Women protest DA’s decision in California gang rape case


The wonderful women at California NOW protested yesterday in front D.A.’s office in San Jose, speaking out against the office’s recent decision not to bring charges in a case where three women witnessed a young woman being gang raped.
Click on the image above to go to the video. Thanks to Mandy and Zoe for keeping us in the loop.

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87 Comments

  1. Genny
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Again, I’m going to ask, did they collect the used condoms from the room to test them? If nothing else then to test them against the victim’s DNA and the vomit on her? If they didn’t then why not? And if they did, then anyone with matching DNA would obviously be guilty of rape, since a girl that drunk is not capable of consenting at all. Period. Nevermind the underage issue.
    And if these things haven’t been done before the DA dismissed the case as having “insufficient evidence”, well, I don’t believe her.

  2. noname
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Genny – Exactly. I know they collected samples from some suspects, and that they ran tests on the vomit. I have no idea if they tested the contents of the condoms or whatever was found during the SANE exam. If they did not, then clearly the case was dropped too quickly.

  3. Posted June 1, 2007 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    it is exigent that we conquer the “culture of rape.” It would take only one person in that room with the courage to stand up and say “I am taking her out of here. If you stop me and do this despicable thing, I will identify you, testify against you, and see that you pay for your actions.” How many men do you think would continue a rape, let alone a gang rape, knowing that he can’t count on silence from witnesses?

    I like it! See this post, also, for how to make just that happen when you the the chance to talk to boys about sex.

  4. tabitha91
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I put it in quotes noname, not because I don’t think evidence isn’t important, but because I have seen you come on here with the same (or less) information than I have and go off like you are a juror in the case. I admit I am not involved in the case, I do not have the evidence, but I am coming on a feminist blog to share how I feel with like minded people. Not that people can’t disagree, but I have noticed you only post when it has something to do with rape, and then go off about evidence, even though you are not privy to any more information than anyone else. Why is that? Many people here have confirmed that there may not be enough evidence,(no one here knows, not even you), but are also addressing the existance of “rape culture”, which is pertinent, because this is a feminist blog. So I will have to say your only reason to be here is to be a troll.

  5. buggle
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    yeah, I was really confused about the DNA stuff too-if there were condoms strewn about, then test the condoms. Test the girl for drugs-did they do that? Test for “date rape” drugs? Test her for pubic hair, semen and blood. Test all of the boys in the house for DNA. Interview every single person at that party to get at the truth. Yeah, it’ll be hard work, but that is their JOB.

  6. Posted June 1, 2007 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    it is exigent that we conquer the “culture of rape.” It would take only one person in that room with the courage to stand up and say “I am taking her out of here. If you stop me and do this despicable thing, I will identify you, testify against you, and see that you pay for your actions.” How many men do you think would continue a rape, let alone a gang rape, knowing that he can’t count on silence from witnesses?

    I like it! See this post, also, for how to make just that happen when you the the chance to talk to boys about sex.

  7. Furious|T|
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I was wrong. According to today’s Mercury News, the victim released a statement saying she wants her “day in court.” So she wants to go forward.
    I confess I’m currently at a loss as to why the DA will not prosecute. Although this is a difficult case there are a lot of investigative avenues that could be pursued. I don’t understand why “conflicting accounts” are the problem. There are ALWAYS conflicting accounts. Now I’m at as much of a loss as everyone else.

  8. Posted June 1, 2007 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    The only clarification is that “insufficient evidence” for a prosecutor means that she does not believe that she has enough evidence to convince a jury to convict particular people beyond a reasonable doubt, not what it means generally to laypersons.
    As for the small glimmer, I think that the Sheriff’s Department is still holding open investigations for providing alcohol to minors and, more importantly, statutory rape.

  9. noname
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    tabitha91 – I didn’t say I had seen more evidence than you. Here is what I said, “So far the evidence I have heard about, and this is extremely limited information, leads me to believe that she was raped”… Does that sound like I am claiming to have more information than you? My posts on this thread have, in fact, revolved around the fact that we do not have access to enough evidence to make informed judgments. I can say that I think the AV was raped, but that does not mean there is enough evidence to prosecute.
    As for what I choose to comment on: I don’t tend to comment on posts where I feel other people have already adequately made the same points I would. This includes posts that I agree with (a majority of the posts on this site), and those with which I do not agree but to which others have already adequately argued my position (Ex. Samhita’s bandana bonanza).

  10. legallyblondeez
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    noname, Jeffersonian at one point said “The problem is that, legally, the only evidence about her consent comes from those who had sex with her. Are you really ready to convict someone of a violent felony with no evidence?”
    I was just pointing out that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest a lack of consent.
    And I understand that the DA can’t prosecute a lot of cases that look, from the press, like slam dunks. I still think that raising the alarm about this particular case is useful from a standpoint of examining our cultural attitudes about sex and rape, even if the DA made the right decision. If there is all this evidence and it’s still not strong enough, what does that say about us as a society?

  11. SarahMC
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    According to Jeffersonian the girl may have consented before passing out drunk.
    *crickets chirping*
    And that matters, why? When they had sex with her, she wasn’t conscious or able to give consent.
    When women give consent to sex, how long is that consent good for? Sounds like you think it means “I consent from here until the end of time.”
    If I had sex with a guy last night, is he entitled to fuck me tonight “because I consented in the past?”
    Good grief. How disgusting do you have to be to fuck an unconsious girl or woman, thinking it’s A-OK because she said yes before she puked and passed out?

  12. Posted June 1, 2007 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Furious T, do you have a link to that editorial?

  13. noname
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    legallyblondeez – DOH! I forgot about Jeffersonian’s post. Point taken.

  14. Furious|T|
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 6:00 pm | Permalink
  15. Posted June 1, 2007 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Oops, I see the article further up in the thread now.
    I just posted on my blog everything I could find that we can do to help. If anyone knows of something I’ve missed, please let me know and I’ll add it to the post.

  16. Zaij
    Posted June 2, 2007 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Sorry, but that “gang rape is not OK” sign is really annoying me. It’s quite clear to anyone that isn’t a fuckhead, a psychopath, or what have you that any kind of rape is not OK. And those are the people that wouldn’t pay attention to the sign anyway.

  17. Posted June 2, 2007 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I find it really disturbing that in this, one of the most clearcut rape cases one ever sees, with more evidence by a MILE than most rape cases that get reported, things can still be so “controversial.” Yeah, what was said above about our particularly misogynistic culture. If this is controversial, if this is lacking evidence, then it is impossible to try and convict for rape EVER. What kind of message are we sending?
    PS–does anyone know anything about the position of the local rape crisis centre that was mentioned in the video, of backing the DA? I’d like to know more as I find that stance really surprising–most rape crisis centres I’ve known of take an explicit stance of solidarity with the victim, no matter what. As it’s important that at least one fucking person in the world is doing it. I find it really upsetting to hear about one not offering support.

  18. Posted June 2, 2007 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I agree, Anna. It seems as though the Rape Crisis center has a repitoire with the DA office that they don’t want to endanger. It seems like a tough call to be in that situation . . . but I agree that it is the job of rape crisis to be an advocate of the victim first and foremost before any larger political agenda.

  19. NicoleGW
    Posted June 2, 2007 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I could be completely wrong here, but my best guess is that there is enough evidence to prove that a rape occurred, but not enough to prove that a specific individual was guilty of that rape. So if one of these dudes was accused of raping this girl, he could create reasonable doubt with a simple, “He did it.”
    My understanding of criminal law is not the best however, and this could be completely off target. Assuming that I’m right, I fail to see how they couldn’t find anything else to accuse these people of.

  20. Posted June 2, 2007 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    The problem is really who to convict?
    Some people are “more guilty” than others in the eyes of the law.
    BTW, it may also be a double jeopardy issue. If the DA feels like she can eventually find out who the main perps were, she’s better off waiting–if she tries and convicts everyone on, say, statutory rape… then she can’t REtry them on a more serious charge around the same set of facts.
    The problem remains though: how the heck do you get a rape conviction even though you know they did it in a situation like this? It’s awesome the victim will testify; that will help the case enormously.

  21. Posted June 2, 2007 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    I imagine that you would get a conviction from the victim’s testimony, the eye-witness accounts by the girls who saved her, the DNA evidence in the condoms and the rape kit done at the hospital.

  22. Posted June 2, 2007 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    The only clarification is that “insufficient evidence” for a prosecutor means that she does not believe that she has enough evidence to convince a jury to convict particular people beyond a reasonable doubt, not what it means generally to laypersons.
    Seems to me that the standard should be whether the admissible evidence convinces the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt, not whether the prosecutor thinks that evidence is likely to convince a jury.
    If you’re the prosecutor, and you’re convinced (again, by the admissible evidence), bring the case. If you can’t convince the jury, that’s on you.

  23. Paul G. Brown
    Posted June 2, 2007 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Here in San Jose, the ‘grapevine’ consensus is:
    1. She was the victim of a sexual assault.
    2. She was the victim of a statuatary rape (she was underage).
    3. The evidence is pretty clear about the identity of the perps, but NOT who should be charged with what. That is, the stat. rape was consensual, the sexual assault not, but the physical evidence linking perps to crimes is ambiguous.
    What you’re looking at (I’m talking about the DA’s decision not to presecute) is less a case of institutionalized patriarchy viz. the legal system, and more a function of the advocacy approach to trials. The DA’s judgement is that a defense attorney would drive a ‘plausible doubt’ truck through the evidence. Apparently the problem for the DA lies in the (pardon the expression) excessively mesy details.
    The evidence of ‘rape culture’ in the attitudes of the men involved is pretty obvious from their words.

  24. Posted June 2, 2007 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Again, Paul (and I’m not attacking you here, because you didn’t express these views as being your own), I really don’t see how any reasonable person could think that ANY of the sexual encounters with ANY of the bastards involved were even close to consensual, considering this particular set of circumstances. That is the part that truly boggles my mind.

  25. Posted June 3, 2007 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Angus,
    It’s a tradeoff. Allowing more prosecutorial discretion is good in a case like this. Enhanced discretion is good when the people are actually guilty.
    However, enhanced discretion causes a lot of problems for people who are “obviously” guilty in the mind of a (hypothetically) biased prosecutor. Black men used to get put in that category a lot (and still do, though less so). Discretion often leads to abuse of power.
    So while I, too, wish that this case would go to trial, I can’t sign on to support a general change in the rules.

  26. Furious|T|
    Posted June 3, 2007 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Cara, the circumstance that jumps into my mind is an incident at a friend’s school. At an off-campus party, one of the residents of the house and his girlfriend retired to his room to have drunken sex while the party raged outside. While inside, his friends start looking for him and come into his room. Instead of immediately leaving, they stayed and cheered on their friend. Neither sex partner claimed to remember it (for whatever that’s worth).
    Of course, what I just recounted wasn’t a crime (though it was despicable), since the sex was consensual and the particpants of age. Had either party (depending on the state) been underage, that’s stat rape.
    But if one of the onlookers had rushed in to cop a feel, then that’s a sexual assault.
    This may be a similar situation.

  27. Posted June 3, 2007 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    But . . . she was covered in vomit. And said that she didn’t consent.

  28. Paul G. Brown
    Posted June 3, 2007 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Cara -
    Well, statutory rape is predicated on the assumption that the under-aged can’t give their knowing consent full-stop. Which is why every one of the men involved is guilty of at least that crime.
    But that’s a different crime, with lesser penalties, than sexual assault.
    My (very, very vague) understanding is that what started out as drunken (though consensual) statutory rape involving perp A. preceded sexual assault involving perp. B. But the details are (apparently) hazy. Witnesses are inconsistent (ie. some are lying, pretty clearly).
    With luck the exposure will help clarify some memories.
    But my original observation (I hope) stands. Framing a trial as a contest between two competing advocates isn’t working; certainly not in this case, and (to extrapolate) not in many rape cases.
    Would it be a practical feminist reform to propose that trials involving sex / sexual assault adopt a more European ‘investigatory’ model? The judge, assisted by two court appointed advocates undertake a public investigation where the objective is to arrive at some consensus about the facts and the relevant law, and present these to a jury to see if these ‘reasonable people’ make a connection? That would remove a lot of the structural motivation for treating victims badly.

  29. Furious|T|
    Posted June 3, 2007 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Cara, my scenario was only in respose to the gossip from the DA’s offce that Paul Brown provided. I’m not saying that’s what happened in this case. If indeed the victim didn’t consent to any of the sexual contact, my scenario makes no sense.
    I don’t have enough of the facts to make a judgement on what happened myself. I do, however, think that the woman is a real victim of a sexual assault and possible rape.

  30. Posted June 3, 2007 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I live in San Jose and this is positively appalling! But, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This is the same place where a white high school student wasn’t punished for leaving a note on his teacher’s car which said “Thanks, my nigga” because she gave him a bad grade on a test. Apparently, because he’d heard black people use the word, it was okay to say to an adult woman who was not his peer.

  31. Doctress Julia
    Posted June 3, 2007 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Not only do I think these little bastards should PAY, and PAY and PAY!!!! I want to know each and every one of their NAMES. They should not only be prosecuted (which fucking may or may not happen, what the FUCK??), they should be publicly SHAMED for the rest of their lives. I want names, adresses cell numbers. Nothing’s private anymore, right? I WANT THEIR NAMES! GRRRRRRRR!!!!

  32. noname
    Posted June 3, 2007 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Would it be a practical feminist reform to propose that trials involving sex / sexual assault adopt a more European ‘investigatory’ model? The judge, assisted by two court appointed advocates undertake a public investigation where the objective is to arrive at some consensus about the facts and the relevant law, and present these to a jury to see if these ‘reasonable people’ make a connection? That would remove a lot of the structural motivation for treating victims badly. – Paul G. Brown
    All this process seams to remove are defense attorneys. Am I misunderstanding this? If not, this seems highly dangerous to me.

  33. Paul G. Brown
    Posted June 3, 2007 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    It’s an entirely different model, noname.
    There is no ‘defense’ or ‘prosecution’. There is only ‘fact finding’. The obligation of one of the state appointed advocates is to ensure that the legal ‘rights’ of the accused are accommodated.
    But their goal is not – however – to gain an acquittal for the accused. Simply to ensure that the process respects their rights. In the context of a rape case, for example, they are not obliged or rewarded for making the principal witness break down on the stand or contradict themselves.
    It isn’t perfect, of course. But in rape cases, I’m going to assert that it would result in more equitable and just outcomes.

  34. Posted June 4, 2007 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    It’s been a while since I studied European law. But my memory is that it has an entirely different approach: parties who we in the U.S. would consider “neutrals” (like judges) take a more active role, I believe. And I’m almost positive that the presumption of innocence is also quite different; I think the treatment of self incrimination is also different.
    As a result, I’m relatively certain (from having been told so, not from independent analysis) that we could not implement such a system without some sort of Constitutional amendment(s).
    And since most people on Feministing appear to be fairly liberal, I’d also like to point out that (like prosecutorial discretion) this proposal may simply reassign error rather than reducing it. It’s not a solution, exactly. And because a lot of people who are aware of rape problems are ALSO aware of the dangers of overzealous government prosecution, you may not get unbridled support.
    That said, there ARE things which could actually reduce error, without reassigning it. DNA testing is a good example, as is a lot of forensics work. Better investigative services in general have a tendency to improve the accuracy of convictions. Better rape kits; better lineups, etc etc. But they’re expensive.

  35. buggle
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Hello awesome amazing feminist women!
    Just wanted to update you all-I did start up a little support site for the victim of this horrible crime. It is at:
    http://de-anza-support.livejournal.com/
    Please check it out and take a minute to leave a few words of support for the victim. Also, please post this to your blogs or other websites you go to. I’d love to get a couple of hundred positive messages of support. THanks!!!!!!

  36. buggle
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Hello awesome amazing feminist women!
    Just wanted to update you all-I did start up a little support site for the victim of this horrible crime. It is at:
    http://de-anza-support.livejournal.com/
    Please check it out and take a minute to leave a few words of support for the victim. Also, please post this to your blogs or other websites you go to. I’d love to get a couple of hundred positive messages of support. THanks!!!!!!

  37. buggle
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Oops, double post. Although, I think this is so important that it deserves a double post!

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