Judge Denies Woman in Derrick Rose Rape Case Anonymity & That's Unfair to Victims

In our world, men who play sports are gods. Derrick Rose, the New York Knicks' star point guard, is a god. Accusing him of rape was not going to be easy, and we're sure the woman who brought the case against him in 2015 knew that. But it would have been easier -- and, more importantly, safer -- for her if the judge in her case guaranteed her anonymity. He wouldn't do it, though, and we can't honestly say we're surprised. We are, however, once again enormously disappointed in a legal system (not to mention an entire culture) that doesn't seem to value women's safety.


Really quick, a history: Derrick Rose apparently dated this woman, who's now 30, non-exclusively between 2011 and 2013. In 2015, the woman sued Rose for a rape that she says took place in 2013; according to her documents, Rose and two of his friends pressured her into a foursome and raped her when she was incapacitated and unable to give consent because of alcohol. Rose and his friends are denying the rape by saying the sex they had that night was consensual and pointing to the lack of criminal charges and the lack of evidence in the woman's case.

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In her court documents and in interviews and teleconferences she took on the case, the woman identified herself as "Jane Doe." Still, her name was leaked, and she says she's already been harassed because of it. 

So it makes sense that she'd ask the judge for a closed courtroom and guaranteed anonymity. She's worried about her own safety and peace of mind, and, in addition to this, she wants to leave her family (who are apparently quite conservative and aren't supposed to know about the assault or the case) out of it.

But Derrick Rose's lawyer isn't having it -- he said she's "openly pandering to the media on a nationwide blitz tour" (which ... no) and because she's asking for attention in this way, she essentially deserves to be called out.

And the judge, US District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald, apparently agrees. He said he wouldn't entertain Jane Doe's request for anonymity, and it's the news media's prerogative to keep her name secret or not. Typically, they would -- journalism's ethics standards say to keep the names of sexual abuse survivors private. But still, that's a lot of faith to put in the media.

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The judge also said that the law was clear on this issue and favors keeping courtrooms open, but it's not as clear-cut as that makes it seem: In cases that are particularly sensitive (like, famously, Roe v. Wade), it's not that uncommon for the plaintiff to be granted anonymity. Transparency is preferred, but not absolute.

Still, the judge didn't think that was necessary this time. We're not so sure. According to RAINN, only 34 percent of rapes are reported to police. Even worse, only 1.3 percent are referred to prosecutors. Basically, an obscenely small number of rapists ever go to court, and -- because most people who don't report rape are afraid of retaliation -- it's not crazy to think that guaranteed anonymity would ease the minds of women considering coming forward with their cases.

The fear is that a blanket of anonymity could set a dangerous precedent for the legal system. Journalists need access to as much information as possible in order to keep our government and systems in check. That makes sense. But at the same time, the chronic under-reporting of sexual assault and rape is a really big issue, and this seems like a relatively minor way to fight it. Maybe it's not even guaranteed anonymity we need, but judges who are more open to the possibility.

But right now, survivors aren't getting it. And especially in high-profile cases like Rose's, they should be.


Image via Thunder Kick Photos/Splash News

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