The victim of a sexual assault is facing contempt charges after she tweeted the names of her teenage attackers. Releasing the names was a direct violation of a court order. The victim, 17-year-old Savannah Dietrich from Kentucky, does not want her name hidden or the names of her attackers. Her family is in agreement with her. A judge has been asked to hold Dietrich in contempt by the defendants’ attorneys. They have requested this because she violated the confidentiality of a juvenile hearing as well as the order from the judge not to speak about the case.
Dietrich said that she was assaulted by two boys in August of 2011 that she knew. The assault happened after she passed out from drinking at a party. A couple of months after the assault she found out that pictures of it were taken and shared.
“For months, I cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t go out in public places,” Dietrich said. “You just sit there and wonder, who saw (the pictures), who knows?”
The attorneys representing Dietrich have asked that her contempt hearing be open to the media because she has the right of the First Amendment to speak about the case as well as the right to have a public hearing. Dietrich is facing 180 days in jail and a fine of $500 because of the contempt charge.
The defendants in the case pled guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism on June 26. Dietrich did not know of a plea agreement until moments before the court announced it at a hearing. Dietrich did not mention the proposed punishment but said it came across as a slap on the wrist. The sentencing for the defendants is to be held in August but the judge might change or reject the terms of the agreement before then.
“They got off very easy … and they tell me to be quiet, just silencing me at the end,” she said.
Following the hearing, Dietrich tweeted the following: “They said I can’t talk about it or I’ll be locked up. ….Protect rapist is more important than getting justice for the victim in Louisville.”
Lawyers across the country have said that Dietrich should have requested that the gag order be removed by the court instead of downright violating it on her own. Others have suggested that banning Dietrich from discussing what happened to her is a major ban on free speech.
“I’m at the point that if I have to go to jail for my rights, I will do it,” Dietrich said.