United Kingdom: Lawyers shouldn’t be bullies
A sex-abuse survivor was bullied to death last month—in court.
A sex-abuse survivor was bullied to death last month—in court, said Alison Phillips. Frances Andrade, a married mother of four, had been giving evidence that her former teacher had sexually abused her when she was a 14-year-old violinist at a prestigious music academy. The “clearly vulnerable” Andrade didn’t initiate the proceedings against her teacher and reportedly didn’t want to dredge up the past—she’d had an unhappy childhood and suffered from depression—but once called to the stand she spoke her piece. Then the defense lawyer ripped into her, called her a liar and an attention-seeker, and “tied her in verbal knots” until she couldn’t keep dates and details from her past straight. Andrade burst into tears in the courtroom and killed herself a week later. She never lived to see the guilty verdict later pronounced against her abuser. And Andrade was just one of the many rape victims “routinely humiliated and traumatized in our courts every year.” Experts estimate that more than 90 percent of rapes go unreported. Of those reported, just 12 percent result in a conviction, and bullying of the victim surely plays a large part in that low rate. Until judges put restrictions on such vicious cross-examination, “there will be no justice for victims.”