I'm sure this is an all-too-familiar story to you by now. A woman is raped by someone she knows -- her boyfriend, her date for the evening, even her husband -- and yet her experience is diminished or explained away by something she did.
Or, worst of all, people
just don't believe her.
That's what happened to our client,
Rae Florek, after she was raped multiple times by her boyfriend. He raped her while she was unconscious due to the pain medication she took to relieve symptoms of throat cancer.
Because she was in a deep, medicated sleep, Rae didn't know what had happened to her. She only found out when Randy, her boyfriend, bragged about "taking" her while she was sleeping and laughed about it.
Rae went to the police in her small town. Unfortunately for her, the assigned Itasca County investigator was Randy's friend. Even after interviewing Randy where he admitted to "having sex" with Rae while she was sleeping (and therefore unable to consent),
the police did not pursue criminal charges.
Unfortunately, only a small percentage of rape victims ever see the inside of a court room because the police or the prosecutor fail to take action.
But Rae's story has a different ending. She found Gender Justice and because of your support we were able to take her case as her probono lawyers.
On Rae's behalf, we filed a claim in civil court. Just last week, a jury of six men and one woman from Itasca County heard all of the evidence and at the end of the day --
They believed Rae.
The jury unanimously agreed that the defendant "knew or should have known that [Rae] was physically helpless when he sexually penetrated her on January 18, 2013." Basically, they said they believed that Randy had violated the criminal sexual assault law --
a felony that carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
The civil justice system is typically not a path to justice for most sexual assault survivors because it's unlikely you'll recover damages from individual perpetrators and even if you do, it is usually never enough to cover the survivor's legal costs. (This is sadly true in Rae's case too. The jury awarded just $5,000.)
In fact, over the years we have worked on Rae's case,
Gender Justice has spent more than $10,000 in hard costs for court fees, depositions, and court reporters and invested thousands of attorney hours helping her pursue justice.
Unfortunately, due to the investment these cases require, we are not able to help every survivor who needs us.
Can you help us provide this path to justice for another survivor in 2018?
to Gender Justice supports our creative and envelope-pushing legal work. It makes it possible for us to help clients who can't afford private lawyers. And it opens new and novel pathways to justice for those who need them most.
On behalf of everyone here at Gender Justice, Rae, and all our mighty clients, thank you for your friendship and support.
Christy Hall, Staff Attorney
P.S. We are so close to making our $10,000 year-end matching challenge.