Woman reports rape, gets jailed and denied E.C.

A chilling series of police department fumbles in Tampa.

By Catherine Price
Published January 30, 2007 11:53PM (EST)

Numerous readers have alerted us to this shocking police bungle: According to Fox News 13 in Florida, a 21-year-old woman was attacked in mid-afternoon and allegedly raped as she was leaving the Gasparilla Pirate Fest in Tampa.

Horrible enough. But when she called the police, instead of trying to track down her attacker, they arrested her, claiming to have found a warrant for her arrest from when she was a juvenile. (She and her family argue that the warrant, which says she owes about $4,500 in restitution, was cleared up years ago and exists now only as a paperwork snafu.) She was put in jail, with her bail revoked.

Then, when she got to jail -- where she ended up staying for two days -- the jail's medical supervisor wouldn't allow her to take her second emergency-contraceptive pill because it went against the medical supervisor's religious beliefs.

A Tampa Police Department spokesperson is quoted as saying that "there are a lot of questions about how this unfolded," and claims that the department will "get to the bottom of it." A nice gesture, but regardless of what the investigation finds, I'd argue that no one should be able to deny a rape victim or alleged rape victim emergency contraception. Kudos, though, to the reporters covering the incident: According to the St. Petersburg Times, the woman was eventually allowed the second dose of the pill -- a day late -- in response to "media inquiries."

For more background information, check out these links from the St. Petersburg Times and the Associated Press.


Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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