Yesterday, the judge hearing the civil lawsuit filed by a woman accusing New York Knicks player Derrick Rose of gang rape ruled that she can no longer remain anonymous once the trial begins on October 4. Since the $21.5 million suit was filed last year, the 30-year-old has gone by Jane Doe in court documents to protect her identity from her conservative family members.
"They have a sense something's wrong, but there's no way I can express to them or explain to them how I feel or what I'm going through," the plaintiff, daughter to Mexican immigrant, told The Associated Press last week.
The woman alleges that in August 2013, Rose and two of his friends let themselves into her apartment and raped her while she was passed out from drinking after hanging out at the former MVP's house. She says she woke up with her dress pulled over her head, lubricant smeared on her body, and pain in her vaginal area. She did not report the incident immediately.
Rose contends that the sex with him and his friends was consensual.
The plaintiff's legal team fears Tuesday's ruling will deter her from continuing on with the suit. Brandon Anand, one of her lawyers, told the AP that Rose's attorneys have executed a "campaign of harassment" against her. "It's been that way from Day 1," he said. "It's been very aggressive. There have been threats to leak her name to the public, attempts to depose her parents, who they know very well have no knowledge of this."
According to the Washington Post, Rose's lawyers believe the plaintiff does not deserve anonymity because she's "openly pandering to the media on a nationwide blitz tour."
Anand, however, explained to the Post that judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled to take away the woman's anonymity in order to protect the jury from being unfairly biased. Going by Jane Doe implied the woman is a victim and that could sway the jury, Anand said. "The prejudice to the defendant outweighed the potential harm to her."
Meg Garvin is a law professor and the executive director at the National Crime Victim Law Institute at Lewis & Clark Law School. She tells Broadly that victims being stripped of anonymity happens quite often—sometimes during pretrial and even when a victim has previously been granted that right. Some courts believe that once a person is on stand giving testimony, that right to privacy goes away, but it doesn't have to.
On Tuesday, the Post reports, Rose's attorney Mark Baute used the plaintiff's name twice in court, which was then stricken from the record. Fitzgerald ordered Baute to write an explanation as to why he shouldn't be fined for the violation.
Anonymity is one of the biggest factors that encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward
Anonymity is one of the biggest factors that encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward, Garvin says. "When it's stripped away or there's a threat that it's going to be stripped away, they won't even access justice." There's also evidence that a person's trauma symptoms become amplified if they lose control over their story, she says.
Instead of making victims prove why they have the right to privacy, Garvin says the courts should make defendants explain why they get to take it away. "Privacy is a fundamental right in this country ... the idea that you get to control what people know about you and the boundaries of that," she says, "and somehow we strip that away from victims."