A strong presumption that the public should see what you see

Why there is such a low reporting rate for rape and other sexual abuse, reason #947,859.

Media outlets do not have the right to publish the bikini-clad photo of one of the complainants in Jian Ghomeshi’s sexual assault trial, even with the woman’s face blurred, the judge in the case has ruled.

A lawyer representing seven major news organizations — including the CBC — sought access to a photo that the woman sent to Ghomeshi more than a year after he allegedly assaulted her.

The photo was presented as evidence, but was not shown to spectators in the courtroom. It was described as a shot of the woman in a red bikini on a beach.

Well we want to loooooooooook at it. Let us seeeeeeeeeee it. How can we have our half-assed opinion about the slutty slut in the bikini if we don’t get to see her slutting in it?

The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified under cross-examination that she sent the photo as “bait” to get Ghomeshi to contact her so she could ask him to explain why he had been violent with her.

Representing the media organizations, lawyer Iris Fischer argued the photo should be released, but with the woman’s face and any identifying marks blurred to keep her identity secret.

“There is a strong presumption that the public should see what you see,” Fischer told the judge. “It relates to the witness’s credibility.”

There is? Why? The public isn’t on the jury. How would the public’s leering at the photo of her in a bikini do anything to her credibility in court?

She said it would help the public assess the complainant’s testimony that she was trying to bait Ghomeshi.

But the public doesn’t need to do that. The jury does. The public doesn’t.

Crown attorney Michael Callaghan argued the damaging effect of releasing the photo would vastly outweigh the public benefit.

Knowing that a photo like this could be published during a trial would have a “chilling effect” on sexual assault victims, said Callaghan. “In fact, I’d suggest it would be a deep freeze” on the likelihood of complainants in other cases going to the police.

Ya think?

Fortunately the judge agreed.

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