Texas Rape Victim Was Jailed for Fear She Would Not Testify, Lawsuit Says

It’s news to me that rape victims can be forced to testify when they don’t want to testify. This is crazy.

A material witness warrant was the legal basis for this.

This quote from the article on the NPR website is somewhat disturbing:

Is it normal for the psychiatric staff to “torment” prisoners? I would think that’s not what they are supposed to be there for. But then again, this is Texas.

That’s kind of an extreme case, but ask any rape victim about the horrors they go through after they report the crime and you’ll understand why it’s such an under-reported crime. We haven’t come all that far from when rape victims were routinely executed.

Care to expand on this? 'Cause like, I’m totally unaware of any period in American history when rape victims were routinely executed. Educate me!

I’ve never understood the concept of forcing an uncooperative witness to cooperate.

At trial, the witness testifies, “the room was dark, I didn’t really see anything” or “I really don’t remember any details now”.

In America? Or Taliban Afghanistan?

What you may be missing is that this is a sexual assault case. And after all, people who report sexual assaults and then decide that they don’t want to cooperate in a prosecution are lying life-destroying liars who like to tell lies and destroy lives and they should be in jail.

If we don’t force those liars to cooperate, they’ll just keep destroying everyone’s life and lying.

The good news is we’ve been treating them so badly that I’m pretty sure they’re all going to see the error of their ways pretty soon and then we won’t have this problem anymore.

In this case the victim did testify and the rapist was convicted and sentenced to two life sentences.

The logic behind the DA’s actions is solid and justifiable. What’s not justifiable is booting a mentally ill person in the midst of a breakdown from a hospital because she reached a 10 day limit. Nor is putting her in jail instead of some other arrangement.

Absolutely, as long as you don’t give a flying fuck about the fact that the victim is a human being. And the victim.

But we know what the DA cares about:

Her participation in this prosecution was threatening her life! And since we care so much about her safety, we had no alternative but to put her in jail and force her to come back and keep doing the thing that was killing her! No apparent alternative, as long as you refuse to think about it for three seconds!

What about the other folks this now convicted serial rapist is likely to have attacked, had he walked free because she didn’t testify? Seems like they ought to rate some consideration, to weigh against the sufferings of the witness.

I’m considering them right now. What about it?

She has an obligation to put herself in an extremely unsafe situation on behalf of future victims who will then be forced into the same series of unsafe circumstances by the same fucked up system?

It really is a wonderful thing the way that future hypothetical needs of a hypothetical future rape victim can trump the very concrete, very immediate needs of an actual has-already-been-raped victim. Maybe the next one will be a better victim.

Tell me there’s a cartoon villain involved somewhere in this story, twirling his moustache.

Take this hypothetical: you are in the DA’s shoes. You have a choice. You can either do what the DA did in this case, or you could not do it.

  1. If you do what the DA did in this case, a person right now who stands accused of serial rape will very likely be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and locked up. However, the victim and witness will suffer further trauma.

  2. If you don’t do it, that same person will very likely not be convicted. They will walk free. From your studies of criminal pathology, you know that men who commit serial rape in the past are very likely to continue doing so until caught. Thus, if he walks, he will likely commit further rapes, until he is caught again.

So, assuming in this hypothetical that these are your only two choices, which will you choose?

In either case, is it utterly incredible or reprehensible that a DA, faced with those two choices, would choose the first and not the second?

But that’s a false choice. From the article in the OP, “Instead of putting the woman in jail, officials should have arranged with a community organization or provided a hotel room with a sheriff’s deputy as a chaperone, Mr. [Sean] Buckley said.” (Sean Buckley is her attorney.) The article also mentions that in a similar case in California, the witness was monitored with a GPS device.

Or better yet, deal with the reality:

How about

  1. Use your power within the system to help transform Texas into a civilized state instead of letting it continue to wallow in a festering barbarism the same Texans condemn in “non-Christian” nations.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I didn’t try Googling “Jane Doe.” Any bets on the skin color of the victim?

Agreed, but that’s avoiding the issue I was raising: put up in an community organization or hotel room, or use of a GPS monitor still means a legally forced testimony - which I understood to be the main objection.

Everyone acknowledges (I think) that being shoved in jail and mis-identified as a perp rather than the victim was a massive screw-up and reprehensible.

So, which is it - legally forced testimony, or not?

Same question to you. Legally forced testimony - or not? You decide.

The discussion is somewhat at cross purposes, I think.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the specifics of the treatment that this woman got were any other than horrifically inappropriate.

But then there’s the ethical question of the principles at stake with any degree of coercion of testimony by the state, the bona fide question of balancing the freedom of the current victim to choose whether to participate with the interests of society (potential future victims) that Malthus raised.

ETA - I see Mathus just posted almost the same thing, nm.

I choose not to do it. Oh, wait, there’s more.

I choose not to do it.

Now, I get to point out that your hypothetical is not only contrary to the facts and presents a massively false dilemma, but that it also doesn’t actually set out (even by its own grossly unfair terms) what the choice is. What exactly is the “it” you’re asking me if I’ll do or not do?

As soon as you start to answer that question, you’ll see immediately just how many other choices are available.

Editing to add – ah, I see. The question is whether I’ll compel testimony or not? I don’t think I’d have to, honestly. She already began providing testimony. It seems pretty clear to me that in an appropriate, safe and supportive setting, she wanted to testify. My job would be to ensure that setting existed. If I failed, and she didn’t want to testify anymore, then I guess I fucked up. So: would I do what the DA did? No. I’d do my job responsibly.