In August of 2011, 17-year-old Savannah Dietrich was sexually assaulted by two male friends while she lay unconscious on a kitchen floor. In the ensuing court case, prosecutors offered the boys what Dietrich characterized as a lenient plea deal, and in retaliation, she named both of her underage attackers in a public post on Twitter.
In an ironic twist, Dietrich’s Tweet had her facing a possible 180 days in jail for breaking the court-imposed gag order on her case, while the boys who assaulted her were facing community service. However, according to The Los Angeles Times, the teenager experienced some amount of justice as her contempt charges were dropped and this week, both attackers received harsher-than-expected sentences.
The Huffington Post reports that both boys were ordered to perform community service at a facility that specifically serves women, and attend sex offender treatment counseling.
Because cellphones were used to photograph the assault and email the pictures to friends, the defendents must submit to the court a list of everyone who saw the photographs, something Dietrich was adamant about receiving.
Finally, the boys’ records will not be automatically expunged at the age of 20, as was part of the original plea deal. Instead, they can petition the court to have their records cleared at 26, provided they’ve not committed any other crimes.
It may not seem like a major sentence, but CNN reports that the earlier plea deal consisted simply of community service. The news outlet also states that the prosecutor may have had some sort of personal relationship with the girl's attackers, and that might have accounted for his willingness to strike an easy plea deal with them without ever conferring with their victim.
Media outlets do not usually print the names of sexual assault victims, but Dietrich has bucked the trend of anonymity that many critics say simply protects the assailants and adds a feeling of shame to the victims of sexual assault. Dietrich has reported to numerous news outlets that she’s not afraid to talk about what happened to her because she’s not the one who did anything wrong.
If law enforcement officials weren't protecting you after you had been the victim of a crime, would you use social media to tell your story? Let us know your take in the Comments.