Friday, January 04, 2008

Rape Case Where Victim Not Allowed To Say Rape Won't Be Retried

From the Omaha World-Herald:

LINCOLN — A case that drew national attention after a judge barred the word "rape" from court testimony will not be retried, the alleged victim said Thursday. Tory Bowen, a former University of Nebraska-Lincoln student who now lives in the Washington, D.C., area, said she was told Thursday by Lancaster County prosecutors that her case, the subject of two previous mistrials, would not be tried a third time. She said she just recently had received a letter saying that a new trial of her alleged assailant, Pamir Safi, was scheduled to begin Feb. 19.

This is sad news, but unfortunately not surprising to me. If this decision was made by Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront or because of a ruling made by him, he doesn't deserve to remain a judge.

Too often what people like this judge call due process is in reality institutionalized bigotry and an effort to muzzle certain victims. The law he based his ruling on needs to change so that it cannot be misused in this way ever again.

Someone saying, "I woke up to find some strange man raping me" is not unfairly prejudicial, it is valid testimony. To ban statements like this is to support unfair trials as long as they are unfair to the victim. Too often "fair" means clearly favorable to the defendant at the expense of impartial justice.

Update (1/5): The prosecutor issued a statement clarifying the reason the case won't be retried.

[...] Gary Lacey said, the reason was the judge's ruling barring two witnesses from testifying in the sexual assault trial. Lacey said in a statement released Friday that prosecutors' decision not to retry Pamir Safi "was precipitated by (Lancaster County District) Judge Jeffre P. Cheuvront's reversal of a decision to allow the testimony of two witnesses who alleged Safi took advantage of their drunkenness to force sex upon them. [...] Lacey said in his statement that Cheuvront's decision to exclude previous incidents cannot be appealed under Nebraska law.

The unfortunate impression this leaves me with is that this judge decided the case himself and made rulings based on his own prejudices. With this ruling if Safi is reported again by another woman with the same allegations, these 3 prior allegations likely won't be admitted as evidence even though this man exhibits a clear pattern of exploitive behavior.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:24 AM   0 comments links to this post


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