Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Military charges more and more men with bogus rape claims--just to show it takes sexual assault seriously

Following our comments is a searing indictment of a military culture that promotes sex crime witch hunts for political reasons. The news report at issue is among the most frightening articles we've ever posted here, and that's saying a lot.

The number of sex-crime allegations sent to courts-martial has increased from 113 in 2004 to 532 in 2010, according to Defense Department data.  Last year, military commanders sent about 70 percent more cases to courts-martial that started as rape or aggravated sexual-assault allegations than they did in 2009.

The reason is politics. It's up to military commanders to decide whether to prosecute these cases. Unlike civilian prosecutors, who generally don't prosecute cases if there is significant uncertainty about whether they can get a conviction, it's exactly the opposite in the military: a politically conscious admiral or general isn't going to risk their careers by not prosecuting even ridiculous sex claims.

A retired army prosecutor named Timothy MacDonnell asked rhetorically: "What would you have us do? Tell the victim she can't get justice just because it's a hard case?"

It is well that you are able to tell that she's a "victim," Mr. McDonnell, before a scrap of evidence is presented or the defendant is given an opportunity to fairly defend himself. But in response to your asinine query, here's what we would have you do: stop playing Russian roulette, stop rolling the dice, with the lives of presumptively innocent men in the hope that you might "get lucky." Start doing what decent civilian prosecutors do: only prosecute cases where there is a moral certainty of guilt.

Read some of the quotes from the article.  They underscore a culture willing to treat innocent men as collateral damage in the "more important," politicized war on rape:

"'. . . the reality is they're charging more and more people with bogus cases just to show that they do take it seriously.'"

"And sometimes, servicemen are falsely accused, as was the case in February 2010 when a Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Marine was arrested and jailed for more than a month for allegedly sexually assaulting a Laurel Bay woman whose husband was deployed."

"'Because there is this spin-up of "We have to take cases seriously even though they're crap," it creates a kind of a climate of blasè attitudes,' said one Navy prosecutor . . . . There is a pressure to prosecute, prosecute, prosecute. When you get one that's actually real, there's a lot of skepticism. You hear it routinely -- "Is this a rape case or is this a Navy rape case?"'"

"Too often . . . defendants are being prosecuted despite qualms about the evidence, attorneys said."

". . . the military is prosecuting a growing number of rape and sexual assault allegations, including highly contested cases that would be unlikely to go to trial in many civilian courts."

". . . a wide range of people who are involved in the military justice system questioned whether the military was weighing the proper legal considerations when deciding whether to take criminal action."

". . . now many of [these allegations] are given more deference than they're due."

"Given the push to prosecute, many commanders may see a trial as the best way to determine whether allegations are true. 'Most of the rape cases that I've defended in the military system never would have gone to trial in a civilian system because the prosecutor would say, "There's no way I'm taking that to trial because I'm not going to get a conviction,"' said Charles Feldmann, a former military and civilian prosecutor who's now a defense attorney. But in the military, the decision-maker is an admiral or a general who is not going to put his career at risk on an iffy rape case by not prosecuting it."

Here is the entire article:

Military rape charges lead to increased trials

Published Tuesday, November 29, 2011

WASHINGTON -- By the time Marine Staff Sgt. Jamie Walton went to trial on rape charges, his accuser had changed her story several times.

A military lawyer who evaluated the case told Walton's commander they didn't have enough evidence to go to trial on sexual assault charges. The prosecutor even agreed. But the Marines ignored the advice.

"Everyone knew I didn't rape her," said Walton, who was acquitted of the charge last year. "But they went ahead with the trial anyway."

Walton's questionable prosecution clashes with the public's perception of a soft-on-rape military. A McClatchy Newspapers analysis found that the military is prosecuting a growing number of rape and sexual assault allegations, including highly contested cases that would be unlikely to go to trial in many civilian courts.

However, most of the accused aren't being convicted of serious crimes.

Such results are provoking cynicism within the armed forces that the politics of rape are tainting a military justice system that's as old as the country itself.

"In the media and on Capitol Hill, there's this myth that the military doesn't take sexual assault seriously," said Michael Waddington, a former Army judge advocate who now defends the cases. "But the reality is they're charging more and more people with bogus cases just to show that they do take it seriously."

McClatchy's review of nearly 4,000 sexual assault allegations demonstrates that the military has taken a more aggressive stance. Last year, military commanders sent about 70 percent more cases to courts-martial that started as rape or aggravated sexual-assault allegations than they did in 2009.

However, only 27 percent of the defendants were convicted of those offenses or other serious crimes in 2009 and 2010, McClatchy found after reviewing the cases detailed in the Defense Department's annual sexual assault reports. When factoring in convictions for lesser offenses -- such as adultery, which is illegal in the military, or perjury -- about half the cases ended in convictions.

And sometimes, servicemen are falsely accused, as was the case in February 2010 when a Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Marine was arrested and jailed for more than a month for allegedly sexually assaulting a Laurel Bay woman whose husband was deployed.

The alleged victim, Tracy Lynn Valderrama, admitted three months later to fabricating the assault.

The Marine, whose name was never released, was charged with rape, breaking and entering and larceny, and was later released from the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston after the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Laboratory found that DNA evidence taken from the crime scene did not match.

Valderrama was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2010 on three counts of knowingly making false statements to federal investigators during interviews about the alleged attack, including that she was assaulted by a man wearing a mask and gloves who was armed with a knife, federal court records show.

She pleaded guilty in federal court in September to one count of lying to investigators and has yet to be sentenced, according to court records.

Valderrama faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The military's conviction rate for all crimes is more than 90 percent, according to a 2010 report to Congress by the Pentagon.

"The pendulum has swung," said Victor Kelley, a former federal prosecutor who's a defense attorney with the law firm National Military Justice Group. "It may be true that years ago some of these allegations weren't given the attention they deserved. But now many of them are given more deference than they're due."

But legal officials with all four military branches say the low conviction rate shows how difficult it is to convict the suspects, not that innocent people are being sent to trial. One common problem in all courts -- military and civilian alike -- is that a sexual assault victim's behavior comes under attack as much as that of the accused does. As a result, juries may not convict despite hearing significant evidence that a rape occurred.

Making acquittals even more likely, the military is prosecuting more contested cases under a controversial law that broadens the definition of sexual assault. Under the 2006 law, the military can argue that a victim was sexually assaulted because she was "substantially incapacitated" from excessive drinking and couldn't have consented.

"What would you have us do? Tell the victim she can't get justice just because it's a hard case?" asked Timothy MacDonnell, an Army prosecutor who retired in 2008. "Then you're saying to sexual predators, 'Just be careful and make sure you do it in private and you'll get away with it.' "

In dozens of interviews, however, a wide range of people who are involved in the military justice system questioned whether the military was weighing the proper legal considerations when deciding whether to take criminal action.

Unlike in the civilian justice system, a military commander, not a prosecutor, makes the final call on whether to press charges. At times, the commanders disregard their legal advisers' recommendations and pursue allegations of sexual assault, raising concerns that the anti-rape campaign of advocacy groups and Congress is influencing them.

Even some prosecutors say the strategy has backfired, making it more difficult to crack down on the crime in general.

"Because there is this spin-up of 'We have to take cases seriously even though they're crap,' it creates a kind of a climate of blasè attitudes," said one Navy prosecutor, who asked to remain anonymous because she feared retaliation for speaking out.

"There is a pressure to prosecute, prosecute, prosecute. When you get one that's actually real, there's a lot of skepticism. You hear it routinely -- 'Is this a rape case or is this a Navy rape case?' "

The pressure ratcheted up in 2003, when female cadets at the Air Force Academy accused commanders of ignoring their sexual assaults. In the wake of the scandal, the military prosecuted several of the accused.

The cases didn't go well. One of the juries took only 20 minutes in 2006 to acquit a defendant. After a judge dismissed charges against another cadet, civilian prosecutors declined to charge him in 2007 because of a lack of evidence.

In fact, none of the men accused in the scandal were convicted of charges related to non-consensual sex, said attorneys who were involved.

Citing such failures, Congress boosted the military's anti-sexual assault budget and crafted the new law to help prosecute cases.

As lawmakers turned up the pressure, the military acted on the demands. The number of all sex-crime allegations sent to courts-martial increased from 113 in 2004 to 532 in 2010, according to Defense Department data.

Too often, however, defendants are being prosecuted despite qualms about the evidence, attorneys said.

Given the push to prosecute, many commanders may see a trial as the best way to determine whether allegations are true.

"Most of the rape cases that I've defended in the military system never would have gone to trial in a civilian system because the prosecutor would say, 'There's no way I'm taking that to trial because I'm not going to get a conviction,' " said Charles Feldmann, a former military and civilian prosecutor who's now a defense attorney.

"But in the military, the decision-maker is an admiral or a general who is not going to put his career at risk on an iffy rape case by not prosecuting it."

Beaufort Gazette staff writer Patrick Donohue contributed.

Skelmersdale sex assault claims false

DETECTIVES investigating a report of a sexual assault in Skelmersdale have found the allegation did not take place as initially reported and no criminal offence has been committed.

The alleged incident was reported to have taken place in the Birch Green area of the town on Tuesday 15th November.

The inquiry has now concluded and officers would reassure the local community that all such allegations are taken seriously and treated sensitively.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pitcher Josh Lueke paid his debt to society for a sex offense, but the press won't let him move on

John Romano, writing for the St. Petersburg Times, did the literary equivalent this morning of arching his eyebrow, then, in the de rigueur fashion of newspapermen who can't trip over one another fast enough to out-zero-tolerance-talk the next when it comes to violence against women, spent an entire column wringing his hands and mouthing concern over the Tampa Bay Rays' acquisition of  Josh Lueke, 26, a right-handed reliever traded by the Seattle Mariners last weekend.

You see, Mr. Lueke has a 98 mph fastball, a killer split-fingered fastball, and a conviction for a sex crime. It's the latter that caused Mr. Romano to arch his eyebrow and harrumph his indignation in the court of last resort, the sports pages of the St. Petersburg Times.

In May, 2008, Mr. Lueke had a sexual encounter with a then-22-year-old woman in Bakersfield, Ca. She told authorities she'd bar-hopped with a group of minor league players. She passed out in an apartment Mr. Lueke shared with a teammate. When she awakened, she said she realized she'd been sexually attacked and filed a rape complaint. One year later, Mr. Lueke was linked to the woman through DNA and was arrested and charged with rape and sodomy. In 2009, he pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of false imprisonment with violence. He was sentenced to three years of probation, and 62 days in jail. Having already spent 42 days in jail, the remainder of his sentence was waived for good behavior.

Now, two days after Mr. Lueke was traded to the Rays, unlike the trial judge who sentenced Mr. Lueke, sportswriter John Romano isn't so quick to waive further punishment for good behavior. He writes: ". . . an accusation of rape? A no contest plea of false imprisonment with violence? By setting the bar lower in this case, has something been lost in Tampa Bay?" And: "You can say Lueke has already paid his debt, and everyone is entitled to a second chance. Or you can say the circumstances surrounding Lueke's case are too disturbing to ignore."

No sane and rational person in any sense condones either violence against women in general or the violence Mr. Lueke perpetrated against a particular woman. It is well to note that Mr. Lueke wasn't convicted of rape; the rape accusation was just that -- an accusation. Mr. Lueke pled guilty to a lesser offense and served a little more than a month behind bars. Why does a district attorney allow plea bargains? Often it's because he's not sure he'll get a conviction for the more serious offense. 

The reality is that if people like Josh Lueke knew their guilty pleas to lesser offenses would bar them from their chosen professions, they would be far more likely to roll the dice with a trial on the more serious offense. With rape charges, there is a good chance the defendant will prevail. Is that what John Romano wants? Seriously?

And contrary to Mr. Romano's assertion, the circumstances surrounding Mr. Lueke's case were not "ignore[d]": he was charged, jailed, and pled guilty to a crime. He has paid his debt to society, and he's been trouble-free since this incident.

That's not good enough for John Romano. He gives Mr. Lueke a warm Florida welcome by dredging up an incident that, he suggests, should blacken Mr. Lueke for the rest of his life. In the end, Romano refuses to commit himself about whether the Rays should have lowered the bar by acquiring an accused rapist. Romano calls it a "personal" decision, offering an explanation that is as baffling as it is vapid: "This is more of an individual issue for those who care about the fortunes of a baseball team and a community. . . . . In essence, it is a question of whether you expect your ballplayers to be held to higher standards."

The "higher standards" presumably would mean that no convicted criminals need apply in major league baseball, at least none whose crimes involved women.

So what else is new for Josh Lueke?  The Mariners' front office did a lot of explaining to women's groups when Seattle acquired Mr. Lueke before last season. It even fired its pro scouting director, Carmen Fusco, in part, because he traded for Mr. Lueke without checking his background. At that time, sports writer Larry Stone offered Josh some Lueke-warm support, but added he "wouldn't begrudge anyone who feels passionately that [Mr. Lueke] shouldn't ever get to put on a major-league uniform."  (Do you see the trend among these sportswriters?  Justice is somehow a "personal" decision.)

Mr. Lueke made a mistake that cannot be condoned; he served his time; and his probation is over. But the fourth estate won't let it be over.  No amount of punishment is enough for these guys. Their notion of "justice" does not include mercy, or rehabilitation. Is this in any sense fair?

Let's answer that question by using as our bar tough-as-nails former federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who ruled baseball with an iron fist as its first commissioner for 25 years. No commissioner of any major sport has ever approached the power the Judge wielded over baseball. Immediately upon becoming commissioner, Landis banned eight players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox team for fixing the World Series. The great "Shoeless" Joe Jackson still can't gain entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of that ban. No one thinks of Landis as a paragon of mercy and kindness.

What would Judge Landis do about Lueke?

No one knows for certain. But we can look for guidance to a case involving a minor league player named Alabama Pitts. In 1935, Pitts was banned from minor league baseball by the head of that league after serving a stretch in infamous prison Sing Sing for armed robbery. The crime Pitts was convicted of was far more serious than the one to which Lueke pled no contest. That's a fact.

A reporter at the Milwaukee Journal went to bat for Pitts, and said this: "Well, he's served his time. . . . What's a young fellow going to do when he gets out of prison after paying for a mistake? . . . . I hate to see anything encourage blue noses who think a guy who makes one break should sleep in the woodshed the rest of his life."

Pitts' case got kicked up to Judge Landis' office. While the nation waited for the Judge to rule, hundreds of telegrams and letters poured in wishing Pitts luck. Amazingly, one of the messages came from the victim of the robbery that sent Pitts to prison: "If the parole commissioner thinks it safe for society to send Pitts out," the man wrote, "it ought to be safe for baseball players. My sympathies are entirely with Alabama in this controversy." Read that last sentence again. It evinces a compassion that is completely out of style in our zero-tolerance times.

In the end, baseball's Grandest of all Poobahs sided with Pitts and reinstated him. The judge cited the reformation of Pitts' character and the fact it would be destructive of Pitts' rehabilitation to keep him out of baseball.

Alas, Pitts' story doesn't have a happy ending. He never became a big league star. In fact, he was slain a few years later in a barroom brawl at the age of 30. The news report of his death highlighted the fact that he was the greatest athlete ever produced at Sing Sing prison.

Alabama Pitts got a second chance. Why doesn't Josh Lueke deserve one?

Because we live in hysterical times, that's why. How else to explain the fact that America is the prison capital of the world, and that there are now more sex offenders here than there are people in some states.

But it goes beyond hysteria. Criminality has become politicized, and it is now necessary to publicly abhor even minor sex crimes to pander to women's groups. Pandering, of course, is never done for a proper reason. Usually, it is done by people who don't consider the group pandered to their equals.

We have elevated every male sexual infraction or perceived infraction to the level of "severe" on the Homeland Security Advisory System, and an assualt on a woman is deemed an assault on an entire gender. Men who misuse guns aren't considered as much of a threat as men who misuse penises.

But after reading John Romano's column, what really worries me is that we have now reached a stage I didn't think was possible: our zero tolerance, merciless, compassionless age has made Judge Landis look like a softy.

Say it ain't so, John.
Romano column:

Cain's candidacy sunk by unproven sex allegations

Herman Cain's presidential candidacy was given the last rites yesterday, and the funeral home is on standby to come and get the body. That should be a concern to all persons of good will.

 Another woman--this one, a 46-year-old unemployed, at least twice divorced, single mother named Ginger White--has crawled out of the woodwork to go on television and claim she had a 13-year-consensual-affair with Cain. Cain denies it.

Ms. White's motivation for coming forward to destroy a public man is known only to her, but like one of Cain's earlier accusers, White has a history of financial troubles, with a threat of eviction for non-payment of rent just two weeks ago. She's had liens filed against her dating back to 1994--eleven liens have been filed against her since 2009, nine in 2011 alone. The owners of her apartment complex have sued her for non-payment of rent nearly every month since the beginning of the year. Ten years ago, she filed a sexual harassment claim against an employer, and the case was settled. She filed for bankruptcy in the late 1980s. In January, there is a scheduled court date in an unrelated civil suit filed against her by a former business partner, Kimberly Vay, who alleges that White stalked and harassed her.

The previous woman to come forward and lob accusations against Cain, Sharon Bialek, claimed she was "too embarrassed" back in 1997 to report that Cain had sexually assaulted her then. Yet, mirabile dictu, somehow she overcame her embarrassment and plopped herself in the center-ring of a media circus next to grandstanding feminist lawyer Gloria Allred to tell all the world about her alleged ordeal. This was just weeks after that same woman was spotted hugging the man who supposedly sexually assaulted her fourteen years ago. Bialek's sordid narrative raises questions about whether she was the aggressor in whatever sexual dalliance might have occurred,, and otherwise reeks of opportunism given her chronic financial problems, including dual bankruptcies, liens against her property, a paternity lawsuit, and multiple civil actions. If Bialek is telling the truth, she allowed a sexual assaulter to prey on other women for 14 years, all because she didn't feel like reporting it.

And there were the women who filed and settled sexual harassment claims against Cain based on sketchy incidents that supposedly occurred in the 1990s.

Despite having a lead in the polls even after several accusers had made allegations against him, Cain faced an uphill battle to win the GOP presidential nomination under the best of scenarios. He has never held elected office and has a penchant for positing simplistic and dubious solutions for complex policy problems.

But, now, the sex allegations have taken their toll, and Cain's support among voters, especially women, has plummeted. His policy positions have become irrelevancies to Americans, and America's ratings-hungry news media, who prefer to revel in their favorite-of-all spectator sports: watching men--good men included--be destroyed by sex allegations.

Some zealots who insist that women don't lie about sexual misconduct say that focusing on the legal troubles of Cain's accusers is irrelevant and misogynistic, that it's not fair to insist an accuser be a "perfect" victim to be taken seriously. They are not just wrong to asssert this, they are dishonest and unjust. It is impossible for Herman Cain to "prove" his innocence in connection with these allegations absent direct evidence surfacing that White, Bialek, or the others, are lying, and such direct evidence is unlikely.  The allegations are purely of the "he said/she said" variety. Therefore, the character, the possible motiviations, and the legal pasts of the accusers are all relevant.

Some will say, "What are the odds that all these women would come forward if nothing happened?"

Perhaps the better question is this: "What are the odds that the two accusers we know a lot about, White and Bialek, would have such checkered pasts?"

Here's the bottom line: Cain's candidacy is all but finished, and that's wrong. It's wrong not because I favor Cain. I don't. It's wrong not because Cain is innocent. I have no way of knowing that, and neither do you.

It's wrong precisely because Cain has no way of proving his innocence even if he is innocent. When a sexual assault allegation was made against Al Gore last year, I made the same argument.

Still, our PC culture insists that Cain must be sacrificed. It is a longstanding, and grossly unjust, tradition in America that, when it comes to men and sex, especially public men and sex, the allegation is its own conviction, even allegations of ancient wrongdoing. This tenet has been heavily reinforced in recent years with the politically correct canard that insists "women aren't believed" when they report rape even though it's exactly the opposite: women are instantly believed. But instead of urging everyone to be wholly objective about the accusation, to be compassionate with the accuser, and to not assume the guilt of the accused, we are taught that it's somehow wrong not to instantly believe any woman or child who cries rape or alleges sexual misconduct, even if that means assuming the man or boy they accuse is guilty.

In one sense, it's difficult to blame the American people for being wary of Cain. They have no way of knowing what happened, and they want to elect a president of good character.

But in another sense, we are the grinning vigilante mob in Duluth and a thousand other places, posing next to the lifeless bodies of young black men hanging from trees for no reason other than that a woman cried "rape." Another man has been destroyed based on nothing more than accusations. When will good people stand up and say, "Enough!"?

Jogger Lied About Sexual Assault

A woman who earlier this month told police she had been sexually assaulted while jogging on Morningside Drive has admitted to making the story up, police said Wednesday.

Officer Jeffrey Nielsen said that while interviewing the woman about the incident, detectives found that the statements she gave were inconsistent with her initial report of the assault on Nov. 11.

"[Police are] reaching out to the community to inform citizens that this crime did not occur in an effort to calm the fears of those affected by the reporting of it," Nielsen said in a press release Wednesday afternoon.

He added that there will be no charges filed against the woman.


Monday, November 28, 2011

How does this happen in the United States of America?

See here.

Gender police decry 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn's' rough sex scene

It's as predictable as it is maddening.  Nothing brings out the Progressive Thought Police more than a popular entertainment whose demographics skew overwhelmingly young and female. When that entertainment happens to feature a teen heroine madly in love with -- dare I say it? -- a guy, the gender overlords, whose raison d’être is to apply a litmus test of female empowerment (code for "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle") to anything that passes for entertainment, come out in full force, more prominent than sobriety checkpoints on New Years Eve.

That's what's happening with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part I, which topped the movie box office again over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, a fact that is exasperating only because audiences passed up Hugo, one of the most astonishing efforts yet from one of cinema's all-time great directors, for this dreck. According to opening weekend demographic numbers, 80% of the Twilight audience was female, and 60% of the total audience was over the age of 21 and under 25. See here.

The basic plot of the Twilight saga is well-known. It's about a teen girl named Bella who falls in love with a vampire named Edward, whose high school boyish looks belie the fact he's lived a century. Bella also has strong affection, but not of the romantic kind, for a young werewolf suitor named Jacob. It is critical to note that Bella acts on her own choices, and her teen suitors punctiliously honor those choices.

In the latest edition of the saga, Bella marries Edward, which means she will have to turn into a vampire, but she -- and she alone -- chooses to await the transformation until after her honeymoon, despite her knowledge that the sex is going to be rough. She's the one pushing her husband for sex, which seems a very empowered thing to me.

Enter Linda Holmes from NPR, who can't wring her hands enough over what she terms this "psychosexual horror-show." She contends, apparently with a straight face, that it is not just irresponsible but "profoundly" irresponsible "when a saga popular with pre-adolescent girls peaks romantically on a night that leaves the heroine to wake up covered with bruises in the shape of her husband's hands — and when that heroine then spends the morning explaining to her husband that she's incredibly happy even though he injured her, and that it's not his fault because she understands he couldn't help it in light of the depth of his passion . . . ." 

You know what's not just irresponsible but profoundly irresponsible, Ms. Holmes? Insisting that a woman's choices are invalid because they don't fit your preferred narrative.

Holmes' review manages the seemingly impossible task of insulting two genders at once: it suggests that Bella's choice to engage in vampire rough sex encourages the film's all-too impressionable teen girl audience to give in to their boyfriends' natural instincts to bruise and to dominate them. That's a ringing endorsement for young people of both genders, don't you think? More likely, it's a seething-just-beneath-the-surface contempt for traditional middle class mores, which enlightened Northeast Corridor media types have convinced themselves include the peculiar acceptance of rape and domestic violence.

OK, OK, maybe I am making too much of a review that does little more than parrot easily-mouthed PC cliches. In this case, vampire rough sex obviously looks too much like un-PC, aggressive, dominant masculinity to folks like Holmes. The goal among progressives for the past 20 or 30 years has been to deconstruct and rebuild masculinity from the ground up to make it less aggressive, less dominant, yet here's a fictional heroine at the top of the box office who luxuriates in rough sex -- is it any wonder they'd jump all over this film? Heck, I've seen extremely conflicted feminists write ponderous, soul-searching blog posts about the appropriateness of giving fellatio to the men they love, so of course they are going to have a conniption over this.

Holmes off-handedly references Bella's "lack of agency," which she posits is well-covered territory. It may be well-covered, but it is also made up out of whole cloth. Bella does whatever the hell Bella wants. It would be difficult, in fact, to conceive of a middle class high school kid having more agency, or more freedom, than this character has had. But thank goodness young women have mentors like Ms. Holmes to tell them that their freely made choices are invalid!

Holmes forgets to mention that the most prominent aspect of both Edward's and Jacob's mostly miserable lives is that they, too, are in love -- with the same young woman, no less -- and that Jacob has had his heart broken by her. If Holmes would take off the PC glasses for a minute, she'd understand this isn't a film about female disempowerment, it's a film about goofy teenagers of both genders acting out goofy teenage angst.

Holmes also transmogrifies the schoolboy devotion of the heroine's vampire and werewolf suitors into what she terms "stalker-like possessiveness" -- because, as we all know, nothing demonizes men playing out traditional mating rituals as effectively as characterizing them as predators. And, yes, I know, these two really are predators, but not when it comes to Bella.

And, no, this isn't an endorsement of the tripe that is Twilight. I'd encourage my daughter to spend her time watching "Lawrence of Arabia," "City Lights," or "The Searchers" instead. There is much to dislike about this film, but it's silly to dislike it because the female lead character lacks agency. That just isn't factual.

Holmes review:

Montco woman accused of lying about assault, stalking by cop

Authorities Friday accused a Lower Merion woman of lying under oath about being sexually assaulted and stalked by one township police officer and illegally detained by another.

These lies, first made public when the woman appeared at a meeting of the township commissioners, came after the woman learned that the police officer with whom she was having a sexual affair was married and had children, authorities said.

The county grand jury, which spent six months investigating the case, stated in its 19-page report that it believed the motive for the woman’s actions “may be that of a woman scorned” in the wake of a failed relationship.

That “scorned” woman, Gabrielle Drexler, 26, of Bryn Mawr, was arrested Friday on charges of perjury, false swearing, tampering with evidence and making false reports to law enforcement authorities. She was released on $50,000 unsecured bail following her arraignment on the charges.

Assistant District Attorney John N. Gradel, who heads grand jury investigations as well as the office’s public corruption unit, said Drexler could be sentenced up to a maximum of 6½ to 13 years in jail if she is convicted on all charges.

“The grand jury found that nothing happened here. She lied,” said District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

Drexler went public with her accusations at a televised meeting of the Lower Merion commissioners on May 18. At that meeting, she claimed that an officer with whom she had had a relationship indecently assaulted her and stalked her after she ended the relationship when she learned he was married and had children.

Drexler at the same meeting also claimed that another officer had illegally detained her after she initially went to township police with her allegations against the officer with whom she had a relationship.

It was because of the police department’s inaction that she felt compelled to bring her complaint to the township commissioners, Drexler said at the meeting.

The township commissioners immediately turned over the matter to the district attorney’s office for investigation.

Contacted by county detectives, Drexler turned over what appeared to be incriminating paper copies of some emails she alleged she received from the officer with whom she had an affair while forwarding others.

A detective, examining the emails, found that one of the paper copies did not match the same email that was electronically forwarded. When detectives asked to examine her computer, she refused and stopped cooperating with the investigation. It was at that time that the investigation was turned over to the grand jury.

It was subsequently discovered that some of the emails allegedly had been doctored by Drexler so that they appeared to incriminate the police officer.

During her sworn testimony before the grand jury, Drexler authenticated the doctored emails as the true copies of the emails she had received from the officer.

The grand jury stated that no evidence supported an allegation of indecent assault, which involved a claim that the officer touched her breast against her wishes. Drexler, in her statements to support that claim, had given different versions of where exactly that incident allegedly had happened.

No one disputes the fact that the officer may have engaged in a relationship with Drexler, whom he first met while he responded to a call at her father’s home, or that he may have communicated with her by phone and emails while on duty.

“It is our job as an instrument of justice to make sure there were no violations of criminal law,” said Ferman. “We are not here to judge an individual’s morality.”

Addressing Drexler’s claim that a second officer illegally detained her in retaliation for her complaints about his fellow officer, the grand jury found that the second officer did nothing but “act professionally.”

The stop occurred when Drexler, who was driving a vehicle of a friend who was in the front passenger seat, pulled into a parking lot behind some closed businesses at 4 a.m. The officer, who said he did not know Drexler, secured the driver’s licenses of both occupants of the vehicle, walked back to his patrol car to verify the identifications and, after finding nothing amiss, drove off.

A video surveillance camera on the patrol car recorded the eight-minute stop although the audio portion of the device was not working properly and contained noting but static.


Friday, November 25, 2011

The Penn State scandal was a 'systemic' failure of masculinity, writer claims

After the jump is my response to an op-ed by Dani Meier that insists what happened at Penn State is part of "a systemic problem . . ., rooted in a cultural ethic of masculinity where men are taught not to confront other men about their “private behavior” even if it’s offensive, violent or illegal."  I had posted my comment under the article, but it quickly disappeared. I now present my argument in the court of last resort--False Rape Society.

I run the nation's leading Web site dedicated to giving voice to persons wrongly accused of rape and similar atrocities, False Rape Society. Although we advocate for persons who've been wrongly accused and who, too often, are unjustly deemed guilty by reason of an accsuation alone, we are also allied with rape victims, who invariably loathe and detest false accusations because they diminish the integrity of actual rape victims.

The author parrots unfortunate, and sexist, cliches when he writes: "There’s a systemic problem here, rooted in a cultural ethic of masculinity where men are taught not to confront other men about their 'private behavior' even if it’s offensive, violent or illegal."

While persons acting within institutions react differently to rape claims and other problems than individuals acting alone do, this is not attributable to a flaw in masculinity. Those of us who closely follow these issues find unmistakable patterns of gendered reactions to rape claims. The author has it exactly backwards: it is a far more prominent trait of masculinity for men and boys to overreact with violence and rage, than to underreact with silence and acceptance, to rape claims, even false rape claims. One need not look to the hanging trees of the Old South for evidence of this, there are innumerable recent cases of men and boys violently overreacting to rape. The following are a few examples -- and try as hard as you like, it is almost impossible to picture the genders being reversed here:

Remember Daniel Cicciaro? Not long ago, New York's Governor commuted the sentence of John White, a 50-something black father, who was serving a two-to-four year sentence for manslaughter in the shooting death of 17-year-old Daniel Cicciaro, who was white. At his trial, Mr. White testified that late in the evening of August 9, 2006, his 19-year-old son, Aaron, woke him up to tell him that he had just come from a party where a young woman said he had threatened to rape her. Aaron told his father that a group of angry white youths were headed to their house to beat him up because they wrongly believed the young woman. Mr. White and his son walked to the end of their driveway to confront the youths, and in the heated confrontation that followed, young Mr. Cicciaro was killed. Mr. White claimed his gun accidentally discharged. According to a news report: "Cicciaro Jr. and four friends descended on White's home to confront his teenage son because they were wrongly led to believe that in an online chat room Aaron had threatened their friend with rape. She later recanted the claim." One boy is dead, and a father was imprisoned after a racially charged trial that divided a city.

How about this one: a 15-year-old girl falsely told her boyfriend that Sumbo Owoiya, 18, raped her. The girl, the boyfriend, and another man then drove to the innocent youth’s apartment. While Mr. Owoiya was looking through a peep hole, the other man shot him to death through the door. The boyfriend was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, but the girl was given a suspended sentence.

Or this one: two teenage girls lied to a 19-year-old man that another 19-year-old, Cory Headen, had raped one of them, so the man broke into Mr. Headen’s home and beat him to death with a baseball bat while he was sleeping. At the man’s trial, the judge described the teens who accused Mr. Headen of rape as "stupid, drunken, immature girls" who delivered a vile message. The judge sentence the man who did the beating to seven years in prison. One young man was dead, another’s life was destroyed, all because of a false rape claim, and the girls who ignited the fire apparently escaped unscathed.

Or this one: John Chalmers, a 47-year-old prominent businessman, suffered devastating brain injuries in a vicious attack after a woman's brother was wrongly convinced that Mr. Chalmers had raped his sister, so the brother thrashed Mr. Chalmers. So terrible was the beating that Mr. Chalmers has had to “learn everything again.”

Or this one: Darrell Roberson had come home unexpectedly from a trip when he found his wife, Tracy Roberson, and her lover, Devin LaSalle, together in Mr. LaSalle's truck. To cover up her affair, Mrs. Roberson falsely told her husband she had been raped, and Mr. Roberson shot and killed Mr. LaSalle. In a rare switch, a grand jury refused to indict Mr. Roberson, but Ms. Roberson was charged, convicted, and imprisoned for five years for involuntary manslaughter. "The wrong person went to prison," fumed Jill Davis, Roberson's attorney.

Or this one: Felisha Hardison, 25, from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, along with her mother, picked up a group of young men, ages 19-22, and drove them to the home of Cody Wightman, 25. Hardison and her mother then sat in their minivan while the young men proceeded to kick in Mr. Wightman's front door, then punch and kick him, and finally, beat him with a claw hammer. They cut Mr. Wightman's head and bruised him, but, thankfully, Mr. Wightman survived the attack relatively unscathed. The attack occurred because Hardison had told her mother and the young men that Mr. Wightman had raped her. Police say the rape claim was false. Earlier this year, Hardison, her mother, and four of the young men pled guilty to charges in connection with the attack. It turns out that several weeks before the attack on Mr. Wightman, Hardison had falsely accused another man of raping her. She pled guilty to that charge, along with charges related to the attack on Mr. Wightman, last April. In that earlier false rape claim, Hardison told police she had been raped by a man with whom she has three children. She claimed the man forced her to have sex with him, punched her and choked her, and videotaped the act with his cell phone camera. The man denied the allegations and said Hardison made the accusations to get custody of one of their children. A review of the cell phone camera footage contradicted Hardison's claims of rape and showed the two had consensual sex, police said.

Or this one: Renada Williams told two cohorts in crime, including a 16-year-old, that her lover had raped her. While Williams stood by in her Frankford home, her acquaintances, a man and a boy, allegedly beat her 29-year-old lover with their hands, a 4-by-4-foot wood plank, extension cords and a mop. The perpetrators allegedly yelled at their victim, "You raped her!" He responded, "I didn't do that, I didn't do that." But the pair believed Williams, and continued to punch the victim. The victim was then "violated with the mop stick repeatedly over time," undergoing nearly 24 hours of torture, according to the victim and police.

Just a week or two ago, a 23-year-old San Antonio woman, who authorities accused of instigating a murder by lying to her boyfriend about being raped, accepted a plea agreement in which she now faces up to eight years in prison.

And if we talk about overreacting to rape, we can't leave out Philadelphia. On a steamy day in June of 2009, an innocent man named Michael Zenquis was beaten by an angry mob after he was wrongly accused of raping an 11-year-old girl. In light of this despicable atrocity to an innocent man, what did the Mayor do? What did the police commissioner do? Nothing. Worse. The next day, a different mob caught up with the actual rapist and gave him a brutal beating that lasted several minutes until the police got there. So, did the mayor or the police condemn the vigilante justice? Exactly the opposite. The police gave two of the men who helped "apprehend" the rapist $5,750 each. Further, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced he would not pursue criminal charges against the mob.

Unhinged chivalry, far more than so-called "rape culture," is a defining characteristic of masculinity. Too often, this chivalry manifests itself in the worst kinds of overreaction and vigilante justice.

This doesn't account for what happened at Penn State, of course. The failure to call the police in that instance was a failure too common to institutions, but it is not one that can plausibly be attributed to gender. When members of what can aptly be called the paid sexual grievance industry suggest otherwise, it not only plays into the worst kinds of sexism, it is flat-out wrong.

Police say woman falsely reported rape

A 21-year-old Goshen woman told police she was abducted outside of the nursing home, Courtyard Health Center on College Avenue on November 17.

Keisha Morrison was treated and examined by the IU Health Goshen staff and released.

Morrison told police that she was forced to drive from 2400 College Avenue to an unknown location where she was sexually assaulted.

After further investigation, police said that the report was false. They are forwarding the case to the Prosecutor's office to review. Morrison may face charges for false reporting. 


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.

Pierce and Steve

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wendy Murphy's 'logic' on Penn State sex scandal will make your head spin

TV legal commentator and adjunct law professor Wendy Murphy has chimed in on the Penn State sex scandal with an other-worldly logic that will make your head spin. 

Murphy starts out with a proposal to force states to adopt laws that require all adults with reason to believe a child has been abused to file reports with child welfare agencies. Failure to report would be a felony.  That's a point that can be fairly debated.

But wait, she isn't finished -- Murphy's about to enter the Twilight Zone, so make sure you're sitting down before you read the next paragraph:

"Some argue that ramping up punishment for non-reporting is dangerous because of the potential for false reports, but this myth-based concern has no basis in reality. In fact, people will likely be more cautious about filing only credible reports when the consequences are more serious."

Read it again, because you are a witness to history: Murphy has actually invented a logic heretofore not utilized by rational, carbon-based beings. Let's analyze.

First, Murphy says that concern about the potential for false reports is a "myth-based concern [that] has no basis in reality."  But of course!  What did we expect from a woman who once famously said this: "I never, ever met a false rape claim, by the way. My own statistics speak to the truth." That comment was in reference to the Duke lacrosse case. Remember how that one turned out?

But then, in the very next sentence, she posits the following assertion that gives new meaning to "astounding": "In fact, people will likely be more cautious about filing only credible reports when the consequences are more serious."

Whoa!  Wendy Murphy just gave me whiplash! In one breath she mouths the radical feminist mantra that false rape claims are a myth; in the very next, she asserts that people are currently less cautious about filing "credible reports" than they would be if the consequences were more serious. Meaning that people currently make false claims (she's right about that), but that her proposed law would change that.

So in Murphy's world, people never, ever make false rape claims, except when they do.

Get it?  Neither do I.  Let's hope they don't let Murphy teach anything that involves rationality or logic in that law school where she's an adjunct professor. 

Put it this way: either the paragraph referenced above is colossal misprint, or Wendy Murphy is a congenital idiot.  Let's have a show of hands.

Even putting aside the lapse-in-logic-of-Biblical proportions noted above, Murphy's suggestion that making failure to report the sexual assault of children a felony will actually reduce false rape claims is absurd beyond words.

But -- now let's get serious -- that doesn't mean the idea should be dismissed out of hand.  Murphy's proposal, stripped of her lunacy about false rape claims, merits a serious dialogue about best how to strike a balance between keeping children safe, on the one hand, and protecting innocent adults from false charges, on the other. Murphy suggests the following:  "For lawmakers who want more protection against false allegations, they could add a provision that allows for the prosecution of individuals who make false reports in bad faith."  We get the idea: if the report was intentionally false, it should be punished.  We might add, such offenses need to be punished both seriously and consistently, something not currently done with false rape accusers.

But Murphy, being Murphy, can't help but to add the following: "Better to protect thousands more children from real abuse than to worry about the occasional adult being burdened by a false accusation." And Blackstone just flipped over in his grave. Repeatedly.

What's interesting is that even nitwits like Murphy -- who claim false rape claims are a myth -- seem to grudgingly admit that there's a balance that needs to be struck between keeping children safe and protecting innocent men accused of rape. Murphy, however, would tilt the balance too far and unreasonably risk harming innocent men. 

If we ever are to have a serious dialogue about striking a proper balance, zealots like Murphy can't be part of it. Only rational adults without a TV show or a political axe to grind need apply.

Woman's rape lie led to the murder of her lover

A San Antonio woman who authorities accused of instigating a murder by lying to her boyfriend about being raped has accepted a plea agreement in which she now faces up to eight years in prison.

Melissa Ann Ramos, 23, had been charged with manslaughter for the June 2007 shooting death of Quiznos employee Nathan Ramirez, 20, even though she was not there when he was shot outside the North Side sandwich shop.

On Tuesday, prosecutors agreed to drop the manslaughter charge in exchange for her no-contest plea to robbery. Both are second-degree felonies generally punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Her boyfriend, James “Clay” Kelly, was convicted by a jury of murder and sentenced in August by state District Judge Ron Rangel to 40 years in prison for also instigating the shooting.

A friend, John McBurnett, the alleged triggerman, was ordered by the judge to serve 40 years, and co-defendant John “Bubba” Rodriguez agreed to a 15-year sentence for providing the gun.

Ramos lied about being raped in an attempt to cover up the fact she was two-timing Kelly while he was in jail, prosecutor Miguel Najera said Wednesday. In reality, Najera told previous juries, she had been in a consensual relationship with Ramirez.

Rangel is expected to determine her robbery sentence in January. The charge involves an incident the night before the shooting in which authorities said Ramos helped her boyfriend and Rodriguez lure Ramirez to a check cashing store, where they held him up at gunpoint inside their vehicle and punched him before ordering him to crawl out the window.

Prosecutors and Ramirez's family were satisfied with the robbery plea, Najera said.

“I think it would have been a difficult case to prove up,” he said of the manslaughter charge. “But her involvement in the robbery was clear.”

Prosecutors have said they intend to ask for the full eight-year term. Defense attorney Dennis Moreno has asked the judge to consider deferred adjudication probation.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Police say campus rape claim by serial false accuser 'a complete fabrication,' but college uses it as an occasion to beef up security against rape

On October 24, students at Spring Arbor University received a recorded message and email about an alleged sexual assault on campus. The supposed suspect was said to be someone who doesn't attend the university but is an acquaintance of the unnamed student victim. 

The state police investigated, and, like so many other reports of campus sexual assault, determined that the claim was "a complete fabrication."  Worse, "the student who made the report has made several other false reports and the [state police are] seeking charges against her."

So, what was the university's response to this crime? Perhaps signs in the dorm halls saying something like this: "Rape is a crime; so is making a false rape claim"?

Nope. In response to the false rape incident, Spring Arbor University has taken measures to guard against -- you guessed it -- rape. Specifically, the university has increased security on its residence halls as a precautionary measure.  The exterior doors of the residence halls, which house about 1,200 of the university’s 1,700 students, had been locked from midnight to 7 a.m. but are now locked at all times.  You see, the false rape scare exposed the school's vulnerability to rapists, and, once again, a crime that did occur -- a false rape claim -- is used as the occasion to scare people about a crime that did not, rape.

Note what the school does not do. The school does not explain why the still-unnamed apparent false accuser was permitted to be enrolled in school even after having allegedly made "several" other false reports. But, hey, what's the harm of having a serial false accuser on campus? After all, who could she possibly hurt?
Campus security measures prompted by rape fears are common. Implicit in them is the idea is that the men-folk need to be kept at bay, and that men and women need to be essentially segregated to keep the women safe.

But the schools don't really buy into it.  In one breath, colleges urge women to fear men and urge men to feel guilty for being born with penises. In the next, colleges invite those penises to move in with the women. Gender-inclusive housing, where kids can pick a roommate of the opposite sex, is the latest trend on campus (not at Spring Arbor, but at many public colleges). Forget all the enhanced the security measures; forget the carefully drafted policies designed to keep women safe and that spell out who's allowed in the dorms; forget replacing doors on dorm buildings that may not adequately keep the men out. The roosters have been officially ushered into the hen house.

How does gender-inclusive housing square with the idea that almost all campus sexual assaults are supposedly of the "acquaintance" variety, and that the chances of sexual assault occurring increase in direct proportion to the opportunity to commit the offense? I mean, inviting an 18-year-old boy to sleep next to a woman from whom he wants to -- to use the parlance of "rape culture" -- "get some" would constitute more than ample opportunity, wouldn't you say?  According to the experts, the main reason young people commit sexual coercion -- the offense du jour that colleges are increasingly punishing -- has nothing to do with “power” or the desire to subjugate women, it’s due to perpetrators’ sexual arousal. And all due apologies to the gender experts, an 18-year-old guy sleeping next to an attractive young woman can tell his penis all night long that gender is just a "cultural construct," but that won't make his erection to go away. That desire certainly doesn't give him license to rape, but it gives him a motivation to cajole the woman for sex.

Do the colleges not see any connection between no-consequence sex, on the one hand, and unsatisfactory sex, on the other -- whether that unsatisfactory sex be actual sexual assault or consensual sex that the woman later regrets and wrongly labels rape?

UCLA just became the latest to say there is no such connection between gender-inclusive housing and sexual assault: "Another concern – that this housing option could increase instances of sexual assault, also has no basis in reality. Officials at Brown University and UC Riverside said there have been no reports of assault in gender-inclusive residential areas."

You see, it's all part of the campus sex kabuki dance. Colleges pay lip service to the paid sexual grievance industry that promotes rape fear to justify its existence, but at heart, colleges don't really buy it.

Is it because colleges are mostly run by libertines?

I'll leave that for you to decide. More likely, college administrators are simply acknowledging what every rational person not drunk on gender politics already knows: "rape culture" is bullshit. While rape is certainly a problem -- after all, one rape is one rape too many -- it is n't "normalized" on campus among its male student population.  Because if the feminists were right, rape would be rampant on campus, and we would be talking about banning boys entirely, not inviting them to live in the same dorm rooms as their victims.


Denison University, former student resolve case about assault allegations

A lawsuit between an expelled student and Denison University about allegations of sexual assault has been settled, but attorneys said the terms of the agreement are confidential.

Joseph Galano Jr. filed a lawsuit in May 2010 against Denison for unfairly expelling him, and two young women for alleging he sexually assaulted them.

Galano said Denison officials knew the women's statements used to expel him were false.

No criminal charges have been filed against Galano, who is not enrolled at the university.

The lawsuit prompted the Licking County Prosecutor's Office to implement a memorandum of understanding with Denison and Granville police to improve communication about crime on campus.

Galano's attorney, Eric Rosenberg, said his client was satisfied with the resolution, a sentiment echoed by Seth Patton, Denison's vice president of finance and management.

"We're glad it's resolved," Patton said.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Wendy Murphy: "Better to protect thousands more children from real abuse than to worry about the occasional adult being burdened by a false accusation"

The inanity speaks for itself:

Former Marshall student cleared

This is an interesting case. One has to wonder why it was reported, but not followed through on?

A former Marshall University student has been cleared of charges he falsely reported that he and a friend were gang raped in a dorm room last year.

The case drew scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Education after The Charleston Gazette revealed Marshall recorded it in a file the school newspaper didn't know existed.
Click here to find out more!

This week, a Cabell County jury acquitted Danny Mills of misdemeanor charges of filing a false report and obstructing a police investigation.

Marshall police charged Mills after he reported that he and a female friend were raped by his roommates.

The woman filed a report but didn't press charges. Nor did campus police charge her.

Marshall chief of staff Matt Turner says the prosecutor believed his evidence was strong enough to take Mills to trial.


Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Salem, 1692 in Pennsylvania, as politicians line up to prove who's toughest on child abuse

Pittsburgh sports icon Franco Harris--he of "Immaculate Reception" fame--stepped aside temporarily as chairman of the Pittsburgh Promise, which provides college scholarships to graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools, all because Franco defended his former coach and mentor, ex-Penn State University coach Joe Paterno, and Pittsburgh's Mayor Luke Ravenstahl  used Franco's comments to claim he has no regard for child sex abuse victims.

Franco Harris played football under Mr. Paterno in college. He is understandably loyal to the man who tutored him and who, until a couple of weeks ago, was as close to sainthood as the sports world produces. Franco said university trustees were wrong to fire the famed coach last week because Mr. Paterno did what he was legally required to do in 2002 by informing a superior about allegations that assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had sexually assaulted a boy in a campus shower.

We wrote a scathing piece on this blog last week, defending the decision to fire Paterno: "Joe Paterno -- not the PSU Board of Trustees -- is the author of his own discontent." And: "Joe Paterno was the trustee of little boys' dreams. He dishonored that trust, and now he has to pay for it."

Franco is entitled to his opinion. And as much as we disagree with that opinion, it furnishes not a scintilla of evidence that Franco condones child abuse.

But why inject rationality into the discussion when there's a good witch hunt to join?  In the wake of the Penn State scandal, every Pennsylvania politician is lining up to out-tough talk the next on child abuse. It is pandering at its most vile.

Mayor Ravenstahl's reaction to Franco's statement tops all the rest. It was so over-the-top, so divorced from reality, that an objective third party must seriously wonder if he doesn't have a screw loose. Read it for yourself:

"I had to re-read it several times to fully comprehend the callous disregard and indifference for the victims of sexual abuse at Penn State.  To so adamantly and vocally defend one man while maintaining silence for those powerless to defend themselves, shows me that you are the wrong man to represent the Pittsburgh Promise and the ideals it embodies. When I personally asked you to join the Board of the Pittsburgh Promise, I had every confidence that you would exercise sound judgment in your public life. Sadly, these statements show no regard whatsoever for the well-being of the young victims of sexual abuse and have led me to question your position of trust with the Pittsburgh Promise as Board Chairman. It is my ethical and moral responsibility to recognize that you are no longer a suitable representative for any organization, let alone ours."

Franco said he has attempted to "place the victims and their families at the forefront of my concerns while questioning the seeming rush to judgment in the treatment of Joe, who I know is deeply pained and distraught by events now under investigation at Penn State."

Pittsburgh sports writer Bob Smizik called on the mayor to apologize to Franco: "Labeling Harris as uncaring of the victims in the Penn State sexual-abuse scandal was a leap of logic only a fool would undertake. Harris is an honorable man who has done much good work in this region. He didn’t deserve that."  See here.  Mr. Smizik is right.

What Franco did was ill-advised.  But what Mayor Ravenstahl did was downright loony.

That's what happens in a witch hunt.

Woman who alleged sexual assault fined for wasting police time

A 21-year-old woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted in Burnham on Sunday has been fined for wasting police time.

Police enquiries into allegations the woman was assaulted by a man in an alleyway off Church Street between 1.30am and 2am found the claim was unfounded and she was issued with a £80 fixed penalty notice.

A shoe belonging to the alleged victim, who said she had been walking home from a pub, was reported missing and police released a photo earlier of the matching shoe in an appeal for information.

The alleyway had also been sealed off by police.

Detective inspector Sharon Hill said: "Police take all reports of sexual assault extremely seriously and dedicate a large amount of time and resources to each investigation.

"In this case, we carried out a thorough and sensitive inquiry and found the allegation to be unfounded.

"While we will provide appropriate support, anyone who makes a false allegation of sexual assault can expect to be dealt with for wasting police time and could end up with a criminal record."


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Some at Cornell Voice Concern That the 'Dear Colleague' Mandates Were Rushed Into the Campus Code of Conduct Without Following the Usual Procedure

This morning, the Cornell Daily Sun chronicles a debate over the school's handling of sexual assault cases. It notes that last May, Cornell's University Assembly rushed a "temporary amendment" to its Campus Code of Conduct in response to the Department of Education's April 4 "Dear Colleague" letter without adhering to the typical procedure of awaiting a recommendation from the University Assembly’s Codes and Judicial Committee. 

The "Dear Colleague" letter has been criticized by numerous commentators. Many of those criticisms are collected here. Among other problems, the "Dear Colleague" letter insists that schools using standards of proof higher than a "preponderance of the evidence" are not in compliance with the law. Cornell previously applied a "clear and convincing" standard. In addition, the "Dear Colleague" letter mandates that schools allow appeals of unfavorable rulings by not only the accused but the accuser as well.

The Daily Sun notes that Cornell Judicial Administrator Mary Beth Grant, J.D. ’88, who investigates accusations against students and decides whether to pursue cases, admitted that she was pushing for the amendment to be passed quickly. According to quotations attributed to Ms. Grant in the story, Ms.Grant seems to agree with the "Dear Colleague" letter's premise that Cornell's handling of sexual assault cases was "unfair."  Specifically, she said the letter “pointed out to us that our system is unfair.” And: “I don’t want to be in a position where I know something is unfair and I’m being forced to do it.”

Some in the Cornell community are not happy with the process used to approve the temporary amendment. “There was, in fact, no rush whatsoever,” said Prof. Kevin Clermont, law, a member of the committee. “It’s unprecedented, as far as I know, this kind of stepping in and circumventing [the CJC].”

What, exactly, was so terribly "unfair" and in need of immediate correction, about the school's procedure? Let us briefly examine some of the arguments posited.

I.  Sexual Assault Cases are Difficult to Prove

The Daily Sun story notes that "victim advocates applauded the lower standard, which they had been pushing for before the Department of Education letter was released. Laura Weiss, director of the Women’s Resource Center, said sexual assault cases are often based on 'he said, she said' testimony and include little physical evidence."

First, while finding a student guilty of a heinous sex offense that could alter the course of his life should not be easy, it is by no means impossible to do exactly that under a "clear and convincing" standard. In fact, rapists are routinely convicted in criminal courts under the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard, which is even higher than the "clear and convincing" standard.

Second, and more important, the victim advocates have it exactly backwards: the absence of hard evidence to prove any offense is a sound reason to be wary about finding men guilty of it, not a valid justification to make it easier to punish the innocent with the guilty. Even in common law civil proceedings where the relief is typically monetary, many states impose a standard of proof higher than "preponderance of the evidence" for certain "he said, she said" claims, e.g., claims predicated on oral promises and fraud.  It is well to note that a student's interest in attaining a college education, with all it entails, and in not being expelled for rape, is weightier than is a civil plaintiff's interest in obtaining a money judgment over a dispute involving commodities in the marketplace.

Third, the new rule has resulted in a system where the offense that is typically the most serious that a college disciplinary board will be asked to consider, and that carries with it the greatest penalty, is conducted under a standard of proof lower than the standard applied to minor offenses that carry, on average, lesser penalties.

Put it this way: if someone told you that there was a 50.1 percent chance that your parachute would open, would you jump out of the plane? The question scarcely survives its statement. Yet, the Obama administration thinks that this level of certainty is sufficient for colleges to make a life-altering decision about young men accused of heinous sex offenses. To put it more bluntly, young men may be expelled even if the college disciplinary board is 49.9 percent certain that he's innocent.

II.  Accuser and Accused Should Be Treated Equally

According to the Daily Sun, victim advocates said that it makes sense to create an equal right to appeal, since the Campus Code of Conduct is not the criminal justice system, and it’s possible for mistakes to hurt either the accuser or the accused.  Laura Weiss, of the Women’s Resource Center, added that preventing a sexual assault victim from appealing a decision reinforces a perception that victims are often wrong.

These arguments are offensive to persons steeped in the traditions of American jurisprudence.  Allowing an accuser to appeal an acquittal and to subject the accused to a second hearing (and, theoretically, endless more) raises the same serious concerns about double jeopardy that civilized people have had since the time of the Norman conquest. To insist that these concerns have no application here, since college disciplinary proceedings are not criminal proceedings, and to treat college proceedings as akin to civil proceedings for money damages, trivializes a student's interest in obtaining an education and in not being expelled for rape. That interest is sufficiently weighty to mandate a very serious dialogue about these issues.

More fundamentally, there is no equivalence, moral or otherwise, between punishing men for rapes they didn't commit and allowing a rape to go unpunished. A wrongful acquittal is a terrible thing, but a wrongful acquittal is never the moral equivalent of a punishing a man for a crime he didn't commit. This long-settled principle was famously expressed by the celebrated English jurist William Blackstone, who said it is "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." (Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1765.) But it dates to time immemorial -- even to the book of Genesis, when God made it clear that he would spare the guilty so as not to sweep away the innocent with them in Sodom and Gomorrah.


The decision to rush the temporary amendment into the Code of Conduct without adhering to the school's procedure, apparently based on a school administrator's personal belief that Cornell's then-current system was "unfair," is troubling.

There is ample legal precedent to ignore the Department of Education's "Dear Colleague" mandate, and to challenge it if necessary. The leading commentator on this issue is former Department of Education attorney Hans Bader. See here

It is well to note that regulations of the Department of Education are supposed to follow existing law. Yet, just last week, progressive Senator Patrick Leahy announced that he would not include the Department of Education's standards in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. See here. Leahy apparently bowed to pressure brought by FIRE, S.A.V.E. and outlets such as this. While this doesn't mean that the Department of Education isn't following existing law, it is merely to point out that Congress itself is not prepared to give the "Dear Colleague" letter's standards statutory articulation. And, as noted above, Mr. Bader makes a strong argument that the "Dear Colleague" letter does not follow existing law.

Most troubling of all in the Cornell debate is the politicization of a very serious issue.  The public discourse on campus sexual assault is typically dominated by organized, paid, victim's advocates whose interests, unfortunately, do not include insuring that the innocent aren't punished with the rapists. While the concerns expressed in this post are likely shared by the vast majority of students and professors on campus, their voices are rarely heard on issues like this because few of them have the same level of interest in these issues as the paid advocates. Hopefully, the persons insisting that the school slow down, and deliberate, will allow more voices to be heard.

Girl charged with making false report after reporting rape

A 17-year-old Blanchester girl who reported she had been raped has been charged with being a delinquent child after she allegedly made a false complaint, according to Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt.On Dec. 10, 2010, the unidentified girl reported she had been raped by a 38-year-old male house guest who was living with her and her parents.

"A lengthy investigation was undertaken, the suspect was located and interviewed in another Ohio county, but at the conclusion of the investigation there was insufficient evidence to prove the allegation,” Reinbolt said. “No charges were filed against the alleged rapist."

However, during the course of the investigation police learned that the house guest was a multiple time convicted felon. “Based upon that fact and other information discovered during the investigation, the girl’s mother was charged with contributing to the delinquency or unruliness of a minor,” Reinbolt said.

In August, information was discovered indicating that the victim fabricated the reported rape. “Therefore, on Nov. 7, 2011, Blanchester police filed a complaint alleging the girl to be a delinquent child by reason of committing the crime of making false alarms, a first degree misdemeanor if committed by an adult,” Reinbolt said.

The girl is now 18 years of age.

Making false alarms prohibits reporting a crime to police while knowing that the crime did not occur, according to Reinbolt.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nice comment about FRS

Thanks to Pechorin.

Rape: the only crime proven to be rampant by showing that it isn't

Here is an article typical of pieces that regularly appear in college newspapers. It was written by Jason Nguyen and Sophie Arts, and its underlying premise is that all rape reports are made by actual rape victims. The only reason very few of these rape claims result in adjudications of guilt is that pesky problem of lack of evidence. There is not even a passing consideration given to the possibility that the lack of evidence could sometimes indicate that no rape occurred--that the person reporting it was mistaken or lying.

Rape is the only crime on the books that is proven to be rampant by showing that few people report it, and that fewer still can prove it. If that makes no sense to you, then you are understanding the problem.

The people who parrot the mantras that rape is rampant and that false rape claims are a myth chalk up anyone who doesn't buy into them as either grossly misinformed or a misogynist. Professors whose careers and livelihoods depend on the purported campus rape epidemic conduct supposedly unbiased studies (typically done by getting only the accuser's side of the story, and then characterizing the results to find "rape" even when the respondents didn't think rape occurred). These studies often conclude that only a small percentage of claims are false. The persons who conduct the studies disingenuously suggest, without saying it, that the remainder of all claims must have been actual rapes when, in fact, only an equally small percentage of rape claims can be proven to be actual rapes. What they don't tell you--because it doesn't fit the preferred narrative--is that most rape claims fall into a vast, gray, middle area where no one--aside from the participants--can say exactly what happened. That's the nature of a typical rape claim. For these dishonest researchers, the default rule is that if it can't be proven to be false, it must have been an actual rape, whether or not it really was.
The politicized survey that the Department of Education cited to justify its April 4 "Dear Colleague" letter, and that claimed one-in-five college women are sexually abused, is fatally flawed because, among other things, it relied on self-selecting respondents. The people who parrot the rampant rape mantras don't discuss that.

Beyond that, the one-in-five canard is belied by the sexual grievance industry's own figures on underreporting. A writer named Chad Hermann irrefutably demonstrated this by applying a 90 percent underreporting figure (significantly higher than even RAINN's percentage) to the numbers of sexual assaults actually reported at various colleges. Even using their own underreporting number (on the high end), Mr. Hermann showed that one-in-five college women are not raped; the real number is not even in that universe.

Let us back up a second. We are always somewhat afraid to point out these lies because we know that some people disingenuously insist it means we trivialize rape.

We are more afraid not to point out these lies, because the truth should not be hidden away to service a political agenda, and, more importantly, because the lies are used to justify more and more draconian rape "reforms" that have never been proven to reduce underreporting but that enhance the risk of punishing the innocent for crimes they didn't commit. Our concern on this blog is not for rapists but for innocent people.

An example of how lies have been used to advance a politicized agenda is that the two percent canard (that only two percent of all rape claims are false) found its way in Congressional Record to support the passage of VAWA. Specifically, the Report by the Committee on the Judiciary in connection with the Violence Against Women Act. Senate Report 102-197 (102 S. Rpt. 197), Pub. L. 102-197 n. 48 (Oct. 29, 1991) stated the following: "Estimates indicate that only 2 percent of all rape reports prove to be false, a rate comparable to the false report rate for other crimes."

The two percent canard, which is as offensive as it is dishonest, was debunked long ago. See, e.g., E. Greer, The Truth Behind Legal Dominance Feminism's 'Two Percent False Rape Claim' Figure, 33 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 947 (2000), a scholarly law review article that painstakingly traced the two percent canard to its baseless origin. Despite the irrefutable evidence that the two percent claim is a lie, the sexual grievance industry continues to repeat it as if it were gospel.

We shouldn't need to pretend rape is as rampant as the Black Death in order to insist that it be taken seriously.  Nor should we tolerate the lie that false rape claims are a myth because that lie has led to reforms that enhance the risk to innocent men and the cavalier treatment of false rape claim victims.

SIU closes file on Durham cops accused of sexual assault

When I first saw the name Durham, my first reaction was "oh no, not again". To a point, I'm glad this isn't taking place in North Carolina.

Complaint was 'a false allegation', says police watchdog agency

(DURHAM REGION) The Province's Special Investigations Unit has closed a probe into two north Durham-based officers accused of sexually assaulting a woman last month during a traffic stop.

A 48-year-old woman alleged that two officers assaulted her after a vehicle was pulled over on Oct. 21, but that turned out to be a lie, said Monica Hudon, the SIU's communications co-ordinator.

"It was a false allegation and the investigators learned that through their interviews," explained Ms. Hudon.

"We're no longer investigating," she added, noting the file was closed on Nov. 2.

"Based on our initial investigation, we realized it was something not under our mandate."

Late last month, the Province's police watchdog confirmed it was investigating the actions of the officers and a pair of investigators and two forensic specialists were dispatched to look into the allegation by the complainant.

The Special Investigations Unit probes incidents of death, serious injury or sexual assault involving police officers. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A streaker is a criminal, but a college newspaper that puts his full frontal photo on the front page is just exercising its First Amendment rights

We live in strange times, zero tolerance times, where the slightest male sexual infraction is punished by some law named after a dead kid, often with an almost sadistic overkill. In society's zeal to protect women and children from legitimately evil men, it happily sweeps young men guilty of nothing more than childish lewdness away with truly dangerous predators. Thirty-two states now register streakers as sex offenders. Others register college guys caught publicly urinating in an alley because they drank a little too much. Others famously register teen males who had consensual sex with their slightly younger girlfriends. If all the sex offenders were corralled into a new state, it would be more populous than three existing states. The male sexual infraction industry is exploding, and no “science” is too bizarre or inhumane to try out on men and boys accused or convicted of such offenses under the guise of learning which of them should languish in custody. This includes penile plethysmograph testing, a sort a junk science polygraph of penises, and “masturbatory satiation” sessions -- methods that a witch doctor might feel uncomfortable employing.

But you know all that. Now consider this: at East Carolina University's November 5 football game against USM, John Sieglinger, 21, stripped to his birthday suit and ran onto the field. He was tackled and arrested for misdemeanor indecent exposure and first-degree. He could have been charged with a felony, but he wasn't, which means he won't be required to register as a sex offender.  The streak was met with the usual mixed reactions: a lot of students were thoroughly amused by it, but other people believed the incident would scar the innocent children for life, because surely they've never seen a flaccid naked man from a distance on TV or the Internet.

The interesting part of the story is what happened the following Tuesday. ECU's student newspaper did something without much precedent in this country: it put an unedited photo of Mr. Sieglinger streaking -- full frontal nudity -- on the front page above the fold.

“It’s pretty in your face,” Lauren Morgan, an ECU student said. “When I looked at it, I was like, ‘They actually showed it, wow.’” Yes, Lauren. They actually showed "it."

The newspaper was hit with comments ranging from this: "People gonna hate on your decision to show a wiener on the front page but just know I encourage it," and "I will frame the front page of Tuesday’s paper," to this: "You owe the entire student body, as well as the university, an apology. We are trying to erase our awful reputation and having a non-censored photo on the cover is a disgrace."

Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for ECU's student affairs, was one of those who was not amused. She said in a statement: “The decision by the East Carolinian to publish a photo of a streaker that showed full-frontal nudity was in very poor taste. The leadership at East Carolina University does not agree with that decision and does not support it.” But, Hardy pointed out, the paper is an independent, student-run paper and ultimately the decision on what to print rests with the student journalists.

The female editor of the paper issued an unapologetic statement: "The photos regarding the streaker in the Nov. 8 edition of the East Carolinian were purposely published. The news editor, managing editor and myself made the collaborative decision to publish the unedited photos. This decision was made because we felt that our audience, which is primarily the ECU student body, should have access to unedited and factual photos of the streaking incident at last Saturday’s ECU football game. While the photos may be seen as offensive to some, the photos were not meant to be seen as sexually suggestive or insulting, but instead an accurate account of Saturday’s events.”

We do live in strange times, don't we?  A guy who bares his penis streaking a football game is a criminal, but the school newspaper that bares that same penis on its front page above the fold is just reporting the news. The newspaper cloaks itself in the First Amendment; the streaker is cloaked in nothing more than his birthday suit. The newspaper is applauded in some quarters for doing something edgy, bold, and hip; the streaker is regarded in some quarters as a pariah, and he probably won't be asked to babysit the neighbor kids anytime soon. The newspaper undoubtedly saw a spike in its readership because of the picture; the streaker is lucky not to be on a sex offenders' registry.

Does this strike anyone else as peculiar? 

This is not to suggest that there's a moral equivalence between the guy who actually whips it out and the newspaper that covers the whipping out. It is to suggest that finding a bright-line between the streaker's decision to go balls out at a football game, and the newspaper editor's decision to put those balls on the front page, may not be as easy as some think.

It is also to suggest that we do live in strange times. Strange, indeed.