Late Night News Bits…Open Thread

Good Evening!

Many of you already know about this situation: Savannah Dietrich outs her rapists on Twitter and Facebook

Last summer, 16-year-old Savannah Dietrich went to a party, had some drinks, and passed out. Then, two acquaintances sexually assaulted her, took pictures, and forwarded them to their friends. News of the public assault tore through Dietrich’s Louisville high school. Dietrich was forced to “just sit there and wonder, who saw, who knows?” The public humiliation culminated this June, when her assailants struck a plea deal on charges of felony sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism that Dietrich felt amounted to a “slap on the wrist.” And the court had an order for Dietrich, too: Don’t talk about it, or risk 180 days in prison and a $500 fine.

First, Dietrich cried. Then, she logged online. “There you go, lock me up,” she tweeted to a couple hundred Twitter followers, outing her assailants by name. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.” These men had made their assault on her public. Now, they had convinced a court to keep it all under wraps. “If reporting a rape only got me to the point that I’m not allowed to talk about it, then I regret it,” she wrote in a note on her Facebook wall. “I regret reporting it.”

Well, this morning I found this message in my email…I went and signed the petition.

Drop the charges against Savannah Dietrich, who identified the men convicted of sexually abusing her.
Sign Elizabeth’s Petition

JJ –

Savannah Dietrich is a 17-year-old rape victim in Kentucky. She could face up to 180 days in jail for revealing the names of her convicted attackers — while those two young men will likely face no jail time at all.

The two young men pled guilty to assaulting Savannah at a party — it’s even been reported that they took and distributed photos of the assault. But Savannah found out that their plea bargain likely won’t even include jail time — a slap on the wrist for sexual assault.

To add insult to injury, Savannah was told she must keep the names of her convicted attackers a secret. 

For Savannah, this was the last straw. She called out the two young men by name on Twitter — and now she faces up to 180 days in jail for doing so. Savannah later tweeted, “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”

Elizabeth Beier was outraged when she heard what had happened to Savannah. “I thought, they’re threatening her with jail time if she doesn’t shut up about the most traumatic thing that has happened to her,” Elizabeth says. “Then I thought, someone needs to do something about this.”

Elizabeth started a petition on Change.org asking Judge Dee McDonald to drop all charges against Savannah Dietrich. Click here to add your name.

Thanks,
Jon

Well, here is some good news on the subject: Savannah Dietrich Doesn’t Face Contempt Charge For Revealing Names Of Sexual Attackers

A Kentucky teenager frustrated by light punishment for two boys who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her was spared Monday from having to face a contempt charge for naming them on Twitter in violation of a court order.

The case of Savannah Dietrich, 17, quickly gathered supporters nationwide who were upset that the victim of an assault could be punished for speaking out against her attackers.

The girl turned to Twitter after she said she was frustrated with what she felt was a lenient plea deal. The judge had ordered no one to speak about the case, which was in juvenile court.

On Monday, attorneys for the boys dropped their motion to charge her with contempt. David Mejia, an attorney for one of the boys, said the decision to withdraw the motion had nothing to do with public sentiment and online attention to the case.

He said the purpose of the motion had been to enforce the law that protects juveniles and their actions from disclosure.

“The horse is out of the barn,” he said. “Nothing is bringing it back.”

What an ass these lawyers are to even press charges against Dietrich…

Jeff Dion, deputy executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, said victims who feel cheated by the justice system sometimes file civil lawsuits in an effort to get information in the public, but social media has turned that on its head.

“It’s all about giving victims a voice,” Dion said.

In one day, an online petition on Change.org had garnered 62,000 signatures in support of Dietrich’s action.

Finally! Victims a voice, is what is the most important thing the social media has done…Look at what things like Twitter and Facebook have done to change peoples lives. (I’m not just talking about Dietrich, but remember the Revolution in Egypt? Twitter was one of the only ways to get information.)  I am not one of those addicted to either forms of social connection, but it has been beneficial in many ways.

I have to admit, I have been avoiding the news today. So I will give you one more link and open it up to you…

Tax problems haunt state candidates

Get this, from my home state of Georgia…

An in-depth investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found 56 state legislative candidates have had problems paying their taxes on time, leading to more than $1 million in local, state and federal tax liens. Many have paid them off, while others still owe.

The bills range from token amounts for an unpaid sewer or garbage collection bill to five- and six-figure balances covering multiple years.

In that sense, these challengers are very much like the lawmakers they hope to unseat.

Investigations in the past year by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed Georgia lawmakers accrued nearly $1.5 million in current and past liens for overdue taxes.

Some of the candidates have even filed for bankruptcy:

With the July 31 primary elections a little more than a week away, the news that so many candidates have problems paying their taxes is worrisome to some voters. All 236 seats in the Georgia Legislature are up for election this year.

[…]

Jared Thomas, spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp, said a number of candidates this year have had their place on the ballot challenged because of tax debts.

“It’s much more so than the past,” he said. “It’s probably just a reflection of the poor economy. A lot of people have found themselves in financial trouble and taxes are a part of that.”

Kemp is reviewing the rulings of administrative law judges on several cases. He has yet to make a decision in those cases.

One candidate — Chris NeSmith, who was running for a superior court judgeship in the Northern Judicial Circuit — withdrew from the race Monday after an administrative law judge declared he was ineligible for the ballot after his candidacy was challenged for state and federal tax liens.

Only one candidate for the General Assembly has been challenged on the basis of their tax debt, incumbent Rep. Paulette Rakestraw Braddock, R-Powder Springs. Braddock faces a IRS tax lien for $36,343.59 in unpaid taxes from a failed marketed business. A judge in that case turned down the challenge.

Some candidates saw their past tax problems as a net positive on their political resume.

Bikram Mohanty, a Valdosta Democrat seeking the District 8 Senate seat, paid his 2008 state income taxes late, but not before the Georgia Department of Revenue filed a lien against him for the $4,466.58 bill.

“As most Georgian’s can attest, 2008 and 2009 were the years that many families began to feel the influence of our current economic dilemma,” he said.

No kidding, we lost our house in 2008, my parents lost theirs last year…We also have tax liens on us, and believe me, they have kept my husband from getting jobs in his former career in the finance sector. It kept him from getting a job at a call center in Atlanta..even go so far as affect his entrance into the Army, when things were really bad and the Army may have been the only option.

William Blackmon, a Democratic candidate from Locust Grove in the House District 111 race, said liens and bankruptcies don’t disqualify you from public service. He had a state income tax lien for $582.38 for the 2000 and 2001 tax years he paid off in 2003 and declared bankruptcy in 2009 after a business he invested in failed.

“As a candidate, I’m not different from any other individual that has had a business that went through that,” he said. “If you check the background of some of those (legislators) in there now, you’ll probably find a worse record than that. And I don’t think that’s bad. The economy hit a lot of people in business.”

Wow, I thought guys with tax liens could only get jobs like Treasurer of the US…go figure.