If you or someone you loved was raped and was brave enough to come forward about the sexual assault, you would hope that justice would be served. As many victims come to find out, however, nothing about the process is just or fair.
In 2010, one Georgia woman with a developmental disability experienced something that no person, disabled or otherwise, should be subjected to while she was in a safe and trusted environment. Like many other victims, the 24-year-old and her family discovered the cards would be stacked against her.
In October 2010, a woman, ‘Jane,’ whose real name has been kept confidential, was staying at a family friend’s home while her mother and her stepfather were in Tennessee for a work trip. During the span of one night and one morning, the 24-year-old with Down Syndrome claimed she became a victim of sexual assault.
While her parents were away, Jane had been staying in a home shared by Christie Prince and Robert Barton. On the evening of October 18, Christie and Robert’s friend, Jeffrey Dumas, came over to hang out and drink. At First, the evening was completely normal…
What happened over the next 12 hours, however, was subjected to intense scrutiny. According to Jane, Dumas raped her three times over the course one evening and the following morning. It wasn’t until later that day that Jane finally revealed what had happened to her.
Dumas denied the accusations when questioned and left the house immediately. Christie and Robert didn’t know what to think, so they called Jane’s mom, Vicki Bailey, who rushed straight there after getting out of work in Tennessee.
Vicki arrived in the middle of the night, and immediately woke Jane up to see if she was OK and to question her about what happened. But with Vicki, her husband, and Christie overwhelming Jane with endless questions, she quickly started to shut down.
Going To The Police
“No one was giving her time to finish her answer before another one of us was throwing her a question,” Vicki said. “And so finally, I just said, ‘Jane, come on, let’s go. We’ll go home and we’ll get you to bed.’” When Jane later insisted that she was telling the truth about the attack, Vicki turned to the police for help…
The police immediately sent Jane to be tested in the hopes of finding evidence to back up her story. What doctors found during the exam left Vicki speechless and sick to her stomach. Doctors found tenderness and reddening in the pelvic area that was “consistent with forcible intercourse.”
And that wasn’t all that was found. Police found Dumas’ semen on the sheets of Jane’s bed in the basement bedroom she had been sleeping in. Once there was enough evidence to prove Jane’s story, she decided to seek justice…
After gathering enough evidence, police charged Dumas with three counts of rape. He was brought to court in September 2012. Once in the courtroom, however, Jane was treated less like a victim and survivor, and was treated more like she was the one on trial.
Reliving The Trauma
As if it wasn’t bad enough that she was being treated like she had done something wrong, Jane had to sit in the same room as her rapist and relive the trauma all over again. “It’s been horrible,” Vicki said. “My daughter had to go through this mentally again and it was like it was happening all over for her.”
Why Didn’t She Scream?
Despite the evidence that backed up her accusation, Judge Christopher McFadden cast doubt on every word that came out of Jane’s mouth. McFadden couldn’t believe Jane didn’t fight back or scream. “He had his hand over my mouth,” Jane had to explain when asked why she didn’t cry out.
In Jane’s defense, the state argued that people with intellectual disabilities aren’t always sure of what’s right or wrong, and sometimes don’t know they can say no. Jane might not have spoken out right away because she was still processing what had happened.
Justice Isn’t Served
But after the jury heard the physical evidence, which was enough to prove the rape had happened, they found him guilty on all three counts of rape. Justice seemed to be served but that was before Judge McFadden had his final say.
Act Like A Victim
Despite the jury’s decision, Judge McFadden overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial all because Jane didn’t act how he thought a victim should. “At no time prior to her outcry … did [the victim] behave like a victim,” Judge McFadden wrote in the order. “Nor did [William Jeffrey] Dumas behave like someone who had recently perpetrated a series of violent crimes against her.”
The Judge’s Ignorance
“It was his ignorance to special needs that caused this,” Vicki said. Not only did Judge McFadden’s decision discredit sexual assault survivors, but it also meant Jane would have to get back on the stand and relive the trauma yet again. “It was very hard for her to testify the first time because she didn’t want to even be in the same room where he was again,” Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said.
McFadden Recuses Himself
In 2015, about five years after the sexual assault occurred, Dumas stood trial for the second time. But before the trial could begin, the District Attorney’s Office requested that Judge McFadden recuse himself since the evidence previously presented had been enough to convict. After declining to recuse himself, McFadden finally withdrew from the case because of the public’s outrage.
Justice Is Finally Served
During the second trial, Jane was forced to yet again get up on the stand and tell a courtroom full of people what Dumas had done to her. Despite the pain it caused her and her family, the new jury found Dumas was guilty of all three counts of rape for the second time.
In August 2015, Dumas was finally convicted for raping a woman with Down Syndrome. According to the Fayette County District Attorney, Dumas was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison and will spend the rest of his life on probation…
After years of pain being forced to relive the past, the court’s ultimate decision finally allowed Jane and her family to have some closure and move on with their lives. The experience has also shed light on the culture of rape, and has inspired both Vicki and District Attorney Ballard.
After the Dumas’ conviction, Ballard and Vicki were inspired to raise awareness about victims with special needs since they felt Jane had been discriminated against. “We could start by not having judges that make us unnecessarily retry a case when there was a proper conviction in the first place,” Ballard said.