Privacy Fight Poses Threat to Rape Victims

Nassrine Farhoody runs the Rape Crisis Center of Central Massachusetts and has vowed to keep clients’ rape counseling records confidential even if it puts her in contempt of court. After a judge had ordered her to turn the records over by Wednesday afternoon (3-20), appeals Judge Raya S. Dreben ruled Thursday (3-21) that Farhoody could stay out of jail until April 4 when her appeal will be heard by the full Appeals Court or by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

Rape crisis agencies say the case could scare rape victims out of counseling and could jeopardize agencies’ image as a refuge for victims. Lawyers for David Fuller, 36, a man accused of rape, requested the disclosure of the files hoping to find discrepancies in the woman’s story that could clear Fuller of the crime. The defense argues that if the victim had indicated feelings or shame or humiliation while in counseling, she must have consented to the act; Farhoody says that logic amounts to blaming the victim. Farhoody’s lawyer hopes the eventual appeals will help establish a constitutional privacy right for such records. Currently, only Pennsylvania and a few other states have significant restrictions against allowing such records in court.


USA Today - March 21, 1996

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