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Judgment, Not Justice, for Prostitute Who is Raped

Judge’s Contempt Evident in Philadelphia Case

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Updated September 21, 2011
When is a rape not really a rape? When the perpetrator rapes a hooker.

Though rarely discussed, contempt for women in the sex industry makes it nearly impossible for prostitutes to press charges for rape.

A disturbing example of this occurred in Philadelphia in October 2007.

"I Thought It Was a Robbery"

Writing for the Philadelphia Daily News, columnist Jill Porter expressed outrage over the decision of a municipal judge - a woman - to dismiss all sex and assault charges against 19-year-old Dominique Gindraw, who held a prostitute at gunpoint and gang-raped her along with three friends.

Judge Teresa Carr Deni instead had the defendant held on a lesser charge - "theft of services" - because, as she described it, the prostitute "consented and she didn't get paid...I thought it was a robbery."

Bait & Switch - and Rape

A 20-year old single mother, the prostitute connected with Gindraw through the popular website Craigslist and both agreed on $150 for an hour of sex.

But on September 20, when the girl arrived at what she thought was Gindraw's house, she instead found an abandoned building. Gindraw then wanted a friend to join them for another $100. But when the friend arrived, he didn't pay to play. Instead, he pulled out a gun, forcing her to engage in gang sex with four men. (A fifth - who arrived to find the girl crying - helped her dress so she could leave.)

Held in Contempt

The story was reenacted all over again four days later when another woman - a 23-year-old - was gang-raped by Gindraw and friends in the exact same manner.

Assistant District Attorney Rich DeSipio was all set to present both cases. But after Judge Deni threw out the first one, he declined to go forward with the second victim's case, saying "I wouldn’t demean her in that way." He expressed his belief that Judge Deni's moral contempt for the prostitute was at the heart of the ruling, stating, "Certainly if a jury wants to make that judgment, they're entitled to. But for a judge to make a judgment on a human being - I've never seen that before."

Raped Vs. "Really Raped"

As Porter observed with disgust in her Friday, October 12, 2007 column:

It's true the prostitute negotiated sex with the defendant - but not unprotected gang sex at gunpoint....[and] Deni did seem contemptuous of the victim:

"Did she tell you she had another client before she went to report it?" Deni asked me yesterday when we met at a coffee shop.

"I thought rape was a terrible trauma."

A case like this, she said - to my astonishment - "minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped."

Porter, Jill. "Hooker raped and robbed – by justice system?" Philadelphia Daily News 12 October 2007.

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