Woman Sues Judge Over Banning The Word Rape at Sexual Assault Trial

From the AP via Feministing
The accuser in a sexual assault case is suing a judge because he barred the word “rape” and other words from the trial.

The federal court complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Lincoln, Neb., claims Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront violated the accuser’s First Amendment right to free speech by barring her from saying words including “rape,” “victim” and “assailant” during the trial of Pamir Safi.

Safi, 34, was charged with first-degree sexual assault stemming from an encounter between him and Tory Bowen, 24, at his apartment the morning of Oct. 31, 2004.

Safi said he and Bowen, who met at a bar the night before, had consensual sex.

Bowen says she was too intoxicated to give consent.

In restricting language, Cheuvront said he was concerned that Safi’s constitutional right to a fair trial might be jeopardized if witnesses were permitted to use the banned words in their testimony.

The language restrictions, which also barred the use of the words “sexual assault,” were in effect for Safi’s first trial, in November.

Bowen testified then for nearly 13 hours, and said the ban had a marked effect because she had to pause and make sure her words wouldn’t violate the ban.

Cheuvront declared a mistrial after the jury deadlocked 7-5. He declared a second mistrial in July during jury selection, citing news coverage and public protests on behalf of Bowen.

Lancaster County prosecutors have said they plan to seek a third trial.

The Associated Press usually does not identify accusers in sex-assault cases, but Bowen has allowed her name to be used publicly because of the issue over the judge’s language restrictions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: