This comes up way too frequently – for instance, we all heard about “legitimate rape” (Todd Akin, a US politician, implied that women who were “legitimately” raped would, somehow, only rarely get pregnant due to some sort of ovarian rape-detector or something) in the last election cycle.
Up until 1993, spousal rape (a person raping their spouse) was not illegal everywhere in the USA. North Carolina was the last state to change their law which, prior to the change, included this in the rape statute: “a person may not be prosecuted under this article if the victim is the person’s legal spouse at the time of the commission of the alleged rape or sexual offense, unless the parties are living separate and apart.” Before the 1970s, spousal rape was not a crime anywhere in the USA.
In a particularly horrifying example, in 2007, a Philadelphia judge, Teresa Carr Deni, decided that it wasn’t possible to rape a prostitute, even if you held a gun to her head to force her to have sex, if she had previously agreed to have sex. In this case, the rape victim previously agreed to have sex with the rapist for an agreed sum of money. Now you might have moral disagreements with that, but that wasn’t what was supposed to be on trial here. What was on trial was whether or not she was raped. When she met the rapist to receive money and perform the sex act (protected sex), the rapist decided he wasn’t going to pay her (no sex had occurred yet) and that he would use a gun to force her to perform unprotected sex with at least 3 other people. Clearly, this was not consensual.
The judge, Teresa Carr Deni, a Philadelphia municipal judge, decided that it wasn’t possible to rape a prostitute, essentially, since she was offering services for a fee, and that this was just a case of robbery and theft of services. Not rape.
Despite the Pennsylvania Bar publicly condemning her, she won re-election in Philadelphia shortly after the case for another 6 years in 2007. Fortunately she’s on her last year as a judge and will not be back in 2014.
On July 14, 2013, Diamond Williams was brutally murdered with her body dismembered and dumped in a vacant lot. The primary suspect – with significant evidence against him – is Charles Sargent.
Diamond, sadly, even after death, has three things going against her: she was trans, may have been a sex worker, and the judge who will be presiding over Charles Sargent’s murder case. The judge is Teresa Carr Deni.
That Diamond was reported to be a sex worker should have nothing to do with this case. She’s not supposed to be tried as a victim in her own murder case. It’s not less wrong to kill a sex worker, and hopefully Judge Deni has learned that. But we’ll have to wait and see. Diamond’s human value and worth was the same as any of ours, and the law should reflect that all of us are created equal, that we all are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Such as the right not to be murdered.
That she was trans may be relevant, as a hate crime. Some media have reported that Charles Sargent killed Diamond when he found out she was trans. If this is the case, it would seem to be clearly a crime motivated by bias against gender, which is against the law (I’ve written about hate crimes elsewhere and why treating people in this way is not an injustice but actual justice). But of course it’s not going to be prosecuted that way. No, it’s going to be prosecuted as random violence that could have happened to any of us. Except, it seems, it wouldn’t have happened to any of us.
I pray and hope that justice will be served and that Diamond’s murderer will never see freedom again. He took a person’s life, so it is reasonable that he should spend the rest of his behind bars. I also want to say that while I never knew Diamond, I do share the grief of her family and friends and their loss. I don’t have to have known her to know that she was special to many people and that someone was unjustly taken from all of the world.