I was recently interviewed by USA Today about the Sterling Sharpe case. Sharpe, a former standout NFL wide receiver and ESPN television personality, committed several rapes by using drugs to incapacitate his victims.
The USA Today interview was about the prevalence of this kind of conduct and how you prove it.
These cases can be inherently difficult to prove because perpetrators purposefully use drugs that have short half-lives and that are known to impair the victim’s memory. When the victim tries to report a rape, even if she reports it the very next morning, the drug is often out of her system. And, when she gives a statement to the police, there may be gaps in her memory caused by the drug.
But we have successfully proven some of these so-called “he-said, she-said” cases and we always emphasize the importance of victims coming forward to exercise their legal rights, and for the sake of potential future victims.
When victims are reluctant to report crimes like sexual battery, I ask them the question, “How would you advise your sister or your daughter if she was in your shoes?”
Interestingly, almost one hundred percent of them tell me that they would encourage her to report to the police and to do everything possible to try to hold the perpetrator accountable. The justice system does not always deliver justice, but it is imperative that victims try to make it work.
California law allows sexual assault victims to be identified anonymously in both the criminal case and the civil case. Most of my sexual assault clients are named as “Jane Doe” in their lawsuits. There are also laws that prevent lawyers from asking questions about the victim’s sexual history.
Learn more about domestic violence and violent crimes.