Local News

Rape victim says she was victimized by state

Posted April 30, 2009
Updated May 1, 2009

— A local woman raped several years ago said she feels like she has been victimized again after she recently found court documents posted on the Internet with her name, other identifying information and details of the crime committed against her.

Now, she and victims' rights advocates are pushing for a change in state law to keep it from happening again.

To keep from testifying in court and having to reveal her identity, the victim, in January, agreed to a plea deal between the state and her attacker that would sentence him to three years in prison on lesser charges of sexual battery and second-degree kidnapping.

She said she began moving on with her life, until one day when she decided to search for her name on Google.

"I found a motion from the court proceedings, and it had my full name, my full Social Security number, my birth date and medical information," the woman said. "I never thought a lawyer and part of the state would rape my privacy like this."

The motion was under the training materials section on the Web site of the Office of Indigent Defense Services, which represents defendants who cannot afford attorneys. Thomas Maher, executive director of IDS, said a local attorney used the court document in training for a small group of public defenders.

The victim said she researched the site and found at least five more documents posted containing victims' personal information.

"There should have been a control mechanism to view all documents they put on their Web site," she said. "I don't understand how they could have just posted it and not looked at it."

Victims' rights advocates are now working with Sen. Larry Shaw, D-Cumberland, on proposed legislation that would shield the identities of victims of sex crimes in the same way juveniles are protected by the state.

They hope to introduce a bill in the next legislative session that would call for identifying information of victims in sex crimes be redacted from public documents and concealed in court.

"She was raped by her assailant and then by the court system," said Khalilah Sabra, a local victims' rights advocate who is pushing for the change. "There are no legal sanctions in place to protect her identity and her decency."

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden, who prosecuted the local woman's case, said he thinks it is incredible that there are no safeguards in place to keep such information from getting on the Internet.

"In a way, she's been victimized twice," he said. "I sent IDS a letter letting them know how appalled I was by this conduct and that hopefully, they would not do it again and take that off."

The documents were removed from the site immediately, Maher said, and his office is reviewing all court documents posted on the site. It has also created safeguards to ensure a similar action does not happen again.

"I think someone who has been victimized in a case shouldn't be further victimized by having their name forever on the Internet or out disseminated in any way," Maher said.

"Nobody realized, at the time that it should have been redacted," he added. "I don't know that we thought too much that people would go to that site other than lawyers looking for training."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 1, 2009

    Why did a rapist get 3 years and a drug possessor in another story here get 14 years?

  • lvhv2003 May 1, 2009

    Disbar the lawyer who used her information in training information! Of course, that won't ever happen. How many very bad lawyers ever get disbarred?
    And by the way, Deputy Dog, when does a victim have a real say so in punishment for an offender? It is the state versus the defendant. The defense attorney and prosecutor can decide on the plea bargain without ever consulting the victim. The victim has to be informed of the decision to a plea deal, but the prosecutor does not have to abide by the victim's wishes for the defendant's punishment if he or she does not want to. Go sit in court and watch what happens sometime. You will see the DA's primary purpose much of the time is simply to clear the docket.

  • carolinarox May 1, 2009

    She was "vitimized" a second time by having her personal, identifiable information posted on the internet along with very private medical information that resulted from a trauma. Gosh some of you people are insensitive.

  • CarolinianByChoice May 1, 2009

    Superman, did you THINK before you posted such an insensitive remark? This woman was RAPED, then a lawyer (who should have been intimately familiar with privacy laws) used info from not only her case, but other sexual assault cases, as training materials, and even posted those materials on the internet without redacting the private info. Maybe this woman didn’t want the WORLD TO KNOW she was raped? It was obviously a very traumatic thing for her to deal with since she didn’t feel she could testify in court about it. This isn’t about having just medical info posted, it is about having her DOB, SSN, & probably the lurid details of her assault put out there for anyone to see. I have yet to meet a rape victim who “likes” to be the subject of news because of their sexual assault and it is just SICK to insinuate that! Maybe she was so horrified, so outraged, that she felt the need to protect not only herself, but other victims of sexual assault - DUH!

  • lsly May 1, 2009

    I for one SAW the information that was posted on the internet before it was taken off. It WAS NOT taken off immediately. Most of it was an inaccurate rendition of this victim written by the DEFENSE ATTORNEY. It took 4 days!!!! to get it removed. My jaw was on the floor when I saw what was written and posted about this victim. I certainly hope that this DEFENSE ATTORNEY, STATE, and whoever else is reponsible is sanctioned BIG TIME!! Doesn't anyone know how to black out identifying information in North Carolina??? UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

  • superman May 1, 2009

    She should just be quiet. The more you stir the more it stinks. She obviously likes to be in the news. I have never had any medical treatment that I would care if it is posted on the front page of the newspaper. I dont know of anyone who would be interested in my medical history. If there are people out there-- please contact me for further details.

  • salemprez2b May 1, 2009

    She should sue, but she'd be suing the guv'mint...and they do no wrong. We are the powerless sheeple. Welcome to the USSA.

  • justcommonsense May 1, 2009

    "I don't know that we thought too much that people would go to that site other than lawyers looking for training."

    The key words here are "....thought too much"...I'd have to say there was no thought process at all in posting this information at all. As to privacy, forget it..our rights and privacy are being eroded everyday with numbskull (or is it really) ideas. With the technology we have today this woman should not have to have appeared in a court hearing/trial etc. Not with her having reported it, all the procedures done to her at the beginning ie rape kit for testing etc and being able to match DNA. It should have been pretty much open/shut and send him up the river for a very long time. Unfortunately he will get out and more than likely do it again. The system routinely victimizes the victims. Then to post her complete information online...that is outrageous!...I'd not be as composed about it as this lady has been. My prayers to her.

  • hpr641 May 1, 2009

    My sympathies to this woman, but how was she "victimized" a second time? From the article, there is NOTHING to indicate that anyone outside of herself and court officials received her private info. The court officials made a bad mistake, yes - one that COULD have caused her further problems, but it did NOT.

    They took the info. down, apologized, explained how it occured, and promised to take actions to ensure it doesn't occur in anyone else's case. Why is that not the end of it?

  • beposs May 1, 2009

    duster340 wrote"Were is the ACLU on this one ?"

    I would also like to know where the NAACP is also. I thought that they prided themselves in being advocates for all wronged individuals. I guess there is not enough opportunity here for them to get the publicity they value so much above all else.