The trial of former Gunpowder Falls State Park manager Michael J. Browning began this week. Browning was arrested in September on charges of rape, sexual assault and other offenses stemming from alleged attacks on a former employee and another woman who worked at the park.
The trial will hinge on questions of manipulation and control, power and consent. Rape cases can prove difficult to prosecute, and this case could be particularly complex to prosecute because Browning alleges he had a consensual relationship with the survivor, and that the relationship appeared to include elements of BDSM, or bondage, domination and sadomasochism
MCASA's Executive Director, Lisae C. Jordan, told the Baltimore Banner “It will be important for the jury to understand that just because people are involved in role playing, that does not deprive them of their agency to say ‘no.’”
Additionally, Jordan noted that prosecutors were taking the case was a sign that the legal community has developed a better understanding of consent. In the past, police and prosecutors hesitated to bring charges in such cases.
“I think both the prosecutors and the survivors are brave...It’s very important to have prosecutors who listen to the survivors and go forward with the case even if the case is difficult. You have to know that sometimes you’re going to lose, but if you never try, you’re never going to win.”
If you are a survivor of sexual assault in Maryland, help is available.