The State of Rape: Lack of funding and delay tactics plague victims


A system that seems to favor the predators:

“Cases don’t get better with time; they often get worse,” Pearce said. “If they can delay it and let it go on for longer, it’s less likely the evidence will be fresh. You are hoping the victim will grow tired of it.” With every delay in their case, victims can get discouraged. People move. Memories fade.

“(These crimes) are done in the dark, they are done in secret and done in private,” Pearce said. “Oftentimes that victim is the only primary witness.”

Keep in mind, in most of these cases, the accused rapist is out on bond pending the trial. In other words, free to assault other women, and free to harass their accuser. And of course there are "friends" of the accused who are out there harassing the victim, in an effort to get her to drop the charges. She might as well be in prison (or house arrest) herself, which often leads to the "People move" observation above. It's a shameful and untenable situation, and lawmakers who set budgets need to be called to task:

“No survivor should have to wait four years to have their case be heard in court,” said Angelica Wind, executive director for Our VOICE, a rape crisis center based in Buncombe County. “Every time that alleged perpetrator’s case is continued, we cannot lose sight that it impacts the survivor.”

When told the state average for open sexual assault cases is around 900 days, Wind said that’s “unconscionable.”

Wind said more funding is needed so that district attorneys’ offices can return victim phone calls in a timely manner or so they can hire more people to call survivors to update them on the status of their cases, ensuring that unavoidable case lags don’t leave the survivor feeling abandoned.

Complicating matters in a county like New Hanover is an ever-growing caseload and the same number of Superior Court judges now as there were more than a decade ago. “Our court system is just overwhelmed. We don’t have enough judges in our courtrooms to try all of the cases that need to go in front of juries,” he said. Oehrline said it takes around two years for his major cases to see a trial. Meanwhile, cases mount up.

We need more money for testing, and we need more money for the court system (a lot more). But when you've got a General Assembly majority that hates spending money on government, and constantly bashes "radical" judges, they're going to dedicate as few dollars as they can get away with to both.

In a perfect world, rape victims and their families would be marching on Raleigh and demanding change. But thanks to the way our screwed up society treats said victims, those folks generally fly under the radar as much as they can. And that breaks my heart.