Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rape Survivor Releases Names Of Attackers On Twitter, Violating Gag Order

Savannah Dietrich, a teen who reported her rape to law enforcement, was more than dismayed when her attackers' attorneys reached a plea deal with district attorneys. The juveniles pled guilty to first degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism. The judge ordered all parties, including Ms. Dietrich, not to speak about the case, but Ms. Dietrich, upset about the deal, took to Twitter to release the names of the boys who assaulted her. She also spoke with the local paper about her ordeal, and said she was ready to go to jail for violating the judge's order. When defense attorneys moved to enforce the gag order, the blogosphere and Twittersphere pushed back, producing several petitions on of which the most popular received most than 120,000 signatures urging attorneys not to pursue contempt of court charges against Ms. Dietrich. 

Defense attorneys have now dropped the issue, one saying "The horse is out of the barn. Nothing is bringing it back." An attorney at Baker & Hostetler provides an analysis of First Amendment issues involved here, noting privacy issues of juveniles must be balanced against the rape survivor's right to speak and the media's right to report accurate information legally obtained.

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