Rape survivors are too often not taken seriously, and their reports dismissed. In one such case, a survivor not only had her allegations rejected, but instead was put on trial.
Danielle Hicks-Best was 11-years-old when she was raped by a group of two or three men. Her parents reported the assault and took her to a hospital where evidence of vaginal tears and scrapes were found. A few days later, the same men raped her again — medical evidence of the assault was again found.
Despite the evidence, six weeks later police charged Hicks-Best with filing a false report instead of arresting the group of men. Hick-Best denied the guilt, but eventually gave in and accepted an Alford plea — where essentially a “defendant accepts that there was enough evidence for conviction.”
Hicks-Best spent the next few years in and out of detention centers and running away. Now at 18-years-old, she is trying to piece her life back together.
Although Hicks-Best was 11-years-old at the time and the men in their late teens and 20s, statutory rape wasn’t even looked into.
“All sex was consensual,”" one police officer wrote in an email to his colleagues. “Parents are unable to accept the fact of this child’s promiscuous behavior caused this situation.”
The officer’s words echo a familiar theme in sexual assault cases — that the survivor is responsible for her assault. Whether it was what she was wearing, how she was acting or simply the fact that she was walking alone — the woman caused her rape, not the men who actually committed the crime. This rape culture notion has heightened to the extreme nonsense that even a child, technically unable to provide consent, is slut-shamed for her rape. So many survivors are too afraid to come forward with their stories out of fear of persecution. This case proves exactly why.