There was underage drinking at a party last August in Louisville, Ky., and a 16-year-old girl passed out. Far more troubling is that, while she was unconscious, the teen was sexually assaulted by male party guests.
Since this was 2011, and such things are possible, the tawdry episode was photographed and images of the attack were forwarded around school and the neighborhood.
Months went by before the young woman saw the photos and learned the extent of what had happened to her. When her full humiliation dawned on her, she and her parents went to the Louisville police. To their credit, the police charged two young men, also minors, with felony sexual assault and misdemeanor voyeurism.
The boys pleaded guilty in a leniency agreement with the prosecutor and were convicted last month in Jefferson District juvenile court, where the entire record is under seal.
The two boys and the young woman, now 17, were ordered by the court not to discuss the verdict or any of the allegations in the criminal case.
Such privacy precautions are not unusual in juvenile court, but to the victim, being subject to a gag order was the final straw. So, defying the judge’s ruling, she spelled out the identities of the boys who she said sexually assaulted her, tweeting, “There you go, lock me up,” asserting her First Amendment rights. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.” She also posted their names on her Facebook page.
Not surprisingly, the criminal defendants’ lawyers objected and asked the court to find her in contempt. Unbowed, last Saturday, the young woman took her story to her local newspaper, the Louisville Courier Journal, where she forever waived her anonymity to reclaim her own narrative. She received thousands of offers of support and respectful shout-outs from all over the world, and by Monday, the defense attorneys had withdrawn their contempt motion.
The young woman, whose name, Savannah Dietrich, I suspect we will all come to know, has asked the court to restore her rights to discuss her own experience.
Follow Bonnie Goldstein on Twitter at @KickedbyanAngel.