Thursday, February 7, 2013

with justice for none

Our judicial system never ceases to amaze me.

And I don't mean that in a positive way.

There's a trial happening now in Pittsburgh that deserves the attention of advocates for rape victims. In January 2012, a serial rapist was on the loose in the Pittsburgh suburbs, targeting women in apartment complexes during broad daylight. For several days, local communities were on guard and women (including yours truly) were petrified.

All rapes are horrendous crimes, but the details revealed of this predator's modis operandi had people especially on edge. One survivor was raped in front of her 4 month old baby, with her fiance bound and gagged in the next room.

Thankfully, the authorities caught this bastard - whose name I am declining to publicize because he is already calling enough attention to himself with his grandstanding impersonation of a lawyer at his trial, currently underway in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

You read that right. The rapist is serving as his own lawyer in this case - which means he gets the opportunity to  cross-examine his own victims on the witness stand. 


I'm not a lawyer, but I understand enough to know that defendants are entitled to act as their own attorneys. Still, this isn't right. According to the testimony reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, this so-called defense attorney is questioning HIS VICTIMS about whether they enjoyed being raped, about their sexuality, and God knows what else that isn't hitting the newsprint.

The testimony is downright chilling to read. I cannot imagine sitting there while this animal is grandstanding and prancing around the courtroom, clearly enjoying the power and control he once again has over his victims.

So, then. Let's call this trial what this really is, shall we?

This is abuse.

Because that's what's happening in that courtroom.These victims - every single one of them (because there are several) - are being emotionally raped once again on the witness stand in full view of the judge, the jury, and the (legitimate) attorneys.

What does this say to other victims of rape, of domestic violence, as they watch and see how their sisters are being treated in a court of law? It delivers a cold message that sets victims back decades that this is what could happen to you if you report a rape and then go to court to testify.

Again, I get that acting as one's own attorney is a right, a privilege. Whatever. That's fine. But in this case - when you barge into an infant's nursery at 6 a.m. and rape a child's mother beside her baby's crib -  I feel that you need to give up the right to stride around a courtroom while you have your victim on the witness stand, trapped at your mercy.

There's a special kind of place (hell, a special kind of chair) for the type of depraved, twisted individual who commits a crime like that.

And it damn well sure isn't the defense attorney's.

(photo above taken by me of the Allegheny County Jail, Pittsburgh, PA)

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