Reporting on Savannah Dietrich’s case is tricky for the same reasons it became an issue for Dietrich — all involved were minors, and much of the case was sealed. But when, in court, Dietrich’s attackers were sentenced in a way she perceived to be a slap on the wrist, the teen girl took to Twitter to tell her side of the story.
And so it happened that Dietrich faced jail time for speaking of her sexual assault while the boys who assaulted her faced no such punishment. A legal roundabout with many twists and turns, to be sure, and the lack of details in the case make it all the more difficult to register proper judgment about the events that led to Dietrich landing in hot water for naming her attackers on Twitter.
But, in what appears to be part of a larger and troubling trend of concern for perpetrators of sexual assaults and rape instead of the victims, a lawyer for one of the boys says that Dietrich ruined his client’s life, necessitating therapy for him and sullying his good name after her actions on social media sites.
Which, may we point out, all might have been avoided if the boy simply opted not to assault Dietrich while she was incapacitated.
Attorney David Meija makes a strong case for the horror of sexual assault from the perpetrator’s perspective, however, saying to The Huffington Post:
“He’s had to move … He has lost all the potential that was there. He was attending high school and was kicked out. He was on course to a scholarship to an Ivy League school to play sports and that may be jeopardized. He’s in therapy. He’s just overwhelmed and devastated by what started from the conduct of this young girl saying false things as she did.”
Meija seems to suggest that Dietrich had revenge in mind and not fairness or truth when she made the accusations she did on Twitter, and he discloses the details of the case to the extent he is able:
“The victim, in a fit of anger, tweets my clients name, calls him a rapist — something he was never accused of — and said the court system was corrupt and he got away with what he did. She also said he videotaped her and put it on Internet. There never was a rape, there was no video and there was nothing on the Internet. But he did admit to the conduct as charged which was criminal sexual abuse or touching.”
Meija seems to hide behind the gag orders on the case to suggest that, since the details can’t be made known, no judgment should be passed on the boys who have been terribly traumatized by being made to be legally accountable for their actions:
“Due to the confidentiality and privacy of the whole thing I am constrained except to say that what she is saying is a mischaracterization. It’s not accurate. It’s not true. What is the truth? That I cannot say.”
Meija says that the original motion he filed that could have seen Dietrich jailed for 180 days wasn’t submitted with the intention of seeing her behind bars but rather was intended to force her to stop talking about the attack and her court case in public fora.
Do you think Savannah Dietrich treated the boys who attacked her unfairly, or should a victim be free to speak in public about their assault?