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Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
Normally this blog is dedicated to exposing Scientology’s lies and abuses. However given recent statements made by Weinstein defense attorney Donna Rotunno leaving them unaddressed was just not an option.
It could be said that this post really doesn’t stray that far from it’s original purpose considering Rotunno’s overall attitude seems close to the way Scientology views sex and women.
Megan Twohey, the New York Times reporter who broke the Weinstein story, interviewed Donna Rotunno for a February 7th podcast on The Daily.
Rotunno has built a career of defending men accused of sexual crimes against women and is an outspoken opponent of the #MeToo Movement.
Known as a “bulldog” in court and for being direct and no nonsense with witnesses on the stand, she accuses #MeToo of creating an environment that strips men of their right to a fair trial and being innocent until proven guilty. She also believes that because of the movement, men should have a contract signed before any intimacy takes place.
During the interview Rotunno made a series of comments that highlight exactly how she feels about women who attempt to get justice when they are raped. While this Attorney claims that she defends the idea that the accused are innocent until proven otherwise, this automatically calls the veracity of the accusers into question before there is any reason to doubt them.
It is this attitude, the fear of not being believed or worse of being blamed for the rape, that causes so many women to refuse to come forward.
In fact, Donna Rotunno does take her blanket refusal to believe to the next, more insidious level. Twohey asked Rotunno if she had ever been sexually assaulted, her reply is chilling.
“I have not…because I would never put myself in that position.”
She elaborated on her position by stating “I’ve always made choices, from college-age on, I never drank too much. I never went home with someone who I didn’t know…I just never put myself in a vulnerable circumstance, ever.”
Rotunno smugly makes it all sound so simple.
Obviously in her world women have complete control of what happens to them at all times and any attack that happens is, of course, on them.
One might even consider that Donna Rotunno, like Scientology, believes that when a woman is sexually attacked it is because she “pulled it in” or brought it upon herself because of her own actions.
Consider how all the victims of Bill Cosby might feel hearing such a pronouncement. Indeed, how the thousands of women who have been slipped a Mickey to awaken the next day in pain, fear and confusion, must feel to know that what happened to them was because of their own choices.
Donna’s arrogance and unfeeling, unconsidered judgment leaves the reader with the understanding that in her opinion, the onus is on women for what happens to them. For that reason vulnerable men everywhere must make the women he intends to have sex with sign a legal document first.
Megan Twohey asked Rotunno for clarification, if she was actually placing responsibility on women. Ever the lawyer, her response was a combination of blithe CYA and reaffirming her original position.
“Absolutely not…But just as we make smart decisions when you walk out on the street at night, I think you have to make the same decisions when you’re putting yourself in circumstances with other people.”
In other words, she says “No” while at the same time saying “of course!”
If her duplicity were in doubt, consider she wears a gold necklace that says “Not Guilty” on it.
Rotunno proudly thanks her savvy, saintly decision making for why she has escaped the pain and terror that is rape. SHE would never put herself in that position in the first place so of course it hasn’t happened to her!
In her condescension she doesn’t even realize just how wrong she is.
Donna Rotunno has purposefully placed herself in the exact same positions every other woman in the world has been in.
Of course she has.
It’s called living.
One does not have to “walk out on the street at night” to be raped. One doesn’t even have to leave the relative safety of one’s own home.
Actress Fran Drescher of The Nanny fame, was at home with her husband and a female friend on the night that two armed men broke into their apartment. Drescher’s husband was tied up and forced to helplessly watch as one of the gunmen raped both Fran and her female friend.
So Counselor, please tell us what it was that Fran Drescher did to cause the rapes of herself and her friend?
What could she, should she have done better? What choices could she have made to have prevented her assault?
The fact is, Ms Rotunno, that every single time you lock your door at night there is a chance. Every woman on every college campus, simply by virtue of the fact that they are students there, are at risk.
Children, girls, boys, tweens, teens, young or elderly, male or female, every person is at risk of becoming victim of a sexual predator because in reality the responsibility does not lie with the victim. It is solely upon the shoulders of the rapist.
When you go to the grocery store, to the mall, out jogging, to pick up the dry cleaning you can end up a victim. Attending a family reunion or other event can end up becoming a nightmare. Helpless in hospital or a care home, studying for finals or even turning to your most trusted pastor, priest, minister or rabbi one can find oneself in danger.
Rape is a violent crime of power and control, it has absolutely nothing to do with anything a woman, or man, says, wears, drinks or does.
This is why it is so vitally important for law enforcement and officers of the courts to err on the side of caution when a victim comes forward.
He or she must be treated with support and belief until there is evidence to prove otherwise. One cannot begin with the foundation thought that the victim is lying until all avenues of evidence and investigation have been exhausted.
Yes, of course there are unscrupulous people who falsely accuse truly innocent people of rape. This is also a despicable crime that needs to be addressed and punished when proven. No one should be accused of any crime they did not commit, especially rape or domestic violence.
However just because there are some who attempt to game the system out of petty revenge or hatred does not mean every victim must be treated with callous suspicion.
Rotunno wants all to understand that her clients are innocent until proven otherwise, but in her zeal to accomplish that goal she casts the plaintiffs in the exact position she refuses on behalf of her defendants.
Certainly announcing that women are responsible for their attacks because they were not being cautious enough is not the way to begin.
This Counselor needs to understand that there is nothing one can do to prevent being raped if the attacker has targeted his/her victim and made the decision.
It is the rapist who is in control of this crime. The rapist decides when, how, where and in his/her own twisted mind why the attack will take place.
Ms Rotunno could just as easily be attacked in the courthouse restroom, the parking lot on the way to her car or even the deli where she grabs her lunch. The very fact that we each simply live our lives is enough to place us in harms way if there is a predator in the vicinity.
This is the reality for women everywhere, including smug, patronizing attorneys.
People can be diligent, vigilant and do all the right things but in the end, exactly because it is not in the victim’s purview , it can all be for nought.
Just ask any of the victims of Ted Bundy.
This mindset needs to be ended. People do need to be considered innocent until proven guilty, but this does not mean that one tips the scale of justice in favor of the accused as a precaution.
Counselor Rotunno, the website rapecrisis.com has some relevant statistics you might wish to consider as you pat yourself on the back for your good choices,
“Every 98 seconds, another American is sexual assaulted.”
“55% [of the assaults take place] at or near the victim’s home
Prior to an assault the victim is engaged in the following occupations:
“48% sleeping or performing another activity at home
29% traveling to and from work or school or to shop or run errands
12% at work”
As for making safe choices about drinking too much or wandering about in the dark, perhaps it should be understood that “70% of rapes are committed by someone known to the survivor.”
It is time blaming, shaming and placing responsibility on the shoulders of the victim is stopped. A woman is not raped because of the clothing she was wearing or her location.
She did not “ask for it”. She did not invite it or do anything at all to earn an assault.
As an officer of the court, a representative of the law and far more importantly a woman, publicly stating that a rape victim somehow has culpability in her own attack is cruel, heartless, irresponsible and shows a serious bias against victims everywhere.
There is nothing wrong with defending the accused. This is a part of our judicial system, however this defense can be carried out without crucifying the plaintiffs and revictimizing them all over again.
Shame on Donna Rotunno for her dark ages attitude