A criminal defence attorney has caused outrage after suggesting a 14-year-old girl who was allegedly raped at a party had taken the "easy way out" by saying to her mother "someone took advantage of me".
Joseph DiBenedetto had been invited to speak as a guest on Fox News after reports emerged that a Missouri county prosecutor had asked for the charge that the teenager had been raped by an older school student be reviewed by a special prosecutor to assess if fresh charges should be filed.
The girl claims she was attacked by a 17-year-old boy after drinking at a party in Maryville last year, in an assault that was filmed on a mobile phone by another 17-year-old football player. The girl was then allegedly left unconscious on the front garden of her home in freezing weather.
All charges were dropped after Nodaway County Prosecutor Bob Rice determined there was insufficient evidence to prove a case against both suspects beyond reasonable doubt. Mr Rice asserts that the girl did not co-operate and investigators had not done enough to push the case forward.
Fox presenter Shepard Smith asked Mr DiBenedetto what his own thoughts were on the case, to which the defence lawyer responded: "There are tell-tale signs of this girl actually lying".
He continued: "She is leaving her home at 1am in the morning- nobody forced her to drink, and what happens? She gets caught by her mom, she's embarrassed and the easy way out here is 'Mom, someone took advantage of me.'
"But what did she expect to happen at 1am in the morning after sneaking out?
“I’m not saying — assuming that these facts are accurate and this did happen — I’m not saying that she deserved to be raped, but knowing the facts as we do here including what the prosecutor has set forth, this case is going nowhere and it’s going nowhere quick.”
Mr Smith described Mr DiBenedetto's interpretation of events of a "far jump" from anything that had been noted by the sheriff or county prosecutor. He said: "What you've done Joseph is taken an alleged victim of rape, and turned her into a liar, and a crime-committer."
"That's a far jump from a thousand miles away".