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July-13-07

Nebraska Judge Declares Mistrial in Rape Case after Language Ban

District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront declared a mistrial yesterday in a Nebraska rape case in which the alleged victim would have been unable to say certain words, including "rape" and "assault". Tory Bowen has accused Pamir Safi with raping her in 2004 when he allegedly knew that she was too intoxicated to give consent. Her trial, which was slated to begin next week, drew national attention after Judge Cheuvront banned several terms, supposedly because they would prejudice the jury. Bowen pledged to do her best to follow the language ban, but refused to sign a statement that she would comply. Both Cheuvront and the Nebraska Supreme Court refused to hear motions challenging the language ban.

The trial would have been the second against Bowen's alleged attacker. The first, which also included the language ban, was in 2006 and ended in a hung jury. Lawyers for the accused maintain that Cheuvront's language ban was essential to ensuring Safi's rights. Cheuvront made his ruling based on a 35-year-old state law that allows judges to bar terms that risk misleading the jury.

If Bowen fails to obey the language restriction in a courtroom, she could face jail time. She still would not sign the formal statement, saying, "I want the freedom to be able to point to [Safi] in court and say, 'That man raped me,'" according to the Associated Press. Advocates for sexual violence victims are outraged by the judge's decision, saying that it discourages rape victims from bringing their cases to court. It is now up to the county prosecutor whether or not to pursue another trial, reports the Beatrice Daily Sun, a Nebraska local newspaper.

Media Resources: Associated Press 7/11/07, 7/12/07; Beatrice Daily Sun 7/12/07

   

     

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