Gretzinger accused UH religion Professor Ramdas Lamb of forcing her to have sex with him 16 times in 1992. She sought up to $1.7 million in compensatory and punitive damages in federal court. Lamb flatly denied ever having sex with Gretzinger.
The jury decided after less than six hours of deliberation that it could not believe Gretzinger's accusations, and granted Lamb's counterclaim, ordering her to pay him $132,750 for defamation. Clayton Ikei, Gretzinger's attorney, said the verdict tells women that they should think twice before reporting being raped.
In fact, the verdict says just the opposite. Apparently, some jurors put a lot of weight on Gretzinger waiting until spring 1993 before reporting the alleged rapes, which she maintains occurred over a five-week period in fall 1992. Gretzinger said the delay was caused by her fear of retaliation, but it nevertheless undermined her credibility.
Ikei said the jury's explanation that the allegations were not supported by physical evidence was unsatisfactory to him. "I don't know of many rape cases where you have more than a woman's word," he said.
A check with the city prosecutor's office would find that the overwhelming majority of rape trials are supported by physical evidence. That is why victims are advised to report sexual assaults to police as expeditiously as possible, so that evidence can be documented and preserved. Alleged rape cases lacking physical evidence aren't likely to be prosecuted.
Legal attention may now be turning to the University of Hawaii. After paying $175,000 to Gretzinger in a settlement last spring, the UH faces a lawsuit by Lamb, who accuses the school of bungling its investigation of the complaint. State Deputy Attorney General Susan Gochros says the university has no intention of settling with Lamb; Ikei said Gretzinger plans to appeal the federal jury's verdict.
If any message is to be read into this case, it is that women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted by superiors, mentors or associates should strive to file their complaints immediately. The Gretzinger/Lamb lawsuit shows that the longer victims wait to formalize their accusations, the less likely their stories may be believed.
Rupert E. Phillips, CEO
John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher
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Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor
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A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor