Sexual Assault Victim Faces Contempt Charge for Tweeting Names of Alleged Attackers

Illustration for article titled Sexual Assault Victim Faces Contempt Charge for Tweeting Names of Alleged Attackers

A Louisville teenager could be facing a contempt of court charge that carries a possible 180-day jail sentence and $500 fine after she violated the terms of a plea deal by tweeting the names of the two teenage boys who sexually assaulted her. Savannah Dietrich and her mother have insisted on talking about the case the publicly, in an effort, they say, to help ensure that Dietrich's attackers face some more serious consequences than the legal "slap on the wrist" Dietrich thinks they got as per their plea deal.

Dietrich told the Courier-Post's Jason Riley that she was assaulted in August of 2011 by two boys at a party. She later learned that pictures had been taken of the incident and disseminated among her peers.

For months, I cried myself to sleep. I couldn't go out in public places. You just sit there and wonder, who saw (the pictures), who knows?

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On June 26, her attackers pled guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism and struck a deal that Dietrich says she knew nothing about until just before it was announced in court. Floored by the apparent leniency (Dietrich has not been able to speak of the proposed punishment because of a court order) with which her attackers were treated, Dietrich tweeted their names, violating Judge Dee McDonald's admonishment to everyone at the hearing not to speak about the crime or about what happened in court. Dietrich subsequently wrote,

They [the court] said I can't talk about it or I'll be locked up. ....Protect rapist is more important than getting justice for the victim in Louisville.

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Thought Dietrich's attorneys have argued that her First Amendment rights should allow her to speak about her case to the media, Ohio media law specialist David Marburger told the AP that Dietrich should have tried to get the court to lift the gag order rather than simply violating it (apparently, court officials don't take too kindly to that sort of insurrection). Dietrich, however, feels like she needed to stand up for herself, since, in her estimation, the justice system failed to stand up for her.

Assault victim's tweets prompt contempt case [Courier-Journal]

Savannah Dietrich, 17-Year-Old Sexual Assault Victim, Faces Charge For Naming Attackers [AP via HuffPo]

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Image via Kuzma/Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

You know, I have trouble with all the sides of this case. First, in the incident, we have under-age drinking, that subsequently reportedly lead to the assault. I cannot find more on the claim and charges, but what I found in a quick look is she passed out and it happened then. Now yes no matter how you look at it her drunk or not, Once a person is passed out, ANYTHING sexual is a crime in my book. If she was awake enough to drunkenly consent, well in my book tough cookies, you cannot use alcohol as the claim "i was too drunk to knoingly consent". But I remind you if she was awake to consent when she was no longer awake, anything beyond that point is a crime regardless of anything at play.

Now the attackers, yes they got a small plea, first my guess since I cannot find their ages on the 2 articles I read is to assume they were in the legal range based upon the state to avoid statutory rape, Here in NJ it is 13 to consent, but no more than 4 yr age diff (ie 13 &17 )(http://lis.njleg.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=600371&Depth=2&depth=2&expandheadings=on&headingswithhits=on&hitsperheading=on&infobase=statutes.nfo&record={173E}&softpage=Doc_Frame_PG42)

Now if the above is true, and they go with the claim she consented in their defense, but she was passed out and there is photographic evidence (even bigger since she was technically a minor - assuming there was nudity on her or their part in said photos this is a felony and I am stunned they got away with that) the plea is a do this again and your done for life, your too young to destroy the life based upon what could be reasonably be considered typical but not intentional rape with enough greyness to prevent a blind justice to convict upon rape. (IE she may have possibly consented but they did go to far since she may have passed out mid way and they continued. Not to mention the aspect of both groups possibly being drunk and underage for it at that fact)

As for the gag order. I agree she could have contested it. It may have been made to literally protect another 17 / 18 yr old from having to move states away to avoid the mess identifying them might ensue. My assumption is they were minors also (17) and these charges won't show in future background checks. Her simply violating a known order is a BIG problem. Even if that order is found to be over-reaching and is revoked. She knowingly violated it, as such can be charged. Should she get the max penalties? Nah they walked she should also, if anything a 1 cent fine and having to waste 10 min in court.

I have to make a point again since if someone reads this and thinks otherwise, I do think the boys deserved some form of charges, Once someone is no longer conscious they are OFF limits even if your in the middle of it.

Alcohol is not a scapegoat to claim you couldn't consent. Unless you are UNCONSCIOUS.

Also, shot of being able to find their ages I cannot comment further. if it turns out they are over say 21 and did this. Then they should have gotten max charges. But another minor in the HS - College BA years . . . tough ground if there was no Physical restraint or violence.