Sarah Koten was an unmarried immigrant training to be a nurse when her boss, Dr. Martin Auspitz, raped her at work in 1908. After she became pregnant, the police and the courts refused to help Koten... so she plotted to murder her assailant by herself. On June 8, 1908, Koten did just that, shooting her rapist right through the heart. Koten defended her choice by arguing, "It was my duty to kill him."
Just like the painter Artemisia Gentileschi, the woman who painted herself killing her rapist, Koten saw her actions as justified. At first, the press disagreed. The story of Sarah Koten and Dr. Auspitz became a media sensation as stories about the nurse who killed a doctor in 1908 made headlines around the country.
But after Koten gave birth to a son in prison, the press began to see her in a new light. They portrayed Koten as a powerless woman who had no other choice but to shoot her attacker. Koten, however, always saw her actions in a different light: She was a powerful avenger, slaying her assaulter before he could hurt other women. In 1908, the court had to decide: Was Koten guilty?
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