The federal judge overseeing Jane Doe’s civil suit accusing Derrick Rose and two friends of rape today entered his written order that Doe must use her real name at trial, following his oral ruling on Tuesday. Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled that “plaintiff’s use of a pseudonym at trial would unduly prejudice Defendant Rose,” and that “further, the public’s interest in disclosure is increased at trial.” Fitzgerald’s ruling was widely seen as a blow for Doe, and an incentive for her to settle with Rose before going to trial on Oct. 4.
But amid the straightforward legal reasoning in Fitzgerald’s ruling were a number of forceful condemnations of Rose’s and his attorney’s attempts to slut shame rape victims generally, and his accuser specifically (emphasis mine):
Finally, the Court notes that it is extremely displeased by Defendant Rose’s renewed implication that evidence Plaintiff was “sexually adventurous with [Defendant] Rose” and drank alcohol with Defendant Rose on the night in question in any way affects whether Plaintiff consented to group sex with Defendants Rose, Allen, and Hampton later that night. (See Mot. at 3). The Court previously made clear to Defendant Rose that such rhetoric is unworthy of this Court. (June Order at 4). That the Court now grants Defendant Rose’s motion to preclude Plaintiff’s use of a pseudonym at trial is in no way an invitation to continue his attempts to prejudice Plaintiff in this way. If Defendant Rose continues to utilize language that shames and blames the victims of rape either in his motion practice or before the jury, the Court will consider sanctions.
In the ruling, the judge also called Rose’s argument that Jane Doe is not a “true victim,” because she isn’t a minor, “as unpersuasive as it is distasteful.”
Shaming rape and sexual assault accusers is a well-worn and frequently successful tactic for the accused. It is difficult enough to be at the center of any lengthy trial; having to relive the trauma of sexual assault in an attempt to get justice and withstand highly withering and highly public attacks by powerful figures is often enough to get victims to settle prior to trial, or even to prevent them from coming forward in the first place.
Basketball fans might remember Kobe Bryant’s attorney Pamela Mackey doing it to the woman who accused him of rape:
The preliminary hearing in October 2003 was supposed to merely be a chance for the judge to decide whether there was enough evidence to require a trial. But Bryant’s attorney, Pamela Mackey, used it as a chance to smear the alleged victim’s reputation.
Not only did Mackey use the alleged victim’s name a staggering six times during the hearing, but when she was presented with the woman’s vaginal injuries, Mackey used the victim’s sexual history against her. The high-powered lawyer brought the hearing to a screeching halt, asking, “Could it be that [the alleged victim’s] injuries were caused by having sex with three men in three days?”
Having her name repeatedly released to the press played a role in Bryant’s accuser settling the case:
Another factor in the woman’s decision to ask prosecutors to drop the case was repeated gaffes by the tiny court in Eagle that her attorneys and parents said caused her to lose faith in the judicial system. Her name was mistakenly released to the media three times, and a sealed transcript of a closed hearing on the DNA evidence was e-mailed to seven media outlets, including The Times.
Derrick Rose’s camp has followed this playbook to a T. Immediately after the judge made his oral ruling, Rose’s attorney twice used his accuser’s name, claiming he accidentally did so after he was threatened with a fine:
Soon after Fitzgerald ruled on the issue of the woman’s identity, Rose’s attorney, Mark Baute, revealed the woman’s name and was warned by the judge that she would remain anonymous until trial. He had her name struck from the record.
When Baute said her name a second time, Fitzgerald issued a stern rebuke and ordered him to write an explanation of why he shouldn’t be sanctioned $1,000.
“Do not test my patience,” Fitzgerald said.
Baute said it was an accident.
And TMZ, the favored organ for celebrities looking to push certain messages, has taken Rose’s side and repeatedly published the most salacious bits of testimony and court filings:
But if the judge’s rulings make anything clear, it’s that he is trying to strip this case of its theatrics, and focus on the narrow question of whether Derrick Rose and the two other defendants can be held civilly liable for allegedly raping Jane Doe.
You can read the full ruling below.
h/t Dan Werly