Judge Denies Protection Order, Adds a Lecture on Marriage

College student says she was blamed for assault in court
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2022 1:34 PM CDT
Judge Denies Protection Order, Adds a Lecture on Marriage
The Durham County Courthouse in Durham, NC.   (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

A college student who went to court in North Carolina for protection from another student who she said had sexually assaulted and stalked her did not receive it. She did get a lecture from the judge about "marriage and commitment," however. Kerry Sutton, the plaintiff's attorney, said afterward that "this was classic victim blaming. The judge was essentially saying, 'That is what you get for having premarital sex,'" the News & Observer reports. The plaintiff, who cried in the courtroom and said she had a panic attack after the lecture, said, "It felt very much like she was blaming me."

"As I sit here, I'm reminded of the reason for marriage and commitment," Chief District Court Judge Patricia Evans told the female student, who's in her late teens. "Now those are the old-fashioned principles, but there is a rationale behind them because when we do things, because we have the opportunity or you have free choice, you can choose what you're going to do, but you cannot choose the consequences of those actions." The teenager, a student at Duke University, had testified that after she had gone to a male student's room—once spending the night—he bit her breasts and put his fingers inside her with consent. She brought photos that she said showed 10 to 20 bruises caused by his bites.

Duke granted a consent no contact order and told the two students to avoid interaction if they found themselves in the same area. The male student, who has not been charged with any crimes, testified in the hearing that he received consent from the woman but stopped when she conveyed discomfort. The plaintiff failed to prove her case, the judge told her. Sutton said the teenager has not decided on a next step. (More judges stories.)

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