DSK fallout could deter rape victims
New Yorkers have seen two high-profile rape cases collapse before theireyes, causing some victims’ advocates to worry thatthe cases may discourage women from reporting rape in the future.
New Yorkers have seen two high-profile rape cases collapse before their eyes -— first, the two ex-NYPD cops accused of sex assault and now Dominique Strauss-Kahn -— causing some victims’ advocates to worry that the cases may discourage women from reporting rape in the future.
“If you see someone denigrated by the press, you may not want to come forward,” said Lynn Frederick Hawley, of the Mount Sinai Sexual Assault/Violence Intervention program.
On Wednesday, the hotel maid accusing Strauss-Kahn of rape said she wants a special prosecutor to handle her case instead of embattled Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
Her lawyers claim Vance’s office leaked damaging information about her and she requested Vance recuse himself in a letter filed Wednesday obtained by Reuters.
Anonymous law enforcement sources told the media the woman lied about being gang-raped in her native Guinea in order to get asylum.
“A victim’s reputation is often attacked in a criminal trial,” said Sonia Ossorio, director of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women. “Someone’s going to be digging into your past to see if you ever lied on a job application; your love life will be scrutinized.”
Cases like those of Strauss-Kahn and former police officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata reinforce victim-blaming, said Amy Edelstein, a rape crisis coordinator at Safe Horizons.
“When we hear about these cases, it perpetuates the stereotype that victims of rape are not credible,” said Edelstein.
The most common deterrents to reporting a rape are a language barrier, a past bad experience with law enforcement and a fear of being personally attacked during a trial, she said.