Telling a traumatic story in front of a national eye

For years before becoming an editor, I spent week in and week out sitting in court hearings or standing at crime scenes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched witnesses cry on the stand while recounting their ordeals, or watch them having their credibility questioned on cross at times making even myself cringe. And they relive this emotional, traumatic testimony many times along the way.

Before and during those years in court, I worked with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. As a counselor, and in going to the hospital with many women for their rape kits, I’ve seen how hard it is for them to even tell their story once. I’ve been to rallies where I’ve watched victims tell their stories to a crowd with tears streaming down their faces or anger in their voice.

I’m glad that our paper and most newspapers don’t identify victims of sexual assault. And I’ve rarely been in a courtroom where the victim is upset to see me, because victim services let him or her know we won’t reveal her name.

I can’t imagine how hard it will be for the alleged victims to tell their stories in the coming weeks at the Jerry Sandusky trial. Right now, the jury is still be selected, (you can read our comprehensive coverage here) and the trial itself is expected to take at least three weeks.

Independent of whether this jury will find Sandusky innocent or guilty, the intense media and public scrutiny over this case I fear will eventually lead to the revelation of the identities of some of the alleged victims. There have been motions filed to protect them, and hopefully all media outlets will refrain from doing so, but I really worry it’s bound to happen.

It’s only fair that Sandusky have the chance to question his accusers, something that has already begun to come to light in court filings. And if he is found innocent, I believe the public has a right to know who those who accused him are.

Either way, the country is watching, holding its collective breath to see what will reveal itself during every day of this trial. And despite the outcome, I imagine testifying will be difficult for alleged victims and all others involved.

But that’s how the judicial process works. It’s not about if it’s comfortable or not. It’s about the law.

Do you think the IDs of these alleged victims will come out? And if so, do you think it’s right or wrong?

About Kate Harmon

Breaking news editor, crime junkie, head of election coverage. Chaos is my middle name. Crazy cat lady, Alabama native.
This entry was posted in Criminal court, Random posts by others and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Telling a traumatic story in front of a national eye

  1. Florence says:

    I’m sure the identities will come out, but I don’t really think it’s necessarily a bad thing. It always seems to me that when sexual-assault victims’ names are not published, it lends a certain stigma to them. They should not be ashamed or embarrassed; it’s the perpetrators that should feel that way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>