What about the victim? | AspenTimes.com

What about the victim?

Dear Editor:

Recent articles have reported on the developments of the Centennial Apartment sexual assault case involving Emanuel Gonzalez-Loujun. The articles written on Feb. 18 and the continued assault on the district attorney’s office and the Aspen Police Department by the public defender’s office, as a defense of the allegations and of the alleged perpetrator, have now outraged me to a level that I feel it necessary to comment.

I recognize that one of the hallmark and necessary components of our judicial system is that every defendant be allowed legal representation and the right to pursue their innocence. However, the tactics of shifting the focus of the case from the actions of the alleged defendant to the missteps of the responding agencies is simply a smokescreen.

It is a well-recognized fact that when a defense has no defense, the standard tactic is to attack the credibility of the victim, and in this case the credibility of the law enforcement agencies as well. I wholeheartedly agree that our community agencies should be held to the highest standards of investigation and interrogation techniques, evidence collection, and information-sharing procedures. Yet as the public defender, the Aspen Police Department, and the district attorney’s office bicker, a victim most likely suffers.

For the public defender’s office to state that “the alleged victim lacks credibility,” “that because the alleged victim was not tested for either drugs or alcohol … the suspect will not be able to confront his accuser with evidence of her intoxication …”, and that “the suspect was too intoxicated to realize what he was doing the morning in question” plays into some of the stereotypes about rape.

The first two comments suggest outrageously that somehow the issue of whether the victim was intoxicated is relevant. It suggests somehow that if she were intoxicated, she is either not credible as a witness or that, even more naively, she was somehow complicit to the assault. The last comment intimates that because the abuser was intoxicated he is somehow not responsible or accountable for his actions. Intoxication is involved in a very high majority of sexual assaults and should not be used as an excuse for egregious actions.

I feel it necessary to make these comments so that the public is reminded that we all have a responsibility to hold sexual assault and domestic violence perpetrators accountable for their crimes. Of course it is standard practice for a defense attorney to want to obtain the best possible plea bargain or outcome for their client; however, true justice is only served when perpetrators are held accountable and when victims’ voices can be heard.

Jill Gruenberg

Response court advocate

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