Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rapists withdraw motion to charge 17-year-old sexual assault victim for tweeting names of attackers


Savannah Dietrich Doesn't Face Contempt Charge For Revealing Names Of Sexual Attackers
Huff Post

Savannah Dietrich was threatened with a contempt charge for tweeting the names of the teens who sexually assaulted her.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A 17-year-old Kentucky girl who defied a court order by tweeting the names of two teenagers who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her won't face a contempt charge.

David Mejia (meh-HEE'-yah), an attorney for one of the accused boys, says the motion to hold 17-year-old Savannah Dietrich of Louisville in contempt was withdrawn Monday.

Mejia says the decision had nothing to do with public sentiment in the case, although an online petition campaign had garnered more than 62,000 signatures. He said there's no need for the motion now that Dietrich spread word about the case over the Internet.

Dietrich told The Courier-Journal she tweeted the names out of frustration with what she feels was a lenient deal for her attackers.

I can understand the desire to protect the identities of juvenile offenders, but I do not believe the court can legally silence a victim. She never agreed to be silent, and there is no law that compels her silence. The offenders can give up some rights in exchange for a deal, but the victim isn't the one making the deal. She doesn't have to give up any rights. This wouldn't even be an issue except that most victims are too damaged and intimidated to speak out.

See Petition to judge in this case.

17-year-old sexual assault victim could face charges for tweeting names of attackers
By Dylan Stableford
Yahoo! News
July 22, 2012

A Kentucky girl who was sexually assaulted could face contempt of court charges after she tweeted the names of her juvenile attackers.

Savannah Dietrich, the 17-year-old victim, was frustrated by a plea deal reached late last month by the two boys who assaulted her, and took to Twitter to expose them--violating a court order to keep their names confidential.

"There you go, lock me up," Dietrich tweeted after naming the perpetrators. "I'm not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell." Her Twitter account has since been closed.

Attorneys for the attackers asked a Jefferson District Court judge to hold Dietrich in contempt for lashing out on Twitter. She could face up to 180 days in jail and a $500 fine if convicted. The boys have yet to be sentenced for the August 2011 attack. "So many of my rights have been taken away by these boys," Dietrich told Louisville's Courier-Journal. "I'm at the point, that if I have to go to jail for my rights, I will do it. If they really feel it's necessary to throw me in jail for talking about what happened to me as opposed to throwing these boys in jail for what they did to me, then I don't understand justice."

Dietrich was assaulted by the pair after passing out at a party. They later shared photos of the assault with friends.

"For months, I cried myself to sleep," Dietrich said. "I couldn't go out in public places."

On June 26, the boys pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism. Terms of their plea agreement were not released.

"They got off very easy," Dietrich, who says she was unaware of the plea agreement before it was announced in court, said in her interview with the newspaper. "They said I can't talk about it or I'll be locked up," Dietrich tweeted after hearing, according to the paper. "So I'm waiting for them to read this and lock me up."

"[Protecting rapists] is more important than getting justice for the victim in Louisville," she added.

A hearing for the contempt of court charge is scheduled for July 30. Attorneys for Dietrich want it open to the media, while the boys lawyers want it closed. Both the Gannett-owned Courier-Journal and Dietrich's attorneys "have filed motions to open the proceedings, arguing she has a First Amendment right to speak about what happened in her case," the newspaper said.

An online petition asking the judge to throw out the charges against Dietrich, launched Saturday, has already accumulated hundreds of signatures.

"[She] should not be legally barred from talking about what happened to her," Gregg Leslie, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told the Associated Press. "That's a wide-ranging restraint on speech."

This case actually reminds me a bit of my own case.


bran deditems said...

I'm confused. If these boys are so concerned about remaining anonymous, why did they show pics and video of the assault to other people. Sounds to me like they wanted everyone to know what they did. Now they're trying to cry like victims?

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem with this story is that the laws behind sexual assaults and juvenile crime assume that the victim(s) want to remain private. Also, even though the order was stupid, breaking a judge’s order is considered contempt of court. Dietrich has the right to speak her mind, but she should have exhausted all other recourses before defying the court’s order.