Raped Oregon woman defies court order for computer records


by NBC Today Show and KGW


Posted on October 10, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 8:06 AM

BEND -- Rape victim Jennifer Bennett went on the "Today" show Wednesday morning and described the horror of a defense attorney requesting Google search engine histories from after her attack.

Defense attorney Stephen Houze also sought Facebook and email records as well as a journal that she kept, from before and after the attack.

“I was shocked and I was hurt and I couldn’t believe that this was happening,” she told Savannah Guthrie. “And honestly, I felt like I needed to stick up for myself and stick up for everyone else.”

Bennett, 25, defied the court order and the judge refused to allow the subpoena to move forward.

“It was an extraordinary amount of information. I didn’t see how it was relevant,” she said.

The rapist, anesthesiologist Thomas Bray, was convicted and sentenced last month to 25 years in prison. The two had gone out on a first date after meeting on Match.com.

Houze defended his tactics on the Today show segment.

"At a minimum, it would have established that the accuser herself had grave doubt in her mind as to whether her encounter with my client constituted criminal behavior at all," he said.

Bennett's attorney Jennifer Coughlin commended her client for refusing to comply.

“She wasn’t just doing it for herself. She was doing it for all victims who may, in the future, go to technology when they have questions,” said Coughlin.

Bennett’s case, Coughlin said, was unusual and unprecedented, but may become less so in today’s technology-centered society.

“I think the courts are going to have to deal with it more as everyone goes to Google whenever they have a question and they expect those Google searches to be private,” Coughlin told Guthrie.