Stunned but still proud

Stunned but still proud

Acquittal: The court states that sexual assault cases are typically characterized by the fact that there were only two people present at the (alleged) sexual acts, namely the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator.

This sentence is the verdict in the case at hand.

The case is as follows:

The client gave birth to a child when she was 18 years old, knowing that this child was born as a result of systematic sexual abuse by her father from the age of 15.

The client kept this secret for 15 years and eventually decided to report the crime. A DNA profile was drawn up which showed that her father was indeed the father of her child. The father denies having had any sexual contact with his daughter (let alone forcing her) until he is confronted with the irrefutable DNA evidence. Then the tables are turned and he claims to have been seduced by his daughter.

Lies and deceit rule in this case. The father denies the charges and the witnesses to be heard on behalf of the defense are familiar with the criminal file before giving their testimony. They have obviously coordinated their stories and cannot imagine that father/partner would have committed such a crime, because “he is such a wonderful and gentle man.”

Completely ignored are the reports that have been submitted since the client’s birth, in which violence due to alcohol and drug abuse by the father is commonplace. Two previous convictions of the father for domestic violence are also ignored.

Of course, there were only two people present and of course it is difficult (or not directly) to prove that rape is involved if the suspect denies it. But in a case like this, the other facts and circumstances provided could certainly have just as well turned the verdict the other way.

What is actually missed the most in the verdict is the recognition of the suffering of the victim. She is still confronted with the result of the sexual abuse every day. Can the judge not ignore that? At the very least, it could have been mentioned that, although the suspect is acquitted, it cannot be denied that the events took place (after all, there is irrefutable DNA evidence), but that the evidence for rape is not sufficient in the opinion of the judge for a conviction.

The bewilderment about the outcome is great. That is why I feel called upon to give the client the recognition she deserves at this place. She has been wronged: she has been abused and mistreated by her own father, the person who should have the most trust of a child. Her father is the father of her child and she has carried the secret with her for 15 years. After such a long time, she has gathered enough courage and feels strong enough to report the crime and it turns out that her (long-disbelieved) story is true. As a victim, she goes through the entire process of the criminal investigation and everything that comes with it, including witness testimony, and eventually comes to the substantive hearing with her head held high. Only to see all her years of suffering wiped away with one stroke of the pen.

The simple fact that a sex crime is an event between two people who both have a different story and is therefore not provable is too easy to simply acquit. There are always accompanying circumstances.

Her reaction to the judge on the verdict: “I am very disappointed in you, but I understand that you have to follow the rules.”

I am so proud of this client. For her courage and her resilience. She is an example for many. For me, she is all the more reason to continue fighting for all women who are victims of sex crimes in any form. Not “just two people”; there is always more to consider.

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