Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I can't leave this one alone

Here are some highlights from the article:
Banned words debated in sex assault case
BY CLARENCE MABIN / Lincoln Journal Star

Tory Bowen says she knows what happened to her on the morning of Oct. 31, 2004.But she won’t be able tell her story to jurors — at least not in a way that’s truthful to her, she says — because a judge’s order bars witnesses from using words like “rape” and “sexual assault” in the trial of Pamir Safi, who is accused of sexually assaulting Bowen.


“In my mind, what happened to me was rape,” said Bowen, 24. “I want the freedom to be able to point (to Safi) in court and say, ‘That man raped me.’”

Last month, Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront denied a motion by prosecutors that would have prohibited Safi’s attorneys from using words like “sex” and “intercourse” when describing the encounter between Safi and Bowen.

The Lancaster County Attorney’s Office had argued the words would imply Bowen consented to have sex.Cheuvront also has sustained an earlier motion by defense attorneys barring the words “rape” and “sexual assault kit.”

In Bowen’s opinion, Cheuvront’s ruling means she will have to lie on the witness stand.“The word ‘sex’ implies consent,” she said. “I never once would describe (what happened) as sex. He’s making me commit perjury.”

Clarence Mock, one of Safi’s attorneys, said Cheuvront made the rulings to keep the trial fair.

The word “rape,” is not a legal term, he said. “Sexual assault” is, but whether a defendant committed that crime is a question for a jury to answer based on evidence at trial, Mock said.

“Under the rules of evidence, witnesses can’t reach legal conclusions,” he said.

“Trials are competing narratives of what happened,” Mock continued. “They should not turn on politicized hyperbole. They should turn on the facts.

“... Using words like ‘rape’ creates unfair prejudices for defendants and invades the (duties) of the jury.”


Holy shit. I can't believe this is true.

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