SEXXUAL ABUSE & WHEN THE ARBITRATION PROCESS REALLY FAILS
Copyright © June 10, 2010
By Christopher C. Cooper (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monday, June 7, 2010 to be exact. I (a civil rights attorney) met my two clients in an office building in downtown Chicago. We were there for scheduled arbitration.
This case involved a young black woman, about 19 at the time of a horrid event for which this case is all about. I don’t want to tell you her name because she has suffered enough embarrassment . Worse, the half dozen women’s rights groups and alleged feminists in the Chicago area who have long known about the case since 2005 have never lifted a finger to help the young black woman.
The young black woman had the unfortunate circumstance of coming out of the upstairs shower of her two story home that she shared with her brother, his wife and their children, when police officers from the scandal-ridden (now disbanded) Chicago Police Department Special Operations Section (SOS), armed with M16 rifles, used a battering ram to knock down the door of the family home. Finding the young girl home alone, terrified, and naked except for a laced bra, laced panties and an open, short cut terry-cloth robe, the team leader handcuffed the woman and led and participated along with five other white officers in forcing the young woman to show them her vagina and anal cavity while having her assume, against a wall, positions simulating intercourse, over the better part of twenty-five minutes. She begged the team leader to help her---she kept asking him “Why are you doing this to me?”
The team leader had brought officers to the home with him to confiscate the family’s dogs. The dogs were accused of biting another dog in a saga that is described by witnesses as one in which the bitten dog was the property of a local gang. The young woman’s brother was arrested and charged with animal cruelty and then acquitted of all charges following a 3-day jury trial; but the officer in charge, the team leader, who had so well orchestrated a virtual sexual assault also had the dogs “put down.”
The young woman experienced a variety of negative emotional affects following the abuse that a licensed psychiatrist defined as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). On the day that the case was scheduled for trial in the summer of 2008, the judge ruled that the case was of nuisance value, hence pushed it from the higher law division into the municipal division. Suddenly, a case that had changed a young girl’s life forever was competing with non-life threatening car accident cases for a place on the arbitration roster. The law holds that all municipal division cases must be heard by a panel of 3 arbitrators. A trial can be sought, at a cost, after the arbitration process. Each case is given exactly two hours, of which each side is given one hour. Of the more than 5000 documents in my possession in this case, I walked into the arbitration this past Monday with a binder of about 700 and handed it to the lead arbitrator.
Like my clients, I am black. The arbitrators were white. Two of the arbitrators were perhaps in their 70’s and the third perhaps in his 50’s. One of the 70 something arbitrators was a woman. I got to know her very quickly since, when my clients and I walked into the arbitration room, she shouted harshly when my client, the black young woman, stated that she could not sit across the arbitration table from the officer, the team leader who had orchestrated what she defines as equivalent to rape. The old woman quipped with a fierce razor sharp tongue” What’s the problem here!” Why can’t she sit across from him!” My attempt to explain was drowned out by the old woman’s growls.
The Chicago “City\Corporation Counsel” attorney looked at the arbitrators and said that the young woman had the power and control to decide if the officers saw her vagina or her anus. That the young woman knew that the police were “coming in,” yet she decided to dress only in “laced garments(!)” The City attorney added” Ms.___________had time to put on more clothing…. She had time to tie her robe but she chose not to. Ms._______was in control of what the officers saw and did not see. She provoked the officers.”
I sat in my chair realizing that the City attorney was effectively calling my client a “Whore.” My client, a young black woman was sitting frozen---the arbitrators by their awful demeanor and the City attorney like a conductor, it was clear that in the eyes of these four people that my client deserved no less than to be called every vile name for a woman in disrepute, since, after all as the Corporation Counsel said: “she chose lace panties and a lace bra!” ---and worse: “she did not tie her robe…she could have tied her robe” said the Corporation counsel attorney.
The female Corporation counsel was not done. She cross-examined my female client with intensity: “And, isn’t it true that you could have put on more clothes!” And, when the young woman would try to explain that there was no time,---not even enough time to tie the robe if she could, the lead arbitrator joined in ordering my client to confine her answer to “yes” or “no” and nothing more. The young woman broke down, her sobs clearly audible in the arbitration room. Tears running, but the panel steered angrily at my client and would not even offer a tissue. The male corporation counsel attorney exclaimed to the welcoming panel: “She’s malingering!” At that moment, the psychiatrist had showed to the hearing and accompanied the young woman into the hallway. My client would tell the psychiatrist that “it was happening all over again,” what the officer\team leader had done to her, he was doing it again only this time with the help of the three licensed lawyers appointed by the Cook County Circuit Court as arbitrators.
When the psychiatrist took the stand, the male City attorney had turned my client into the unimaginable for a woman with pride. He, blaming the PTSD not on what the officer\team leader had done, but rather imploring the arbitrators to focus on the woman having had a miscarriage and that her mother had become paralyzed from the waist down in an accident.
When, it was over the psychiatrist, a University of Chicago graduate with over 40 years experience including having testified in other cases, was in utter shock. She remarked to me that she had thought that blaming women for these types of events was a thing of the past. I had know guidance to offer the confused therapist. I thought too that our society had undergone big change. Even worse: The arbitrators had made their minds up. The racial tension, differences, culture and baggage in the arbitration room were crystal clear.
The lead arbitrator rushed the process to the end. I said to him of my exhibits: “You may keep my binder—the documents will help you and your colleagues in coming to a decision.” He snapped: “not necessary, we will decide now. “Now” I said. I added: “You have not had a chance to review the record.” He responded: “It doesn’t matter.” He handed me back the binder and told us to leave the arbitration room. Within about 60 seconds, he walked out with a piece of paper in hand. He said nothing to us but appeared to have spoken to the officer and the City attorney. We walked to the front of the office. A woman from behind a counter said to me: “Your decision is posted on the wall.” I reached, took it in my hand and saw that it read: “for defendant.” My clients had lost.
I am tormented by Monday’s experience. In this regard, one late night as a cop, I pulled my police car alongside of a parked, occupied vehicle for the purpose of making sure that everything was okay. I was able to look into the car alongside of my police car that I shared with my partner---my car was facing one way and the civilian car was facing the other way. There was a man in the driver’s seat. I said hello. There was a woman with him. I intentionally spoke directly to her ---I said hello to the woman. She responded back with a “hello.” I asked her: “Is everything okay?” She answered “yes.”
The hours passed and my partner went into the station on department business and a young female officer replaced him and rode with me until our tour was finished. It was just about 7AM, check off time, when we received a “run” for which the dispatcher had little information other than that the caller needed the police. As I did on many mornings, when other units ignored calls announced at check off, I went to the call. I climbed several sets of stairs and came to an apartment unit. I was greeted by a middle-aged woman standing in an open doorway. She directed me into her apartment and then into a rear bedroom. In the corner, on the floor, crouched and curled in a fetal position was a young woman. As I walked closer, I could see her face, she was badly beaten, bloody, her clothes in disarray, she sobbed softly and continually. SUDDENLY! A chill ran up my spine----- it was the woman I had seen earlier in the car. I stood motionless. She said to me as she cried: “I wanted to tell you, but he had a gun in my side, he took me and he raped me.” I knelt down, I was saying “no, no, no, no” ---the female partner who was with me was shouting: “Cooper, it’s check off, fuck her---let’s go Cooper!” I ignored the female officer and her incessant reminders that it was time to turn the car over to the day work officers. Soon, a female and male paramedic came. As they went toward the victim, she cried louder---I was the only one that she would allow near to her at this moment. The female paramedic, was saying, “fuck the bitch, if she don’t want our help then we’re leaving.” I told the paramedic to stay. The paramedic joined with the female officer in cursing the woman and telling her that she had better get up or that they were leaving. As for me, almost daily, I imagine a scenario in which I could have prevented the rape from having occurred.
I often wonder if that young woman or my client had not been black, would things have been different for them. There is a saying by some in policing circles that “there is no such thing as a legitimate black rape victim” -----she was doing tricks, etc. they would say. You know, with regard to the arbitration case, the Chicago area black and white influential feminists and civil rights groups know about what happened to my client---the case has received media attention--- but none, not even allegedly color friendly Chicago Public Radio has attempted to turn the tide. Said another way, needed are arbitrators who do allow the color of a party to impact their decision and needed is a climate in which a woman is not blamed for having become a victim of sexual abuse.
As for my clients, I have represented the indigent woman and her brother at no cost for almost five years. I am perplexed that there are people who would not find fault with Monday’s arbitration. I am happy that there are others who know that something when terribly wrong this past Monday.
Christopher C. Cooper, Esq., JD, PhD
Tel: 312 371 6752