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17-Year-Old Rape Victim Loses Her First Amendment Rights by Being Raped
17-Year-Old Rape Victim Charged for Tweeting Names of Convicted Rapists
“There you go, lock me up,” 17-year-old rape victim Savannah Dietrich tweeted after naming her rapists on Twitter. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”
Another tweet read, “Protect rapist is more important than getting justice for the victim in Louisville.”
A brave and defiant Savannah Dietrich explained her outrage, “So many of my rights have been taken away by these boys. 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.”
Good point, Savannah. And although this is juvenile court, since when do we silence victims of violent crimes, especially when the perpetrators not only pleaded guilty, but passed pictures around of their crime – humiliating the victim even further? They sure weren’t silent. They didn’t protect her privacy. Why should they be granted protection they didn’t afford their victim?
Why should a rape victim be denied her first amendment rights in order to protect the reputation of convicted sexual assaulters?
And for the safety of other girls who will come into contact with these boys, I’m all for naming names. They’re guilty, they’ve been convicted.
Explaining how she had found out that she’d been raped after passing out at a party, she said, “For months, I cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t go out in public places.”
Part of healing for rape victims is learning to talk about their experience without shame, but the court accepted a plea deal without Dietrich’s input that forces her to stay silent and not name names. Attorneys for the sexual assaulters are asking that the Kentucky teenager be held in contempt of court for violating a court order.
Savannah was unaware of the terms of their plea bargain, and feels they got off easy. She told the Courier Journal, “I felt like they were given a very, very light deal. I wasn’t happy with it, at all.”
They pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism. They haven’t been sentenced yet, but according to Kentucky statute, they are guilty of a Class D felony and a misdemeanor. For the felony, they face (d) For a Class D felony, not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years. Wow. Compare that to other states where if the perpetrators were adults, they’d be facing automatic life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Looks like Kentucky is the place to go for rapists. But truthfully, rape is both exceptionally under-reported and convictions are tough to get. The pictures probably did these teenagers in.
In some states, even minors who commit first degree sexual abuse are required to stay in compliance with residency restrictions, if not placement on the sex abuse registry.
Why? Because sex abuse in the first degree is when in the course of committing sexual abuse, the person causes another serious injury. In Kentucky, first degree sexual assault is a class C or D felony.
510.110 Sexual abuse in the first degree.
. (1) A person is guilty of sexual abuse in the first degree when:
. (a) He or she subjects another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion; or
. (b) He or she subjects another person to sexual contact who is incapable of consent because he or she:
1. Is physically helpless;
2. Is less than twelve (12) years old; or
3. Is mentally incapacitated; or
. (c) Being twenty-one (21) years old or more, he or she:
1. Subjects another person who is less than sixteen (16) years old to sexual contact;
2. Engages in masturbation in the presence of another person who is less than sixteen (16) years old and knows or has reason to know the other person is present; or
3. Engages in masturbation while using the Internet, telephone, or other electronic communication device while communicating with a minor who the person knows is less than sixteen (16) years old, and the minor can see or hear the person masturbate; or
. (d) Being a person in a position of authority or position of special trust, as defined in KRS 532.045, he or she, regardless of his or her age, subjects a minor who is less than eighteen (18) years old, with whom he or she comes into contact as a result of that position, to sexual contact or engages in masturbation in the presence of the minor and knows or has reason to know the minor is present or engages in masturbation while using the Internet, telephone, or other electronic communication device while communicating with a minor who the person knows is less than sixteen (16) years old, and the minor can see or hear the person masturbate.
. (2) Sexual abuse in the first degree is a Class D felony, unless the victim is less than twelve (12) years old, in which case the offense shall be a Class C felony. Effective: July 15, 2008
While the perpetrators have yet to be sentenced for raping her, she’s facing up to 180 days in jail and a $500 fine if convicted of violating the court order via Twitter. So, she names them and gets up to 180 days in jail; they rape her and show pictures of it to their friends and get between most likely 1 year with probation tacked on but given this is juvenile court, they may not even go to jail – (irony much, Kentucky?) and sealed court records.
“[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.”
The Courier-Journal and Dietrich’s attorneys agree. They “have filed motions to open the proceedings, arguing she has a First Amendment right to speak about what happened in her case and a right to a public hearing on the contempt charge.”
The result of this court’s decision is that Savannah has lost her first amendment rights because she was raped. Let Judge Deana “Dee” McDonald, Louisville, KY know how you feel about this via a Change.Org petition.