The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office said recently that a former state prison clerk was partially responsible for her own rape at the hands of a prison inmate.
The 24-year-old woman was working as a typist at the state prison in Rockview, Pennsylvania, in 2013 when she was choked unconscious and raped for 27 minutes by inmate Omar Best.
Best, who had been convicted three times for previous sex-related crimes, was convicted in May for the rape of the unnamed clerk.
The victim has since filed a federal lawsuit claiming the state Department of Corrections, the former prison superintendent, two other employees and the state of Pennsylvania are responsible for creating the situation that allowed her to be raped.
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Her lawsuit alleges officials and employees knew of Best’s criminal history and he should not have been permitted in the area where she was working.
"Despite this knowledge, defendants ... still allowed Omar Best to have unsupervised access to the offices of female employees,” the lawsuit claims.
The suit goes on to say the superintendent moved the clerk’s offices from a secure floor to a less secure location on a cell block.
“There were no locked doors between the offices and cell blocks, including Block C where (the victim) worked, except for the copy room,” the court documents claim.
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In response to the lawsuit, a senior deputy attorney general filed documents with the court hinting at the state’s possible defense. The documents state the victim “acted in a manner which in whole or in part contributed to the events.”
That’s a claim that verges on victim-shaming said the woman’s attorney, Clifford Rieders.
“Worse than that, it's an attempt to embarrass the victim,” Rieders told CNN.
Anne Ard, executive director of Centre County Women’s Resource Center, told the Centre Daily Times she, too, had a problem with the accusation from the district attorney’s office.
“That is unbelievable,” she said. “This kind of victim-blaming is unconscionable and, frankly, makes people distrust the justice system. I am appalled.”
State Attorney General Kathleen Kane attempted to distance herself from the claim made in the documents filed by her deputy.
“This initial filing should not necessarily be interpreted as meaning this defense will be pursued throughout the entire case,” reads a recent statement from her office that adds Kane was not aware the deputy included the possible defense in the documents.
“Attorney General Kane is disappointed that she was not made aware of this matter prior to the filing, and was saddened to learn that the filing implied that the victim somehow contributed to this crime,” the statement says.
Photo Source: Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times, Wikipedia