A defense attorney representing an alleged rapist in Missoula County, Montana, accused her client’s young victim of being a “temptress.”
Justin Griffith, 26, pleaded guilty to felony sexual assault earlier this year for engaging in sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl who was a resident at a teen addiction recovery center where he worked, Alternet reports.
Griffith’s attorney, Lisa Kauffman, made egregious remarks about the victim during the sentencing hearing this week, telling Missoula County District Court Judge Robert Deschamps the young teen looked and acted older than her age.
“She looks and acts like she’s 18 years old,” Kaufman said during the hearing. “You should see the pictures of her and the hair and the makeup.”
In a back-and-forth exchange with Deputy County Attorney Brian Lowney, Kauffman kicked her victim-blaming rhetoric up a notch by claiming Griffith was not trained to handle the seductive young girls at the facility.
“It is hardly a training issue not to have sex with a 13-year-old resident,” Lowney reportedly retorted.
Dechamps also echoed Lowney’s sentiments, noting that Griffith’s demonstrated sexual history indicates he wasn’t as naïve as Kauffman tried to portray him.
“He’s been around the block, and he knows the score,” Dechamps said.
Kauffman later suggested Griffith’s victim had a hand in her own rape.
“How about victims as temptresses, what do you think about that?” she asked, which triggered an objection from the victim’s mother.
Kauffman apologized for the crass remark, but nevertheless, she could not take the words back after speaking them in front of the entire court.
It should also be noted that while the 13-year-old is at the center of this case, a second girl at the facility also accused Griffith of rape, but those charges were dropped as part of Griffith’s plea deal.
It is disheartening that Kauffman — as a woman herself —couldn't find any other strategy besides victim-blaming to defend her client.
Her arguments send such a damaging message to rape survivors by perpetuating the disgusting notion that a woman's looks, or how she chooses to dress, or how she styles her hair are invitations to be raped.