On the Town/Bill Lueders
April 21, 2000

The state vs. Jenny Doe
DA’s office goes after 15-year-old sexual assault victim.

Jenny Doe was ten days past her 15th birthday and a virgin when she went with friends one afternoon last December to a house in a community outside Madison. There a boy, also a juvenile, had sexual intercourse with her, allegedly against her will. Doe [a pseudonym] promptly reported the assault to police. That’s when her troubles really began.

        As Isthmus reported last month, Dane County Assistant District Attorney Lana Mades charged Doe with criminal obstruction because police felt she gave conflicting accounts of the assault. At a March 15 trial, Judge Maryann Sumi dismissed the charges after the prosecution rested its case, saying it failed to prove that Doe intended to deceive anyone.

        Last Friday, Judge Sumi allowed Isthmus to review a transcript of this proceeding. It shows that the discrepancies in Doe’s story, as identified by several law enforcement officers who took the stand, border on the trivial.  Two of the biggest: Whether she was pushed onto a bed, or sat down with the boy’s hand pressing on her shoulder; and whether or not she left the room wearing another shirt because the first one was ripped.

        Meanwhile, police testified that the boy admitted Doe’s most pertinent charges: that he pressured her into having intercourse, ignored her repeated appeals to stop, and cupped his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming. The boy, according to a juvenile court official, is facing charges related to the assault.

        Under questioning by defense lawyer Sandra Holtzman, one investigating detective agreed there was no real inconsistency between Doe’s initial claim that she was forced to have sex and her subsequent admission that she gave
in. “She never said she agreed to have sex, did she?” Holtzman asked. “No,” he answered. Other discrepancies, Holtzman argued, owed to understandable confusion, the unreliabilty of other witnesses, and the presence of Doe’s father during the initial interview.

        Two days after the obstruction charge was filed, Doe’s father allegedly beat her up while calling her a slut. He is now facing felony child-abuse charges, and the state is seeking to put Doe into protective custody. But even this tragic turn did not stop Mades from trying to secure a criminal conviction.

        Defense attorney Holtzman, in court, called the charges “egregious and inexplicable.” Judge Sumi, noting that despite the inconsistencies Doe apparently endured “a horrible sexual assault,” was also perplexed: “I have a lot of questions about why the state would bring this matter, but that is not my role.”

        Mades’ supervisor, Deputy District Attorney Mike Walsh, says his office considered appealing Sumi’s dismissal but decided “it was pointless to even make the effort” because double jeopardy provisions would probably apply.

For other real-life examples of police use of T&D (trickery and deception) against crime victims, see:

Interrogation Gone Bad - A 13-year-old girl is abducted by a stranger on her way to school, sexually assaulted, dropped off in a neighboring town, then grilled and called a liar by the investigating officer.  Her parents believed her, and found surveillance film -- that the officer should have viewed -- that proved she told the truth.

Link:  Cry Rape - A blind woman is raped at knifepoint, grilled by detectives who don't believe her, and criminally charged with filing a false report.  The charges were eventually dropped, but even after the woman's rapist was identified (by DNA) and convicted, the police have continued to stand by the treatment she received at their hands.

What's Happening in Madison, WI
Police/Prosecutor Misconduct

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