When "model" photos of the victim of a sexually-charged crime emerge, it's usually to blame the victim. A decade-old photo session with Sherr-una Booker has emerged, but the pictures are tame and the story is sweet. Does that excuse it?
Sherr-Una Booker was a "single mom taking care of her two kids" walking down the street when photographer Jonathan Dewayne Woods stopped her and asked if she'd pose for him. She had never modeled before and was surprised at the offer, but agreed. "She didn't think much of her looks at the time," the photographer said. "When she saw the pics, she was amazed. She couldn't believe it was her." He goes on to impugn former Paterson aide and alleged Booker abuser David Johnson.
It's hard to imagine anyone using the photo the Daily News includes to embarrass Sherr-una. She's clothed, and though the picture is sexy it's not racy. In the story, Booker comes across as innocent. But the photo's emergence is still the story of a man who saw someone he knew identified in the news as a victim, then dug up old material on her—and probably got paid for it, which is how it became a Daily News exclusive. Are we justified in being curious about this woman's life? Her willingness to talk to the New York Times was critical to a huge political story. Though at first treated by the Times with standard protocol for domestic violence victims—no name identified—even the Times now uses Booker's name, as does the Daily News. Why is Sherr-una different? Is it because her words helped take down a group of powerful bullies? Because the public interest in this case is too great? [NYDN]