Home News Local News Former Baker resident might appear on ‘Today’
Former Baker resident might appear on ‘Today’
UPDATE: Oct. 13, 2012:
Here is the link to the video of the Today show segment referred to in this article:
Attorney Jennifer Coughlin and client on Wednesday’s show
By Terri Harber
A former Baker City resident now working as an attorney in Bend is preparing to make a possible appearance this week on NBC’s Today show.
Jennifer Coughlin, 32, was told she and her client, a rape victim named Jennifer Bennett, could appear in a news segment sometime Wednesday morning. Their appearance originally was set for Tuesday.
Bennett had been known as “Jane Doe” until she recently made her identity public in a story about her ordeal for The Oregonian. She encouraged people to report being sexually victimized and to follow up
by pursuing convictions. She also warned them to make sure they understand their rights — including privacy rights — as crime victims.
“She wants to be an advocate,” Coughlin said about her client.
Coughlin is the daughter of Baker City residents David and Lisa Coughlin. Her father also is an attorney.
She attended Baker schools until moving to Sunriver Preparatory School. She next went to Colby College in Maine, then returned to Oregon to study at Lewis and Clark College Northwestern School of Law.
Her career focus is civil litigation and she is a partner in the firm Brothers, Hawn and Coughlin LLP.
Social media played an integral part in the commission of the crime in February 2011 as well as during the criminal trial of the assailant.
Thomas H. Bray, 38, was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison by Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Tiktin, according to The
(Bend) Bulletin. He was convicted of the rape, sodomy, strangulation and assault of Bennett. The Bulletin is based in the community where the crime occurred and is a sister publication to the Baker City
Bennett and Bray met on Match.com. The crime occurred while they were on a date that moved from a local restaurant to Bray’s residence. Bennett was held against her will for several hours, during which time she was raped, choked and beaten.
Stephen Houze, Bray’s defense attorney, sought access to Bennett’s computer, emails and Google accounts during the criminal trial. Tiktin initially ordered Bennett to provide access to Google search history. She and the prosecutor didn’t cooperate and the judge ended up not enforcing the subpoena.
The criminal judge ordered Bray to pay a fine of $112,000. Bennett would receive nearly half of the total payment, the Oregonian also reported.
The anonymous comments also re-victimized Bennett each time reporting about the incident was posted online. She is now living in another part of the Northwest.
“People want to believe Google searches are private,” Coughlin said.
The court decision about the computer evidence was the first-ever of its kind in Oregon. Coughlin characterizes the decision as a “major violation of constitutional rights.”
Bennett is expected to drop her civil suit.
The criminal judge ordered Bray to pay a fine of $112,000. Bennett would receive nearly half of the total payment, The Oregonian also reported.
“It’s not a fun process,” Coughlin said about the prospect of Bennett going through another trial, this time a civil case.
Bennett, however, “feels vindicated that Mr. Bray will be in prison for a very long time,” she added.