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franklin county times

Defense is crossing the line

By By Melissa Cason
A Russellville man could face up to five life sentences for kidnapping and raping a woman before forcing her back into the business to get the money from the safe.
A Franklin County jury found him guilty of five felony counts. The Franklin County District Attorney's office calls it justice and hopefully the victim can call it closure as she tries to put her life back together just a year after the incident occurred.
I was in court when the victim testified this week and had to undergo cross-examination from the defense attorney. It was obvious that the event was extremely painful for her to relive on the stand.
As I sat in the courtroom watching how the defense picked apart the victim's character in an effort to gain an acquittal from the jury, I began to think about the other victims who have had to endure these same tactics.
It made me angry.
No one, regardless of age, sex or personal lifestyle deserves to be a victim of rape.
No one should ever have to experience what it's like to have a rape kit performed on him or her. No one should have to know what it's like to tell embarrassing details of sexual contact to an investigator. Unfortunately, these are important procedures for victims to endure. But to have the victim's character attacked in court simply because she had the courage to report the rape is over the top and wrong.
Defense attorneys rely on character attacks too much during rape trials, and frankly, I think such should be barred from the courtroom.
Some say the victim's character is important.
I believe that jury's should only consider physical evidence.
There are other ways to prove a rape did occur, especially if it's reported immediately.
Some victims wait days, weeks or months to file a report. Others never tell because of the shame or embarrassment. Maybe it's also because they don't want their lives put on trial in an effort to save their attacker.
The victim in this case was extremely courageous for sticking to her guns and telling the truth from day one, which is believed to be the reason for the jury's decision.
I hope that more victims of sex crimes show the same kind of strength, but I also hope that more defense attorneys will find a better way to defend their clients than to paint the victim as a willing participant.

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