Trend alert! Increasingly, juries extend rape victims "the presumption of innocence"
TUCSON, AZ: It was a banner day in the Arizona state court system. Ten sexual assault cases were heard at the Pima County Courthouse. In each of these cases, the victim was believed and treated with respect.
“It just finally hit me,” said Tom Potter, a juror on one of the cases. “There is honestly zero reason why someone would lie about this. Given the way the legal system treats victims of sexual assault, it’s actually a wonder any victims come forward at all.”
Defense counsel on that case, Andrew Andrews, said his normal practice would be to draw attention to the victim’s drinking on the night of the assault. “But then I realized,” he said, “the fact that she was drinking had zero impact on whether my client had sex with her against her will.”
In another case, the jury was visibly angered when defense counsel mentioned that the victim was wearing lingerie under her outfit when she was raped. “Who gives a flying fuck?” one of the jurors muttered as the remaining jurors vigorously nodded in agreement. “If she had been wearing granny panties, it doesn’t change the fact that the defendant got her drunk, waited for her to pass out, and then sexually assaulted her.”
In a third case, Detective Adam Horwitz visibly teared up when testifying about a polygraph exam the victim “voluntarily” agreed to take after he told her that she didn’t deserve to be believed unless she passed it.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled through muffled sobs. “I just can’t believe what a jackass I am to have revitimized this poor woman by implying through my words, actions and demeanour that I didn’t believe her. And the kinds of questions I asked! Was she alone? Was she drinking? What was she wearing? Why didn’t she report immediately? Gee, ya think she didn’t report immediately because of the kinds of questions I was asking?”
He continued, “To be honest, if this was a victim of any other crime, I never would have subjected her to the exam. Never.”
Throughout all the proceedings, the victims were afforded their state constitutional and statutory rights, including the rights to be present, heard, and treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.
“It’s a small step,” said victims’ rights attorney Kelly Garvin, “but an important one.”
She continued, “The ultimate goal remains for people to just not rape someone in the first place. Seems common sense.”