kidnapping, may be understandably reticent about the idea of discussing the crime or being involved in the process to put her attacker behind bars. But when police deem her participation necessary, she could find herself being held against her will again. This time, though, her captors are the people who are supposed to be protecting her.
The rape victim, a Washington area woman who was allegedly kidnapped, taped naked to a chair and then sexually assaulted, has now been further victimized as area police arrested her for not showing up to pre-trial meetings, forcing the prosecution to delay the case. The judge in the proceedings has issued a “material witness warrant” to ensure she showed up for her court date, a warrant that allowed the police to take her into custody and hold her over night in preparation to take her to the meeting.
Although she made her appearance, she’s still under the orders of the police, who have ordered her to appear weekly for meetings, and more often if necessary, as well as stay in place at the home of her parents, with the threat of being returned to jail if she refuses. “If the prosecutors try to contact you and you’re not there, there will be another warrant out for you, and you’ll be going back to jail. And this time you’re not getting let out,” threatened Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning, according to The Daily News Online.
“There’s a sensitivity chip missing in the brains of each and every person involved with this decision,” writes Rebecca Rose at Jezebel. “It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the devastating impact of sexual assault that victims often have a hard time going through the process involved in bringing a rape charge to trial. Of course she didn’t want to go to your ‘pre-trial meetings.’ Of course she doesn’t want to sit and room and discuss—relive—the trauma that happened to her that night.”
The use of warrants to force rape victims to be involved in their own trials are rarely used, according to the article, but we know such a thing has happened before. In 2012, a 17-year-old girl was thrown in juvenile detention for refusing to go to court and testify against her rapist. The prosecution justified the actions toward the girl by deeming her testimony key to getting a repeated rapist off the street, and that the greater good of getting the accused off the street was worth any emotional or physical harm the teen was going through either in jail or by facing him.
Prosecutors said similar in a 2003 case in Ohio, where a woman was jailed for four days to “teach her a lesson” about why she needed to testify against her attacker. The rape victim claimed she didn’t come to testify because her neighbors were threatening her, but the judge dismissed her fears and put her behind bars to “send a message that people have to cooperate with the justice system, otherwise it doesn’t work.”
Do rape victims lose their rights as a result of being attacked? Is it truly a “greater good” to jail someone who has been harmed in order to force them to testify against a criminal? Our legal system seems to think so. In believing that, they really show that they have no issues with victimizing a victim of a sexual attack over and over again.
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