Where do we go from here regarding Judge Deni?

What steps can we still continue to take regarding Judge Deni and this case?  She won her re-election we can’t change that.  There was international interest regarding this case.  I saw that Pravda and a Scottish News outlet had picked this up.  I also saw someone post about international efforts including Amnesty International or doing an Amnesty International type letter writing protest.

Beatriz Mercado from Chile who works with SWOP East has suggested drawing a letter regarding this case and presenting it to organizations in Chile, in English and Spanish, to bring attention to this case on an international level.  I think this is something we should take a look at and work on going forward with both regarding this case and sex worker rights.

I”m not literate enough on court proceedings to know.  Is it possible to get copies of court transcripts?  Are they public record?  That would certainly clear up any contentions about what was or was not stated.

What can we do to go forward?

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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Judge Deni, feminism, genderberg, the importance of rallying together

In a post Gretchen mentioned that Genderberg was also addressing the Deni issue.  Which is great.  It is important that anyone and everyone that is interested address the issue.  I’m not minimizing their efforts.  I appreciate them.

But, to my understanding, and I could be wrong as I haven’t spent much time looking for the answer, my understanding is that most of genderberg is private and closed.  Thus the only member of Genderberg that was public with us was Gretchen.  I believe she truly needs to be an example for her peers at Genderberg and the radical feminist community.  Judge Deni won by a landslide.  The rape survivor has now been raped three times, by the rapist, by Judge Deni and by th Pennsylvania Electorate.  With a 66 percent vote of support for her return to office, one would have to believe that the biggest reason this issue did not impact more voters in Pennsylvania is that they were not aware.

We have commonality in opposing violence, opposing rape, opposing violence against sex workers between our movements.  The Deni victory has to be a benchmark for it to be remembered what and who we are truly fighting.  Sex worker rights activists aren’t allowed in Genderberg.  Again, this is an assumption.  I haven’t applied for membership either.  But given the response to my posts from Genderberg’s owner, there isn’t much reason to believe I or others would be accepted.  Which I understand the need for private space.  The sex worker rights movement also has our private spaces.  But some need to be open.  Some occasions call for unity regardless of political division.

One of the great disappointments of this live blog and the awareness campaign regarding Judge Deni is very few people outside the sex worker rights movement joined us in making a public statement against the social injustice perpetrated by Judge Deni.  As sex workers and sex worker rights activists, given the nature of this issue involving Judge Deni and her treatment of a sex worker that was raped, we have an important place in this fight.  There is a time and a place for debates within feminism.  Those debates are important.

There is a time and a place for feminists, women’s rights activists, supporters, and others, who may not agree with the sex worker rights movement, to put aside the political differences and join us in an issue far more important than our differences.

We held an open forum.  Anyone was welcome to post here.  To my knowledge one radical feminist, Gretchen dared to do so.  I know for a fact there were others that cared about this issue and were outraged at Judge Deni’s decision and equally outraged at her victory last night.  But for whatever reason all but Gretchen stay away from us publicly.  While it was heartening to receive private emails supporting our work on this issue from radical feminists, those voices would have been so much more powerful in public standing with us.  The idea isn’t to congratulate me for doing something viewed as constructive.  The idea is to fight for social justice.  That as to be public.

I don’t mean this post inherently as critical of anyone.  It is intended as a rally call.  It is apparent from the election results that too few voters knew about this.  We could have done so much more together and been able to get the attention of the media much easier as a group than separate.  The vast power of the media to effect change can’t be understated.

How can sex workers expect justice in court when we are shunned and stigmatized by most feminists even though they are fight for the same cause we are in this instance?

Who knows better the pain, horror and fear of rape and the injustice dealt to sex workers that are victimized than sex workers themselves?  This is a call for feminists who don’t want to be seen working with sex worker rights activists to rethink their position.  If we can’t even not be stigmatized and ostracized by anti violence, anti rape feminists, how is social change and society as a whole going to be expected to change?

This is not intended as an insult to radical feminists.  The idea is not to touch off a confrontation of who is the better activist.  That is exactly the opposite.  The idea is to lightly bonk some over the head and say please, remember that sex workers are human, we are women, and that is a commonality we all share.  We feel pain just as any other rape victim does.  Fighting for our justice is fighting for justice for all women and a stand against the much greater enemy which is violence against women.

There is a time to define our positions and a time to join together in one.  This is the latter.

Since we are locked out of radical feminist forums and ours are open, this is a call for radical feminists to stand with us.

Jill Brenneman

SWOP East

A judge Deni ally opposes our position in a philly blog

Jill Brenneman writes:

This was posted on one of the probably 50 blogs I posted the liveblog notice on. I believe Kathy Hogan may believe her 30 year friend’s position, which everyone has friends and believes in them, but I also think at best Kathy Hogan is being played by her friend Judge Carr. That the Bar Association also dropped the hammer on Deni contradicts that this is all a contrived media story.

Sorry, Kathy, I can respect that you believe in your friend. But I don’t buy this being a media/political conspiracy.

Below is Kathy Hogan’s statement.

Kathy Hogan has left a new comment on the post “Judge drops rape charges in gang rape“:

The part of this story you don’t know is that this was a manipulation of the press by political operatives, who purposely fabricated a twisted version of the facts right before an election, to smear Judge Deni’s reputation for political reasons that have nothing to do with the case they used to launch the campaign against her.

Once they got one paper to print their twisted version of the facts, the other papers piled on, repeating the false facts from the first story.

What you think happened is not what happened, and her political opponents knew they had her over a barrel, because the rules of judicial conduct prevent her from arguing the facts of a pending case in the press.

The operatives accomplished their goal, which was to create a public outrage to fan the flames of a public drum beat to remove Judge Deni from office.

Some people will not find it easy to accept that they were played.

Others who know how politics are played in Philly will acknowledge that what I am saying has a certain familiar ring of truth to it.

I have known Judge Deni for better than 30 years. I am telling you that what you read in the papers, and the firestorm that was created out of it, was a calculated political manipulation that had nothing to do with the truth.

THEFT OF SERVICES = RAPE

Judge Deni says that a violent gang rape at gunpoint is an insult to what “real rape” is. And the sexual assault activist community is on board with that but how many people can wrap their heads around the idea that theft of services to a prostitute is NOT an INSULT to what real rape is…

CA PENAL CODE SECTION 261-269 should be amended to incorporate the LIVES of sex workers who are robbed, raped or ripped off. There was a time when rape between a WIFE and her (male) SPOUSE was not legally defined at all, so I KNOW that change is possible. I know that it is slow and difficult. There was also a time when most people believed that it was not even possible for a prostitute to be raped, or that when a prostitute was raped it should just be prosecuted as robbery. Today, I say it should be the other way around: ROBBING SEX WORKERS AFTER SEX ACTS HAVE OCCURED SHOULD BE PROSECUTED AS RAPE…

but Judge Deni tells us that we have so so so long to go.

but Duke University Lacrosse team tells me–

we have so so long to go.

but the Orange County cop that ejaculated on the stripper he pulled over and was NOT GUILTY tells me

we have so so long to go.

The following section, in my opinion is likely the closest protection that the law offers our situation:

261 (a) Rape is an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person under any of the following circumstances:
4) Where a person is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act, and this is know to the accused. As used in this paragraph “unconscious of the nature of the act” means incapable of resisting because victim meets one of the following conditions:
D) was not aware, knowing, perceiving or cognizant of the essential characteristics of the act due to the perpetrator’s fraudulent representation that the sexual penetration served a professional purpose when it served no professional purpose.

If rape is defined as any non consensual act of sexual intercourse, and the condition of consent for sex workers that perform acts of sexual intercourse is solely contingent upon payment and the payment is revoked by threat of force, fear or intimidation or by fraud or manipulation (bad checks, stolen credit cards) then the act was accomplished against the victim’s will and should be prosecuted as RAPE. I like the part about ‘professional purpose’ because it could be applied to the work of sex workers who are professionals. And it can be used to protect them without incriminating them.

Currently, prostitute lives are classified to the police department as N.H.I (No Humans Involved). Sex workers fear standing up for their human rights for fear of retaliation from law enforcement. Cops and Robbers are BOTH the bad guys and we battle them and their wrath day in and day out just to survive and/or live our dreams.

There has to be some police officers (1 or 2) that believe in justice and protecting us from violence. I hate even trying to approach the police because I have so much animosity towards them, but this situation has got to change. And I think I possess the privilege required to get some people to listen to what I am saying.

I want to set up a prostitution task force in LA like Scarlot Harlot did in San Francisco. I have approached LA Commission on Assaults Against Women (LACAAW) about this. Anyone with ideas, legal experience and/or similar passion please join me or lend your advice.

..most of the statement above was from a blog I wrote after I had been robbed. I believe that most of the bloggers on here and I share the same sentiment about this case but I’m having trouble swallowing the idea that “RAPE IS NOT AN OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD….” because I think that it is. Because it has happened to me.

After I was robbed at pseudo gunpoint, I was almost scammed for $1000 when I did a credit card transaction with a shady shady middle class suburban white man who didn’t think this dumb whore would keep her receipts or have the strength or survival skills to FIGHT BACK WITH EVERY OUNCE OF FIGHT IN MY BODY AND MY SOUL. You will NOT RAPE me again without me biting off your ear, your tongue, your dick…I will fight you until I die in prison…This same man tried to scam me on the night of the date, said he would take me to an ATM and get out cash because the credit card imprint that I had was not verified live because I didn’t have the phone number to verify it with me. It gives FUCK YOU PAY ME a whole new meaning, because when I say this–when i scream this as I am lighting your house on fire, as I am kicking you repeatedly as I cry…

Election results from Philly. This makes me sick.

2007 Municipal Election
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Unofficial Returns
*** 6,626 out of 9,268 Districts (71.49%) Reporting Statewide ***

Judge of the Municipal Court
Judicial Retention


1st Judicial District (Philadelphia County)

Candidate Votes Percent
DAHER, GEORGANNE V. “Yes” 72,250 68.3%
“No” 33,457 31.7%
DENI, TERESA CARR “Yes” 70,385 66.1%
“No” 36,107 33.9%
GRIFFIN, DEBORAH “Yes” 75,976 71.3%
“No” 30,647 28.7%
MERRIWEATHER, RONALD B. “Yes” 82,952 77.2%
“No” 24,560 22.8%
PEW, WENDY “Yes” 78,480 76.1%
“No” 24,707 23.9%
PRESENZA, LOUIS J. “Yes” 77,646 75.1%
“No” 25,694 24.9%

Sex Workers Against Rape

I’ve been in discussions with other activists, one who came up with this great title “sex workers against rape”. I want to say her name and credit her for the title and the concept but I haven’t heard back yet for permission to quote her name. But the title is not mine. But I’m proud to be part of it.

Rape should not be an occupational hazard. But it is. Sex workers are particularly vulnerable because of social views about women being responsible for male sexuality and it is increased exponentially when the woman happens to be a sex worker because of social stigma of sex workers as asking for it, or putting ourselves in a position for it to happen or all the associated myths.

Here are some facts.

Sex Workers can be raped. Not all are but many of us have been. I was. My distrust of the legal system kept me from pursuing my legal rights when it happened. What happened to the survivor in Judge Deni’s horrible decision is exactly what I feared. What kept me silent. The legal system was as frightening a prospect as the rapist as first you live the rape, then you re-live it over and over in the justice system while every detail is analyzed to attempt to find some way to make it your fault or to prove that you are making it up, embellishing, hate men, or any of a large group of horrible myths. For all intents and purposes there was a significant time frame in my life when I was in fact captive in the sex industry. Where rape was consistent because I could not stop the process. Being a prostitute, I could not go to the police for justice, for freedom. The police are often a series of Judge Deni’s. Even if they are not and you make it to trial, now you face the likelihood of a Judge Deni, of a Jury of Judge Deni’s. I’ll come back to this point below.

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