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Judges stir controversy by barring the word 'rape' in court

It's the only way Tory Bowen knows to honestly describe what happened to her. She was raped.

But a judge prohibited her from uttering the word "rape" in front of a jury. The term "sexual assault" also was taboo, and Bowen could not refer to herself as a victim or use the word "assailant" to describe the man who allegedly raped her.

The defendant's presumption of innocence and right to a fair trial trumps Bowen’s right of free speech, said the Lincoln, Neb., judge who issued the order.

Bowen's case is part of what some prosecutors and victim advocates see as a national trend in sexual assault cases. "It's a topic that's coming up more and more," said Joshua Marquis, an Oregon prosecutor and a vice president of the National District Attorneys Association.

In Kansas City, Senior Judge Gene Martin recently issued a similar order for the trial of a man charged with raping a teenager in 2000. Despite the semantic restrictions, the Jackson County jury last week found Ray Slaughter guilty of forcible rape and two counts of forcible sodomy.

Bowen's case gained national notoriety and drew the attention of free-speech proponents after she filed a lawsuit challenging the judge's actions as a First Amendment violation. A federal appeals court dismissed the suit, but Bowen's attorney plans to petition the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read the full story at KansasCity.com.

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