Court was in session at Yaquina View School Thursday evening. The defendant, accused of rape, was front and center. The victim was waiting in the wings to tell her version of the story. An allegation of rape versus an allegation of a welcoming invitation. And a long prison sentence dangling at the end of a judge’s gavel.
A mock trial demonstrating why drugs and alcohol can be very destructive, especially to young lives, was conducted at the school before a small but engaged audience.
The “victim,” who had just been jilted by a former boyfriend, showed up at a party and became the center of attention of a young man who said, up front, that he was not interested in a long term relationship. The young lady said that she had just broken up with her long term boyfriend and was in need of “company.” One thing led to another and soon it was over.
The girl claimed she had been raped. The young boy denied he had done anything wrong. The prosecution painted the boy as a sexual exploiter, the defense claiming that it was all by mutual consent.
The judge in this case was Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Sheryle Bachart who gathered the audiences’ verdicts from those who chose to vote; almost unanimous to convict for rape.
Although “the victim” claimed that she resisted, it was clear she may have not demonstrated it sufficiently to clearly display not wanting to engage in sex. The young man testified no such a message was telegraphed to him.
In the end, the trial demonstrated how difficult it is to determine rape versus mutually consensual sex, especially beyond a reasonable doubt. One person’s opinion against another is problematical. The verdict was nearly unanimous to convict the boy of rape.
The trial was to illustrate the challenges that law enforcement, the judiciary and victims go through. It was a production of PAADA, the District Attorney’s Office, My Sister’s Place, Kierra Morgan, KNPT news reporter, and the courts with a clear message – drugs and alcohol are a big hazard, especially for our young people.