As Brock Turner ditches prison, Knicks player Derrick Rose faces trial for gang rape. Why is the legal system so hard on victims?
Stanford rapist Brock Turner was released from jail today. If you’re thinking, “wow, that seems quick,” you are right in a number of ways.
First, Turner was sentenced to six months for sexually assaulting a young woman outside a college party. The sentence received national attention for its leniency, and has led the sentencing judge to no longer be permitted to hear criminal cases.
You may also think it seems fast that he’s out of jail because it really doesn’t feel like it’s been six months. Well, that’s because it’s been three months. Yes, his appallingly short prison term was cut in half.
As Turner is set free, we turn our attention to a similar case that continues to show that we, as a nation, habitually turn the other way when it comes to rape.
Basketball player Derrick Rose won NBA MVP in 2011. Since that time, he has suffered myriad injuries and has been traded from Chicago to the New York Knicks. Most basketball fans know all that. What they may not know is that Rose is also involved in a gang rape case.
A woman has accused Rose and two of his friends of drugging and raping her in August of 2013. Since then, Rose and his attorneys have gone through a basic two-step for rape accusers.
Step 1: Blame the victim
“She was asking for it.” Apparently the victim invited the accused — a man she had dated for two years — over to her apartment.
Here is his statement about why he and his friends (Mr. Hampton and Mr. Allen below) went to her apartment that night:
Q: Did either Mr. Hampton or Mr. Allen tell you why they wanted to go to Plaintiff’s home on the night in question?
Rose: No. No.
Q: So they just said, “Hey, it’s the middle of the night. Let’s go over to Plaintiff’s house” and they never gave you a reason why they wanted to go over there?’
Rose: No, but we men. You can assume.
Q: I’m sorry?
Rose: I said we men. You can assume. Like we leaving to go over to someone’s house at 1:00, there’s nothing to talk about.
To clear even clearer: Rose is saying that, if he has his friends come to your apartment at 1 a.m., sex is understood and doesn’t need to be spoken.
Step 2: Discredit the victim
Rose’s attorneys went right to the victim’s actions to prove she wasn’t raped. They state that, after the alleged rape, the victim had coffee with a friend the next day and went to work. They’ve also said that she has posted sexually suggestive pictures on Instagram. Alert me when these things become crimes — or proof that someone was not raped.
His attorneys have also been fighting hard to get her name on record (until now, she has been Jane Doe in documents). Once this happens, they can go after her character in the media. Rose’s legal team was offered a compromise: they can use her name in court, but courtroom access would be limited and the media cannot use her name. They have not agreed.
What’s more, they said they “do not think any media restrictions are warranted or necessary, partly because the media has to some degree lost interest in the case.” Take a moment to read that again. Basically, their position is that media does not care — so let’s release this girl’s name so we can drag it through the mud. It’s maddening that they would use “the media has lost interest” as an argument, but also maddening that it’s basically true.
When his attorneys looked to release her name pre-trial using these reasons, the judge responded:
Defendant Rose appears to suggest that women who publicly portray themselves as “sexual” are less likely to experience embarrassment, humiliation, and harassment associated with gang rape. Such rhetoric has no place in this Court. No matter how Plaintiff chooses to depict her sexuality on social media, her allegations of rape entitle her to the protections of anonymity.
In the end, the case will go to trial on October 4, with the obvious goal of uncovering whether or not rape took place. But regardless of the result of this single case, attacking victims rather than uncovering the facts has got to stop.