Aaron Swartz prosecutor compared technologist to a rapist

Stephen Heymann took fierce stance against activist, MIT report reveals

By Natasha Lennard
Published August 1, 2013 3:28PM (EDT)

A new report from MIT about the university's involvement in the prosecution and subsequent suicide of young technologist and activist Aaron Swartz revealed damning details about lead prosecutor Stephen Heymann, who has come under fire for reported aggressive overreach in the case.

According to details in the report flagged by HuffPo, Heymann "compared the Internet pioneer to a rapist and suggested he had 'systematically revictimized' the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by not taking a plea bargain."

Soon after Swartz's suicide, both his close family, friends and legal defense team condemned the federal prosecutors relentless approach in the case against Swartz for downloading millions of JSTOR files. While the primary victim of Swartz's actions, JSTOR actively refused to push for charges against the technologist, while federal prosecutors pushed on, threatening Swartz with decades in prison.

Via HuffPo:

Stephen Heymann, an assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts, told a lawyer for MIT on Aug. 9, 2012 that it is disturbing to him "whenever a defendant 'systematically revictimized' the victim, and that was what Swartz was doing by dragging MIT through hearings and a trial," according to a memorandum recounted in MIT's report on its conduct in the Swartz case. Heymann "analogized attacking MIT’s conduct in the case to attacking a rape victim based on sleeping with other men," the report states.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Aaron Swartz Federal Prosecutors Jstor Mit Stephen Heymann