23 May 2006

Punishing The Victim

Islamic law is well known for its tendency to punish victims in rape cases. But, the U.S. court system isn't immune, as shown in the case of a 14 year old Akron, Ohio girl who spent the last 12 days in an adult jail as a material witness. The trial of Galo Sanchez-Pesantes, 20, the man accused of having sex with her last January is set for May 31, 2006.

[T]he teen's stay behind bars, triggered by a judge when she ran away instead of testifying against her alleged molester, ended Monday . . . .

She won her freedom when the Ohio 9th District Court of Appeals ruled Monday that her incarceration without a hearing, plus her detention in an adult jail, violated the law. . . .

Prosecutors . . . had asked the appeals court to allow another hearing that would have extended her jail stay. . . .

The girl was ordered to jail May 10 as a material witness by Common Pleas Judge James Murphy. When she was not accepted at the juvenile detention center because another judge said incarceration would be illegal, Murphy placed her in the county jail.

The girl was isolated from adult inmates and essentially held in isolation 23 hours a day. She had limited phone use and prosecutors chose who could speak to her. . . .

The girl's mother said she supported Murphy's decision to jail her daughter.

But, 'if it was illegal and she's coming home, I'm supporting that also,' the 31-year-old said. 'I hope she's learned her lesson. But I will be there for her, support her and love her.'


Way to be supportive mom, who claimed that "the teen was a chronic runaway who used alcohol and drugs in the company of men." I wonder how your daughter ended up behaving like that.

Kudos to Akron attorney Eddie Sipplen, who represented the girl, pro bono, after reading her story in the newspaper. One of the serious deficiencies of our current system is the lack of a clear right to an attorney in a civil contempt case.

1 comment:

karen m said...

I thought one of the mom's comments was particularly interesting - "I hope she's learned her lesson."

If it's the lesson of don't trust any adult to be there for you in a crisis, especially your parents, I think she's learned that pretty well. If that's an example of her mother's "support", she's better off without it. That's just so horribly sad.