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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Reader comments on a COA opinion today [Updated]

A reader has sent this note:

I just read the COA opinion today in Carter v. State. Very interesting combination of an enlightened judiciary regarding the lack of prejudice towards a prostitute who was raped. It appears that the police, prosecutor and judge all must have had good character in that regard. Also, interesting discussion about personal responsibility and the refusal to mitigate the sentence based on the perp’s upbringing and bad childhood.
ILB: From the opinion:
Carter’s only argument regarding the nature of the offenses concerns the character of the victim. Carter contends that he is less culpable because A.M. was engaging in prostitution and is therefore not a “typical victim” of rape. First, we seriously question whether there is such a thing as a “typical victim” of rape. See, e.g., Torrey M. Ford et al., Perceptions of Rape Based on Sex and Sexual Orientation of Victim, 13 J. Soc. Behav. & Personality 253, 253 (1998) (“Reactions to rape are largely based on stereotypes of rape such as stereotypes about who the typical rape victim is and stereotypes blaming the victim.”).

Second, we note that women who engage in prostitution are more likely to be raped than non-prostituted women. Tr. at 196 (testimony of IMPD Sex Crimes Detective David Miller); see also, e.g., Martin A. Monto et al., Predictors of Rape Myth Acceptance Among Male Clients of Female Street Prostitutes, 7 Violence Against Women 275, 275-78 (2001) (stating that approximately seventy percent of prostitutes are victims of rape and discussing the prejudicial stereotypes about rape victims “that serve to justify or support sexual violence against women”).

Third, we believe the relevant inquiry concerns Carter’s own actions. A.M. repeatedly told Carter she did not want to have sex with him, but Carter did not stop. She physically resisted until Carter threatened her with a gun. Although A.M. had no serious physical injuries, this was “probably because of the use of the weapon.” A.M. was afraid that Carter would shoot her if she continued to resist, so she chose to submit rather than risk further injury. Carter has shown no remorse and has never taken responsibility for his actions. As the trial court noted at sentencing, Carter’s description of “this incident not as being a violent offense or a violation of the victim’s body, but a period of prolonged great sex” is a reflection of Carter’s “narcissism.”

[Updated at 4:26 PM] A second reader has just sent this note:
I enjoyed the reader’s comments about the Carter v. State opinion. Last week, Judge Robb also authored an opinion with other interesting comments. Footnote 1 [at p. 5] in the Sprunger v. Egli decision remarked on the inappropriate defense of contributory negligence in the case of a mother who voluntarily left her children with a family member and found that it was “tantamount to victim blaming.” It appears to be a welcome pattern of socially responsible legal reasoning.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 17, 2015 03:00 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions