Prosecutors Seek Appeal in Rape Case Dropped for Language Barrier
After a Montgomery County judge in Maryland dropped nine counts of rape, sex abuse, and child abuse against a man because the court was unable to find a translator, prosecutors have announced that they will seek an appeal. Mahamu Kanneh, a Liberian immigrant, was accused of raping and repeatedly molesting a 7-year-old girl and was set to go on trial early next week. Circuit Court Judge Katherine Savage, however, found that the difficulties the court experienced over the past three years trying to find a translator who speaks the West African language Vai -- a language spoken by only some 100,000 people in the world -- were interfering with Kanneh's right to a speedy trial. Over Kanneh's span in the Maryland legal system, three interpreters participated, but all left due to various reasons.
Prosecutors in the case have decided to pursue an appeal in the state Court of Special Appeals. In addition to the successful location of three interpreters, plus a fourth who was present during the judge's dismissal of the case, prosecutors allege that Kanneh does not even need a translator and is requesting one to delay the trial's process. According to the Maryland Gazette, Kanneh graduated from an English-speaking high school and attended community college in Maryland.
One Maryland delegate, Patrick L. McDonough, has moved to take action against the judge who dismissed the case, saying, "We have created an attitude that no matter how important and grievous a crime is, that a technicality takes precedence over the rights of the victim," the Washington Times reports.
This case follows on the heels of another bungled rape case in Nebraska, where a District Judge declared a mistrial after banning certain words, including "rape" and "sexual assault," from his courtroom.
Media Resources: Maryland Gazette 7/25/07; Washington Times 7/26/07; ABC 7/25/07; Washington Post 6/22/07; AP 7/07
2/27/2015 This Bipartisan Bill Will Hold Colleges Accountable for Ending Campus Sexual Assault - A bipartisan bill aimed at holding colleges and universities accountable for rape and sexual assault cases was introduced in Congress yesterday, spearheaded by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Some of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act's key key provisions include a requirement of confidential reporting systems on colleges and universities, minimum training requirements for campus personnel, and stricter penalties for schools found to be in violation of Title IX or the Clery Act. . . .
2/26/2015 If This Bill Passes Federal Law Will Add Consent to Sex Ed Curriculums - Right now, federal law does not require health or sex education to include sexual assault prevention - but that could change with a new bill introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).
The Teach Safe Relationships Act of 2015, which was introduced earlier this month, would require all public secondary schools in the country to include teaching "safe relationship behavior" in order to help prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. . . .