Sexual Assault Victim Faces Jail for Naming Attackers
Savannah Dietrich fell unconscious after drinking at a party last August. While she lay unconscious, two teen boys she knew sexually assaulted her, videotaping the incident and distributing pictures on the internet. Now Dietrich faces jail time for naming her attackers on Twitter.
Dietrich, 17, who told the Louisville Courier-Journal that she wanted her name to be used openly, tweeted the names of her attackers after they accepted a plea deal that she felt was too lenient. “There you go, lock me up,” Dietrich said, after tweeting their names. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”
Attorneys for the assailants then asked a Jefferson District Court Judge to hold Dietrich in contempt, for violating the confidentiality of the juvenile court hearing in which they pleaded guilty to felony first-degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism.
“I felt like they were given a very, very light deal,” Dietrich said. “I wasn’t happy with it, at all.”
Dietrich has asked for the media to be present at her July 30 contempt hearing, and has waived confidentiality in order to allow the media to cover her case. Both Dietrich’s attorneys and the Courier-Journal have filed requests to open the hearings, arguing that she has the First Amendment right to speak on the case and have her own case be covered publicly.
Dietrich was unable to give more details of the sentence, lest she run further afoul of the gag order put in place.
Emily Farrar-Crockett, one of Dietrich’s attorneys, said that Dietrich had been advised that even speaking to the media could put her in further legal jeopardy. “But she feels it’s important to speak out and chose to do so,” Farrar-Crockett said.
“I Cried Myself to Sleep”
Dietrich was assaulted at a party in August of 2011 by two boys that she knew. She had been drinking, and fell unconscious. While she was unconscious, the two boys assaulted her, taking video of the assault and sharing it with others. Months after the incident, Dietrich learned of the video, and of the assault.
“For months, I cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t go out in public places,” she said. “You just sit there and wonder, who saw, who knows?”
Dietrich and her parents reported the assault to police, and her attackers were arrested, and pleaded guilty. They were aghast at what they viewed as an extremely light sentence.
Following the plea, Judge Dee McDonald admonished everyone in the court not to speak about the sentencing or the crime in general.
““I was crying as she (the judge) was reading that,” Dietrich told the s. “They got off very easy … and they tell me to be quiet, just silencing me at the end.”
Dietrich says that she knows she could face jail for violating the court order, but that’s a price she’s willing to pay to share her story.
“I’m at the point that if I have to go to jail for my rights, I will do it,” she said.
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Image Credit: Brian Turner