West Virginia Lawyer Tells Jury that Raped Prostitutes Were Not Like Their Mothers and Daughters — Nothing More Than “Whores” and “Tramps”

nicubunu_open_mouthWest Virginia defense lawyer Ed ReBrook had a difficult case in representing Thomas H. Gravely, 31, who was accused of raping Charleston prostitutes. However, critics charge that he made a difficult case worse by calling no witnesses and using highly offensive terms to describe the victims.

Gravely was a midget football coach of the Twin City Miners of Marmet and is the father of five children. He was accused of a pattern of sexual assaults on 15-20 prostitutes during which he would threaten them with a knife and force them to have sex.

ReBrook decided that rhetorical attacks would serve Gravely better than testimonial accounts. He referred to the victims as nothing more than “tramps” and “whores” and insisted that “[y]ou cannot rape the willing.” ReBrook told the jury that the victims “got in those automobiles with the intention of having sex for money” and should not be considered the same as women in their own lives. He stated “I would be horrified if any of the women in my life were raped, but I’m talking about decent, honorable women. Not whores who have sex with many, many men for money.” He insisted “[t]hey are not like your wife, your girlfriend or your daughter. They are street tramps. And what happened to them was, at least in part, their fault.

Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach objected to the argument, but Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman refused and ReBrook continued: “They are whores. That is a perfectly usable word in the English language. . . .Finding this man guilty of rape lessens the dignity of every other woman. What they have done is turn sex into something disgusting.”

Perhaps not quite as disgusting as the jury found his argument. They convicted Gravely of five counts of sexual assault on three prostitutes in 2007 and 2008.

This could make for an interesting ineffective counsel claim. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that even the most obnoxious and counterproductive arguments are still tactical decisions — rather than denials of effective counsel. As objectionable as the jury may have found this bizarre argument, the courts routinely refuse to second-guess such tactical choices made by counsel. Bad tactical decisions are generally not enough for ineffective counsel. It is particularly difficult to show under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), that the lawyer’s actions not only fell below an objective standard of reasonableness (which would be satisfied here) but that there is a reasonable probability that, if counsel had performed adequately, the trial would have been different. Given the failure to present witnesses and the testimony of the victims, it would be a difficult case to make under the Strickland standard.

For the full story, click here.

26 thoughts on “West Virginia Lawyer Tells Jury that Raped Prostitutes Were Not Like Their Mothers and Daughters — Nothing More Than “Whores” and “Tramps””

  1. I managed to dig up some of the transcript. Here’s our sensitive barrister at work just prior to the argument:

    Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
    A: All my autopsies have been on dead people.

    Q: Did the lady standing the driveway subsequently identify herself to you?
    A: Yes, she did.
    Q: Who did she say she was?
    A: She said she was the owner of the dog’s wife.

    Q: I understand you’re Donald Rowbotham’s mother.
    A: Yes.
    Q: How long have you known him?

    Q: Please state the location of your right foot immediately prior to impact.
    A: Immediately before the impact, my right foot was located at the immediate end of my right leg.

    Q: Was that the same nose you broke as a child?

    Q: What happened then?
    A: He told me, he says, ‘I have to kill you because you can identify me.’
    Q: Did he kill you?

    Just kidding but aren’t they fun. From actual transcripts, of course.

  2. Jill:

    I believe in free enterprise of course. And enterprising intercourse but I do think there needs to be an age limit, shall we say legally an adult before engaging in the enterprise of intercourse.

    I think it goes without saying that children should be protected and anyone using a child in that manner should go to jail for a very long time. I would even think a death penalty for pimps of children would not be out of the question.

    No I am offended that you would equate free enterprise with a despicable act. But then again I would not expect any thing less from a progressive as they seem to all believe in the sanctity of “from each according to his ability…”. Now that is only a small degree less vile than pimping a child.

  3. Jill:

    I believe in free enterprise of course. And enterprising intercourse but I do think there needs to be an age limit, shall we say legally an adult before engaging in the enterprise of intercourse.

    I think it goes without saying that children should be protected and anyone using a child in that manner should go to jail for a very long time. I would even think a death penalty for pimps of children would not be out of the question.

    The only thing that offends me (other than the idea of a pimp using a nine year old or for that matter anyone) is your fallacious assertion that anyone for free enterprise is also for pimping a 9 year old.

    But then such is the intellectual depth of the left.

  4. IS,

    You suprise me here. You are ususally dedicated to the free enterprise system. Therefore, why would you of all people laugh at a joke that could be about a nine year old prostitute not getting paid? I’d think you’d be offended that young girls don’t get the money, so they can turn it over to their pimps.

  5. Gyges:

    agreed. But then what if he intended to pay and did not?

    FMS:

    oldie but goodie.

  6. Ladies and gentleman of the jury. My client is a scientist.

    How do you make a hormone? Don’t pay her.

  7. IS,

    All parties need to agree to the transaction for it to be valid. I can’t go into my neighbor’s house, grab their T.V. and leave $75.

  8. Here’s an example of a whole lotta money changing hands in the service of completely illegal and depraved acts:

    “By Jeremy Scahill

    Some parts of Blackwater’s clandestine work for the CIA have begun to leak out from behind the iron curtain of secrecy. The company’s role in the secret assassination program and its continued involvement in the CIA drone attacks that occur regularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan have become front page material in the Washington Post and New York Times. There is much more to this story than has been reported publicly and details will continue to emerge, particularly about Blackwater’s aviation division(s).

    Now we learn (unsurprisingly) that Blackwater offered “foreign” operatives to work on the CIA assassination program. Blackwater told the CIA that it “could put people on the ground to provide the surveillance and support — all of the things you need to conduct an operation,” a former senior CIA official familiar with the secret program told The Associated Press. If that’s true, those foreign individuals would appear to have been privy to information that vice president Cheney and other US officials deemed not appropriate for Congressional ears, not to mention oversight.”

    http://rebelreports.com/

  9. I’d like to address the idea that if money changes hands, no illegal act occurred (and thus this would have been a proper defense). If an action is illegal, the fact that someone paid someone else to engage in it does not make the action legal. I think the fact that we believe otherwise shows how powerful the idea of money is in our society. Having money often erases illegality. It certainly has for our ruling elite. Money should not erase actions that are cruel, depraved and illegal. Power should not erase these same types of actions. The fact that both money and power do erase them, tells us what our society values, but it does not tell us what is good or just.

  10. Indentured Servant,

    question for the lawyers, had he paid would it still have been rape?

    Assume he did every thing they say he did but paid at the end would it still have been rape?
    *********************

    HUMOR MEANT ONLY

    That is a legal conundrum: The question is, if you have sex with a Prostitute against her will, is it Shoplifting or Rape?

    I think that your argument regarding: if he paid and the defense was put forth that “Some people have some strange sexual fantasies, could the defense attorney have argued it that way?” would have been more appropriate and probably not as offensive.

    But this guy still is a creep.

  11. Mike Kilpatrick,

    Unfortunately, I will have to agree with you on that tactic. When you said: “This is precisely the kind of guy who could have escalated into a serial killer.”

    Are you talking about the Defendant or Defense Attorney?

  12. question for the lawyers, had he paid would it still have been rape?

    Assume he did every thing they say he did but paid at the end would it still have been rape?

    Some people have some strange sexual fantasies, could the defense attorney have argued it that way?

    Either way I think it bad, but it might have made more sense from a legal perspective to just say the guy had some strange sexual hang-ups.

    I had a boss one time that told me he used to put a mask on and kidnap his wife, take her to a deserted area and then….. Maybe this is my old boss. His wife got tired of being kidnapped.

  13. That argument probably would have worked thirty years ago. This is precisely the kind of guy who could have escalated into a serial killer.

  14. The Defense Attorney needs to take a class in Professional Responsibility regarding his ethical tactics. The more I think about this, this was one of the worst defense(s) that I have heard. These women are someones, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, niece. Although the defendant in my mind may have been a misogynist I question if his Attorney is as well?

  15. That is one hell of a kid’s football coach! His attorney did a bang up job in the defense. I was especially struck by the “interesting” language used by the attorney. His defense strategy is to slime the victims as much as possible in an attempt to actually make his client seem more reasonable. Sort of a Dick Cheney kind of defense.

  16. I thought the best he would have been convicted of would have been “Shoplifting”. Once he used a knife then it turned into a robbery. Creep.

  17. Finally! A return to some good old-fashioned standards in this country. A prostitute can’t really be raped, beating your child to death isn’t really murder, blacks aren’t really people…. It’s great to see some much deserved dehumanisation again.

  18. I bet you there’s a number that would turn even Gravely in a street tramp…

    But besides that, the essential point he’s missing is that these social workers are there to prevent (!) his daughter, his mother and his wife from being raped by sicko’s like himself… some gratitude that is.

    Back to the re-education camp with him for all I care.

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