It’s no secret that sexual assault is often mishandled by authorities, but one woman’s story, in particular, is painfully troublesome.
Brandy Buckmaster, 41, is sitting behind bars as she waits to testify against her alleged sexual abuser.
Out of fear that she wouldn’t show up for trial, prosecutors jailed her as a material witness, which has reportedly been a nightmare for her.
Buckmaster is a former inmate at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon. According to Jezebel, she has been in and out of jail over the last two decades for various charges including drugs, burglary, and identity theft.
During her time spent in the prison’s mental health unit, one of the prison guards named Brian Balzer allegedly coerced her into sexual activity, which is against the law.
In an interview with The Guardian, Buckmaster revealed that after being released from prison she told one of the staff members at the rehabilitation home where she was living about the sexual abuse.
Balzer was arrested soon after and charged with sexual misconduct and introduction of contraband for allegedly bribing her with perfume samples.
Probably the most disgusting part about Buckmaster’s current situation is that she’s rotting behind bars while Balzer is walking around a free man as he awaits trial because he posted bail almost immediately after being taken in.
Due to Buckmaster’s drug history and a recent relapse, Washington County Deputy District Attorney Dan Hesson issued the material witness warrant for her to be taken into custody and she has been in jail for more than a month already.
“I feel like [prosecutors] have victimized me as much as he has,” Buckmaster told The Guardian.
In addition to being locked up while her abuser walks free, she said that she had almost no money in her jail account — not even to purchase feminine hygiene products from the commissary — and the district attorney’s office hasn’t even bothered lifting a finger to help.
She has also been publicly named in court documents, rather than having her identity protected as most victims do.
Her attorney, Betsy Rawls, is concerned that Buckmaster’s treatment could discourage other inmates from coming forward.
“She was in chains” at the hearing, Rawls reportedly said. “Belly chains and shackles. And she's the victim.”
Buckmaster maintains that despite her battle with addiction, she had always planned to cooperate in Balzer’s trial, further reiterating that putting her in jail was unnecessary.
While Hesson admitted that she shouldn’t be in jail, he reportedly will not agree to allow her to give a video deposition and be released with an ankle monitor.
“It is a terrible idea that she is in jail,” Hesson reporteldy told The Oregonian. “But I can’t find a better alternative.”
It seems more like Buckmaster is being judged and punished for her history instead of being treated like a sexual abuse victim.
An ankle monitor could very well be the “better alternative” Hesson suggests, and it is extremely unfair that he won’t at least try. Someone who hasn’t committed a crime doesn’t deserve to be in jail, period.
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