Nebraska- When Tory Bowen, had to testify for 13 hours about the incident on October 31, 2004, in which she alleges that she was raped, she could not use words or phrases such as “rape,” “victim,” “attack” and “sexual assault.” Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront ruled that the words are partial and could be prejudicial to the defendant.
When the court changes the witness’s words not only can meaning can be lost but can bring legality into question.
"The word ‘sex’ implies consent," Bowen was quoted by the Lincoln Journal Star. "I never once would describe (what happened) as sex… (The Judge’s) making me commit perjury.”
Clarence Mock, a defense attorney for defendant Pamir Safi, was quoted as saying, “It’s a legal conclusion for a witness to say, ‘I was raped’ or ‘sexually assaulted’…That’s for a jury to decide.” Excluding the word “victim” is nothing new said Lancaster County Attorney Gary Lacey, but he can’t remember a case excluding the term “rape.”
This change of language goes against the victims and their right to say what happened. There is a big difference between rape and sex, the victim needs to be able to say the difference. "It's virtually impossible to see a woman as a victim when you're calling a rape 'sex.' It's like a victim saying it was consensual," said Wendy Murphy, a former county prosecutor in Massachusetts who teaches at the New England School of Law in Springfield, Mass. told the Omaha World-Herald.
It’s rulings like this that remind us that judges need help from rape crisis centers not only to understand the language, but also to be informed about these crimes so they can make the correct rulings. Safi will be re-tried in July after the first trial ended in a hung jury in November.