Another Alleged Rape Victim Threatened with Jail

But unlike the previous story out of Oregon, it’s not because the woman is suspected of making a false allegation—it’s because she doesn’t want to watch the videotape of her rape in court.

The incident took place four years ago when the woman was 16. At a party at the home of the accused, who she didn’t know previously, she got drunk, threw up, and passed out. When she woke up the next morning, she was naked from the waist down with “vulgar words” scrawled on her abdomen and legs with a marker. According to prosecutors, the videotape shows two men having sex with her, and images of people spitting on her and writing on her while she was unconscious.

Four men were originally charged. Christopher Robbins was acquitted, as the videotape does not show him having sex with the woman; he says they had sex off-camera, but that it was consensual. Sonny Smith, who served as cameraman, pled guilty to child pornography and was sent to the Illinois Department of Corrections boot camp. The two other men, who are shown on the video having sex with the woman, both fled the country. Burim Berezi still remains at large; Adrian Missbrenner returned and is now the defendant in the ongoing case.

Now at issue is the woman’s unwillingness to watch the tape. Defense attorneys insist it’s part of the defendant’s “constitutional right to confrontation of a witness,” but the woman has testified that “she doesn't have any recollection or memory of the videotape incident at all,” so it’s rather unclear what purpose subjecting her to its viewing would serve. Nonetheless:

A Naperville woman who on Tuesday refused a judge's order to view a videotape of her alleged rape could be jailed on a contempt of court charge if she does not change her mind Wednesday, and the judge is considering a request to drop sexual assault charges against the Burr Ridge man on trial.

"I am ordering you to answer these questions," Judge Kerry Kennedy told the woman after an hourlong recess to discuss her refusal. "The consequences are that you would be held in contempt of court, with incarceration possible. Are you still refusing?"

"Yes," she responded.

"I will give you overnight to think about this," Kennedy said. "Tomorrow, I will ask you again."
This is just utter bullshit. If the woman has testified she doesn’t remember anything about the incident, then the video should be allowed to speak for itself—whether that hurts her or helps her. Why is the case predicated on her willingness to relive her attack and be asked questions about it she can’t possibly answer in front of a courtroom full of people? And, more importantly, why is she being threatened by having charges against the defendant dismissed and being put in jail herself if she doesn’t watch the tape? Does her reluctance to watch the tape somehow change what’s actually on the tape? If the tape shows men having sex with her while she’s unconscious, spitting on her, and writing on her body, her impressions of the tape matter a hell of a lot less than the jury’s.

And why, pray tell, does the Chicago Tribune end this article with the following?

In another rape case in 1995, a woman who had accused then-U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds of sexually abusing her when she was 16 was jailed for seven days after refusing to testify against him. She later recanted.

Reynolds was convicted and sent to prison but was pardoned by President Bill Clinton after serving more than 2 years.
What does that have to do with price of rice in China?! In the year 1995, Illinois had 4,313 cases of reported forced rape. In the year 2001 (which I believe is when the case described above actually happened), there were 5,618 reported incidents of criminal sexual assault in Illinois. But the most pertinent case to mention is a case where the victim recanted? In relation to a case where the attack was videotaped? Fucking ridiculous. Nice reporting.

(Thanks to kate.d for the heads-up.)

UPDATE: LeMew turns his legal eye to the case here.

UPDATE2: After victims' rights advocates intervene, the judge has changed his mind.

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