Since she filed the $21.5 million lawsuit against NBA star Derrick Rose last year, accusing him and his two friends of gang-raping her after an alcohol-fueled night of partying in 2013, the 30-year-old woman and daughter of Mexican immigrants has remained mostly anonymous.
In court documents, her name is Jane Doe.
Her anonymity, she claims, is crucial to her safety and the well-being of her elderly parents, who she says are conservative, traditional and religious, and know nothing of her alleged sexual assault.
“I want to share my story so women can know that they are able to come forward and remain anonymous and not to have the burden or the worry that their loved ones will find out,” the woman told the Associated Press in an interview last week.
But on Tuesday, the U.S. district judge hearing her case ruled that once the civil trial begins Oct. 4, she can no longer hide behind her protective pseudonym.
She must reveal her full name.
The jury will hear it, something previously agreed upon by both parties, but the woman’s identity will also be revealed to anyone with access to the open courtroom, including reporters, though most news organizations do not publish the names of alleged sexual assault victims.
Numerous lawsuits proceed using John Doe or Jane Doe instead of the real names of litigants. But it’s up to the judge’s discretion on a case-by-case basis whether such anonymity is necessary to protect someone from embarrassment, harassment or annoyance.
The woman’s legal team fears the stigma could scare her away. They also claim it’s a tactic Rose’s attorneys have used to intimidate the woman into dropping her lawsuit, an issue commonly raised by victim’s advocates, who argue that public scrutiny deters women from reporting sexual assault at all, let alone taking their cases to court.
“She is reluctant to move forward, it’s very difficult,” Brandon Anand, the woman’s attorney, told The Washington Post after the Tuesday ruling. “I think because her name is not revealed now, she isn’t in complete panic. But yeah, absolutely, it is still a concern.”
Last week, the woman gave an anonymous teleconference interview to various media outlets, and several publications, including the Associated Press, wrote stories about what happened the night of the alleged sexual assault based on her recollection. Anand told The Post that their decision to speak with reporters was in response to what he called a “victim-blaming campaign” launched by Rose’s attorneys to paint the woman in a negative light.
Requests for comment from Rose’s attorneys were not immediately answered Tuesday night.
But in a notice filed in federal court last week, Rose’s lawyer, Mark Baute, wrote that the woman’s “nationwide media blitz” was further evidence she didn’t deserve anonymity, her actions willingly placing her in the spotlight.
“It is rare to see this sort of desperate and open pandering for a settlement by counsel, and unheard of for a plaintiff (who is proceeding under a pseudonym) to actively seek such extensive media coverage on the eve of trial,” Baute wrote in the filing. ” … Because Jane Doe and her lawyers are openly pandering to the media on a nationwide blitz tour, Ms. Doe should be precluded from using a pseudonym for any purpose, including media coverage.”
Though the timing is suspect, Anand told The Post that Baute’s filing had little to do with U.S. Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald’s ruling denying his client anonymity at trial. The hearing Tuesday was scheduled months ago, Anand said, and the judge’s decision ultimately revolved around inadvertently prejudicing the jury.
By identifying the woman as Jane Doe at trial, Anand explained, the “court is implying that the plaintiff is a victim,” which could unfairly bias the jury in the woman’s favor.
“The prejudice to the defendant outweighed the potential harm to her,” Anand said.
Fitzgerald ruled that the woman would remain anonymous until the trial begins next month, but according to the AP, Baute, Rose’s attorney, used her name in court soon after the decision. He was warned by the judge, and her name was struck from the record.
Then Baute said her name a second time, reported the AP, soliciting a stern reprimand from the judge, who ordered the attorney to explain in writing why he shouldn’t be sanctioned $1,000 for the violation.
“Do not test my patience,” Fitzgerald said.
Baute, according to the AP, said it was an accident.
The trial has garnered national attention in the weeks leading up to its start, both for the case’s high-profile defendant and the country’s continued heated argument about rape, sexual consent and accountability in the courts when it comes to sentencing the convicted.
Rose’s account of that August 2013 night varies drastically from that of the alleged victim.
She says she drank vodka, wine and tequila on the way to and at Rose’s Beverly Hills home that night, reported the Associated Press, becoming so intoxicated that her friend was concerned about her drunken state. According to her court filings, the woman and her friend were kicked out of Rose’s home after getting into an argument with Ryan Allen, one of the NBA player’s close friends. Allen and Randall Hampton are co-defendant’s with Rose in the civil case.
The woman left the house and exchanged text messages with Rose, the AP reported. She claims she was so drunk a taxi driver had to help her get to her apartment, where she vomited, passed out and woke up the next day still clothed. Her dress was hiked up over her head and her body was smeared with lubricant, according to court filings.
She felt pain in her vaginal area.
The woman claims the men let themselves into her apartment through an unlocked door and raped her while she was unconscious. She texted Rose the next day to ask what had happened, reported the AP, but he wouldn’t answer. She didn’t immediately report the alleged incident to police or seek medical treatment.
Rose’s version of events is much simpler: The woman let him and his friends into her apartment building and then her unit, where she had consensual sex with all three of them.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case.
Rose and the woman had a nonexclusive, sexual relationship for about two years before the alleged rape, reported the AP. Since then, she has claimed emotional distress brought on by the alleged attack and said she lost her job. She is currently a college student and serves as a caregiver for her elderly parents.
Rose, 27, was recently traded to the New York Knicks from his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls. He played seven seasons in Chicago, according to the AP, where he won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors. He has his own shoe line with Adidas.
The woman’s attorneys have been putting public pressure on Rose to settle the case out of court, a way to avoid the airing of very personal, intimate details of his and the woman’s sexual history.
If the case moves forward, the trial is set to begin Oct. 4.
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