The Accused

Essay by tonerUniversity, Bachelor's April 2004

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The Accused

The accused is a movie about Sarah Tobias, a woman of questionable character, who is gang raped in a bar by three men, while others looked on and cheered. Outraged by the plea bargain made by the prosecuting attorney, Sarah is appalled. In an effort to right this wrong her attorney, Kathryn Murphy, brings the onlookers to court for soliciting the crime, thus restoring Sarah as the victim, and putting the rape on record. In the end the onlookers were found guilty and Sarah is vindicated.

From the beginning you could see the prosecuting attorney tearing holes in the allegations being made. Sarah was drunk, she smoked some grass, she had a prior record, she went to the bar alone dressed in a sexy manner, and her license plate read "Sexy Sadie". Kathryn had no doubt a rape occurred at least technically, but saw her client as a, "sitting duck", and a horrible witness.

In her eyes there was huge doubt that a jury would convict. Based on this, she was told to cut a deal; she plea-bargained the case down to reckless endangerment, which carried two to five years.

This scenario was described perfectly in the article, "Discrediting Victims' Allegations of Sexual Assault: Prosecutorial accounts of case rejection." Only cases characterized as "solid" or "convictable" are filed. As we saw in the movie, prosecutors are actively looking for holes or problems that will make the victim's version unbelievable, hence unconvictable (212). The motto when in doubt reject, or as the movie showed, make a deal, but don't take it to court.

Sarah's behavior at the bar was considered by many to have contributed to the crime. In essence she was also to blame. In a study by Kalven and Ziesel, it was shown that jurors...