Trigger Warning for post and links for descriptions gang rape, as well as rape apologism and denialism by the judicial system.
Blogging about the issues that I blog about can take a lot out of a person. Specifically, they sometimes manage to take a lot out of me. Consequently, there are some posts that I write, and cases that I write about, that I would prefer to not think about ever again after I have hit publish.
The De Anza rape case was definitely one of those cases.
For those of you who understandably do not remember my posts from 2-3 years ago, the De Anza rape case is one that I blogged about passionately and extensively. It’s one in which the outcome pretty much crushed me.[1. Note: The views I held three years ago are not necessarily the same views I hold now. Similarly, language I used three years ago is not necessarily language I would use or approve of now. For the sake of honesty and proper records, however, it’s not something that I’m going to change now. If something in particular is bothering you, please feel free to ask about it. ] And now, information has been revealed that makes that outcome all the more despicable.
But allow us to back track for a moment, for those who do not wish to read several old, long posts, to remember what happened at De Anza in the first place. One night, three young women were leaving a house party when they heard that something horrible was happening upstairs. Upon investigating, they allegedly found a room filled with eight or nine men (the numbers varied from report to report), some of whom were baseball players, gang raping a 17-year-old girl. The girl was drifting in and out of consciousness, and was covered in vomit — vomit that is claimed to have not even been her own. When the three women — women who I have always thought of as heroes — attempted to intervene, some of the men tried to hold them back. The women fought like hell, and eventually got into the room. They took care of the victim, and they got her to the hospital.
Eventually, authorities were involved. They decided not to file charges, claiming there were too many conflicting accounts and not enough evidence. They made plenty of excuses. And, worst of all, it turned out that the three women who intervened, stopped the rape, and helped the victim were never sought to give testimony before the grand jury.
And now, there is that new information. Years later, it has been revealed that some of the forensic evidence collected was never tested.
The Santa Clara County crime lab never tested some physical evidence seized in the De Anza alleged gang-rape case after the district attorney’s office notified the lab that “no further testing was needed,” a crime lab supervisor has testified in an ongoing civil case. That untested evidence, according to a written report submitted by a crime lab examiner, included clothing, a comforter, a vomit-covered paint can, and a sheet from the hospital examination of the alleged victim. In sexual assault cases, such evidence often is tested for DNA that could link the accused perpetrators to the victim.
The deposition testimony of lab supervisor Lynne Burley raises questions about the thoroughness of the district attorney’s investigation, which concluded with a controversial decision not to prosecute anyone involved in a 2007 incident in which witnesses said a young woman had been sexually assaulted by members of the De Anza College baseball team.
Carr, in a brief telephone interview last week, said she had not personally directed the crime lab to halt testing, but declined to answer further questions about the matter.
Her office failed, despite continued requests, to explain the apparent contradictions between Burley’s testimony and Cornell’s statements. Cornell provided a supplemental answer on Thursday, saying, “All of the evidence necessary to make our decision not to file charges was tested and carefully reviewed in this case, as it is in every case.”
It is worth repeating that the official reason for no charges having been filed is that there was insufficient evidence. And in addition to not getting eye witnesses to testify — eye witnesses being highly unusual in rape cases, and therefore also pretty much the holy grail in such prosecution attempts — they also didn’t test evidence, which could have provided additional information about the parties involved.
Insufficient evidence. Insufficient evidence.
This is what rape culture looks like. And I actually have no problem saying that this is what a cover up looks like.
Someone made decisions in this case that prevented the truth from getting to a jury. Someone made decisions in this case to ignore eye witnesses and refuse their testimony. Someone made decisions in this case to ignore forensic evidence to the point of not having it tested in the first place. Someone decided that baseball players and their reputations are worth more than acknowledging the trauma of a woman, than properly working the justice system, and than condemning rape. Someone decided that some rapists, if they’re popular enough, get to go free without facing a jury. Or someone decided that the rape of this woman just really wasn’t worth their time, worth the headache, worth the bad press, worth the “controversy.”
Whoever decided, and whichever combination of those decisions were made, the facts remain the same. Someone deliberately ignored and suppressed evidence, and then claimed that the evidence was insufficient. Someone sided with misogyny. Someone sided with sexual violence. Someone decided with rapists. And then a whole lot of other someones supported that person enough to ensure that their decisions were upheld.
There is always insufficient evidence for rape if you’ve already made up your mind that rape doesn’t matter. There is always insufficient evidence for rape if you’ve already decided that no evidence is enough to force your hand. And quite clearly, that’s what “insufficient evidence” meant in this case. Not that the amount or quality of the evidence was lacking, but that no evidence was going to be sufficient enough to make them care.