Victim Of Indecent Assault Or “Drama Queen”? Don’t Ask The Defense!
Posted by Clem Bastow on October 20, 2008
Reader Estelle (congrats on being our 1000th commenter, too!) tipped us off to this mindblowing piece today: a 16-year-old girl’s victim impact statement, issued as part of the trial of her former teacher (who was handed a 15-month partially suspended sentence in July, with three months of imprisonment, for dealing indecently with the girl), has seen her labelled as a “drama queen” by the defense. But that’s not all!
[T]he Northern Territory Supreme Court judge in the case said he found parts of the 16-year-old’s statement – which she read out to Darwin Magistrates Court in July – “over the top”.
In her three-page statement, the teen victim said an incident where she was indecently touched by her former 40-year-old teacher Paul Incani had “ignited a loathing for my body” that made her want to “scratch off her skin”, leaving her with 27 self-inflicted scars and daily panic attacks.
“I have stayed alive when I wanted to die,” she said.
Justice Dean Mildren made the comment during Incani’s appeal against his three-month jail term for indecently dealing with the girl, the Northern Territory News reported.
Defence lawyer Robert Richter QC told the judge he had written the words “drama queen” when reading her statement.
If you think that’s bad, it gets worse. To provide a bit of backstory, the teacher (40-years-old) had sent her “intimate” text messages and requested she send him photos of her in her underwear, then forced her to strip and touched her indecently when they eventually met up upon his return to Darwin. Got that? Right:
Mr Richter said the incident was an “evolution of a friendship” and could be described as “pashing on”.
I’m still struggling to get my head around all this. At least the defense stopped short of saying the girl asked for it, or that she had seduced the poor, defenseless teacher who was powerless to resist her teenaged wiles.
I fail to see how labelling this poor girl, who was obviously – if her victim impact statement was three pages long! – traumatised by the experience, a “drama queen” does anything other than belittle her experience and putting legions of other victims of sexual assault off ever reporting with a view to taking their attackers to court. And why would they, if this is the sort of treatment they can expect once they get there?