Dietrich talks to WHAS11 after judge opens records in juvenile court case


by Maggie Ruper

Posted on August 28, 2012 at 11:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 28 at 11:43 PM

(WHAS11) -- A Jefferson County judge has opened the records of a juvenile court case against two Louisville teenagers who pleaded guilty to charges of sex abuse. The case is making national headlines and the girl in the middle of it all is sharing her thoughts.
WHAS11 sat down and talked to 17-year-old Savannah Dietrich after a judge made an order to open juvenile court records in her sexual assault case.

"I'm just so glad I can share my story and shed some light on things. I hope this will never happen to someone else again or another victim to be put in a position like this," Dietrich said.

The court documents contain a judge's opinion and order, naming the teenage boys. The information is graphic and involves young people so we decided to not reveal the details.
Judge Angela McCormick had this to say in the opinion:

"The very idea that a young victim of sexual assault would find the courage to tell her story and come to court, only to have no one listen to her, explain to her what is happening, and then to have the parties reach some type of deal without her input is abhorrent. The public would and should cry 'foul'"

Attorney Steve Romines offered an outside opinion on the case.

“The prosecuting witness was unhappy with the deal. The vast majority are unhappy that their cases are settled,” Romines said.

Romines also said the plea deal appeared to be fair.

“It's not a rape. Its not sodomy. In the spectrum of sexual offenses what they pled to appears to be where it fits,” Romines said.

University of Louisville professor Anita Barbee said juvenile cases are typically kept confidential in an effort to protect the victim and suspects.

“Especially with juveniles, the brain is still developing until 25 and so the likelihood that a young person is going to do something that is not smart or getting into trouble as a result of someone leading them astray or alcohol is great,” Barbee said.

Dietrich’s lawyers said the punishment did not fit the crime.  "They're to do 50 hours of volunteer work for a sexual offense. That was insulting to Savannah,” lawyer Emily Farrar-Crockett said.
Dietrich had already posted a number of messages on Twitter about what happened to her. She says they exposed her private parts and took indecent photos after she passed out from a night of underage drinking.

Romines said there is no real precedent for the law in terms of social media and what victims can or cannot post, despite juvenile cases being classified as confidential.  

Dietrich is upset at the lenient plea deal and the question remains of whether the boys will receive treatment for being sexual offenders. On Aug. 31, her lawyers will request that the Jefferson County Attorney's Office be removed from the case because of prejudice.
"Clearly as a crime victim she has rights and that includes rights to address the court on the feelings regarding her disposition," Thomas Clay, Dietrich's Attorney, said.
One of the boy's lawyers says that they have appealed the judge's ruling and threw-in an emergency injunction. They want any remaining files to remain confidential.

The boys' official sentencing in juvenile court is Sept. 14 and Dietrich plans on speaking out that day.