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Joyful Heart in the News
Investigative Report: How Victim-Blaming Led to the Rape Kit Backlog
Three years ago, Kiyona Phillips, now 31, bumped into a Facebook acquaintance in the early hours of a Sunday morning, at the tail end of a rare night out on the town. Phillips was leaving the since-shuttered Tuscana Lounge in downtown Washington, D.C., where she had gone with friends who had persuaded her to join them to celebrate Howard University’s homecoming weekend. Outside the club, Phillips saw Daniel (not his real name), with whom she had exchanged some awkward messages about a year earlier. In person, he was charming and warm, so when he asked Phillips for her phone number, she gave it to him. And when he texted her shortly afterward, at around 4.30 a.m., inviting her to meet him for breakfast, she was flattered.
Daniel picked up Phillips and took her to the Denny’s on Bladensburg Road in Northeast D.C., where they shared a romantic breakfast. After breakfast, Daniel drove Phillips back to her house in Southeast D.C.
Parked outside Phillips’ house in Daniel’s two-door, the two started making out.
The circumstances of what happened next is where Phillips’ and Daniel’s accounts dramatically diverge, lapsing into the “he said, she said” quagmire that dooms so many sexual assault investigations and prosecutions in the United States.