United States: Sexual Assault Survivor Jailed In Texas to Ensure Trial Appearance

A Texas Judge ordered a rape survivor imprisoned for nearly a month in the country’s largest county jail because the judge was concerned that the woman would fail to appear in court to continue her testimony against her accused rapist. As the woman spoke on the witness stand about how she was “choked, beaten, and raped,” she experienced a mental breakdown and said that she may not be able to complete her testimony. The woman has since filed a lawsuit against the jail and district attorney, alleging that, despite having a known mental disorder, she was placed in the jail’s general population along with her rapist, “misclassified as the perpetrator of a sexual assault — not as a victim — attacked by an inmate, denied medication and punched in the face by a guard.” The county district attorney defends the jail confinement as necessary where “there were no apparent alternatives” to ensuring both the witness’s safety and presence at the trial.

According to the New York Times, the case raises “questions about the treatment of people with mental health disorders in the Texas justice system and about the wisdom of jailing someone already victimized and traumatized by . . . a ‘serial rapist.’” Women’s rights advocates have expressed concern that the woman’s treatment by the Texas court will deter other women from reporting sexual violence. 

Compiled from: Victor, DanielTexas Rape Victim Was Jailed for Fear She Would Not Testify, Lawsuit Says, The New York Times (July 22, 2016).