Had it been written by an angst-driven college sophomore, an activist ally of the cause wearing the mantle of “survivor” because she got drunk one night, it would have been ordinary. But it wasn’t. It was written by a Sexual Assault Prosecutor for the 5th District of Colorado. Jake Lilly, a 2003 Cornell law grad, an army veteran (or as he calls himself, a “warrior”), a Democratic party activist and a guy who doesn’t like cops much, but wants to tamper with the jury to get his conviction.
It is heartbreaking, infuriating and almost too hard to watch. A young woman is asked to repeat the painful details of her sexual assault to investigators over and over and over again.
Viewers of the Netflix series “Unbelievable” will recognize this story of a serial rapist in Colorado and in Washington State.
Most lawyers who aren’t bent on either lying to the public or playing the fool realize that dramatizations are invariably nonsense. TV shows were once designed to tug at heartstrings of the homebound and terminally unemployed. They’ve since expanded to the unduly emotion and unemployed Ph.D. students in the humanities. Does Jake not realize it’s just a melodrama?
Our society needs to think about sexual assault crimes differently. We can start by believing sexual assault survivors. Throughout Colorado, our police officers approach sexual assault cases with the diligence and respect all survivors deserve.
As the Sexual Assault Prosecutor for the 5th District, covering Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties, I can tell you that while our team works aggressively to hold perpetrators accountable and put rapists behind bars, it is not as easy as it seems on a TV series.
Apparently, Jake is aware that he’s using a TV show to promote “believe the survivors,” not that the narrative is a dramatization, but that putting “rapists behind bars” isn’t as easy as it seems. He doesn’t do this as an overly passionate ally to the cause. He doesn’t do this the ally of “survivors.” He does this as a prosecutor.
Surely, if he’s a prosecutor, he must know stuff.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, only five out of every 1,000 sexual assault perpetrators will end up in prison. Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults that occur, only 230 will ever be reported to police.
And so he turns to an activist organization which uses nonsensical statistics that have been debunked over and over, because what prosecutor wouldn’t use whatever he could to support his sad tears without the slightest regard for facts or truth?
In our society today there exists an inherent, inexplicable distrust of the survivor, the one telling their story. No matter if it is a male or a female, a child or an adult, their story is just too unbelievable to have ever really happened.
This is bizarrely false. Not just that the accuser is almost invariably a woman, and the accused invariably male, but that anyone inherently distrusts the “survivor.” Every accuser is asked questions in order to ascertain whether a crime was committed and who committed it. And when the answers don’t exist, or fail to support a crime, rape accusers get no different latitude than any other accuser.
And so begins the questioning. What were they wearing? Where they alone? Were they drinking? Did they have a relationship with the assailant? What did they do wrong that contributed to the assault? How much of it was their fault? The answer is none of it is their fault.
Some of these questions are entirely normal and necessary, but no one has ever asked “what did you do wrong that contributed to the assault?” One must assume that Jake knows this, and he’s just taking extreme liberty with the truth for dramatic purposes in the hope that his readers are stupid enough to believe this tripe.
We have to create an environment where survivors are sure they are going to be believed. We have to create an environment where survivors know that they are protected against retaliation and won’t be judged for their actions.
This is not an easy task. As a prosecutor, our mission is not just to convict perpetrators; it is to educate the public on how together we can ensure justice for all. The mission of our society is to believe it.
As a prosecutor, Jake Lilly’s “mission” is to do justice, not to convict. But he’s not satisfied with his mission being “just to convict perpetrators,” but wants “society to believe” as well. Of course, that same “society” is what we lawyers refer to as the jury pool.
Had he griped about untested rape kits or that the police within his jurisdiction failed to take legitimate complaints of rape seriously, that would be fine, though one would wonder why he took to an op-ed rather than deal with the problems like a prosecutor. But he’s not, even if his absurd claim any cop would ask “how much of it was their fault?” would ever be asked.
Rather, Jake Lilly expressly uses his status as prosecutor to taint the jury pool by telling them his inside the system secret that they, the public, society, the jury, need to believe the victim. This is nothing less than a flagrant effort to bring the public into courtrooms prejudiced in favor of the accuser and biased against the accused.
To cause a seismic shift in societal attitudes about the stories of sexual assault survivors, it is going to take honest and painful conversations that we first must have with ourselves.
Let’s have that “honest and painful conversation,” Jake. You’re full of shit and a disgrace. Maybe you’re virtue signalling in the hope that by licking enough envelopes at the Dem party office, you’ll get the nod for the bench. Maybe you suffer from the same delusions as the activists that any cry of rape, no matter how false or nonsensical, is good enough to lock some guy up, no matter how innocent.
But no matter how “passionate” you may be, Jake, about the insipid lies you’re spewing, the “painful and honest” fact is that this is a blatant effort at tampering with the potential jury. You title your op-ed, “Justice means we must believe sexual assault survivors first.” Justice means you don’t deliberately seek to taint the jury pool and convict the innocent, Jake. Justice means you believe the facts. Justice means you need to find a different job, maybe something involving selling weed edibles.