The Post-Election Rapist-Judge Blues

Well, it’s disappointing but not surprising—Deni won her retention.

Here is a link to Jill Porter’s latest coverage on the issue.

I’m sure Deni feels vindicated by her triumph, but I know in my heart that no one who knew of her malevolence would ever vote for her. With less than three weeks to organize and zero budget, we just couldn’t reach enough voters in time. She won by the smallest margin of any of the judges up for retention but, nevertheless, she is still allowed to make her personal judgments the rule of law, forcing people of whom she disapproves to be victimized not once, but twice. We cannot let this happen. Just because we lost this battle, does not mean we can’t win the war.

What can we do now?

First, we can write to her supervisor in municipal court and demand that she be removed from any court in which she can exercise her personal biases to circumvent the law. I’m thinking traffic court for her. Her supervisor is the Honorable Judge Louis J. Presenza. His mailing address is: Honorable Louis J. Presenza, President Judge, 1303 Criminal Justice Center, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Attached below is a template that people can re-word to make their own if they wish.

Another aspect to this is Deni’s future political career. I got only one piece of hate mail over the course of the past few weeks. It came from one of Deni’s cronies who tipped her hand by mentioning to me that Deni wants to run for district attorney next year. While people might have been very lackluster about a judicial retention election, they will pay much more attention to a DA race. I shudder at the thought of her advancing her political career and it’s imperative that we keep a close eye on her throughout the next year. It’s important that we not let the memory of her recent actions die and that we maintain a careful watch over all her upcoming court activities. In the event that she does make moves towards another office, we have to be ready to mobilize a much larger campaign to defeat her.

Now that the election is over with, we might give some thought to organizing a public demonstration to help spread the word about Deni and her actions. There has been a great deal of interest from out-of-town people who would probably love to attend. We should send a message to her that we will not accept her behavior quietly and that we are still watching her. We should let all the people who unwittingly voted her into the courts for another six years have the opportunity to know who she really is.

I’d like to thank all the people who went above and beyond to try to defeat Deni in the election. I know it’s disappointing but we did reach a lot of people in a very short amount of time and we managed to send Deni the message that she cannot impart her will on other people’s lives without impunity. Anyone still interested in fighting the good fight to get rid of Deni should contact me at no.on.deni@gmail.com.

Matilda

 

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Dear Judge Presenza,

I am writing to address the decision by Judge Carr Deni to dismiss all rape charges in the case of Commonwealth v. Gindraw. The case involved a young woman who had consented to a paid sexual encounter with an individual but was instead held by this individual and three others against her will and at gunpoint who proceeded to subject her to non-consensual, unprotected sexual intercourse despite the fact that she withdrew her consent and begged to be released. Because of the initial agreement between the victim and the defendant, Judge Carr Deni felt justified in classifying this violent assault as consensual and therefore threw out all rape charges. By any reasonable and humane standard this incident qualifies as rape.

The case was against the defendant and was not intended to determine the criminal behavior of the victim. Despite this, Judge Carr Deni clearly felt compelled to punish the victim for her agreement to engage in the illicit exchange of sexual activity for money. Furthermore, Deni proceeded to make a statement to the press that this case “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”

Pennsylvania law clearly states that rape is defined as “a felony of the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant:

1.        By forcible compulsion.

2.        By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution…”

and further that “[e]vidence of specific instances of the alleged victim’s past sexual conduct, opinion evidence of the alleged victim’s past sexual conduct, and reputation evidence of the alleged victim’s past sexual conduct shall not be admissible in prosecutions under this chapter except evidence of the alleged victim’s past sexual conduct with the defendant where consent of the alleged victim is at issue and such evidence is otherwise admissible pursuant to the rules of evidence.”

When a victim is begging to be released to return to her infant daughter and is being held at gunpoint by four men, there should be no room to question whether or not this is “forcible compulsion”. Additionally, as the victim in this case clearly withdrew her consent, there is no legal basis for Judge Carr Deni to have based her ruling upon the victim’s past sexual conduct or reputation. While I understand the importance of an independent judiciary it is clear from her behavior both in court and in speaking to the press, that Judge Carr Deni allowed her own personal biases to determine her ruling.

Due to her obvious prejudice and disregard for the human rights of those who engage in sex work or are suspected of engaging in sex work, I respectfully request you to consider transferring Judge Carr Deni from her position in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia. Your Honor, I feel that it is clear that Judge Carr Deni is unable to maintain the impartiality required of a member of our judicial system and therefore should not preside over court proceedings that might involve women who engage in sex work.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

 

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5 Responses

  1. The press has been mentioning that a number of women and humans rights organization expressed protests. Could we find out what those were and stand as a united front with them on the future action? Hopefully, a year should be enough time to spread awareness.

  2. Is there anything that all us non-USAians can do to help, or is this just a local matter that we’d get ignored? Is there any hint of involvement from Amnesty International, for example?

  3. SWOP, Sex Workers Outreach Project East, is one of the human rights organizations outspoken on this issue.

  4. After reading Jill Porter’s latest article I can say the whole re-election of Judge Deni makes me more ill. As a rape survivor myself, I know how I felt after being raped as a sex worker, know how I felt after abysmal treatment from the court and authorities after a workplace sexual assault not involved in sex work.

    The survivor of the rape is so courageous to have taken this to court, fought for justice and to continue on despite the horrible rape and horrific injustices done by the legal system and re-election of Judge Deni.

  5. The press was referring to the coalition that worked on Deny Deni. The groups were primarily the Global Women’s Strike, Philadelphia NOW, Project Safe, US PROStitutes Collective and then there were many individuals who came from prominent rape organizations or feminist organizations but were prohibited by the organizations from representing them.

    No one from SWOP, that I’m aware of, participated in anything that went on in Philly. At least, no one who came to a meeting or picked up materials or helped on election day or went to the press conference identified themselves as being from SWOP. Did they do an action somewhere else? Who can I contact to find out what their role has been outside of Philadelphia? SWOP would be a great asset to the campaign.

    Deni’s dismissal of the rape charges has even broader implications. You may be aware from the original article that there was a nearly identical incident a few days later and that the victim in that case also stepped forward. Well, they are not the only two. This has been a standard MO for this perp for a while and authorities have been looking for a way to get him off the streets. They were thrilled to find two women willing to go before the courts with this. I suppose Deni was not allowed to take that into consideration unless the DA found a way to present it but she’s definitely complicit in promoting the idea in more ways than one that it’s okay to rape sex workers.

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