Crime

Activists Rally Against Reelection Of Judge Who Ruled Sex Worker Rape Was Only 'Theft Of Services'

In 2007, Philadelphia Municipal Court judge Teresa Carr Deni ruled that the rape of a sex worker was not actually rape, but rather “theft of services.”

In the case, a woman had agreed to meet a man from Craigslist and have sex with him for $150. The man asked the woman if his friend could join in for an additional $100, and she agreed. But when the woman met with the men, they refused to pay her the money. Instead, they held her at gunpoint and forced her to have sex with them for free.

Judge Deni ruled that since the woman was a sex worker, and had given prior consent under the assumption of being paid, the case was not a rape.

“She consented and she didn't get paid. … I thought it was a robbery,” Deni told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2007. She added that prosecuting the men for rape “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”

Her ruling drew criticism from many of her judicial colleagues, who claim she severely misinterpreted the law.

“I am personally offended by this unforgivable miscarriage of justice,” said Philadelphia bar association chancellor Jane Dalton. “The victim has been brutalized twice in this case: first by the assailants, and now by the court.”

"A victim is a victim regardless of how they come to be in that position,” Dalton added.

Despite the criticism, Deni was reelected to another seven-year term at the Municipal court. Deni is up for reelection again this year. Many in the Philadelphia community still remember her ruling and are doing everything they can this time to prevent her from another reelection.

On Tuesday night, two Philadelphia feminist activist organizations started tweeting messages in order to raise awareness against Deni.

“Coercion at gunpoint is not consent,” organization SlutWalk Philly tweeted. “Vote NO November 5th on the retention of Judge Carr [Deni].”

Activist organization Pussy Division sent an email to RH Reality Check elaborating on its opposition to Deni’s reelection.

“We are really outraged that a judge in our city could preside over a case where a sex worker was raped at gunpoint and denied the rights of any other person,” the organization said. “This injustice has inspired us to work on a project around consent and the false idea that not everyone has the right to say no.”

Sources: Raw Story, ABC News, RH Reality Check, Philadelphia Daily News, (2), Philadelphia Bar Assocation

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