On Friday, the Jackson County prosecutor showed that confidence was well-placed. All victims of sexual assault deserve a prosecutor like Baker by their side.
Baker explained the decision at an afternoon press conference. Her office was hamstrung by statutes of limitations and a lack of corroboration. There simply was not enough time or readily available evidence to make the case, let alone to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
But Baker also delivered an important message that so many women never hear.
She believed the woman at the center of the Greitens case. While she could not prove guilt, Baker said there was probable cause for sexual assault. And Baker said unequivocally that she found the woman credible in her allegations that Greitens had sexually assaulted her and had taken a compromising photograph to use against her if she ever let it be known that she’d had an affair with him.
Baker’s comments were as much an apology to the woman for being unable to proceed with the case as they were a plea to other victims of assault to come forward and an indictment of the way society treats them.
“Justice on behalf of victims must be sought by all of us,” she said.
Baker was visibly frustrated by many factors that hindered her efforts to build a case. She had limited time to investigate. She was astounded to learn that 31,000 files from a cellphone in the case were “gone,” with no chance of retrieving potentially pertinent information.
“Whether or not they were intentionally deleted, I do not know,” Baker said.
Evidence of the photo, allegedly taken after Greitens tied the woman to exercise equipment in his basement, tore her shirt open and pulled down her pants, was never found.
Baker, though, used this moment to speak to others who might be hesitant to report sexual assaults. In her office, they will be treated fairly.
Sexual assault victims should never be expected to endure the humiliating questioning that this woman was subjected to, outrageous attempts to degrade her that Baker highlighted during Friday’s press conference.
“Who did your boobs?”
“Do you have a belly ring?”
“Are your nipples pierced?”
The decision not to pursue charges hinged on whether the case could meet the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard, but in the end, this outcome also protects the victim from further emotional harm.
Baker may not feel that she gave the woman justice. But her office accomplished something commendable.
Baker restored the victim’s dignity by giving the woman the respect that she and all other survivors deserve.