Last Wednesday, a woman known to the public as Jane Doe (previously having filed her lawsuit under the name “Katie Johnson”) did not appear at the press conference she had called in order to reveal her identity and vet her rape accusations against Donald Trump.
“She has been here all day, ready to do it,” said her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, “but unfortunately, she’s in terrible fear.”
Ms. Doe has now withdrawn her lawsuit against President-Elect Trump. The suit, filed after two earlier attempts that were aborted for technical reasons, accused Trump of raping the plaintiff at a party in 1994, when she was 13. It names another billionaire, convict Jeffrey Epstein (who pleaded guilty to two prostitution-related charged in 2008), as her rapist as well. Previous suits accused Trump of four counts of rape, but this one accuses him of one rape and three instances of “sexual contact” with the minor. An anonymous witness has continued to accuse Trump of four acts of rape.
The press has reported on this issue scantly, citing the accuser’s and witnesses’ anonymity in the lead-up to the trial as reason to tread lightly . This might sound reasonable enough if it weren’t for the relentless media coverage of Clinton’s email “scandal” and the unfair weight which has been placed upon Trump’s opponent in comparison to his own proportionally light treatment. If it weren’t for the tendency for sexual assault accusers to be overlooked, questioned, doubted, and shamed, that might stand as an excuse. If we didn’t live in a culture with a history of forgiving men, especially white men, for their unspeakable crimes against women, it might be an excuse.
But there is no excuse. Trump has been elected President of the United States, and a woman whose childhood is haunted by the memory of what he (allegedly) did to her is so terrified by his supporters’ death threats against her that she has lost her opportunity to seek justice, to seek some semblance of closure.
If we live in a country where (alleged) sexual assault victims cannot accuse their attackers for fear of their own lives, then we live in a country that does not practice due process of law. Period.
This is the country that is endorsed by yesterday’s election.
 Ms. Doe also gave what appeared to be a false address when she filed her first suit, but given that those who accuse public figures of sexual assault frequently face death threats and violence, as well as losing their jobs and experiencing other unfair social consequences, this does not seem to me to discredit her claims.