Alleged child rapist asks judge to dismiss charges after victim dies mysteriously

If the charges are dismissed, what's the message? "Get away with rape, so long as the victim dies"?

Published May 26, 2015 8:48PM (EDT)

                       (<a href=''>RonTech2000</a> via <a href=''>iStock</a>)
(RonTech2000 via iStock)

An Ohio man accused of raping a 10-year-old girl filed a motion last week to have the rape charges against him dismissed because the child he allegedly assaulted died earlier this year, just before the trial was set to start. Apparently, the only time civil society should be interested in prosecuting rape cases is when the alleged victim is still alive -- how silly to pursue justice otherwise!

Attorneys for 45-year-old Robert Seman have asked a Mahoning County judge to drop a felony rape charge for the alleged assault of Corrine Gump, who died along with her grandparents in a house fire on March 30. Incidentally, the fire occurred the same day the trial was scheduled to begin, which has not gone unnoticed by prosecutors or the media. According to multiple reports, Seman appeared in court the Monday after the fire with burns on his body, which he reportedly attempted to cover with makeup.

"Hours before the trial was supposed to begin this victim dies in a fire under the most suspicious circumstance," Mahoning County District Attorney Dawn Cantalamessa told KDKA.

Cantalamessa has indicated that she plans to pursue the case despite Gump's death, because -- spoiler alert -- the death of an alleged victim does not eliminate the need for justice.

"She was absolutely a beautiful little girl, very articulate, only 10 years old,” the prosecutor said. "Somebody who did not deserve these things that happened to her."

In fact, Seman's request underscores the importance of continuing to prosecute sexually violent crimes -- already notoriously underreported and disproportionately unlikely to result in arrest, prosecution or conviction -- if only because the corollary of dismissal is so very dangerous. After all, what other lesson can be gleaned from a judge dismissing rape charges because the victim is no longer living, except to make sure there are no survivors?

By Jenny Kutner

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Child Sexual Abuse Crime Ohio Rape Rape Culture Sexual Assault