Crime

Outrage After Attorney Tells Rape Victim: You Could Have Closed Your Legs

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Anger erupted in New Zealand recently after a defense lawyer told a rape victim that, if she didn’t want to be sexually assaulted in a Wellington alley, she should have closed her legs.

Victims’ rights advocates condemned attorney Keith Jefferies’ statement in Wellington District Court on Thursday.

Jefferies told the court the victim did not struggle or cry out.

"All she would have had to do was to close her legs. It's as simple as that. Why didn't she do that? The reason she didn't do that was because the sex was consensual, as easy as that," Jefferies told the jury.

His client, George Jason Pule, was convicted of rape on Wednesday. The 20-year-old victim said Pule approached her and told her he could get her into a club where her friends were. Instead, he led her down an alley and raped her.

Natalie Gousmett from the Wellington Rape Crisis Centre called Jefferies’ remarks “horrific.”

"It is an example of victim-blaming comments and rape culture, which we've seen all too much in the last week and a half," Gousmett said. "It's very offensive obviously, and harmful for the victim and her family."

Jefferies said the fact that the woman didn’t struggle was "relative to the facts of this particular case."

"No, she didn't fight back, she didn't scream her head off, she didn't go running into the street screaming, ‘Rape!’” said prosecutor Geraldine Kelly. "But this isn't an American TV show. This is real life. She was scared, and she didn't want to make the situation worse."

The news comes just after a group of Auckland teens were busted for gang raping underage girls and boasting about their crimes online. Authorities said they were unable to stop the rape-club from running rampant for two years because they didn’t have a statement from any of the victims. It was later revealed that one teen victim had filed a complaint in 2011.

Sources: France24, International Business Times