It appears that the Uber Taxi driver discussed today is not the only person who is reportedly using the “she asked for it” defense to sexual assault. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office is blaming a former state prison clerk for her own rape in litigation against the prison. The 24-year-old typist was working at the state prison at Rockview in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania in 2013 when she was choked unconscious and raped for 27 minutes by Omar Best, an image convicted three times previously of sex-related crimes. Worse yet, Best had been transferred from a different state prison for assaulting a female assistant but the prison still allowed him unsupervised visits with female employees.
The lawsuit alleges that the clerk offices were actually moved from part of the prison that was off limits to inmates to a less secure location before the rape. There were allegedly no locked doors between the offices and the cell blocks.
Best was convicted of the rape in May, but a senior deputy attorney general wrote that the woman “acted in a manner which in whole or in part contributed to the events.”
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office insists that it was merely presenting all possible defenses including contributing negligence. However, there are a variety of defense that you can chose not to make. For example, they could claim that she raped the inmate but that was thankfully rejected.
Before this rape, Best had been convicted three times prior of sex-related offenses. He pleaded guilt to indecent assault in 1995. In 2010, he was tied to the abduction and rape of an 18-year-old woman in Philadelphia but only sentenced to 7 to 15 years. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to rape and robbery of another woman and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison.
He then reportedly assaulted another female employee at a prison in Graterfordand was transferred to the state prison at Rockview. Moreover, the victim allegedly complained twice to her boss — about a week before the attack — that she felt uncomfortable and unsafe with Best coming into her office. While she was told that Best would not be allowed to come to the office, he went to her office pretending to be taking out her trash. When she tried to blow a whistle as an alert, no one heard the sound and she was choked into unconsciousness. A later investigation led to the firing of the superintendent, Marirosa Lamas and the hiring of 70 new corrections officers. They also moved the offices.
However, the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (right) still maintained that she might be entirely responsible for her own rape. After the fallout, her office is saying that they might not pursue the claim at trial. That would be wise since the jury would likely to have to be restrained in its disgust and anger. The filing was made under Kane’s name and argued:
“Some or all of the damages plaintiff have alleged are in part, or substantially due, to the acts of third parties other than the answering defendants, and/or plaintiff acted in a manner which in whole or in part contributed to the events which led to the damages plaintiff has alleged in her complaint.”
Kane also denied such assertions that the woman did not want Best in her office despite strong evidence to that effect at the rape trial.
To often, prosecutors and government lawyers will adopt a scorched earth policy toward those accusing the government of misconduct. Such argument rarely make the news but they are being made, in this case, in the name of all Pennsylvania citizens. The detachment from not just reality but decency in this case truly shocked the conscience.