Volume 55

Protecting Our Most Vulnerable: Placing Limits on Pro Se Rape Defendants

by Anna Fasano

On November 1, 2010, a woman made her way to the roof of the King County Courthouse in Seattle, Washington and threatened to jump to her death. The woman, a victim of child rape, had been scheduled to confront her alleged attacker, Salvador Cruz, on the stand later that afternoon. Although the woman had been allegedly sexually assaulted as a child by Cruz—her mother’s former boyfriend—his abuse was not brought to light until the woman was an adult. Because of the delay in reporting, she did not have access to many of the protections afforded to victims of child rape. The woman was legally protected from Cruz by a no-contact order when outside the courthouse, but Cruz, who had elected to act as his own attorney during the trial, would have a right to approach her and ask her questions during his cross examination of her testimony. 

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