Appeals Court: The word ‘rape’ can be banned from rape trials

This makes me want to tear my hair out. Remember the Nebraska judge who banned the word ‘rape’ from a rape trial? (You know, so the accuser was forced to use words like “intercourse” and “sex” to describe the attack. Charming.) Well, according to an appeals court, that’s all fine and dandy.

The lawsuit argued that Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront violated Tory Bowen’s constitutional rights in barring her from using certain words during her testimony in the trial, in which she said Pamir Safi sexually assaulted her.
While Cheuvront barred Bowen from using phrases and words like “rape kit” and “victim” in her testimony, he allowed Safi’s attorneys to use words such as “sex” and “intercourse” when describing the encounter between Safi and Bowen.

Even worse, of course, was that the jury wasn’t told about the banned words.
Dahlia Lithwick at Slate had this to say when news of the case first came out: “The fact that judges are not rushing to ban similarly conclusory legal language from trial testimony—presumably one can still say murder or embezzlement on the stand—reflects not just the fraught nature of language but also the fraught nature of rape prosecutions. We as a society still somehow think rape is different—either because we assume the victims are especially fragile or because we assume they are particularly deceitful. Is the word rape truly more inflammatory to a jury than the word robbery?” Indeed.
Bowen (who made her name public), has been an inspiration through this disgustingness. First, she refused to abide by the judge’s rule: “I refuse to call it sex, or any other word that I’m supposed to say, encouraged to say on the stand, because to me that’s committing perjury. What happened to me was rape, it was not sex.
Then, after there was a mistrial (because of the controversy over the word ban), Bowen sued. I’m just so disappointed that it’s come to this end. But kudos to Bowen for not taking shit – she is one amazing woman.

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