Savannah Dietrich, a Kentucky teenager who was sexually assaulted and then threatened with jail for naming her attackers, has reportedly destroyed the life of at least one of the perpetrators.
“He’s had to move,” David Mejia, the attorney for one of the attackers, told The Huffington Post. “He has lost all the potential that was there. He was attending high school and was kicked out. He was on course to a scholarship to an Ivy League school to play sports and that may be jeopardized. He’s in therapy. He’s just overwhelmed and devastated by what started from the conduct of this young girl saying false things as she did.”
Mejia filed a contempt motion against Dietrich in July. She had tweeted the names of two teenage boys who assaulted her back in August 2011.
After naming the boys, Dietrich, then 16, tweeted, “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”
Dietrich’s anger stemmed from a June hearing in which the teenagers confessed to felony sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism. She and her family were reportedly frustrated by the plea bargain the boys made with the state.
“If reporting a rape only got me to the point that I’m not allowed to talk about it, then I regret it,” Dietrich wrote on Facebook. “I regret reporting it.”
Mejia said that he and his client were angry about the posts and that Dietrich was not entirely honest.
“The victim, in a fit of anger, tweets my clients name, calls him a rapist — something he was never accused of — and said the court system was corrupt and he got away with what he did,” Mejia said. “She also said he videotaped her and put it on Internet. There never was a rape, there was no video and there was nothing on the Internet. But he did admit to the conduct as charged which was criminal sexual abuse or touching.”
The two boys charged were juveniles, and the court therefore kept the details of the case confidential.
Dietrich, now 17, told ABC’s “Nightline” what happened the night she was assaulted in an interview Monday.
She said she was drinking with friends when she passed out. When she later awoke, she discovered her clothes were disheveled and felt like “something wasn’t right.”
“I had my dress back on but my bra was shifted all weird and then my underwear was off,” Dietrich told “Nightline” host Juju Chang.
After the party, Dietrich said she was told the two boys had taken photos of her.
“They told me that it was me on the kitchen floor, passed out, my eyes are closed,” she said. “My clothes are — I’m exposed. Someone said one boy had his arm broken at the time and said his cast was in the picture.”
The details of the punishment the boys ultimately received is unknown, since court records have been witheld.
“Due to the confidentiality and privacy of the whole thing I am constrained except to say that what she is saying is a mischaracterization. It’s not accurate. It’s not true. What is the truth? That I cannot say,” Mejia said.
In the motion Mejia filed, he requested that Dietrich be held in contempt for violating the confidentiality of a juvenile. Dietrich could have faced 180 days in jail, but Mejia said that was not what he wanted. The motion, he said, was not to punish Dietrich, but to have a judge force her to delete her online posts about the boys.
“I was hoping she would even have some remorse or an apology to give. That didn’t happen,” Mejia said Monday on ABC’s “Nightline.”
The veteran attorney echoed those remarks during an interview with HuffPost.
“When we filed the motion, we wanted our client’s names off the Internet and wanted her to know that what she was doing was wrong,” he said. “[She should] acknowledge what she’s done, remove the name and promise not to do it again.”
But the motion prompted a flurry of national media attention and was quickly withdrawn. According to Mejia, canceling the motion did nothing to stop the influx of hate messages he and his client received.
“Everybody got hate letters and worse for this young boy — this high school kid was getting tweets, Facebook [messages], all kinds of terrible things. He even got death threats,” the lawyer said.
Dietrich told “Nightline” she identified her attackers because she felt like their punishment was a slap on the wrist. “I was upset,” Dietrich said. “I felt like they got less than the minimal punishment … I knew that they were manipulating the system to silence me.”
Mejia said that his client is devastated and would like to move on with his life, but that the Internet has made that impossible.
“I think it’s rather astonishing how the Internet changes everything,” he said. “Look at [Rep. Todd Akin], the politician from Missouri who was on the news a few days ago and made a comment about ‘legitimate rape.’ Those comments have now gone viral and he is ruined. Twenty years ago it would not have happened like this. These things just stream with enormous speed across the whole country.”
Dietrich’s attorney, Emily Farrar-Crockett, did not return a call for comment from HuffPost on Tuesday. Speaking on “Nightline” Monday, she was unsympathetic to Mejia’s complaints.
“They took the pictures, they disseminated it, they told people about what they had done. To come back and blame her now for ruining their reputation I think is despicable. They did this to themselves,” Farrar-Crockett said.