Last month, Jeff wrote about the Nebraska judge who had banned the use of words like rape, sexual assault, sexual assault kit, victim, and assailant from his courtroom during a rape trial. But on Monday, the accuser, Tory Bowen, who is just all kinds of brave, refused to sign an order agreeing not to use the terms.
Tory Bowen said testifying about the alleged attack will be difficult enough.
“And then I’m pausing three seconds because I don’t know if it’s a word that will lead to a mistrial or me being jailed or held in contempt. It’s frightening. That’s not something a victim should go through,” said Bowen.
Absolutely not—particularly because it’s impossible to convey that she was raped if she’s not allowed to use any “inflammatory” statements suggesting rape, which presumably include even stating that she did not give consent or that the defendant forced himself on her. Additionally, though Bowen faces sanctions and possible jail time if she doesn’t recognize and adhere to the judge’s stipulation, she notes quite correctly that to do so would necessarily require her to commit perjury. If she were raped, testifying she “had intercourse with” the defendant is not accurate.
This whole situation is complete madness.
Yesterday, Boston law professor Wendy Murphy, filing on Bowen’s behalf, requested a review of District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront’s decision by the Nebraska Supreme Court. Murphy has also filed the request with Cheuvront himself, but he “has not yet indicated to her when or if he will hold a hearing on the filing,” despite jury selection being underway and likely to be complete by tomorrow.
And speaking of voir dere: “27 of the 50 people in the jury pool have been dismissed from the case. Another 27 prospective jurors have been added to the pool to replace those.” The defendant’s attorney notes that “potential jurors were dismissed for a variety of reasons, including their personal experiences,” which is standard procedure and likely means that women (and men) who have been raped have been dismissed from the jury pool (because, of course, having been raped irreparably breaks your mind so you are no longer able to be objective). Of course, if the accuser isn’t even allowed to say rape a happened, I wonder why the judge didn’t instruct the defense they couldn’t dismiss jurors on the basis of having been raped? One might suspect he was trying to stack the court in the defendant’s favor or something…
Meanwhile, I’d just like to point out that this judge has turned a local rape trial, which is bad enough for a victim, into a national story. The judge says he banned the use of “inflammatory” language in the interest of justice, but I now know this woman’s name, what she looks like, what she sounds like, and that she says she was raped. Where the fuck is the justice in that?
UPDATE: And, btw, I also know the alleged rapist’s name, what he looks like, and that he’s on trial for rape. So…major kudos to the judge for that one, too, especially as his plan was designed to cosset the guy. Safe to say that plan backfired once the story went national, methinks.