GSC puts rape on trial


Staff Reporter

Monday, March 23, a jury of Oakland University students “convicted” Dominic DeGrazia of criminal sexual conduct.

The setting was not a courtroom, however, but the Oakland Center Gold Rooms. The crime was not real and there were no real victims or perpetrators.

An event to commemorate Woman’s History Month, the mock jury trial for rape tied in to the Gender and Sexuality Center’s theme of “Love and Sex.”

“It is important to talk about the things people do not want to talk about,” said GSC coordinator Joann Bautti-Roche of the topics of rape and sex.

For the sixth year in a row, the OU Police Department sponsored the mock trial event. This was the first year the GSC co-sponsored the event.

Jury members were chosen from the audience to interactively participate with the trial.

Volunteers from the organization Help Against Violent Encounters Now also took part in the trial.

“The purpose of the trial was to create conversation and awareness,” said OUPD officer Nan Gelman.

“Hopefully we can keep you from getting into that situation,” Gelman said.

Haven’s Rene Dell played the part of a rape victim, while DeGrazia was the defendant. Judge Lisa Asadoorian, prosecutor Thomas Beadle and judge Cheryl Matthews served as prosecuting attorney, defense attorney and judge.

Beadle was not accustomed to sitting on the other side of the courtroom and not representing ‘the people.’

Matthews dramatically pounded the table and lent dramatic flair as she stepped out of her judge’s chair and into the prosecuting role.

Asadoorian was also able to interject and give instructions to audience members and mock jury members, her insight and thoughts not normally expressed in a formal courtroom.

Although the mood was light, audience members and participants alike were reminded of the seriousness of criminal sexual conduct, a felony offense in Michigan.

“You do not want to be in that situation and have everybody literally looking at you inside and out,” said Asadoorian.

“This is not a laughing matter and it happens all the time on Any Campus, USA,” she said.