17 year-old California girl detained after twice failing to appear at the trial of the man who allegedly raped her.
The prosecutors say that testimony from the teenager, who twice ran away from a foster home before scheduled court appearances, is critical in the upcoming trial against a man who has a long criminal record and is also suspected of raping at least one other woman. But the teenager’s lawyer and victims’ advocates say that the detention would discourage others, especially those who have been sexually assaulted, from coming forward. They described the move as a setback in a state with some of the country’s strongest laws protecting victims.
The teen has been detained until the trial of Frank William Rackley, which is set for April 23rd. The victim identified Rackley by a swastika tattoo on his body. Rackley was also linked to the victim through biological material found on the victim’s body.
Although this detention seems extreme, apparently it isn’t that unusual:
“This is something that has existed for a long time and exists almost everywhere, but almost nobody uses it very much,” said Floyd F. Feeney, a criminal law expert at the University of California, Davis. “But if you had a juvenile who’s flitting back and forth and got lots of problems and is the key witness in a case against a really bad actor, I wouldn’t think it would be that unusual for the D.A.’s office to consider holding her as a material witness.”
The article goes on to to explain why victim’s rights groups are up in arms over this:
“[Victims] may become reluctant to seek assistance if they feel this will trigger the criminal justice system and lead to them being forced to testify,” said Sandra Henriquez, executive director of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault in Sacramento.
What do you think? Are there circumstances in which victims should be forced to testify?
Is it wrong to detain a teenager in order to force testimony, or is it a necessary evil in order to make society a safer place for all?
Photo of Jail cells in a city facility located in the southern United States courtesy of Shutterstock.