A Chicago-area judge backed off Wednesday after triggering a furor with a warning that he might lock up a woman for refusing to watch a videotape showing her alleged 2002 rape, reports the Chicago Tribune. Circuit Judge Kerry Kennedy’s decision was a relief to victims advocates, who said forcing the woman to watch the tape on the witness stand would have been cruel and could have discouraged others from reporting sexual assaults.
Appalled advocates sprang into action Tuesday after Kennedy said he might find the Naperville woman, now 20, in contempt of court if she did not agree to watch and answer questions about the videotape in which two young men allegedly have sex with her. Defense attorneys on Tuesday asked the judge to drop the sexual assault charges if the woman did not watch the tape. The woman, who testified that she had been drinking on the night of the alleged assault and has no memory of it, said she had never seen the tape. “I was in complete and utter shock,” said Lyn Schollett, general counsel for the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “It’s inconceivable a court would threaten the victim with jail.”