Today I spoke with the victim’s attorney, Amina Merritt, and also with Sandra Henriquez with the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Monday afternoon, according to the Sacramento Bee, the judge ordered the release of the 17-year rape accuser being held in juvenile detention. Perhaps he heard the suggestion of friend to the website and HLN, attorney B.J. Bernstein.
When I covered this story last week, she suggested the judge consider some sort of electronic monitor to make sure the teen appear in court to testify.
That is in fact, just what the judge did.
Read more here.
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Has it come to this?
Locking up a 17 year old alleged rape victim to make sure she shows up to testify against the man charged with raping her?
Prosecutors re-filed the case. To make sure she’d show up next time, a judge signed off on a material witness warrant and this teen is now in juvenile detention.
The DA’s office says it has to take public safety into consideration, the need to prosecute Rackley.
Her lawyer told the Sacramento Bee, “I think it’s outrageous that the DA’s office wants to put a rape victim – a juvenile rape victim – in custody, as if she were the criminal, in a case where she is the victim. ”
I asked Atlanta-based attorney B.J. Bernstein to weigh in on this. Bernstein has been a court-appointed guardian in a child prostitution case. She says in cases like this, where young vulnerable victims often want to disappear, where the accused adult rapists and abusers count on them disappearing, it worked well to have a liaison to help them through the process, as opposed to arresting them. Bernstein added, “Perhaps an ankle monitor would have been a better solution, along with a court guardian to ensure her appearance.”
WATCH a local report. The teen’s attorney explains why her client doesn’t want to testify. Also, the DA’s office explains their side. I was a bit caught off guard when he referred to her reluctance to testify as perhaps the victim’s “inconvenience.” This is clearly about more than that.
Some background: rape is one of the most under-reported crimes and when it is reported, the arrest and conviction rate….well see for yourself.