Is Media’s Withholding Accuser’s Name Justified in DSK Case?


Almost all important details about the alleged victim and accuser in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape case have been reported in the news media by now — her age, where she lives, her native country, her money troubles, her health status, and the allegedly false statements she made in her application for asylum, says the Washington Post. Yet among the many mainstream media outlets that have vigorously covered the story one detail remains unreported: her name.

Sticking with longstanding tradition news outlets, have declined to report the woman's name, even as her credibility and the case against Strauss-Kahn have begun to unravel. When the alleged victim filed a libel suit against the New York Post for describing her as a prostitute, she wasn't identified in mainstream news accounts of the lawsuit, even though she initiated the action and it does not involve the rape allegations. “For a person who has already been violated once, all the media exposure violates them again,” says Mai Fernandez of the National Center for Victims of Crime. “We have a strong tradition of defendant's rights. But if you're a victim, you have fewer rights than an accused person.” Defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz argues that withholding victims' names in such high-profile cases gives an unfair advantage to the accuser. Disclosure of the woman's name on day one, Dershowitz says, might have balanced the picture — by drawing out witnesses or relevant information about the woman. “If it had,” he says, “by day three all the information would be out, and this man's reputation might not have been destroyed.”

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