Rape defense: She's happy now!

A lawyer presents Facebook photos of his client's victim as evidence that she's doing just fine.


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Tracy Clark-Flory
October 15, 2008 1:00AM (UTC)

Lawyers have come up with all sorts of innovative legal strategies to defend their clients -- for example, there's the Twinkie defense, the dummy defense and the gay panic defense. Well, check out this new one concocted in a recent rape case: The victim-is-happy defense.

Thanks to a DNA sample, Anthony Francis was caught and convicted seven years after he raped a 19-year-old girl in Reading, England. In arguing for a lenient sentence, lawyer Colin McCarraher presented Facebook photos of the victim looking lively, sociable and functional. The pictures were presumably from after the attack took place, but McCarraher admitted he had no clue when the pictures were actually taken. He told the judge: "What we have is a person who has post traumatic stress but is quite capable of going out and having a good time at a fancy dress party." Caught! Red-handed! A rape victim wearing a fancy dress! Yes, she allegedly dared to continue on living -- even enjoying -- her life seven years after being raped.

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That is, after trying to kill herself in 2003.

But since she didn't succeed and may or may not have attended "a fancy dress party" after her attack, I guess she owes her rapist a thank-you for not permanently (and literally) destroying her life? Not in the judge's eyes, thankfully. Francis was sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

As for McCarraher? The public has ruled him guilty of embodying the nastiest of lawyer stereotypes. Labor M.P. Martin Salter said it best: "This quite extraordinary and callous attempt by the defense barrister to suggest that rape victims are not entitled to a life of their own is a shameful act and does no credit to our criminal justice system."

(Via Feministing)


Tracy Clark-Flory

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