A 17-year-old alleged rape victim has been jailed to ensure she testifies against the man she says attacked her at trial.
Frank William Rackley is a 37-year-old with a criminal record spanning two decades. Rackley, already a six-time convicted felon by 1992, was accused of raping women in a 1996 indictment that was eventually dismissed. According to the Sacramento Bee, prosecutors believe he is a serial rapist who must be taken off the streets. In addition to the 17-year-old victim, they have identified another woman Rackley allegedly attacked. A prostitute, she is not being called to testify, due to potential credibility issues.
The state of California successfully argued in court that the teenaged witness is a flight risk, and needs to be incarcerated as a material witness in a juvenile detention center until trial. The victim missed two previous court appearances related to the case, and in one instance, prosecutors found themselves with no choice but to drop the charges against the man.
The rape counts were refiled two days later.
The girl's attorney, Lisa M. Franco says the teen has been re-victimized by being taken into custody. The girl was forced to stand in a cage, generally reserved for the accused, during the court proceeding. Franco alleges that since her incarceration, the teenager has been pepper-sprayed by juvenile authorities when they tried to break up a fight between two other girls. In addition, the lawyer says her client has been denied visits with her mother, has suffered an injury to her ankle, and almost "passed out" during forced physical activity at the facility. She is asking the court to outfit the girl with a GPS device that would allow authorities to keep up with her whereabouts, ensuring she does not flee, and release her.
The judge, while apologetic, ruled that the teen must stay in custody. Due to her previously choosing not to come to court, the judge felt that there was no other way to guarantee her testimony at trial.
The girl, inconsolable, simply sobbed.
The case raises serious questions about the justice system, what constitutes justice, and what lengths are prosecutors obligated to go to obtain it? The price of removing an alleged serial rapist from the streets is that a traumatized teenÂ—a child, a victim of a vicious attackÂ—must be jailed. She is being treated no differently than the man who is charged with raping her.
The price is too high.
Even if the teen is forced to testify, doing so as a result of her incarceration, there is no guarantee of conviction. Rape cases, more often that not, unfortunately, result in acquittal. How cooperative is this girl likely to be with the people who have taken her freedom from her, restricted her interactions with her support system, and caged her like an animal?
To punish the victim in a case like this is unconscionable. This experience will cause more trauma to a child who has already had more pain than anyone should ever have to bear. In addition, as word spreads about her treatment at the hands of those charged with helping her, other victims will be less likely to report crimes committed against them in the future.