A year ago, Johan Santana was accused of rape. The police investigated, found the accuser’s statements “to be inconsistent with that of other witnesses” and declined to file charges. Back in August, Santana’s accuser filed a civil suit in Florida. Santana is now asking that it be dismissed. Why? Because the accuser filed it anonymously, using a Jane Doe, rather than using her real name.
Those of you who have filed high profile trials involving rape or sexual abuse may be wondering why Santana would be asking this, given how common it is for alleged victims to be given anonymity. But that’s mostly in criminal cases, where the victims are merely witnesses, not parties to the suit. In civil suits, such as this one, the accuser is a party seeking money damages. In such cases, the presumption of our legal system is that it is open to the public, and that anonymity is only granted a party if his or her interest in maintaining their privacy outweighs the public interests invoked by an open legal system.
While this is a matter that continues to be litigated, the burden to remain anonymous in a civil lawsuit is pretty high, and it’s not at all uncommon for courts to require that a Jane Doe plaintiff either sue under her own name or else drop the suit, even in sexual assault and rape cases.
And yeah, I realize this has little to do with baseball, but there are a handful of legal issues in the world that still hold my interest, and this is one of them, so you get my ramblings on it. Wait around a while and I’m sure someone’s option will be picked up.