Rape Victims Don’t Lose Their First Amendment Rights


Not only was Savannah Dietrich raped, her attackers publicly posted pictures of the assault. Then, the legal system added to the injustice by giving the juveniles a lenient plea bargain without even letting Dietrich or her family know about it.

Now, Dietrich is the one in trouble for exercising her First Amendment rights.

Frustrated by what she felt was a lenient plea bargain for two teens who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her and circulating pictures of the incident, a Louisville 17-year-old lashed out on Twitter.

“There you go, lock me up,” Savannah Dietrich tweeted, as she named the boys who she said sexually assaulted her. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”

Now, Dietrich is facing a potential jail sentence, as the attorneys for the boys have asked a Jefferson District Court judge to hold her in contempt because they say that in naming her attackers, she violated the confidentiality of a juvenile hearing and the court’s order not to speak of it.

…Juvenile court is closed in Kentucky to protect the confidentiality of defendants, but Dietrich has consented to the media’s presence at her contempt hearing, which is allowed under state law.

A hearing is scheduled for July 30 in juvenile court to decide if the media will be allowed into the contempt hearing.

The Courier-Journal and Dietrich’s attorneys have filed motions to open the proceedings, arguing she has a First Amendment right to speak about what happened in her case and a right to a public hearing on the contempt charge.

…Dietrich said she was sexually assaulted by two teen boys she knew in August 2011. She had been drinking at a gathering, she said, and became unconscious. Months later she learned that pictures of the incident had been taken and shared with others.

“For months, I cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t go out in public places,” she told the newspaper, as her father, Michael, and attorneys sat nearby. “You just sit there and wonder, who saw (the pictures), who knows?”

…Dietrich and her parents went to Louisville Metro Police, who eventually charged the two juvenile defendants with first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and misdemeanor voyeurism, according information contained in the court motion filed by the newspaper.

The teens pleaded guilty to those charges in late June, though Dietrich and her family say they were unaware of the plea bargain and recommended sentence until just before it was announced in court – and were upset with what they felt was a slap on the wrist for the attackers.

“I felt like they were given a very, very light deal,” Dietrich said. “I wasn’t happy with it, at all.”

Neither Dietrich nor her attorneys said they could talk about the details of the plea agreement under the court order. The teens are to be sentenced next month, and the judge has the power to accept, reject or modify the terms of the proposed agreement.

So after these dirty animals raped Savannah Dietrich and they passed around pictures, these rapists are entitled to their privacy — so Savannah Dietrich no longer has a First Amendment right to discuss what was done to her?

Like hell.

Their names are going to come out at this point. In fact, I spent thirty minutes trying to track down her tweet or a retweet so I could put them in this post. I might not have found the names, but somebody else will; I’m going to link it and so will a lot of other people.

That may not get Savannah Dietrich the justice she deserves, but it’s a step in the right direction.

PS: I have a hard time imagining Savannah Dietrich going to jail because of this; so I wouldn’t get too worried about it just yet.

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