Judge rules Derrick Rose’s alleged rape victim can’t remain anonymous during trial

Derrick Rose CREDIT: NAM Y. HUH, AP
Derrick Rose CREDIT: NAM Y. HUH, AP

On Tuesday afternoon, a Los Angeles federal judge ruled that the woman who accused NBA star Derrick Rose and two of his friends of gang rape will not be allowed to use her “Jane Doe” pseudonym in the trial, which is scheduled to begin on October 4.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald handed down the ruling on Tuesday, as first reported by the Associated Press. The official opinion has not yet been issued.

Doe, who spoke with ThinkProgress last week, says that one of the primary reasons she wanted to stay anonymous was to protect her elderly parents, who still don’t know about the alleged assault:

It’s very important for me because of my family. I want to keep this away from my mother and father mainly, and possibly the rest of my family members.

I come from a big family and although my parents are only Spanish speaking, anything can spark the interest of my nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters. It could come back to my mom, who right now is very ill and dealing with a lot of health issues. I wouldn’t want any stress on her, and I wouldn’t want anything affecting her or affecting my father.

They’re elderly and I’m a part-time caregiver for my mother, so it’s very important for me to do everything I can to make sure that my family’s needs are met and they’re still in good standing and have no stress or pressure placed on them.

The defense has been trying to force Doe to reveal her name publicly for the past 13 months, ever since the civil suit was filed.

Advertisement

“This is not a rape case. It’s pure and simple extortion by a plaintiff who wants to hide behind the cloak of anonymity while seeking millions in damages from a celebrity with whom she was in a long-term nonexclusive consensual sexual relationship,” Rose’s legal team said in a memorandum filed last month.

In June, Rose’s lawyers argued that Doe should not be allowed to use a pseudonym, because, among other things, she was depicting herself sexually on social media.

“The production includes photos from Plaintiff’s Instagram account that are sexual in nature,” the defense said. “Plaintiff’s use of twitter and other forms of social media further belies her apparent desire for anonymity.”

Advertisement

The judge did not respond well to that argument, and at the time, upheld the use of a pseudonym for pretrial proceedings.

“No matter how Plaintiff chooses to depict her sexuality on social media, her allegations of rape entitle her to the protections of anonymity,” the judge said.

However, even then, there were signs that the judge would change his mind about that ruling for the trial itself.

As sports lawyer Dan Werley wrote before the pretrial hearing on Tuesday, since anonymity is so important to Doe, this could be an impetus for her to settle.

Advertisement

“If the judge rules that she cannot remain anonymous at trial, Doe’s settlement negotiation position will significantly weaken,” Werley said in The White Bronco. “In that scenario, her identity would not be revealed until trial, giving her a 7–10 day window to settle the case or have her identity appear on the front page of every tabloid.”

Pseudonyms are granted to alleged victims as a way to shield them from any re-victimization that could happen when their identity is revealed, particularly when their alleged abuser is high profile.

When speaking to ThinkProgress, Doe stressed that many rape victims don’t come forward because they fear their identity being exposed.

“I think people stay silent because they don’t want to have to deal with everyone finding out, like, hey, this happened to you, now I’m a victim, now I have to walk around with a “damaged” label, being broken and this and that,” she said.

“You don’t want that. Who can deal with that on top of everything that happened?”