SHADMIA'S WORLD

Just Another Guy with Opinions

14-Year-Old Rape Victim Incarcerated

Posted by shadmia on December 31, 2007

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A 14-year-old girl, a victim of rape committed by her stepfather, was thrown in jail for 5 days. Her crimenot showing up for trial. No, this didn’t happen in some Middle Eastern country or some dictator-ruled third world nation. It happened in the U.S.A. in New Mexico. Linda Atkinson, of New Mexico Victim’s Rights Project put it like this:

“Sexual assault victims are reluctant to come forward in the first place, they see this and we will become the haven for criminals and sexual predators because we lay out the welcome mat: We will protect you and not your victims,” she said.

The group filed an objection to the material witness warrant issued for the girl. “Instead of putting him in jail, they put her in jail,” Linda Atkinson said. “I don’t think they would do it to an adult woman—they would have a phone calling an attorney so fast their head would spin.”The DA’s office asked for the warrant after the girl failed to show up to testify against her stepfather, whom she said sexually abused her. Prosecutors say the warrant was issued to protect the girl, who has called 911 twice in December out of fear of her stepfather.

Kari Brandenburg, from the DA’s office, said that despite efforts to keep the accuser and her stepfather apart, the two ended up in the same house where the alleged abuse continued.

“A 911 call had been made that she had made from the home saying she was being hit by the defendant–the defendant wasn’t supposed to be in contact with her,” Brandenburg said.

She says there was a mix-up handling the teenager’s case and that the judge who signed the warrant went on vacation. Because of the miscommunication between prosecutors and the vacationing judge, Brandenburg said the girl was sent to prison. The prosecutor concedes five days in prison was too much time for the accuser. However, Brandenburg adds, her office never intended for that to happen.

Advocate groups say Brandenburg’s office is just bullying the girl into testifying against her stepfather. Atkinson said the situation will send a chilling message to both rape victims and sexual predators.

The teen girl was held at the juvenile jail for five days after ignoring a subpoena. Prosecutors say the girl was refusing to testify against her stepfather, who allegedly raped her.

“The case was set for trial at least twice, and both times she did not show up,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Todd Heisey said. “Apparently, (she) ran away and was not going to cooperate.”

Prosecutors say the girl’s testimony is key to putting the man behind bars for a long time.

“Obviously, as the victim, she needs to tell her story to the jury, and we need that to prosecute a case like this,” Heisey said.

Prosecutors utilized a seldom used weapon from their arsenal—they asked a judge to issue a material witness warrant. The hope was while the girl was in jail, prosecutors could get a videotaped deposition from her to use at trial. They say the step father is out of jail and intimidating the teen to keep her from testifying.

“Obviously we hate to go to that length, but this case was somewhat unusual and we felt that was in order in this case,” Heisey said.

Even after five days in jail, prosecutors were still not able to get the girl’s testimony. Some advocates for rape victims say the move by prosecutors re-victimizes the teenager and sends a chilling message to other victims. The Rape Crisis Center representative added that the girl was also forced to miss school because of her incarceration. Cordova said the prosecutor’s tactic will also add to the reprehensions rape victims feel about reporting a crime.

“This is a 14-year-old, the week before Christmas—she should be at the mall with her friends, shopping,” Rosanna Cordova said.

 

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One Response to “14-Year-Old Rape Victim Incarcerated”

  1. Jesserah Whitney said

    I think it is so wrong for these people to put this young VICTIM in jail what about her step-father where is he? Just because she didn’t show up for her trial, are you kidding me! maybe the step-father made a threat to hurt her when he get’s out if she show’s up, and if he did I would have sewed the people that put her in there!!

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