Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sex crime victim will not be jailed for tweeting the names of her attackers

On July 23, 2012, I wrote about Savannah Dietrich who tweeted the names of her alleged juvenile attackers after they were reportedly offered a lenient plea bargain. It appears that the media attention surrounding Dietrich's case may have led her attackers to drop their motion to charge her with contempt for outing them.

Dietrich alleged she was sexually assaulted in August 2011 while passed out at a party. Two juveniles were charged with felony first-degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism and they pleaded guilty to those charges this past June. Dietrich was upset with the plea bargain so she decided to speak out.

The matter was handled in juvenile court and under Kentucky law the proceedings are closed to protect the confidentiality of those involved. Even if Dietrich's attackers did not drop their motion, I believe her lawyer may have been successful in blocking it because her attackers took photos of the incident and circulated them on the Internet.

The attorneys for Dietrich's attackers made a strategic error by filing the contempt motion because of the Streisand Effect. The contempt motion had the exact opposite effect of what was intended in that her attackers wanted their names kept out of the media. However, the filing of the motion brought more publicity to the case due to social media.

Therefore, in the Social Media Age lawyers must be able to understand how digital technology may affect their cases because a wrong move may harm their clients' interests and destroy their case.

To learn more about these issues you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2012 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.