Teen assault victim goes public on Twitter
In the summer of 2011, Kentucky teenager Savannah Dietrich was drinking with friends when things turned ugly. She passed out and two boys that she knew sexually assaulted her. Months later she became aware that they had filmed the incident and posted it online.
The boys were charged with assault and in June, 2012, pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and voyeurism. They will be sentenced in August, 2012. In the meantime, the judge ordered that the case not be discussed or names released. Savannah was upset with the plea agreement and tweeted about it naming the two boys. As explained by Savannah on Twitter, “They said I can’t talk about it or I’ll be locked up. ….Protect rapist is more important than getting justice for the victim in Louisville.” Savannah’s parents agreed with their daughter going public about this incident. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell,” Savannah commented.
Dietrich said she just needed to stand up for herself. “I’m at the point that if I have to go to jail for my rights, I will do it.” The attorney for the boys is asking the judge to hold Savannah in contempt for violating the judge’s order of silence. The maximum penalty is a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.
What do you think about this story? Does Savannah’s First Amendment right to free speech override the court’s gag order regarding the underage defendants? Or does she have a right to speak her mind whether online or off? What about disregarding the judge’s order not to disclose the names of the boys? Is this contempt of court and punishable as a consequence?
Update: A short time later, the boys’ attorney withdrew the motion to hold Savannah in contempt. So, she’s in the clear but must face their sentencing next month. In September, 2012, the two boys were sentenced to community service and sex offender treatment. When they reach age 21, they can apply to the court for a reduction of the assault charges.