Law: Forced into the Spotlight

In sexual-assault suits, people are told the identity of the accused. Why not the accuser?

Silhouette of a young woman.

Most judges would look heroic for defending the people's right to know what goes on in court. Gerard Lynch just looks mean.

The federal district judge in New York City ruled last month that Jane Doe, a pseudonym for publicity-shy litigants, would have to put her real name on her lawsuit if she wanted to pursue the case. "The press and public," explained Lynch, "can hardly make an independent assessment of the facts underlying court cases ... without knowing who the litigants are." Now that sounds like a judge with his head on straight--until you hear Doe's story.

On a February night...

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