Why did they release the Delta Chi video?
Mrs. C. Gier
Because Lisa Gier King was the only one arrested, she has not received the protections that victims normally receive. Her name was put in the paper, and now Delta Chi's videotapes have been released to the press, including several tabloid TV shows and press outlets in Germany and England, and curious individuals.
King requested victim status from State Attorney Rod Smith, which would have prevented the video from being released. But Smith would not give King victim status, so she went to court. On May 3, Judge Chester B. Chance said the tape should be released, saying, "Nothing contained in these tapes would cause this court to name her as a victim." After this, Smith's office handed out copies of the tape free to the press and others who requested it. A few days later, Chief Assistant State Attorney Bill Cervone complained to the Gainesville Sun, "There are legions of requests...it's time consuming."
When asked why the tape was released against King's wishes, State Attorney Smith told the Sun, "If the State Attorney's investigation were wrong, you'd think she (King) would want somebody else to look at it." But others have already seen the tape. Campus NOW board members watched the tape early on and that's one reason they're so outraged. It is bizarre for Smith to suggest that anyone would be glad to have a tape of their victimization sent all over the world to be broadcast, and acquired by any person. Because of the publicity around the case, King already received a harassing on-air phone call from two radio DJ's who have since been fired. After the tape was released, she got a call from someone in Germany. Now she's had to get an unlisted number.
Unfortunately for the good ol' boys, the release of the video has not helped their case.
Todd Lewis, the host of an AM 850 talk radio show which had previously been critical of Campus NOW for protesting this case at the University Police Department, reported on the air that he watched the tape. He stated that he couldn't understand why Rod Smith was not filing charges against the fraternity brothers. He said he saw a woman fighting for over an hour.
Gainesville Area NOW members recalled that Judge Chance was the judge who in 1987 released John "Jay" Kirkpatrick, a man arrested for the 8-hour torture and rape of his ex-girlfriend, without requiring him to post bail. Kirkpatrick later attempted to contact his victim, a violation of his release agreement, and had to be re-arrested. He finally pled guilty to sexual battery.
Meanwhile, UF administrators fretted about what the tape would do to UF's reputation as an institution of higher learning. They seemed to be particularly concerned about the underage drinking and general debauchery shown on the tape. They should be more concerned about what the University Police Department is doing to UF's reputation for arresting a woman for reporting she was raped.
Lisa Gier King's family released a statement on May 4, calling for an actual investigation. What follows are excerpts from the family's statement:
"To date, the most vocal group has been the State Attorney's office led by Rod Smith, and a much-needed opposing point of view has been provided by UF/SFCC chapter of the National Organization for Women. They have been instrumental in bringing attention to the fact that there is much more evidence in this case than what is on the now infamous videotape. The family of Lisa King has issued no statements, preferring to remain silent and allow justice to run its course. Our attorney's advice is that cases are not won or lost in the media, and ultimately, this is probably true. However, for two months we have stood silently and said nothing while all other parties have had the opportunity to say what they wanted to say. No more. Our faith in the system has been challenged, and the course of this case has gone from the unfair to the ridiculous to what can now only be described as a circus-like atmosphere. We now have something to say. ...
"Rod Smith continues to formally state that the conclusion of his "investigation" is that the charges of sexual battery, conspiracy, and facilitation are not prosecutable in this case. We object to this statement on the very simple grounds that a proper, thorough investigation has never taken place ...
"So far, all that has happened in this investigation is that the video of the night's events has been viewed, and the men that Lisa accused of sexual battery have given testimony. It is Rod Smith's OPINION, and the opinion of other people who work for him, that what is on the tape is not prosecutable. Therefore, that is the end of his investigation...
"... The State Attorney's office has not asked Lisa to give a deposition, nor have they asked her to clarify parts of the videotape that are vague or ambiguous. No investigator has asked Lisa's mother and grandmother, who were on the scene within minutes, any questions at all. No one has spoken to the kind men of Theta Chi, who took Lisa in immediately after the attack, and provided her with clothing and a telephone to call her family. There has been no request for the results of the forensic rape kit that was collected at Alachua General Hospital. Why not?
"The truth is, the evidence that is NOT on this videotape is every bit as important as the evidence that is, perhaps more so...
"In terms of eyewitness accounts, the only people who have been deposed so fare are the four potential co-conspirators and they were interviewed AS A GROUP by Bill Cervone, allowing them to corroborate their stories as they went along. Spencer Mann reports that this was an "informal meeting," as if they just happened to bump into each other in the hall, but it would be more accurate to say that these men were officially subpoenaed to give a scheduled deposition, and that they had attorneys present. He also states that at the time, "we were investigating a false report charge, not one of sexual battery." However, please remember that the alleged false report WAS ABOUT SEXUAL BATTERY, and these four men were the accused!
"Also consider that Lisa will not be charged with filing a false police report, a charge that UPD [the University Police Department] vigorously wanted filed. Logic dictates that if Lisa did not file a false police report, the police report she filed was true, and a sexual battery did in fact occur. Rod Smith's logic in choosing to not file this charge is that "the circumstances do not warrant it"--a position we certainly agree with--and that he does not want to dissuade women from coming forward with charges of rape in the future.
"On the surface, this statement reflects faulty logic, and upon further thought, it would be downright laughable if it were not so tragic. Use your head, Rod! The damage was done when Lisa was arrested and taken to jail in handcuffs, and her name released to the public! There is NOTHING you can do now to repair the damage that UPD has caused her, her family, and all women who may be future victims of rape. NOTHING. You offer the empty gesture of magnanimously electing to not file charges that you know full well are not valid anyway, and then offer an explanation for doing so that makes you look reasonable, but in fact makes no sense whatsoever.
"Do you really want to encourage women to come forward and report attacks? If so, you must then formally reprimand UPD for what they did and promise publicly that this will never happen to any woman again, EVER. You said that your office rarely files false report charges against women who report rape--it might be more accurate to say that this NEVER happens, even in cases where there is a clear motive. And yet Lisa was arrested, handcuffed, jailed, and her name publicized at a time when she was already devastated from what we believe was rape. Why did this happen? The reason for this deplorable decision by UPD has never been explained.
"We do not ask that the outcome of this investigation be that everyone agrees with what we believe. We only ask that there be a true, thorough investigation of Lisa's rape report. We cannot predict the outcome, we cannot control the ultimate decision, but please ... just do a proper investigation! Just ask the questions! ... you may then find the truth, all of the truth, and perhaps discover that this case is prosecutable after all."
(This letter was submitted to the Gainesville Sun by Lisa King's mother, Mrs. C. Gier, May 4, 1999.)
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