Philly Judge Criticized for Rape Decision

State bar association president decries "unforgivable miscarriage of justice."

ByABC News
February 18, 2009, 7:30 PM

Oct. 31, 2007 — -- A judge in Philadelphia has come under fire for a controversial ruling in which she reduced charges so that a man accused of raping a prostitute at gunpoint faced only robbery charges for "theft of services."

Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni earlier this month dismissed rape and sexual assault charges against Dominique Gindraw, who is accused of forcing a prostitute at gunpoint to have sex with him and several other men. Deni left intact charges of armed robbery for theft of services against Gindraw.

Prosecuting Gindraw for rape, the judge said in a subsequent newspaper interview "minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped."

The decision and Deni's subsequent comments to a local newspaper prompted about 40 complaints from around the country to the local bar association, said executive director Ken Shear, as well as a campaign by women's groups to encourage people to vote against Deni when she is up for reelection Tuesday

The Philadelphia Bar Association this week took the unusual step of publicly criticizing the ruling.

"I am personally offended by this unforgivable miscarriage of justice," said bar association chancellor Jane Dalton. "The victim has been brutalized twice in this case: first by the assailants, and now by the court."

"A victim is a victim regardless of how they come to be in that position," Dalton told ABC News.

Deni did not immediately return a message for comment left this morning.

Her lawyer, George Bochetto, said Deni "makes decisions based on the evidence presented in a court of law, not newspaper accounts of the story. She finds the chancellor's comments to be regrettable."

The accuser testified that she initially agreed to have sex with Gindraw and a friend of his in exchange for money, but that Gindraw refused to pay her, held a gun to her head and forced her to have sex with several men, according to a transcript of an Oct. 4 court hearing.

"She consented and she didn't get paid. I thought it was a robbery," Deni told the Philadelphia Daily News.

Prosecuting Gindraw for rape "minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped," she told the paper.