Pennsylvania Defending Lawsuit by Blaming Woman for Her Own Rape
A 24-year-old was working at the Rockland state prison in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania prison as a typist when she was attacked and raped by an inmate. Omar Best was convicted of her rape. The victim has sued the state of Pennsylvania, which is defending the lawsuit by claiming that her actions “in whole or in part contributed” to her own rape.
Kathleen Kane’s office was flooded with calls yesterday after the Centre Daily Times initially reported the lawsuit response. The Attorney General’s office says Kane didn’t know about this response to the lawsuit when it was filed, even though her name is on it. Kane spokesman David Tyler talked to the Centre Daily, which explained, “Kane’s name is attached to hundreds of documents every week, most of which she did not author and might not have read.” (I guess “It’s my first day!” or “The dog ate my copy of the filing” sounded worse.)
“This initial filing should not necessarily be interpreted as meaning this defense will be pursued throughout the entire case,” Kane’s office said in a statement sent to media outlets. “Attorney General Kane is disappointed that she was not made aware of this matter prior to the filing, and was saddened to learn that the filing implied that the victim somehow contributed to this crime.”
The lawsuit filed by the 24-year-old victim says “there were no locked doors between the offices and cell blocks … except for the copy room” at the prison. CNN reports she was raped for 27 minutes by Best, who had previously been convicted three times of sex-related crimes. He was sentenced to life for the attack. A review after the rape led to the hiring of 70 more corrections officers at Rockland and the firing of the prison superintendent.
The victim’s lawyer doesn’t believe Kane’s “I didn’t know” defense. “My response is that we are all responsible for what our staffs do,” Cliff Rieders told the Centre Daily. “When it goes out the door and it has your name on it, it’s yours.”