Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In 'he said-he said' sexual assault case, boy says he returned to barber after assault because 'he would give me free hair cuts'

In a sexual assault trial in Maryland, there is no evidence except the word of a teen boy who accused his barber, Jung Gon Kim, of sexually assaulting him. The boy testified that he returned to get another haricut after the alleged assault because the haircut was free, and this time, he brought a witness.

The prosecutor, Jennifer Ritter, told the jurors that to find the barber guilty of sexually assaulting the teen boy, they should trust their "instincts." She said: “Your instincts are going to be very important in this case.” At the end of the trial, she told jurors, they would have to ask themselves: “Do you believe this 14-year-old boy came to court and put himself through all of this if it wasn’t true?”

It is frightening that an immigrant's liberty is left to the "instincts" of jurors. It is as if the prosecutor is inviting them to bypass their reason and convict this man based on their feelings -- their gut reactions -- which rarely bodes well for presumptively innocent men accused of vile sex crimes.  Jurors should instead be directed to use their rationality in making this most important decision they probably will ever make.

And, yes, Ms. Ritter, COTWA can proffer many, many examples of accusers who put themselves through the trial experience even though it wasn't true.

We don't know what happened, but we pray justice prevails.