Last week I had the honor of sitting in a courtroom as a 17 year-old-girl stood up to the man who abused her for much of her childhood.
I didn’t know her then and could do nothing to stop it.
Even now, I could do nothing as she had to recount the traumas done to her. Sitting alone on the stand as grown men challenged her to remember every detail of what he had done. To name specific acts and places and dates.
As the defense attorney called out every little inconsistency in her story from the first time she told a counselor 4 years ago to now, she sat alone. Dozens of eyes staring at her and judging her every word. The jury literally deciding whether they believed her and all that was done to her.
I ache to scream out that I believe her. To stop the defense from trying to shame her for not telling the right person sooner. To tell the jury that nobody remembers every detail from their childhood, especially when such horrific traumas are involved.
To make it right somehow. To find justice for this beloved girl.
But not yet. The jury was hung. 7 and 5.
I will never know what gave them pause or made them question. I can’t make it right for her.
But someday I will be called on to be a juror in another case with another crime. I won’t make excuses or try to get out of it.
Juries matter. Because she matters.
Be a juror. For the innocent victims. And for the innocent defendants.
It’s the least we can do. But it might also be the most.