Sunday, June 08, 2008

Don't Call It Rape

This is rather startling:

It's the only way Tory Bowen knows to honestly describe what happened to her.

She was raped.

But a judge prohibited her from uttering the word "rape" in front of a jury. The term "sexual assault" also was taboo, and Bowen could not refer to herself as a victim or use the word "assailant" to describe the man who allegedly raped her.

The defendant's presumption of innocence and right to a fair trial trumps Bowen's right of free speech, said the Lincoln, Neb., judge who issued the order.


"There's no law anywhere that allows courts to issue these kinds of orders against private citizens," Murphy said. "That doesn't mean judges aren't doing it."

Prosecutors may object, but rarely do they have the time and resources to stop a trial midstream to appeal, she said.

But in cases where the defendant's version of events is pitted against that of the alleged victim, "words are really important," Marquis said.

"To force a victim to say, 'when the defendant and I had sexual intercourse' is just absurd," he said.

Let me see if I got this right: If someone mugs you and steals your rings and bracelets you are supposed to call the mugging "an exchange of jewelry"? Because otherwise you are prejudicing the case against the accused? Why is "avoiding prejudicing the case" equal to presenting only the case of the defense?