The Derrick Rose Case Opens a Debate About the Rights of Sexual Assault Victims

September 20th 2016

Laura Donovan

The judge presiding over the case against NBA player Derrick Rose ruled that the woman accusing him and two friends of rape cannot remain anonymous.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled on Tuesday that the alleged victim, who is currently using the pseudonym Jane Doe cannot do so during the upcoming trial, the Associated Press reported. Rose's lawyers pushed for her identity to be revealed earlier this summer, making (among others) the argument that the "sexual" nature of some of her social media posts eliminated her right to privacy.

Despite the fact that the judge had originally stated that "[n]o matter how Plaintiff chooses to depict her sexuality on social media, her allegations of rape entitle her to the protections of anonymity,” sports lawyer and managing editor from The White Bronco, Dan Werly shared a tweet indicating that there were hints from the judge that he could rule in favor of the defense:

At the time of writing, the official opinion has not yet been released. However, Julie DiCaro, anchor for the 670 Score (a sports radio station in Chicago) tweeted the following:

And the decision did not appear to be due to the argument put forth by Rose's lawyers as Deadspin reports:

"The judge’s ruling today, as [one of the woman's lawyers Waukeen] McCoy described it to me, wasn’t based on the arguments put forward by Rose’s lawyers. Back in August, Rose’s attorneys argued that revealing the plaintiff’s name would allow the media to vet her allegations, and that she could still be protected by 'appropriate restrictions on the media and public access to the proceedings.' Later in the same filing, his lawyers argued that strict restrictions on naming her would not be necessary, 'partly because the media has to some degree lost interest in this case.'"

Werly previously pointed out in The White Bronco that revealing Doe's identity could negatively impact the victim's settlement negotiations:

"If the judge rules that she cannot remain anonymous at trial, Doe’s settlement negotiation position will significantly weaken. In that scenario, her identity would not be revealed until trial, giving her a 7-10 day window to settle the case or have her identity appear on the front page of every tabloid."

Beyond this, as noted by ThinkProgress, pseudonyms are used to protect sexual assault victims from re-victimization or threats that may occur after they speak out.

Doe told ThinkProgress in a separate interview last week that her anonymity is important, because her parents are not aware of the alleged assault and that her mother "is very ill and dealing with a lot of health issues." Doe is an especially vulnerable position because the man she has accused of assault is a high profile celebrity.

The victim acknowledged that it's hard for sexual assault victims to come forward because they may be re-victimized and abused by others in the process of reporting assaults:

"I think people stay silent because they don’t want to have to deal with everyone finding out, like, hey, this happened to you, now I’m a victim, [cries], now I have to walk around with a 'damaged' label, being broken and this and that. You don’t want that. Who can deal with that on top of everything that happened?"

Doe filed a lawsuit against Rose and his friends, Randall Hampton and Ryan Allen last year, alleging they sexually assaulted her in her apartment in 2013. According to the case, Doe invited Rose over to her place after a party at his residence, and he allegedly showed up to her home with his friends. The men said they had sexual intercourse with Doe that night, but Doe claims that she was unconscious when this took place.