Justice not served in rape case bond hearing

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2005

Over 30 years ago, I represented a 16-year-old black youth accused of raping a white woman.

At some point, I did not believe in his innocence and resigned from the case.

My strong feelings about rape go back that far and wide.

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My feelings have not changed. John Grisham wrote “A Time To Kill” because he perceived the frustration of a black father who could not protect his daughter from a brutal rape in Mississippi. Low bonds and swift release of alleged rapists allow a collaboration of lies and concealment.

Unfortunately, violent responses are sometimes the response when justice is delayed or denied.

On June 29th, justice was again delayed in the Dallas County District Court.

I am deeply saddened by Judge

Armstrong’s handling of the case involving the alleged rape of an 18-year old college student.

When Armstrong was elected, he promised to be fair and just to everyone.

Rape is a terrible crime.

Gang rape is even more horrible when the alleged rapists are freed within hours on a $20,000 bond.

It sends the wrong message to victims and criminals. Armstrong had several opportunities to send a different, and more just, message, which he failed to do.

First, he was alerted that the alleged rape had occurred before the men were released. Armstrong had the authority to place a hold on the accused man to ascertain the need for a higher bond, which he failed to do. Second, the judge had the opportunity to hold a bond hearing before signing the order binding the case over to the Grand Jury, which he failed to do.

Lastly, Judge Armstrong had the opportunity to hear the case to determine

the crime justified a higher bond, which he failed to do. If four black men had allegedly raped an 18-year-old white college student, I know and the public knows that the bond would have been far greater than $20,000. Indeed, burglars are given a $20,000 bond. Recently, a man was placed on a $500,000 bond for robbery. Is not the robbery of a woman’s body and integrity more hideous? Last year a young man was released on a $20,000 bond for an alleged rape. Within days he raped an 11 year old child.

A male-controlled justice system still persists in denying equal justice to black women. For years it was legal to rape black girls and black women. Even after slavery legally ended, some states did not recognize rape of a black woman unless she was a virgin. On the other hand, black men whether innocent or guilty, have received death by hanging and electrocution for mere suspicion that they looked at, dated or raped a white woman. Rarely has anyone received death or even life in prison for raping a black child or woman.

Selma is a historic city with great potential. But we must rebuild the foundation of justice, one brick at a time. Judge Armstrong waived his opportunity to place a brick on that foundation.

I recognize we must proceed with caution. High bonds adversely impact low-income people who may be innocent. There must be balance and consistency.

The race or economic status of the victim or the accused, however, should not license differential treatment and outcome. That remnant of the “Old South” must be remedied in our lifetime. We can do this.

Faya Rose Toure’ aka Sanders