Editorial: Giving victims a voice

by Mark Hertzberg, The Journal Times (Racine)

We have been covering a very disturbing domestic abuse case. I learned that the defendant’s former wife would be testifying today.

We normally do not identify victims of abuse or assault, but because she now lives across the country and the defendant knows who she is, I asked the judge if I could photograph her testimony. He gave me permission. Neither she nor the victim/witness office aid, nor counsel for the state or defense said anything to me about my presence in court when they passed me on their way to lunch break. Still, there was some reticence at the office about identifying her in a story or in photos. I was asked to check with the district attorney.

The initial thought was that we should hold off on identifying her because she is in town for the remainder of the trial with some of the children involved. He then had a chance to ask her directly.

She said we should use the photos because they may give other victims of abuse the courage to come forward.

The photo of her below is when she testified who close her ex-husband was to her when he told her he hated her and threatened her.

Tayler Riker testifies Wednesday, November 9, 2011 how close her then-husband Sean Riker was to her when he told her he hated her and threatened her two years ago at their home in Wind Lake. Riker is charged with multiple counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, possession of a firearm by a felon, battery, strangulation and suffocation, child abuse, and causing mental harm to a child. If convicted on all counts he faces a maximum penalty of 168 years and six months in prison. / Mark Hertzberg mhertzberg@journaltimes.com

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