Friday, June 29, 2012

The wildest, most sordid 'false' rape case ever

Chances are, you've never heard of Beverly Aadland or William Stanciu.  They were Hollywood fringe players, wannabes who never gained admittance to the Dream Factory. Aadland appeared in a few films but never had a film career, and you won't find Stanciu's name in any film credits at all.   

But for a brief moment in the waning days of the Eisenhower administration, Aadland and Stanciu took center stage in a bizarre Tinsel Town tragedy that radio icon Paul Harvey described this way: "Few chapters in the sometimes lurid history of the movie colony have been more sordid than this one."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Charges dropped in Crown Heights rape case after it was revealed the accuser recanted her rape allegations a day after she made them, and that the information was never given to defense lawyers


Prosecutors on Tuesday dismissed the case against four black men from Crown Heights accused of raping and prostituting an Orthodox Jewish woman for eight years, starting when she was 13.

All charges against Damien Crooks, Darrell Dula, and the two brothers, Jawara and Jamali Brockett, were dropped in Brooklyn Supreme Court, months after it was revealed the accuser recanted her rape allegations a day after she made them, and that the information was never given to defense lawyers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Woman confesses to false rape claim

A woman who claimed she had been abducted by a group of four men and sexually assaulted by one of them, later admitted to having made the story up.

Theresa Bradey-Smith, 50, of Dannevirke admitted to Judge Bridget Mackintosh she had been stupid and apologised for her actions when she appeared in the Dannevirke District Court.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Study: Wrongful conviction rate of sexual assault 'much higher than previously thought'

A national policy group examined the DNA test results in hundreds of old sexual assault and homicide cases. The findings on the sexual assault cases are disturbing.

According to the Virginian-Pilot: "If the scope is narrowed to just the sexual assault convictions, DNA testing eliminated between 8 percent and 15 percent of convicted offenders. The wrongful conviction rate previously had been estimated at 3 percent or less." 

The study was based solely on DNA evidence, which means it did not count wrongful convictions where the defense was consent (e.g., "date rape"). Moreover, in two-thirds of the cases, the samples didn't have enough DNA for testing, and "that may mean the number of false convictions is much higher." and

These numbers are sufficiently disturbing that they should trigger a national dialogue.

Justice, Phuket style: Stevie Bamford might not serve time for false rape claim

The photo to the left shows Stevie Bamford, 21. She's the Australian woman who was vacationing in Thailand with her boyfriend when she told police on June 10 that she had been raped by a local taxi "tuk-tuk" driver while his two accomplices restrained her.

Bamford stuck to her bizarre story over the course of nine hours of police questioning, spread over two days. Thai police investigated her claim. After several days of finding nothing but loose ends, they uncovered a security camera video that showed the young woman driving to the hotel on the back of a motorcycle taxi, not a "tuktuk."  When presented with irrefutable security camera evidence, Bamford eventually confessed to lying.

Her motive for lying, police said, was that she was late in returning from a nightclub area to the resort early on a Sunday morning, and she was afraid her boyfriend might be angry.

Bamford was found guilty by a Phuket provincial court on June 15 of making false claims. She was sentenced to serve 15 days in a detention center.

Bamford is the daughter of a retired Australian pro rugby player, and she has been afforded every possible assistance throughout the ordeal she created. Her father appealed to Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs to assist her, and she had Australian consular assistance for the entire period of questioning.  Phuket's only woman police officer was also with her for the interviews.

Bamford's penalty should have been 30 days but was cut in half, as is normal in such cases, when Bamford pleaded guilty. The guilty plea, of course, came only after prolonged questioning during which time she continued to lie, and only after irrefutable video proof showed she lied.

She was sentenced to serve her time in a rural detention center instead of the more severe women's prison. Why? Because of "her age" and "the good relations between Thailand and Australia."

But even that slap on the wrist was too much for Bamford. She has appealed her sentence and was granted bail. Instead of serving her very meager time for a false rape claim, she is holidaying at the resort area of Krabi in Southern Thailand.

Will Stevie Bamford ever serve time in prison?  According to news reports, following the recent murder of an Australian travel agent in Phuket, "Thailand may also be looking to repair its battered tourist image, leading to an acquittal."

Man convicted on rape charge petitions for release after victim recants testimony

ST. CROIX - A 27-year-old man who has spent the last eight years in prison for raping a 12-year-old girl has petitioned the court for release, saying he is being unlawfully detained after the victim in the case repeatedly recanted her story and now claims no sexual contact ever happened.

After a two-day trial in June 2004, Hector Ledesma was convicted of first-degree aggravated rape and first-degree unlawful sexual contact for having sex with the girl when he was 18.

He was sentenced to 15 years on each charge.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Woman arrested for fake Fernandina Beach sexual assault claim

A woman has been arrested and charged with filing a false police report after she claimed she was the victim of a sexual attack at Main Beach on May 30.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Milford woman sentenced for falsely accusing man of rape

Milford Woman was sentenced to jail and probation for crimes that included falsely accusing a man of sexually assaulting her.  Kaileigh Burkert, age 18, of Milford, previously plead guilty to false reports to law enforcement and theft by unlawful taking.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

'This sort of thing could damage Phuket's tourism industry'

A YOUNG Sydney woman on holiday in Thailand has been jailed for 15 days after admitting she made up a story that she was raped by a taxi driver.

Stevie Rochelle Bamford, 21, from the eastern suburbs, had told police she took a tuktuk taxi home after arguing with her boyfriend while on a late night out in Soi Bangla, Phuket's red light district, on Saturday, June 9.

On the way to the resort where she and her boyfriend were staying, she claimed, the driver picked up two friends and drove her to a secluded spot where the two ''accomplices'' held her down while the driver raped her. She said she eventually managed to break free and run away.

But after investigating the woman's claims for almost a week, police discovered CCTV footage showing her going back to her hotel on the back of a motorbike taxi, not in a tuktuk. When shown the footage on Thursday night, police say Bamford admitted making up the story because she was afraid her boyfriend would be angry about her staying out late.

Bamford was charged with making a false statement to police and appeared in the Phuket Provincial Court on Friday where she was sentenced to 15 days in the Bang Jo detention centre. Once she has served her time, she will be deported.

Two senior officials from the Australian embassy in Bangkok flew to Phuket on Friday to be with her in court. A senior police officer involved in the case said the woman's boyfriend, also 21, was ''extremely angry'' when the truth emerged and he realised he, too, had been misled.

''This sort of thing could damage Phuket's tourism industry,'' the officer said.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

'Emotionally unstable' Dunedin woman made false rape claim

A young woman was seriously emotionally unstable when she falsely claimed she had been raped, counsel for 20-year-old Sarah Louise Jenkins, unemployed, told the Dunedin District Court.

Monday, June 18, 2012

False rape case slammed

A YOUNG Laghey woman, who falsely claimed that she was raped, was severely condemned by a judge this week, who told her that she had done “tremendous damage to genuine victims of rape.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

False claims, 26-month sentence

A 42-year-old woman has learned that lies can be expensive – especially when they trigger costly police investigations.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flashback: Congressional report called rape accusations against US soldiers in WW II a 'racket' and said the Army convicted innocent men to maintain its 'good name'

From the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, until the end of World War II in 1945, 43 US soldiers were executed for committing the crime of rape. Following the war, U.S. troops occupied the conquered nations, and by February 22, 1946, the number of soldiers executed for rape had risen to 51. (This does not include those soldiers executed for committing the dual crimes of rape and murder.)  At the time, article of war 92 made mandatory a sentence of either death or imprisonment for life for this offense, a far more severe penalty than mandated by European nations.*

Two troubling, but related, phenomena combined to cause some, and more likely numerous, innocent soldiers to be unjustly punished for rapes they did not commit during the War and in its immediate aftermath:

First: The Severity of the Punishment for Rape was Believed to Have Encouraged False Rape Claims

Article of War 92 made mandatory a sentence of either death or imprisonment for life for soldiers convicted of this offense.  The House Committee on Military Affairs issued a disturbing report in June 1946 called Investigations of the National War Effort. The Report noted: "Armies of other nations in Europe and probably elsewhere never give a sentence of more than 10 years for this offense (the British Army gives 6 months to 2 years) and when the peoples abroad have seen us hang our own soldiers for it they have been asking curious questions about American freedom."

The House Report concluded: "The object, presumably, was to coerce soldiers into good behavior and to increase the respect for our forces in enemy and liberated countries. It may be conjectured that neither of these objectives was greatly promoted."

The severe punishment for rape was known among the conquered German people.  The Associated Press reported in May 1945 that evidence showed at least some false rape accusers were aware that rape was a hanging offense for American soldiers.

The departing German army prompted at least three women to falsely accuse American soldiers of rape in an effort to harass American troops.  False rape claims were used as weapons of war.

Moreover, the House Report Investigations of the National War Effort noted: "Bringing charges of rape against American soldiers became a sort of racket among some portions of the populace in the European theater. . . ."  The severe penalty for committing rape, the House Report explained, might have "contributed to a practice in Europe of bringing the charge in order to extort money from American soldiers . . .."**

Second: The Military Was Less Interested in Justice than in Public Relations

The House Report Investigations of the National War Effort  raised troubling indications that numerous innocent soldiers were wrongly convicted of rape, and some of these might have been sent to the gallows.

When it came to charges of rape, military justice erred on the side of severity in the interest of setting examples and in maintaining the U.S. Army's good name among the local populace where the army served.  The House Report explained: ". . . it is believed that numerous convictions of innocent soldiers took place because courts too amiably accepted dubious identifications in the interest of discipline in general or of maintaining the good name of the army among liberated or conquered people."

"Military law, like our other law," the Report explained, "is supposed to proceed on the presumption that the accused is innocent until his guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt. This is explicitly stated in the manual. In practice, however, the reverse is often the case. . . . ."

A startling case that illustrates the injustices was the famous trial involving Lt. Sidney Shapiro.  A woman claimed she was raped near a Nebraska army base in 1943, and that she bit her assailant in the hand before he got away.  Military police later spotted a man with a bandage over a laceration on his hand, so, on that basis alone, they charged him with assault with intent to rape.  Second Lt. Sidney Shapiro was ordered to defend the accused man in the court martial. Shapiro decided he needed to attack the accuser’s identification. 

At the opening of the court martial proceedings, Shapiro kept the accused soldier outside the room, and substituted in his place another soldier who had no connection with the case. Under oath, the accuser solemnly identified the impostor as her assailant, and so did two other government witnesses. Not until the prosecution had finished its case did Lieutenant Shapiro tell the court what he had done. A mistrial was declared.

A few days later, a second trial was held, this time with the true defendant in the courtroom. The same accuser and the same government witnesses who just a few days earlier had wrongly identified under oath an impostor as the guilty man now swore that this man was the perpetrator.

The result? The court had no difficulty accepting the witnesses’ testimony the second time around, and the man was convicted and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.

For his part, Lt. Shapiro was kicked out of the Air Force -- relieved of his commission. Why? For delaying a court martial proceeding.  The fact that this "delay" exposed the blatant injustice of convicting the man accused was lost on the military. Only after the war had ended did President Truman pardon Shapiro.


*On the American penchant for punishing rape with death: during the oral argument of the Kennedy v. Louisiana, 2008 U.S. LEXIS 5262 (June 25, 2008), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that the historical imposition of the death penalty in rape cases stems from a tradition "when a woman was regarded as as good as dead once she was raped; and the crime was thought to be an offense against her husband or her father as much as it was to her." Importantly, treating rape as akin to murder, and thus warranting the death penalty, did "no kindness to women," she noted.

**Rape was, of course, a serious problem during the war, but it was widely believed that American soldiers were not the chief offenders. During the brutal Battle of Manila, which ended the three year Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Japanese soldiers and officers rounded up 400 young Filipino women and selected 25 based on their beauty to be used as unwilling human sexual playthings. The women were taken to a hotel where the soldiers passed them from room to room and forced them to endure night-long rape-fests; some of the women were subjected to 15 separate rapes. The women were stripped, slapped, and kicked and could be heard screaming for mercy.  Soldiers threatened to murder members of the women's families if they refused to submit. Some of the victims were as young as 12-years-old.

Moreover, during the Russian occupation of Vienna immediately after the war, there were reports of Russian soldiers raping Austrian women to "get even" for what Germans had done to their homes and women.  One soldier admitted to raping an Austrian woman, even though it meant execution by the American army.  "My wife was raped and killed in the advance on Stalingrad," he explained.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Search for three Univ. of Michigan gropers called off

The following are two news reports from earlier this week:

Ann Sunday, June 10, 2012: Woman surrounded, groped by 3 men on University of Michigan campus

Campus police are investigating an alleged groping incident that involved the use of an anti-gay slur against a woman walking on the University of Michigan campus late Saturday.

False Arundel rape claim earns woman £80 fine

The Argus

A 26-year-old woman has been fined £80 for wasting police time after she told officers she had been raped.
Sussex Police received a call from the woman to say that she had been assaulted near Arundel Station shortly before midnight on Saturday.

Karate instructor to pay up for false child rape claims

The Star:


A PRETORIA karate instructor who has been involved in the sport for many years at both national and international levels has succeeded in his damages claim against another instructor who, in e-mails to various karate bodies, accused him of being a child molester, rapist and paedophile.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chilling recording: Husband: 'Are you going to make something up that I hit you?' Wife: 'Yes, without a doubt.'

A chilling false accusation case is in the news in New York. A former prosecutor in the Albany County District Attorney's Office named William Conboy III, 35, and his wife wife Kelly Conboy, 33, were involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle when Kelly Conboy reported to police that her husband had kicked and choked her, that he pushed her to the ground, and that he kicked her in the throat with a rubber-soled boot and dragged the boot from her throat to her chest.  Mr. Conboy, who claimed the allegations were false, was arrested.

According to William Conboy's attorney, Kelly Conboy's allegations coincided with important events in the couple's divorce and custody dispute. Kelly Conboy was served with divorce papers on Dec. 19, 2011. Later that day, records show she emailed an Assistant District Attorney, the lead sex crimes prosecutor in Albany County. The email stated: "I need to know and speak with whoever is taking over my case ASAP." In addition, it was only after a judge ruled that Kelly Conboy could only have supervised visits with her daughter that she officially filed charges against William Conboy.

Mr. Conboy sought to prove the charges were lies, but, as WNYT's report of the case succinctly put it: "As a young prosecutor, William Conboy knew he had been placed in a tough position of being forced to prove a negative. In other words, he had to prove that something did not happen."

The case was all set to go to trial, the jury had been picked, but the charges were dismissed before opening statements. The prosecution's star witness, Kelly Conboy, refused to attend the trial. William Conboy's attorney was prepared to play for a jury a recording William Conboy had made where his wife threatened him with a vicious false accusation. Watch the news report of the case and hear pertinent portions of the actual call. The rage and the unbridled vindictiveness in Kelly Conboy's voice is beyond description:

Kelly:  "I want you to know what's going to happen."
Bill: "Ok"
Kelly: "If you are not out by tonight with all your stuff, I will call the Albany Police Department, and say that you beat me, and get an order of protection next week against you."
Bill: "Are you going to make something up that I hit you?"
Kelly: "Yes, without a doubt."
Bill: "Why would you do that kell?"
Kelly: "Why would I do that? To get you out of the house, that's why?"

The recording was more than enough to have all charges dismissed against Bill Conboy. According to Cheryl Coleman, William Conboy's attorney, he has no intention of pressing criminal charges against his wife, even though that may not be his choice.  A special prosecutor has been appointed to review the case.

Kelly Conboy's attorney told a newspaper reporter: "This was not an act of vengeance or spite on Mrs. Conboy's part. The reason she elected not to testify against Mr. Conboy is that would only serve to make her strained relationship with Mr. Conboy even worse and this would have a negative impact on their young daughter."  He noted the tape-recording took place after the alleged assault and "doesn't prove the incident didn't happen." He said his client stands by her statement.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Flashback to 1957: Chivalry unkind to the falsely accused

Ah, the Eisenhower years, when chivalry was king, and unbending gender roles were seared onto our nation's DNA.  Things were lots better back then, right?

Here's a news item from the Milwaukee Journal, November 17, 1957: An 18-year-old woman lied that she'd been raped by young Mexicans or Puerto Ricans (horrors!).  Police arrested two boys, 16 and 17-years-old, and a 20-year-old man in connection with the incident.

In fact, the woman lied. She later admitted that she knew one of the boys and willingly got into a car with the three falsely accused men.  She told them where they could buy beer, and after they got the beer, the guys drove to a field and parked the car.  Although she continued to maintain they wouldn't let her out of the car, she admitted he had relations with the two underage boys.

What was her punishment for telling a lie that, in many states, could have resulted in the death penalty for the guys back then?  What was her punishment for having relations with two boys?

A fair reading of the news article suggests she wasn't charged, but the guys were: the 16 and 17-year-old boys were referred to juvenile authorities, and the 20-year-old man was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor (you see, he had purchased the beer).

Man accused of rape might have been sent to prison for life if the defense team hadn't uncovered last minute evidence showing a key prosecution witness lied: why didn't the prosecutor uncover it?

A troubling case is in the news in Cleveland. A man accused of rape might have been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment if it weren't for a last minute miracle. As the trial was coming to an end, the man's defense team discovered that a key prosecution witness apparently lied under oath, and that the prosecutors made representations to the court based on the witness' lie. 

This is an important case that deserves more recognition than it is getting.  Here is the full story:

Earlier this year, a defendant was on trial for allegedly sexually assaulting his former stepdaughter and giving her genital herpes. If convicted, he faced a mandatory life sentence.  The trial was nearly over when the defense was able to produce medical records showing that the girl had been treated for herpes -- likely from sexual contact -- years before the alleged assault, and before the defendant had access to her. 

The mother, who was involved in a bitter custody dispute with the defendant, had testified that she did not recall any such infection or doctor visit -- contrary to testimony from her own mother and to defense arguments.  The evidence that the defense uncovered suggested that the mother had lied on the stand.

As the Cleveland Plain Dealer succinctly put it: if the mother's testimony had stood unchallenged, it might have sent an innocent man to prison for life.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

'I went to the prom with a sissy': Evolving gender roles and the high school prom

Off-topic: 'I went to the prom with a sissy!': Evolving gender roles and the high school prom

It's a Saturday in June, and we're taking a break from our usual heavy fare.

Ah, the prom! -- partly iconic, partly inane, America's strange, formal rite of passage for high school students retains its allure in an age when everything says it shouldn't. For some, it's the pinnacle of their callow lives; for others, its a cruel social pressure cooker that underscores their outcast status. But for the older, reflective set (i.e., us), it's a microcosm of America's cultural evolution, especially its changing gender roles. (Too pretentious for a Saturday morning in June? Yeah, you're right.)  The prom has been in the news lately, highlighting how, as Bob Dylan used to try to sing, The Times They Are a-Changin.

For starters, American families with teens who attended the prom shelled out, on average, between $700 and $2,000 this year, depending on where they live.  That's more than one year's college tuition when I was in school.

Friday, June 8, 2012

And shine he did

(CBS News) Brian Banks, the pro football hopeful who spent more than five years in prison for a rape that never happened, tried out for the Seattle Seahawks Thursday.

His first tryout for a National Football League team went so well, he's been asked to come back for more.

Randy Paige, of CBS Los Angeles station KCBS-TV, broke the story that led to Banks being exonerated.

He asked Banks what it was like to finally show what he could do.

"When I walked out on that field, I thought, 'It's now or never. Let's just shine," Banks told Paige.

And shine he did.

Ten years after his hopes of a career in football were cut short by the false rape accusation, Banks got the chance to show Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll that he still had the right stuff to be considered for the NFL.

Banks has been invited to return to Seattle next week, to take part in the team's mini-camp training session.

Rape trial abruptly ends when accuser admits 'maybe it didn't happen -- I was imagining it'

An Ottawa taxi driver named Gazban Abdalrahman, 40, lost his job and spent nearly two years living under a cloud of suspicion after a sexual assault charge was lodged against him. That charge was dismissed Wednesday during a jury trial in which his accuser, a Down Syndrome victim, admitted she "might have" made up her allegations against him because she was angry he fastened her seatbelt for her.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Brian Banks on Jay Leno

Red Wings to sign Max Nicastro: 'Whatever is in the past, he's been cleared of.'

This is a follow-up to our story earlier this week about Max Nicastro, the ex-Boston University hockey star who was cleared of rape charges last week. Mr. Nicastro was under investigation for three months in connection with an allegation by a classmate, but the charge was dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Now, Mr. Nicastro is about to begin his pro hockey career. The Detroit Red Wings anticipate signing the defenseman, their third-round pick in the 2008 entry draft, after July 1 and assigning him to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

The Red Wings' assistant general manager, Jim Nill, was asked about the rape allegation, and here is what he said: "We got no comment on what happened.  Whatever is in the past, he's been cleared of. We move forward.'' See here:

This attitude is a refreshing contrast to some of the unjust sentiments we quoted in our earlier post. Too many people seem to think that a rape accusation, in itself, warrants punishment. Worse, someone who should know better -- a victims' advocate -- made ill-advised comments bemoaning the fact that the charges were dropped -- as if, by necessity, a rape accusation warrants a jury trial.  (To its great credit, another victim's advocacy group, Jane Doe Inc., went to great lengths to support the district attorney.)

We don't know what happened between Mr. Nicastro and the unnamed accuser, but we do know two things: (1) it would be grossly unjust to suggest the accuser lied, and (2) it would be equally unjust to suggest that Max Nicastro should go through life branded as a quasi-rapist.

Mr. Nill is correct: We move forward.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Off-topic: A boy at D-Day

A Boy at D-Day

His fellow soldiers would needle him that he should be in the Boy Scouts, not the United States Army.

Joseph Argenzio, Jr. was just 16 when he enlisted, and he looked it. He hadn't thought about what fighting a war would be like, he just wanted to "be a part of all the patriotism," and he couldn’t wait to get into uniform.

It wasn't long before this gung-ho kid, who was rejected when he tried to join the Marines and then had to lie about his age before the Army would take him, found himself on a landing craft heading to Omaha Beach  -- "a nice cruise on the English Channel," as his sergeant put it -- to be part of the first wave of the largest amphibious invasion in the history of the world, 68 years ago today.

The dimple-cheeked boy had been at the front of the craft close to the ramp before they landed, but his sergeant knew that wasn't right and moved him to the back. As soon at the ramp went down, the soldiers in the front were mowed down by German machine gun fire.

Someone made Joe jump over the side of the vessel, and he landed in water over his head. Sinking fast, he had to ditch two heavy cans of ammo and his rifle. Soldiers were falling in every direction around him, and bullets were spraying nearby. Joe stayed alive by hiding among the dead to block the machine gun fire aimed his way.

He took cover on the beach behind a wall. He put on a helmet from a dead soldier and it went down to his nose, a sardonic reminder of his youth. Dodging enemy fire and mortar shells, his unit eventually made it up a hill, crawling through cut wire, burning grass, and mine-laced trails. They flanked a couple of German machine gun stations and destroyed them.

Of the 160,000 Allied troops in the invasion, there were approximately 10,000 casualties,  mostly American. It was a turning point in the war, and the beginning of the end of the Third Reich.

Somehow, Joe survived. He is believed to be the youngest Allied soldier who fought at D-Day.

As the war continued into August, Joe caught flak in his back and was thrown into the air and knocked unconscious. He recuperated, and didn’t know that his injuries entitled him to a noncombat position, so he returned to his unit. He later found himself at the Battle of the Bulge. In all, he saw action in Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, France, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia.

When the war -- the Big One -- had ended, Joe was still a teenager, but he came home with two Purple Hearts, a Combat Infantry Badge, and two Bronze Stars. All before he could legally buy a drink. Later, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor Medal for his role on D-Day.

Joe married, raised a family in New York, joined the local volunteer fire department, and for many years worked for the Department of Defense and then the Department of State.  But D-Day haunted him until the day he died.  He couldn't speak about it for more than 55 years, and then, only with difficulty. When they say "war is hell," they might as well be talking about June 6, 1944. When people would ask Joe what it was like, he'd tell them to watch "Saving Private Ryan" -- the scene a lot of people can't watch, where young man after young man after young man was methodically gunned down, butchered, by the fierce German resistance. The unspeakable carnage was matched only by the other-worldly valor of the young men called to duty.

Joe Argenzio died in 2010, leaving behind a wife, four children, seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild. He was an old man, and he had lived a full life. But every obituary, every news article about him made sure to talk about that "nice cruise on the English Channel," when a 16-year-old boy helped save the world.

SOURCES: and,25346?page=1&content_source=,4828497

False porn charge against firefighter settled

The Washington State Patrol has reached a $2.4 million settlement with a former Everett man to end a lawsuit he filed after being wrongfully accused of possessing child pornography.

Todd Chism, who became a Spokane firefighter after graduating from Everett High School, was arrested in January 2008 after a search of his Stevens County home in Eastern Washington.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DA drops rape charges against college student due to insufficient evidence, victim's advocate says decision will have 'chilling effect' on rape victims

The Max Nicastro case, and why the presumptively innocent should not be convicted in the court of public opinion

Last February, Max Nicastro, a star hockey player for Boston University, was charged with sexual assault. According to investigators, a female student called campus police early in the morning of Sunday, February 19, just hours after Mr. Nicastro scored a goal in BU’s loss to UMass Lowell. She was upset and tearful and said she had been raped by Mr. Nicastro. She was taken to a nearby hospital.  Campus police dragged Mr. Nicastro out of bed at 6:30 that morning and hauled him off to jail where he was held on a $25,000 cash bail. When he was arraigned, almost a dozen Boston reporters and cameramen were in attendance.  BU quickly announced that Mr. Nicastro is no longer enrolled as a student, but the details of his departure were not revealed.
Mr. Nicastro was the second BU men’s hockey player to be charged with sexual assault in recent months.  In late 2011, according to Deadspin, "senior forward Corey Trivino—the Terriers' leading scorer at the time—was arrested in December after he allegedly barged into a female resident assistant's room three times in a matter of minutes. Each time, Trivino is accused of trying to kiss and grope the RA before finally lying down on her bed and insisting he was sleeping there. Trivino has pleaded not guilty and was thrown off the team."
Charges Dropped: Last week, the Suffolk district attorney's office announced that prosecutors determined they could not prove their case against Mr. Nicastro beyond a reasonable doubt: “After a three-month investigation and a comprehensive review of the evidence it developed, prosecutors determined that they could not meet their burden at trial of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and had an ethical obligation not to pursue it further,” said a Suffolk County District Attorney spokesperson. Their investigation included interviewing the accuser and multiple witnesses, as well as examining medical evidence and video surveillance tapes.  The accuser, the district attorney's office revealed, is a student at BU who continues to maintain that she was sexually assaulted by Mr. Nicastro in his dorm room. She was an acquaintance of Nicastro’s, but they were “not in a relationship." 
Thus, we know only that a rape accusation was made against Mr. Nicastro by an acquaintance following something that happened in Mr. Nicastro's dorm room, and that the District Attorney's office has concluded that it can't prove rape at trial.
Katherine Redmond's Comments:  Katherine Redmond, founder of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes, publicly ripped the decision to drop the rape charges.  Her comments are a concern.
“Until you get a prosecutor who is really gung-ho about sexual assaults, this isn’t going to change,” she said. "Does it have a chilling effect? Of course it does. This is a constant battle we have to deal with.” 

Ms. Redmond has a worthy agenda to pursue, but not at the expense of a presumptively innocent man who's been cleared of rape charges. Her comments in this instance are not only unjust but unconscionable. It is settled beyond even a cavil that charges should not automatically be brought on the basis of an accusation. A prosecutor is the gatekeeper of justice who should only bring charges, as Prof. Bennett L. Gershman has described it, when he or she is convinced to a moral certainty of both the defendant's factual and legal guilt. To bring charges when there is any less certainty does not fulfill the prosecutor's duty to do justice but invites miscarriages and the possible conviction of an innocent defendant.  A prosecutor most assuredly does not fulfill his or her duty to do justice merely by being "gung ho."
The district attorney's office dismissed Ms. Redmond's comments out of hand: "The standard of evidence is the same no matter who the defendant is or what that person’s station in life might be.  We wouldn’t terminate charges against a person because he or she is an athlete, and it would be just as unconscionable to pursue those charges without evidence because that person is an athlete."
Ms. Redmond also says that the decision not to charge Mr. Nicastro will have a "chilling effect" on women who have been raped. This comment is a tawdry attempt to politicize a very serious legal issue at the expense of a presumptively innocent young man.  Beyond that, it does a grave disservice to rape victims to suggest that merely because charges weren't brought in this particular case, those victims ought to think twice about whether they can get justice. COTWA does not know why charges were dropped, and neither does Redmond.  Any suggestion that the district attorney's office didn't do its job in the absence of evidence supportive of such a suggestion is irresponsible in the extreme. To better serve both rape victims and the presumptively innocent accused of heinous sex crimes, we need to move the discourse to a more mature level.  It is comments such as Redmond's, and not the district attorney's decision not to charge Mr. Nicastro, that are likely to dissuade rape victims from reporting their victimizatin. 
The Boston-based victims' advocacy group, Jane Doe Inc., for one, believes the prosecutors did their job in this case.  "What would raise concern for us is if her allegations weren’t taken seriously by the police, the district attorney’s office or the school. None of those things happened,” said agency spokeswoman Toni  K. Troop. “We know this DA has been consistently diligent about pursuing these cases." 
Rape victims need to be encouraged by both victim's advocates and advocates of the wrongly accused to report their victimization. Law enforcement personnel must exhibit sympathy, kindness, understanding, and above all, objectivity, as they investigate the claim.  But the presumptively innocent and those cleared of charges should not be used as props for victims' advocates to press even worthy agendas.
Nicastro Assumed Guilty From the Outset: The Nicastro case has been rife with assumptions of guilt from the outset. Intolerance of rape is a noble and proper impulse, but assuming the guilt of an accused man on the basis of an accusation alone is not.
From the time of Mr. Nicastro's arrest, the comments of persons quoted in the news stories about this incident did not leave much room for the possibility that Mr. Nicastro was innocent.  One student was reported as saying this: "Disappointing seems like a weak word to use because, for me, it's just terrible that a person did that."
Even this past weekend, some of the comments that accompanied the news story in BU Today reporting that the charges had been dropped were disturbing in suggesting that the accusation alone warrants punishment:  "True, he’s not facing jail time anymore, but he was kicked off the hockey team and expelled from BU. I would say that’s a fair punishment in a situation that seems to have little evidence."  And: ". . .  If we are really going to discuss false rape accusations we need to stop pretending they happen to middle-class white men . . . ."  And: "Personally, I think Nicastro getting kicked out of BU is a pretty just punishment. . . . . People need to know that sexual assault will lead to consequences. " And: ". . . . As a woman, I HATE FALSE RAPE CHARGES (though I don’t think this was the situation here). . . . ."
To his credit, Kenneth Elmore, Boston University Dean of Students, has maintained his objectivity.  After Mr. Nicastro's arrest, Dean Elmore was asked if he was concerned that there might be a culture among hockey players or athletes generally contributing to misconduct. Dean Elmore said he wouldn’t use such “a broad brush” until the Nicastro case is resolved: “Before we make that kind of conclusion, we’ve got one situation right now that we’ve got to continue to investigate.”
A Disturbing Culture at BU Hockey?  It is unjust to assume Mr. Nicastro's personal guilt, but that doesn't mean it is necessarily unjust to investigate reports of rowdy sexual antics among BU hockey players. There are reports of scantily clad young men repeatedly banging on the dorm doors of young women hoping for an invitation. The school is investigating the culture of its much worshipped hockey team.
Does the alcohol-fueled hook-up culture, combined with athletes worshipped by groupies and placed on pedestals since they were pre-pubescent (-- some describe them as as narcissistic, obnoxious, entitled assholes, although broad-brush stereotypes like that are almost always unfair) make for a toxic culture inhospitable to both women and academic civility?  And does an atmosphere that encourages the barnyard rutting of aggressive young men enable those few who might be sociopaths and predisposed to sexual assault to act out their darkest impulses?  The answer is beyond both the scope of this article and our expertise. It is fair to note that the literature we've seen indicates a disproportionate incidence of sexual assault complaints lodged against male college athletes.

Even assuming Katherine Redmond's advocacy on behalf of victims and would-be victims of male college athletes is not misplaced, it doesn't advance her agenda to insist that a particular athlete, who has been cleared of charges after what seems to have been an exhaustive investigation, should serve as the stand-in for all the athlete assholes of the world. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Kelly Peretzman adds lying about rape to her repertoire of domestic terrorism

The following story is taken from the news accounts listed below. There haven't been any convictions, and the allegations about what occurred are from police reports.

On October 28, 2011, Kelly Peretzman appeared at the house she owned with her husband Scott Pertzman in a manic state after taking "bath salts," an artificial stimulant that was banned in Pennsylvania last August. For the sake of the children, Scott did not want her there in that state, so he asked her to leave.  She became angry and threw a plate at him, striking him in the head, while calling him vulgar names. Then she grabbed a knife and violently slashed at him, injuring his arm.  
The couple's two daughters, who are 1 and 2 years old, were eating lunch in high chairs. Kelly Peretzman yanked the toddlers from their chairs -- it took several forceful yanks to free one of them -- then she tucked them under her arms and attempted to run with them. She fell, dropping both children to the floor.
Last month, Kelly Peretzman was ordered to trial for felony aggravated assault and endangering children in connection with her conduct. 
Fast forward to April 19, 2012. Kelly Peretzman showed up at her estranged husband, Scott's, home, grabbed him around the neck, and choked him. Then she punched him with a closed fist in the face.  Scott called 9-1-1, and when police officers arrived at the home, they found Scott bleeding from his nose, torso and hands. 
Kelly Peretzman was nowhere to be found, but as she drove away, her car broke down and police stopped to assist.  For reasons that are not clear, she was not then arrested for assaulting her estranged husband. Instead, she told the police officers that her husband had raped her.  She was taken to the police station to make a sworn statement. She claimed that she told officers that Scott Peretzman had pushed her onto a bed "and held a gun to the back of her head and raped her." Kelly Peretzman was taken to Lancaster General Hospital, where tests were performed to investigate the rape.
Police launched an investigation and took Scott Peretsman's statement. Despite all that occurred, police did not immediately dismiss Kelly Peretzman's rape allegation. It was only after Peretzman stopped returning police officers' calls and canceled an interview did they became suspicious. A detective eventually suspected the rape story was a lie.
On May 23, Kelly Peretzman admitted to police that she hadn't been raped.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The most important story we've ever done

Read it here.

Man charged with false crime report

A Panama City man was arrested Thursday on charges of filing a false report of a sexual assault.

James H. King, 19, was charged with false report of a crime, according to the Panama City Police Department.

The investigation began on May 16 when King reported a sexual crime against a 12-year-old. King provided detectives information that identified a male suspect. During the investigation detectives were able to obtain evidence that no sexual assault occurred and that King made the story up.

King provided the false information to detectives in order to get the suspect he identified into trouble due to King and the suspect having relationship issues, police said.