Teresa Carr Deni was a Philadelphia Municipal Court judge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, until she resigned to run for Philadelphia District Attorney in December, 2016.
Deni served on the Board of Revision of Taxes and the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development. She won a retention vote on November 5, 2013, and will serve a 6-year term.
In December 2016 Deni announced that she would be challenging District Attorney of Philadelphia R. Seth Williams in the 2017 Democratic Primary.
A 2007 case before Deni involved a 20-year-old prostitute who alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Gindraw and at least 4 other men. She agreed to have protected sex with Gindraw for $150 after contacting him through Craigslist.
Upon meeting him, he asked her to also have protected sex with his friend for an additional $100. She reported that when the other man arrived, he threatened her with a gun and demanded that she have unprotected sex with at least 3 additional men.
After a police report was filed, four men were arrested and charged with rape and assault. Deni dismissed all of the sex and assault charges and instead charged them with armed robbery and theft of services. She justified her decision by stating:
"She consented and she didn't get paid . . . I thought it was a robbery." And that a case like this "minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped."
The same defendant was charged with a similar crime 4 days later. However, assistant district attorney Rich DeSipio refused to present the case before Judge Deni owing to her earlier ruling, arguing that "I wouldn't demean her [the victim] that way." Judge Deni threw out the second case for failure to prosecute.
DeSipio has vowed to appeal both rulings.
On October 12, 2007 Deni filed a complaint about DeSipio with the state disciplinary committee. She claimed that it was improper for him to initiate press coverage of the case. Both DeSipio and the reporter he spoke with, Jill Porter, claim that Porter was the one who initiated contact about the case.
Jane Dalton subsequently denounced Deni for her "unforgivable miscarriage of justice" and "clear disregard of the legal definition of rape and the rule of law." Chancellor Jane Dalton commented, "I have personally reviewed the transcript from the defendant's preliminary hearing in this case. Based on my reading, the transcript clearly reflects that the victim decided she was not going to engage in sex with any of the men present, and that she was forced to do so at gunpoint. No one has denied or contradicted this. Judge Deni's belief that because the victim had originally intended to have sex for money and decided not to because she didn't get paid posits that a woman cannot change her mind about having sex, or withdraw her consent to do so, regardless of the circumstances. [...] As Chancellor, a lawyer, and a human being, I am personally offended by this unforgivable miscarriage of justice. The victim has been brutalized twice in this case: first by the assailants, and now by the court."