Meet Savannah Dietrich, 17, a sexual assault victim, who now faces possible jail time for daring to speak out about her assault and naming her attackers.
Dietrich, who’s from Louisville, KY, was sexually assaulted, when she had fallen unconscious at a party, by two teen boys at a party in August 2011. She found out about the assault months later, when photographs taken during the assault were shared with others. The two teens who assaulted her pled guilty to first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and misdemeanor voyeurism, but Dietrich and her parents did not find out what plea agreement had been made between them and prosecutors until moments before it was announced in court. (The boys have not yet been sentenced and ultimately the judge decides whether to go with the recommended sentence under the plea agreement.) Dietrich was not pleased with the recommended sentence — which she described as “a very, very light deal” — and upset that the terms of the agreement also disallowed her to discuss what occurred in court.
“I was crying as she [the judge] was reading that,” Dietrich told the Courier-Journal. “They got off very easy … and they tell me to be quiet, just silencing me at the end.” But, in fact, Dietrich refused to be silent and took to Twitter to vent her frustrations and also named her two attackers.
“They said I can’t talk about it or I’ll be locked up,” Dietrich tweeted. “So I’m waiting for them to read this and lock me up … Protect rapist is more important than getting justice for the victim in Louisville. I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”
One of her attorneys said that Dietrich looked at the laws of confidentiality and “tried not to violate what she believed the law to be,” by not tweeting about what happened in court or was in court records. But the attorneys for the two boys who assaulted her asked a judge to hold her in contempt because they say that in naming her attackers, she violated the confidentiality of a juvenile hearing and the court’s order not to speak of it. If a contempt charge is brought against Dietrich, she would face up 180 days in jail and a $500 fine.
“So many of my rights have been taken away by these boys,” Dietrich said. “I’m at the point, that if I have to go to jail for my rights, I will do it. If they really feel it’s necessary to throw me in jail for talking about what happened to me … as opposed to throwing these boys in jail for what they did to me, then I don’t understand justice.”
I certainly hope that any judge with an ounce of compassion would toss this request in the garbage. This girl was assaulted, violated, and stripped of her rights by two boys who have admitted to what they’ve done. They are, allegedly, likely to get off easy. Forcing this girl to keep her mouth shut about what happened to her and who did it, to protect their privacy, not only further victimizes Dietrich, but sexual assault victims everywhere, who already have a hard enough time getting justice. Bless you, Savannah Dietrich, for your bravery. [Courier-Journal]