For four unceasing years, twenty-four-year old, Sacramento, California, resident Yee Xiong has been brutalized and demeaned by her sexual assault and the grueling legal aftermath. From the sadistic violence at the University of California on July 10, 2012, itself, to the invasive evidentiary procedure of a rape kit, two independent legal trials resulting in hung juries, and a concluding plea deal of a year-long sentence to prison, five years of probation, sex offender registry, and a minimum of three months of counseling—until at last, Xiong could see the glimmer of a healing light at the end of her downhearted winding tunnel.
“On July 19, the day Her was sentenced, Xiong delivered an emotional testimonial to the pain she, her parents and 11 siblings had endured. ‘My name is Yee Xiong and I am here to reclaim my worth and my story,’ she said.”
However, her assaulter, twenty-six-year old Lang Her, would continually extinguish her bone-tired flame.
“When the sentencing was over, Xiong exchanged embraces with her family and Yolo County victims advocates in the lobby of the new courthouse in Woodland. After four years of pressing her case, and after experiencing social isolation, Xiong finally felt that some level of justice had been achieved. Then, suddenly, one of Her’s sisters slipped a piece of paper in her hand. It was his defamation claim.”
Reportedly, Xiong and relatives had be actively sharing her journey throughout Facebook, expressing solidarity in the face of anguish. For instance, Ger Xiong, Yee Xiong elder sister, posted a status on May 15, 2015—the concluding day of the initial trial—attaching photographs of Her, which read, “Rapists destroy lives. Rapists hurt all of us, not just their victims.” Moreover, on the corresponding day, she continued, writing, “We will not be silenced. We will fight for justice against Lang Her, who is a rapist.”
Her claimed Ger Xiong’s declarations to be “false and defamatory,” inducing his “mental and emotional distress.” Additionally, he accused Yee Xiong and her family of conspiring to alienate him from the Hmong ethnic community, which is oftentimes regarded as tight-knit.
Defamation lawsuits with respect to sexual assault cases are not wholly unfamiliar within a court of law. According to The Sacramento Bee, “In 2015, Ray McDonald – a former player for the San Francisco 49ers – sued a woman who had accused him of rape (a judge ultimately tossed the case). Comedian Bill Cosby threatened and then backed off on filing a defamation suit against Beverly Johnson, a former model who claimed in a Vanity Fair article that Cosby had drugged and molested her.”
An argument for this is simplistic: the limelight of sexual assault in the media—notably, campus sexual assault—has amplified.
“‘Being labeled ‘rapist’ now has more power than it did 10 years ago,’ said Emily Austin of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. ‘The impact could be, if these become more common, that survivors are going to double-think reporting, afraid anything they’re saying could be grounds for a lawsuit against them personally.‘”
FOX News U.S. retrieved a statement from Eric Rosenberg, an Ohio attorney accustomed to representing client with a civil lawsuit against their accusers and the universities—and in fact, has consulted on upwards of half a dozen of these disputes in the recent five years—voicing, “‘There is no bigger stain on a person in this culture than being labeled as a sexual assailant, and that’s what they’re labeled as.’ […] ‘They can’t get into school, they can’t get in to the military, a lawsuit’s their only way out.'”
While a stain may seep into the sexual predator themselves for now, a scar is everlastingly slashed unto their victims.
“Xiong had savored less than 30 minutes of satisfaction before learning that the legal fight with Her was not over. ‘We were shocked, speechless,’ Xiong said. ‘Who in their right mind would do this? I felt re-victimized. I want to move on with my life and this is still holding me back.'”