For Immediate Release
A.G. WINS IMPORTANT VICTORY FOR RAPE VICTIMS
The Utah Attorney General's Office won an important victory today that will protect the rights of rape victims. In a landmark decision, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that sexual assault victims can keep their mental health records private.
In State v. Damond Blake, the justices denied the defendant's request for an alleged victim's mental health and juvenile court records. The court also said the defense could not, without a strong showing that some relevant evidence actually exists, sift through mental health records seeking evidence of prior accusations of sexual abuse.
Blake is charged with fondling a 12-year-old girl in Salt Lake County in January 1998. His case has still not gone to trial.
The court also said a victim's conversation with a mental health therapist is privileged. Defendants will not be allowed to have access to those conversations based on speculation that they might find favorable evidence.
"This ruling makes it safe for sexual assault victims to come forward and contact the police," said Marian Decker, the assistant attorney general who argued on behalf of the state on September 3. "This also sends a strong message that defense attorneys do not have the right to put victims on trial."
The ruling includes a detailed history of the way society has treated rape victims and stated that "women victims of rape have long been mistreated by the law." Decker adds that this decision will help victims get more respect and have more input into the judicial system.