Via Broadsheet comes an update on the case where a judge threw out a highly credible rape claim because the victim was a prostitute. She called it “theft of services” instead, which is really exactly the same as saying “you cannot rape a prostitute.”
Now, the Philadelphia Bar Association has rebuked Judge Deni’s ruling. This is, apparently, quite rare.
The chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association issued a statement Tuesday that questioned Deni’s understanding of state law.
”The victim has been brutalized twice in this case: first by the assailants, and now by the court,” Chancellor Jane Leslie Dalton wrote. ”We cannot imagine any circumstances more violent or coercive than being forced to have sex with four men at gunpoint.”
Carol Tracy, executive director of the Philadelphia-based Women’s Law Project, called Deni’s comments ”a throwback to the Middle Ages, when rape was a crime against property, not against a person.”
The 20-year-old woman, a single mother, testified that she worked for an escort service that advertised through the Web site Craigslist.
She went to a North Philadelphia home Sept. 20 to meet Gindraw, who had agreed to pay her $150 for sex. He then said that a friend was coming with the money and that the friend would pay her another $100 to perform sex acts.
Instead, three other men arrived, and Gindraw pulled a gun and ordered the woman to have sex with all of them, she testified.
”He said that I’m going to do this for free, and I’m not going nowhere, and I better cooperate or he was going to kill me,” she testified at a preliminary hearing. . . .
”Even though the woman is a prostitute, it doesn’t mean she couldn’t be a victim,” Dalton said Wednesday. ”Once she says ‘No, it’s not OK,’ then to have sex with her is rape.”
A bar association committee recently gave Deni high marks and recommended that voters support her in a Nov. 6 judicial retention election.
Oh, that’s right: Deni is up for reelection next Tuesday. So, If you live in Philadelphia, spread the word NOW. Do not vote for this woman.
I think it’s great that the Philadelphia Bar Association has taken the time to so harshly criticize Deni. It’s not often that it happens, and since they have recently endorsed her it was quite clearly the right thing to do. You can thank Chancellor Jane L. Dalton at Dalton@duannemorris.com and Executive Director Kenneth Shear at firstname.lastname@example.org for their prudence and responsibility.
Don’t expect Deni to apologize anytime soon, though:
Deni, who makes $148,596 a year, did not immediately return a phone message left at her office Wednesday. Her lawyer, George Bochetto, said Deni called Dalton’s statement that the victim was brutalized twice ”regrettable.”
”The transcript doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story,” Bochetto said. He said Deni also considers a witness’ tone of voice, demeanor and other factors in her rulings.
Wow. She really doesn’t fucking get it, does she? Did she even read the statement by the bar association? At all? Did her lawyer? Because it’s all there on the page as clear as day: the woman’s demeanor doesn’t matter; what matters is that she said no.
But this has been Deni’s excuse from day one. The victim did not act enough like her prescribed version of a victim. Deni obviously believes that this woman did not consent to what occurred — clearly, you do not consent to have your services stolen. In this case, those “services” were sex, and “stealing sex” is really just a bizarre and utterly fucked up way to say “rape.”
The judge knows this, she just doesn’t care because of who the victim was and how she behaved after the rape and during the trial. Deni is more than just a danger to this particular victim — she’s a danger to any rape survivor who enters her court. Women who have been raped react in a multitude of ways, and a judge who is so publicly willing to ignore and mock that fact should not be on the bench.
For those who live in or near Philly and would like to help, here’s some additional information. Again, if you’re in Philadelphia and are registered to vote, going to the polls on November 6th is absolutely vital — and bring some friends with you. If you don’t live Philadelphia but have friends who do, make sure they get this information. No person should have to undergo this same revictimization and abuse, and your vote gives you the power to stop it.