Sentencing the Victim

Film by Liz Oakley and Joanna Katz Premieres Nationally on "Independent Lens” ITVS's Acclaimed Series on PBS Tuesday, March 2 at 10:00 P.M. (check local listings)

Cara White 843/881-1480
 Mary Lugo 770/623-8190
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Program companion website, visit 

(San Francisco, CA) — On June 17, 1988, Joanna Katz's life changed forever. That night, she and another woman were abducted at gunpoint, brutally raped, beaten, and systematically tortured by five men for over five hours. The story of how a blood soaked 19-year old was able to walk away from her attackers, save her friend from certain death and fight for the convictions of her assailants is the compelling, and often mesmerizing, foundation for SENTENCING THE VICTIM. But that is only part of the story — despite their sentences of 30 to 35 years, Katz's attackers were eligible for parole after serving only a fraction of their respective sentences. For the past seven years, her frequent appearances before the parole board have been documented, and the revelations are shocking. With each hearing, she opens old wounds. 

With each hearing, she wonders who was really sentenced. This is the story of one woman's journey to heal, and to open our eyes to the inequities of our judicial system. There are implications that we as a society must consider and lessons that police officers, victims‚ advocates, families, doctors and health care workers, attorneys, and parole boards must learn. It's about turning empathy into action. It's about turning something horrible into something good. A film that explores the issue of victims' rights, SENTENCING THE VICTIM will air nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Don Cheadle, on Tuesday, March 2nd at 10:00 P.M. (check local listings). 

The program's interactive companion website is features detailed information about the film, including an interview with the filmmakers, cast and crew bios, as well as links and resources pertaining to the film's subject matter. The site also features a "talkback” section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film and more. 

Produced by: Liz Oakley and Joanna Katz
Directed by: Liz Oakley
Videography: Ed Bates
Edited by: Liz Oakley and Ed Bates
Graphic Design by: Ed Bates Steven Katz 

Featured Interviews (in order of appearance) 
Joanna Katz, Co-producer and subject
Dr. Sidney Katz, father of Joanna Katz and retired Professor Emeritus from the Medical University of South Carolina.
Jack Sinclaire, attorney who was Joanna's Chief Counsel during the time of her case.
Georgia Meloy, Charleston County Police Department investigator covering rape cases for the City of Charleston Police Department during the time of Katz's case. She is now retired.
Diane Katz, mother of Joanna Katz and retired quality assurance director of Charleston County Hospital.
Sherry Monk Fortenberry, Katz's rape crisis counselor during the time of her case and a volunteer People Against Rape. Fortenberry now works as a nurse. 

About the Filmmakers 
Liz Oakley (Director/Co-Producer) 
Liz Oakley began her career as a successful news producer in the mid 1980's. However, after 7 years in the trenches of television news, she decided it was time for a change. Oakley moved to Charleston, SC taking a position as Public Relations Director for a statewide non-profit organization. In 1994, Oakley formed Blue Lizard Productions, enabling her to work with a variety of production companies and advertising agencies producing corporate videos, commercial advertising, and designing and implementing public relations campaigns. In 1997, she merged with IVS Video, Inc. and began producing programs ranging from historical documentaries to sales and promotional videos for international corporations. A winner of numerous awards celebrating excellence in video production, Oakley's heart lies in productions that work to promote social justice and improve the human condition. Sentencing the Victim is her first feature length documentary. 

Joanna Katz (Co-Producer) 
Joanna Katz is a Charleston, S.C. native. A hairstylist for 15 years, she also acts in local theater. Katz began her work as an activist in 1991 by speaking publicly about her rape at a Take Back the Night Vigil in Charleston. She went on to facilitate rape support groups with Charleston's People Against Rape and served on panels for education at the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. When Katz's rapists began to come up for parole in 1996, her advocacy took a different turn and she began working with Liz Oakley on SENTENCING THE VICTIM. Since the release of the film, Katz has spoken at numerous national conferences dealing with victims' issues and has addressed a group at the U.S. Department of Justice. She is currently working with national victim's advocates on the development of educational materials and pushing for policy changes to improve South Carolina's parole process. 

About Independent Lens 
Independent Lens is a weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history, which prompted Nancy Franklin in The New Yorker to write "Watching Independent like going into an independent bookstore—you don't always find what you were looking for but you often find something you didn't even know you wanted.” Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community outreach campaigns. Further information about the series is available at lens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

About ITVS 
Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American People. 

About PBS 
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. Serving nearly 90 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet. 

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Posted on January 27, 2004