More Judges Bar Victims From Saying “Rape” To Jurors


Tory Bowen of Nebraska was raped, but a judge prohibited her from uttering the word “rape” in front of a jury. The term “sexual assault” also was taboo, and Bowen could not refer to herself as a victim or use the word “assailant” to describe the man who allegedly raped her, reports the Kansas City Star. The defendant's presumption of innocence and right to a fair trial trumps Bowen's right of free speech, said the judge who issued the order.

Bowen's case is part of what some prosecutors and victim advocates see as a national trend in sexual assault cases. “It's a topic that's coming up more and more,” said Joshua Marquis, an Oregon prosecutor and a vice president of the National District Attorneys Association. “You're moving away from what a criminal trial is really about.” Kansas City judge Gene Martin issued a similar order for the trial of a man charged with raping a teenager in 2000. Despite the semantic restrictions, the jury last week found him guilty of forcible rape and two counts of forcible sodomy. Bowen's case gained notoriety after she filed a lawsuit challenging the judge's actions as a First Amendment violation. A federal appeals court dismissed the suit, but Bowen's attorney plans to petition the U.S. Supreme Court.


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