Letter: At Odds with Advocacy Groups

To the Editor:

I attended every day of Parker Gilbert’s trial in support of his family and particularly his parents, who are my friends. I came to the trial without any preconceived notion of the innocence or guilt of either party. I applaud the jurors for listening to the numerous witnesses in this very difficult case and coming to their decision based on the law and the evidence. I personally find it difficult to read other people’s comments who are not aware of the facts of this case and the information presented in court.

I am the mother of a young woman and a true advocate for women’s rights and the rights for victims of assault and sexual harassment. Sexual assault cases need to be treated seriously by everyone concerned, as well as in the media. And we need to treat both the alleged victim and the alleged perpetuator according to the principle of innocent until proven guilty. It was Parker Gilbert’s face and name plastered all over the Internet and printed media, while the complainant had the benefit of anonymity. Either both should be anonymous or both should be named and photographed, to promote an even-handed approach to justice.

Most important, I am at odds with advocacy groups that rally behind an alleged victim of sexual assault without understanding the circumstances of the claim or knowledge of the person’s behavior, motivation or actions, and support her simply because she is female. The quest for justice should be blind as to race, economic status or gender, and advocacy groups should be careful about whom they select as the public symbol of their cause.

The true tragedy is not that the state lost its case, but rather that this woman appears to have been used by her friends, WISE and the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence — advocacy groups urging her to bring her claim to court — when she would have been better served by counseling and emotional support.

Janet Reilly

New York, N.Y.