Speaker: Three times over, and never again
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June, thank you for sharing.
Sat on a jury for a trial like your last year, and I can at least report a guilty verdict.
You speak the truth, and the truth is awful.
Love, strength and hope.
Thank you. That was hard to read but must have been much harder to live.
You have my deepest sympathy.
But you made me angry as well, angry at every single lawyer in New Zealand.
Our legal profession have a lot to answer for, they are so self righteous and arrogant about their system. That system is amoral. It is utterly broken, yet getting a lawyer to admit that their precious legal system is not perfect is as likely as getting a rape conviction. A pox on their houses.
It's good that you tried to get him convicted, and ghastly that it was so terrible for you. While reading this piece made me angry, it also left me admiring your courage and determined to try to change things if I get the chance.
Thanks for speaking the truth.
Arohanui June, and hugs. Thank you so much for writing about your experience. It's incredibly valuable for us to get a powerful inside glimpse of the dreadful process you've been through.
It's interesting that that this post is getting plenty of views (and 50-plus retweets on Twitter) but only a few comments. Because it's hard to know what to say. I could have posted this yesterday when June sent it to me, but I felt like I needed time to process it myself before I could do that.
Deborah, in reply to
It's taking me a while to think this post through . Some of things I want to say are quite political, so I don't actually want to say them here. Because that seems wrong to me.
But you made me realise that I need to acknowledge this post, and to offer my thanks to June for writing it.
Moz, in reply to
Russel, I'm pretty sure you've published people's pieces on this subject before. I remember reading one before I made a submission to a select committee on this subject. IIRC that report has been put in the "things for the next review to consider" pile. I'd love to be wrong and hear that it's being implemented. But, you know.
And thanks June for writing that.
Given the numbers I keep finding, it seems the problem will usually be the jury has an unacknowledged abuser on it. It's their personal ability to dominate the feelings of others toward blaming the victims, something they get a lot of practice at, which either hangs or sways the jury to not guilty.
The trials are just a fig leaf over that. Maybe you get a clean jury, but probably not. Judge-only trials make a lot of sense, regardless of the atmosphere they end up with, though hopefully disparagement of the victims could occur out of sight after their testimony.
June thank you for this-I can only guess how wretchedly awful and plain eviscerating the whole experience/s must have been. Like a number of others I find myself angry-almost shakingly so. I'm still uncomfortable at some incoherent level, (and I think it has much to do with my concerns about whether judges are necessarily better) about non-jury trials, but I do accept that there are far too many problems with the present jury system and the unacknowledged/built-in prejudices for comfort. May you get the peace of mind you deserve June.
Thanks June. That was so brave – and so horrible for you. And must be for many many women. We have to change this mangled way of attempting to find ‘justice’. Judge-only trials would be a start. A judge could ask questions without accusations and shouting. Far too often it feels like the wrong person is put on trial.
It's interesting that that this post is getting plenty of views (and 50-plus retweets on Twitter) but only a few comments. Because it's hard to know what to say.
Thank you for doing this, June. If you ever asked yourself - 'Will writing this make any difference?" ... well, it has.
Thank you for writing this June. I just hope that writing such as yours, and the bravery of all the other women who have told their stories, such as Louise Nicholas, helps people understand the injustice of it all a bit more. Judge-only trials might be an improvement. But a deeper societal shift needs to happen to eradicate the power and control issues behind this crime,
Joe Wylie, in reply to
Thank you for doing this, June. If you ever asked yourself – ’Will writing this make any difference?” … well, it has.
Oh June, I'm so so sorry you had this experience. The childhood abuse, the rape, and the dreadful court process. You are very very brave. Much braver than me. I can see why the police discouraged me from laying a complaint.
I hope you did make a difference to his access to other victims. In my experience, offenders seem to get a lot of enablers on their side even if convicted. Maybe they're in denial.
Bart Janssen, in reply to
It’s interesting that that this post is getting plenty of views (and 50-plus retweets on Twitter) but only a few comments.
What can we say except we are sorry the system has failed so badly?
Our sympathy and tears are real.
But what changes?
Bart Janssen, in reply to
I can see why the police discouraged me from laying a complaint.
Oh Heather, that made me cry even more.
thank you june
I wasn't going to comment on here but really wanted to acknowledge the amazing comments that have been posted – Thank you – Having a truly supportive community to play host to material like this make writing and publishing it a lot easier.
I'm also sorry to all those that have shared similar stories in the comments. My heart breaks for you and I think these are those moments where it's not so much comforting to know that you're not alone – it's gut-wrenching knowing how many people are subjected to similar abuse – something that nobody should ever have to experience – But all too many people do.
Somebody mentioned that it seems like the victim is on trial in these types of cases and that's true – It comes down to the 'innocent until proven guilty' and 'proven beyond reasonable doubt' concepts. Both of which I think are also important when it comes to our justice system. Unfortunately, in cases like these, it means that the procesuction has to provide the proof, and to do so the victim is essentially the one on trial. And it's an awful position.
What I do know is that, while the court process itself was truly awful, the entire prosecution team, from the police to the legal team, were absolutely amazing, supportive and probably more attached to the case than they should have been. I heard rumours that the detective in charge didn't stick around in the force for long, and that it was largely because of this case. I don't know if that's true. I tried my hardest to escape that part of my life and everyone in it. I almost wish I hadn't now though, I'd love to actually thank them as an adult, in person.
As I wrote in the post – Things aren't right with the way the system works for cases like this. But I don't have the answers for how to change that :/
Sue, in reply to
I wish we did have the answers right now victims have 2 choices
say nothing, keep it quiet to yourself and the world and know it might happen to someone else and feel unresolved forever
say something and have it happen to you over and over again
no matter what you path you take it feels like you live with the what if.
I registered today to say: THANK YOU.
I imagine a lot of readers are finishing this article in stunned silence.
Many will be reading, nodding their head, in tears.
Either way, this is an important piece, and I stand with you in solidarity and anger. So many of us do.
It is an outrage that rape is essentially legal.
Our system is shattered.
Russell Brown, in reply to
My experience is different, I thought that I was a criminal, because what was going on was illegal ( gender) ... And here I am now, openly mentioning it on the internet. But at my own pace.
Good for you, Steven. I'm pleased that you've been able to share your story here too. We both remember it got a bit rocky in the early days, but I'm gratified by the trust that lets people talk about tough things here. Respect.
I can only echo everyone’s thanks, June. There is nothing quite like communicated experience to allow other people to consider things. I can feel the ordeal – and its awful repetitions.
I sat on a jury in a sexual case two years ago. It was vastly different from your own. Two charges of attempted sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection. Evidence was given by close-circuit TV, so there were more distances than in your own case – the downside is that appearance on TV changes the way a jury in the TV Age views testimony. There was an amount of evidence that the charge had been constructed by family dynamics and revenge. There was ample evidence that stories had been substantially changed over time – from ‘nothing happened’ to ‘something happened’. There were no real witnesses and no forensic evidence. Nothing really made sense when it came to reactions or time. There was also a surety that there was a lot that we weren’t being told based upon us having to leave the court so frequently for legal discussion – and when these directions came.
As a jury we took four and a bit days in an airless, windowless room to reach what could be loosely called a decision. Hung on one charge and 11-1 for innocent on the other – both results were given in open court. The debate in the jury room was intense and the case hit every raw nerve in modern society – race, underage sex, religion, and money. The final hung vote on the last charge (we took votes at frequent intervals towards the end) was really a self-engineered vote by the jury to say that we didn’t know and were stuck. After four days we were exhausted. I barely slept for two of the four nights, and not much for the other two.
The discussion was seldom rational after the second day. It was as if everyone’s fears and worries had raised barriers that were eventually insurmountable for our twelve jurors. I hated the racism. I really did not like the way one juror’s prudishness dominated his reaction. I did not like the unexamined sexism. The personal dynamics in the jury room became awful and counter-productive the longer we were there.
It made me realise that the adversarial system in cases like this isn’t quite the answer. The inquisitorial system where a judge has a bigger role in conducting the case strikes me as being better – based on my small experience. I saw just how the adversarial system hurt both witnesses and complainants.
In the adversarial system the jury becomes a audience manipulated by showmen. It isn’t fair on complainant or witnesses – or the jury, to be frank. Then sitting in the jury room, with an inexperienced jury foreman (and how do you get experience?) was not productive in other ways.
I don’t know any answer, but I do know that my experience left me sure that things weren’t being done well – and with some very profound doubts.
Thanks again, June, for giving the matter a very human face.
June, I went through a shorter version of what you did. Only one trial six months after the first aborted one and 8 years after the initial complaint. I was naive about the trial process because I thought I knew about courts. I had worked in news and for the police.
I also went into court without a supporter because I didn't want the offender to see anyone attached to my adult life. My detective was not allowed into court at the same time because of a request by the offenders lawyer and this felt patently cruel.
I was still totally unprepared for the assault of the defense lawyer. We eventually got a guilty verdict but with some charges dropped. I was too traumatized by the process to even find out what charges were dropped.
The offender (a direct family member) was released early fro prison and not even the police were informed.
Like you, I remain terribly conflicted on what to advise other people about this process. I often think that if it nearly broke me then what would it do to the more brittle?
The offender in my case also successfully received his firearms license back after a few years which the police were powerless to stop.
I sincerely thank you for writing about this. I have wanted to but it remains too unpleasant for me to navigate.
In the act of writing this and reading the responses, I hope you have felt some potency in what has been a situation forced on you.
Thank you again.
I just registered to say thanks for sharing. It's heartbreaking to read about the court process you endured.
I was part of a jury a few months back for a sexual assault case. The trial was a horrible experience and I was completely shattered at the end of it. The only good thing was the system worked and it ended with a couple of guilty charges.
Kia kaha June.
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