Friday, September 19, 2008

ND victim of gang rape denied justice AGAIN

Back story here

'Nancy Peterson' (an alias) has been fighting a system that ignored and blamed her for being the victim of violent gang rape.

She was improperly questioned by police... photographic evidence of the brutal crime was ignored and not even picked up for review until the state attorney general's office stepped in... The men weren't questioned for a week and the scene of the crime wasn't examined for days.

Despite all this, the North Dakota attorney general’s office has upheld the original decision to not press charges.

“I conclude that your decision not to prosecute falls within the broad discretion afforded state’s attorneys …” reads a letter from Chief Deputy Attorney General Thomas Trenbeath, who reviewed the file along with an assistant attorney general.
The County State’s Attorney Stuart Larson had originally said it was a 'lack of physical evidence, the burden of proving the sex was not consensual and contradictions between the alleged victim’s statements and those of the reported suspects were the main reasons for not filing charges.'

If you need further explanation of why this is crap, please see this.

Nancy's husband complained about the decision not to prosecute and Larson sent the file to the attorney general’s office. Larson also sent a letter asking, “Did I abuse the prosecutorial discretion of a State’s Attorney by reaching my decision not to prosecute the alleged crime?”

When word came back that the decision was upheld, Larson (*cough* smugly *cough*) told press he expected this.

Sadly, Nancy wasn't expecting much in the way of justice either. She told the newspaper, “It’s pretty much my word against theirs.”

The husband said if they were to bring a civil suit against the men allegedly involved, they would have to find a pro bono attorney. He added that if there was a settlement, they would probably donate it to an organization that works to prevent rape and counsel victims.

“We’re not after money here; we’re after justice,” he said.

On the surface, the husband took the news of the decision the hardest.

“I don’t even know what to say. I can’t believe it,” he said. “I don’t get it. Pretty much they’re saying my wife asked for this.”

The couple in their 30s has continually expressed frustration with how the investigation has been handled. They say the apartment should have been searched earlier to better preserve any evidence and the reported suspects should have been interviewed sooner.

The couple has filed written complaints with Mayville’s police commission, hoping local law enforcement will be somehow reprimanded. They said they’re yet to hear from the commission.

The couple, who has four children, moved out of Mayville after the alleged assault. The woman said she is still seeing a counselor and that her family is getting settled in a new home.

When Nancy was asked for a statement from a local newspaper, she texted a heartbreaking response.

I don’t blame ppl 4 not believing me its a tough story 2 swallow. I don’t lie & I hate liars I would never accuse 3 … guys with their whole lives ahead of them of something this serious if it wasn’t true. I did a stupid thing that night 4 going home with someone but I only went home with 1 guy & made it very clear I only wanted 2 b with 1 person because this issue came up a few times. I didn’t ask 2 b raped. … I wake up in cold sweats & have nightmares because of this. This has destroyed me & caused my family 2 uproot their lives & leave a town we liked. … I just want 2 move on with my life.


ouyangdan said...

Something good I think came out of this, and I am not sure if maybe I missed something is that she and her husband seem to be standing in solidarity in this. From your reporting I got the impression that she intended to have an indiscretion, (NOT excusing what happened to her, not at all, and only w/ ONE person, but if you change your mind no is still no) and now it seems that she and her husband are standing together and being supportive of each other. Seems a small bit of good out of something so horrible...but I have been accused of being too optimistic...did I say that well w/o coming off as a victim blamer, b/c I want to be clear that I like them being supportive and that no matter what she intended in her marriage she did not deserve this.

Anonymous said...

From your reporting I got the impression that she intended to have an indiscretion

I was back and forth between the impression you got or that maybe this woman and her husband had/have an open relationship. Either way, it is nice that her husband is standing up for her since it seems the folks who are payed to help her (i.e. the police and district attorney) just won't do their jobs.

Tobes said...

The couple agreed that the woman could have a sexual relationship outside the marriage because her husband had been seeing someone else as well.

Probably another reason the cops treated her like a slut instead of a victim.

Rachel said...

Emailed the attorney general's office, and got an extremely snarky, dismissive response. On one hand, I'm not part of their constituency. On the other hand, now I sure as fuck am never gonna be.

ouyangdan said...

Probably another reason the cops treated her like a slut instead of a victim

I kinda figured as much. I was just a little confused by the details, and very much glad to see that they were standing together to fight this. Not that it is anyone's business what goes on in their marriage, but that also helps to know that her husband supports her.

Thanks for clarifying that point, Tobes

Tobes said...

Happy to help ouyangdan :) You rock.

Rachel-- I WOULD LOVE to see the correspondence between you and the AG office. If you feel comfortable, please e-mail me at