Friday, August 31, 2012

We applaud recent NY Times editorial

This is a New York Times editorial from August 21, 2012:

Federal law allows federal courts to award attorneys’ fees and other expenses to criminal defendants who prove gross misconduct on the part of federal prosecutors. The law — a 1997 amendment sponsored by Representative Henry Hyde, a Republican — is a valuable deterrent to prosecutorial abuse, providing compensation in cases where a court finds the government’s position to be “vexatious, frivolous or in bad faith.”

By “bad faith,” the amendment has always been understood to mean that a defendant could be compensated if the prosecution behaved unethically even when its case was legitimate. But a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit rules by 2 to 1 that the law applies only in cases that are clearly unfounded. This makes the government untouchable in any plausible prosecution.
This case was brought against Dr. Ali Shaygan for allegedly dispensing drugs outside the scope of his medical practice. He was acquitted of all charges in 2009, after a four-week trial and jury deliberations of only three hours.

The trial judge awarded almost $602,000 to cover Dr. Shaygan’s lawyers’ fees and expenses and reprimanded the prosecutors, who had threatened a defense lawyer with a “seismic shift” if he asked the judge to suppress statements obtained from Dr. Shaygan in violation of his rights. When the defense lawyer went ahead with his request, the prosecution, in reprisal, increased the number of charges from 23 to 141. The judge, quite rightly, said the government had not acted in “good faith,” in addition to perpetrating other “conscious and deliberate wrongs.”

The Supreme Court should take this case for review, as the defendant has asked. It should reaffirm that a prosecutor’s duty is to seek justice, not victory at all costs, and affirm the intent of the Hyde Amendment. Prosecutors are rarely punished for wrongdoing. Other sanctions like a reprimand from a bar association, are largely ineffective. The amendment is a check against gross misconduct.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cameras to be installed in taxi cabs to prevent false rape claims

There have been a cavalcade of false rape claims lodged against taxi cab drivers in recent years. See here and here.  Now cabbies in Londonderry are getting some protection. As reported here:

The move comes after footage from a camera led to the successful prosecution of a man found guilty of attacking a taxi driver.

This success prompted other drivers to follow suit, installing the equipment at their own expense.

The driver involved in the court action said that he took the decision to install the CCTV camera after a shocking incident that took place in his cab.

A group of men he had collected turned out to be drunk and one reached over his seat and tried to grab the steering wheel while he was driving.

The man said the incident almost caused him to crash the car and could have resulted in him being charged with a motoring offence without being able to prove what had happened.

The installation of cameras has been welcomed by the proprietor of the largest taxi company in Derry, Foyle Delta.

Speaking to the North West Telegraph, Jarlath Malone said installing cameras will give peace of mind to drivers.

He added: “I know a lot of drivers who will not work at night because of fears of being attacked or robbed but the biggest fear they have is of being falsely accused of rape.

“Drivers are very vulnerable and have genuine concerns about their own safety — especially at night, but not just at night — and we have a few drivers who have already installed CCTV.

“Anything that offers protection to drivers is welcome and I can certainly see the sense in having a camera installed in a taxi.

“All our drivers are thoroughly vetted before they start work for us so while a camera may make female passengers feel safer, it would be the driver who would benefit most from them.”

In Derry last December a taxi driver was accused of rape but it was not until March this year that all charges against him were dropped.

Willie Doherty, a driver with City Cabs, said this has prompted others to consider fitting CCTV.

He said: “It's being talked about by drivers who feel the CCTV would give them a bit more confidence when lifting fares at night, particularly in light of what happened to the driver last year who was accused in the wrong.”

And we're not supposed to be concerned for young men on campus when we hear a prosecutor say this?

I don't know what scares you, but the comments of Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters regarding the expulsion of Dezmine Wells from Xavier, scare me plenty:

“There is something seriously flawed with a procedure where a young man and his accuser appear before a group of people, which I would suggest probably isn’t very well trained in assessing these types of cases, and they sit there and tell their stories. No lawyers, nothing. There’s just something wrong with that."

“I have talked to people at the university. After the debacle we had with the church and with the archdiocese we set up a procedure where (the archdiocese) would come to us with any allegations of sexual assault.”

Deters said they would have sent detectives who “know what they are doing” to determine an investigation going forward.

Please underscore that the statement was made by a prosecutor, someone in the business of bringing criminals to justice -- not an ACLU attorney, not a men's rights activist. Just as all people of good will should be concerned when a woman is raped, this comment also ought to be cause for serious concern. We are allowing our government to implement latter day witch hunts against young men on American campuses to appease political interests. 

Nabbing rapists is critical; insuring that the innocent aren't nabbed with them is even more critical. If you need to ask "why" that interest is even more critical, then you aren't well schooled in our jurisprudential traditions:

See these stories about Mr. Deters' comments:

Kingsport man pleads guilty to making false child rape charge

Story reported here:

BLOUNTVILLE — A Kingsport man has pleaded guilty to reporting false child rape allegations against his father, among other offenses.

Joshua David Lynn Thompson, 25, 130 E. Carters Valley Road, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Sullivan County Criminal Court to filing a false police report, exhibition of materials to a minor, introduction of contraband (drugs) into a penal institution, and felony failure to appear.

An investigation of Thompson's allegations had prompted a child rape charge against his father, James David Thompson. The elder Thompson was acquitted following a one-day trial in November 2010.

In June 2010, during a hearing in his father's case, Joshua Thompson testified he never saw his father "messing with" the alleged victim or engaged in a sexual act. He also said he did not recall having told a Sullivan County Sheriff's Office investigator otherwise.

During that hearing, the judge warned Thompson he could be charged with perjury if he was caught lying under oath or with making a false police report if it was later determined that he had lied to the investigator. The judge also told him a witness can avoid a perjury charge if false testimony is amended to the truth before leaving the witness stand.

After being cautioned, Thompson continued to insist that he never told the investigator he'd seen his father and the girl engaged in sexual activities, reiterating several times that he had "never seen anything."

Thompson's testimony included the following statement: "I never did hear (the alleged victim) cry at night. And (she) did go into Dad's room freely. I never did have sex with (her). The only thing I ever seen -- I went to live with my grandmother when I was 16 -- the only time I ever seen anything and it wasn't never any sexual acts. I was just assuming that anything was going on -- she was probably 17 or 18, that's around the time she got pregnant. (Her mother) would go to work, she would work graveyard, and (the alleged victim) would go into Dad's room. But as far as me seeing anything, I've never seen 'em kiss or have sex, or..." he concluded.

In exchange for Thompson's guilty plea to the false report charge, the state agreed to dismiss an aggravated perjury charge. His other guilty pleas stemmed from separate cases.

The exhibition of materials to a minor charge stemmed from Thompson's display of pornographic material to a minor. The contraband charge stemmed from drugs he had in his possession during a booking into the Sullivan County jail. The failure to appear charge stemmed from a court appearance that he missed after a court security officer spotted him running from the courthouse in February.

Court officers told the judge his sudden flight might have been prompted by an attachment for overdue child support. He was arrested on that attachment and the other charges in March.

According to Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Julie Canter, Thompson received an eight-year sentence with 35 percent service required, with four years suspended in favor of supervised probation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Witch hunt at Xavier: Dez Wells' expulsion from Xavier ‘fundamentally unfair,’ prosecutor says

As reported here:

Shortly after his office declined to pursue a sexual assault case against former Xavier basketball player Dezmine Wells, Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters excoriated university officials for their process in determining to expel Wells from school.
In an interview with WLW-AM radio, Deters called the use of a University Conduct Board to determine whether Wells had committed an offense worthy of expulsion “fundamentally unfair” and “seriously flawed.” Deters said this matter “should never have gotten to the point where someone’s reputation is ruined.”

Deters said he took the allegation seriously and assigned two assistant prosecutors “who are highly skilled at assessing these kinds of cases.”

A source close to Wells told Sporting News he testified before the Hamilton County Grand Jury on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, the Grand Jury declined to prosecute. Deters said, based on what was presented, “It wasn’t even close. ... We would never take anything like this to court. It just wouldn’t happen.”
Xavier University responded to Deters' criticisms with the following statement:

“Federal law (Title IX) and federal regulations and guidances prohibit universities from ceding student conduct matters to the criminal justice system. The Federal law requires schools to act quickly and all schools, by law, must use the ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard, whereas the criminal justice system uses the ‘probable cause’ standard to indict, and the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard to convict.

“The process used by the Xavier University conduct board is the standard used in American universities. The XU conduct board heard evidence that may or may not have been heard by the Grand Jury. After the conduct board reached its decision, the matter was considered and upheld by an appeal board of members of the student body, faculty and staff and is final.”

Wells — a small forward from Raleigh, N.C., who made the Atlantic-10 all-rookie team — was expelled by Xavier this month based on the recommendation of the conduct board.

Wells was expected to become the star of the Xavier team as a sophomore. He was among the highest-rated recruits in the school’s history and averaged 9.8 points in his first season. He was suspended four games for his involvement in the Musketeers’ on-court fight with Cincinnati last December.

Until the expulsion, that suspension was the only apparent stain on Wells’ record.

“I cannot by law discuss what went in front of the Grand Jury,” Deters told WLW. “What I can tell you, though, is this is a young man with no record that we know of, who this allegation was leveled against and in our opinion at the conclusion of this that the Grand Jury did come to the right conclusion.

“I would hope they would revisit this thing. They’re set up to protect their students, but Dez Wells is a student, too.”

Deters’ objection was rooted in the Xavier conduct board process, which he described as positioning Wells and his accuser — without legal representation — before a panel consisting of Xavier students, faculty and administrators. Deters stressed that, in his opinion, these people were “untrained” to deal with sexual assault allegations.

“This offense carries mandatory prison time. This is not shoplifting,” Deters told WLW. “If found guilty, this individual faced 11 years in prison. This is no laughing matter. And people are reviewing it who, I would suggest to you, haven’t been doing it for decades.”

Deters said he hopes Xavier officials “will revisit this thing,” although it was not clear whether he was referring to Wells’ dismissal or the process itself.

Earlier this month, Xavier completed an agreement with federal investigators in which it pledged to begin training and reporting programs to protect victims of sexual assault.

The Education Department’s office of civil rights pursued the agreement after complaints were filed by female students over the school’s handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment claims.

”Any time you get federal people involved in this, you should expect a disaster,” Deters said.

Serial liar who cried rape is jailed over new false assault claim

SERIAL liar Kelly Walsh – who made up a story that she had been raped – has been jailed again after falsely claiming her ex-boyfriend had attacked her.

She later "tried to bluff her way out of it" but eventually confessed to lying yet again, a court heard.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Man claims now-dead Augustinian brother molested him

COTWA: We are not calling this a "wrongful" rape claim, we simply post it to underscore the point that we just don't know -- a boy might have had his life scarred by an evil man, or a good man's name might be forever besmirched by an evil lie. We don't know, and we wonder why a presumptively innocent man -- who can no longer defend himself because he's dead -- is being publicly named for something so awful where there is no way to disprove it.

A man is suing the Chicago Archdiocese, claiming a now-deceased Augustinian brother who served as dean of St. Rita of Cascia High School sexually abused him more than 30 years ago when he was a student at the South Side school.

The plaintiff, listed as John Doe, was a student at St. Rita and a devout Catholic when the abuse happened in 1977 or 1978, according to the suit.

Brother Christopher J. McCartney repeatedly pulled the boy out of class and called him to his office where he would remove his pants and fondle him, the suit alleges. When the boy would try to leave, the brother wouldn’t let him and said he was being “disciplined.”

The plaintiff recovered the repressed memories of the alleged abuse in 2011, according to the suit.

The Archdiocese of Chicago received the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon but has not had the opportunity to evaluate it yet, a spokeswoman said.

However, the spokeswoman said, “It is clear that the archdiocese does not own or operate St. Rita’s high school and we have no authority over the members of the Augustinian order serving in Augustinian institutions.”

Wednesday’s lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese of failing to have a system in place to supervise brothers in order to prevent sexual contact with minors. It further claims the Archdiocese knew McCartney had lured other children to his office and molested them, but did not restrict his access to young people or report him to authorities.

“My client hopes that this lawsuit can serve as a catalyst for other victims to come forward to confront their past abuse and by doing so, begin to heal,” said the man’s attorney, Jessica Hegarty.

“He wishes to help other child sex abuse victims by letting them know that they’re not alone and that they need to come out of the shadows and confront their abusers.”

McCartney entered the Augustinian order in 1961 and worked at high schools in St. Louis and Detroit before moving to St. Rita in 1973, the school website says. He served as a dean at the South Side all-male high school for five years.

He later worked at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines and St. Joseph Parish in Pekin, Ill., then worked outside Chicago before he died on July 21, 2002.

Hegarty & Hegarty, the firm representing the plaintiff, is considering adding the Augustinian order as a defendant to the lawsuit, his attorney said. The order could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday’s two-count suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, claims negligence and fraud and seeks at least $100,000 in damages.

LeeAnn Shelton

Monday, August 27, 2012

The unfortunate politicization of the University of Montana's mandatory sexual assault training

All students attending the University of Montana will be required to watch a video tutorial, consisting of seven short videos, and pass a quiz based on them with a score of 100 percent before they can register for second semester classes.

The script for the videos was written by two professors from the school's Women and Gender Studies program. “We know this video can evoke strong feelings on the part of men and women,” one of them said. “This training is designed to create the opportunity for dialogue and discussion and to make sure we’re not silent about these issues.” You can watch the videos here:

The videos focus, among other things, on "America’s 'rape-prone culture.'” One of the videos says: “Many scholars warn of a rape-prone culture, where prevalent attitudes, norms and behaviors excuse, minimize and even encourage sexual violence. This environment creates stereotypes and beliefs about women, men, sexuality and power.”

One of the videos also debunks what it calls lingering "myths" surrounding rape, including this one: “People  lie about sexual assault.” The tutorial purports to clarify this epiphany by noting that "the vast majority of sexual assault reports are true. Not believing a survivor can be emotionally damaging and may prevent others from coming forward."

The videos contain much useful information, but they also suggest a troubling politicization of an important issue that should have no place in higher education. The assertions that ours is a "rape-prone culture" where "prevalent attitudes" and "norms . . . excuse, minimize and even encourage sexual violence" is coded language that those schooled in the issues will recognize. It is a manifestation of an unfortunate strain of extremist gender political advocacy that tends to reduce young men to caricature. With a sweeping broad-brush, it demonizes an entire gender as potential rapists. Jessica Valenti, a once-prominent gender political activist and blogger and one of the purveyors of the maleness-is-broken crowd, has written: "Rape is part of our culture. It's normalized to the point where men who are otherwise decent guys will rape and not even think that it's wrong. And that's what terrifies me." This attitude, which the University of Montanta videos tap into, is absurd on its face because "otherwise decent guys" don't so easily forget their decency and do such a vile thing.*

Beyond that, the videos trivialize the significant problem of wrongful rape claims. To say it is a "myth" that people lie about sexual assault echoes the old disingenuous meme that "women don't lie about rape." Some people do lie about rape, and the resulting injustice to the victims can be devastating, even fatal. It is troubling that to some advocates, wrongful rape claims are deemed unworthy of consideration because, the advocates suggest, they do not pose a problem as serious as rape. We've recently addressed that argument here: It is unconscionable to trivialize the victimization caused by one social evil in advocating for the victims of another, yet it is routinely done when it comes to wrongful rape claims.  Among many, many issues that the videos could have dealt with are rape claims lodged when the woman wasn't lying but she was simply mistaken about the legal effect of the facts she's relates. (E.g., she didn't want to have sex, but her outward manifestations of assent could have reasonably led her partner to think she consented. Amanda Hess and Amanda Marcotte have discussed the internal conflicts some young women experience when they feel pressured to "defend their femininity.")

In addition, that "myth" is coupled with the statement that "not believing a survivor can be emotionally damaging and may prevent others from coming forward."  This clearly implies that every accuser is a "survivor," and it blinks at even the possibility that an accuser might be lying or mistaken. Students, thus, are being told they should automatically believe the accuser before the accused has been afforded the right to defend himself in a disciplinary hearing or a court of law. This, of course, is wrong on a host of levels. Students should be taught to treat all claims of rape respectfully while they are being investigated.  Students should not be taught to rush to judgment and assume that a male is a rapist on the basis of nothing more than an accusation.  The news stories we've covered on this site and on our predecessor site are replete with examples where that occurred, with all manner of resulting injustice.

It is especially troubling that students are forced not only to watch these videos, but to parrot back the information in quizzes if they want to remain enrolled at the university. It is unfortunate that more students, and more parents who are paying for their children to attend the university, are not better schooled in these issues. They would see for themselves how far from the mainstream certain aspects of these videos really are.

*NOTE: In contrast to the "even-decent-guys-rape" meme, feminist Amanda Marcotte recently wrote about the Lisak/Miller study that chronicled narcissistic men who enjoy forcing themselves on women. The picture that study paints is about men who are anything but "decent guys"; they are outliers, and there is nothing "mormalized" about them. Ms. Marcotte writes: "Far from being ordinary men who get out of control from lust, the roughly five percent of men interviewed who are rapists are men who seek out opportunities to rape women. . . . they pride themselves on their methods of identifying victims and separating them from potential help. They also eagerly explained how they avoided facing consequences, mainly by attacking drunk women. Rapists, it turns out, are acutely aware that if the victim was drinking, she’s much more unlikely to report it, and even if she does, the police are unlikely to do anything about it. As added protection against getting caught, most rapists attacked acquaintances, probably because they know that they can claim innocence, saying they thought she had consented."

U.Conn. Police: Sex assault claim false

Police at the University of Connecticut say a report that a group of men struck a woman with a skateboard and sexually assaulted her is false.

According to police, the woman reported the alleged attack early Saturday at Storrs campus. Police investigated by reviewing security camera footage and conducting more than one interview with the person who made the complaint. They say that they learned the incident did not occur and that the person who made the complaint "falsely reported the assault."

After receiving the report, police issued an alert warning through the university's emergency alert notification system. They did not say if charges would be filed.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Slate columnist suggests rape claim is false, 'Rambling Feminist' accuses her of 'victim blaming'

In her “Dear Prudence” column, Slate’s Emily Yoffe recently fielded a question about a rape claim and had the good sense to recognize the difference between incapacitation, which negates consent, and inebriation, which generally doesn't unless it leads to incapacitation. Ms. Yoffe had the temerity to suggest that a false rape claim is a false rape claim.  For that, she's been excoriated by a puerile, victim-mongering blog post in a blog called The Rambling Feminist. As shown below, that blog post throws out buzzwords like "slut shaming" and "victim shaming" where they have no application, and, sadly, the blogger seems utterly content not to understand what "consent" means. 

First, here is the Dear Prudence question and answer:

Q. Friend Has Revised One-Night Stand Story: A friend recently called me and said she had a one-night stand after drinking too much. She was beating herself up over drinking too much and going home with a guy she met at a bar. I reassured her that everyone makes mistakes and didn't think much more of the account. However, since then, she has told many people that she was a victim of date-rape—that the guy must have put something into her drink . She spoke to a rape crisis line, and they said even if she was drunk, she couldn't have given consent so she was a victim of rape. She now wants to press charges—she has the guy's business card. I have seen her very intoxicated on previous occasions, to the point she doesn't remember anything the next day. I'm not sure on what my response should be at this point. Pretend she never told me the original story?

A: Trying to ruin someone else's life is a poor way to address one's alcohol and self-control problems. Since her first version of the story is that she was ashamed of her behavior, and since you have seen her knee-walking drunk on other occasions, it sounds as if she wants to punish the guy at the bar for her own poor choices. Yes, I agree that men should not have sex with drunk women they don't know. But I think cases like the one you are describing here—in the absence of any evidence she was drugged—where someone voluntarily goes home with a stranger in order to have a sexual encounter, makes it that much harder for women who are assaulted to bring charges. Talk to your friend. Tell her that she needs to think very long and hard about filing a criminal complaint against this guy if there's any way her behavior could be construed to be consensual. Say you understand her shame, but you're concerned about her drinking, and if she addresses that, she won't find herself in such painful situations.

Second, here is the response by the The Rambling Feminist, who takes that same question and answer and somehow transmogrifies it into "rape." She writes:

"If you ever needed a classic example of ways rape culture is insidious, here you go. This has stopped being about the victim, who was date raped (and is dealing with the shame socialized in that situation) and become about how her actions in trying to get justice, trying to deal, confiding in her friend, become about the rapist. Suddenly, it’s the rapist’s reputation you have to think about, it’s their life that matters, their peace of mind. Add to that, the victim’s behavior is somehow a justifiable part of her possibly have being raped? As if her drinking is an automatic signal putting out 'YES PLEASE RAPE ME!'.

"Here’s the bottom line. No matter the situation, there is no justification or excuse for rape. A rape is a rape. There is no better or worse rape. There is rape. And it must be stopped or prosecuted when it happens. More than that, how about we teach DON’T RAPE instead of what this kind of advice puts out.

"Slut shaming, victim blaming.

"I see what you did there Prudie."

Our comment: Late last year, we pleaded to elevate the public discourse about sexual assault. Since that time, nothing has changed. This is still one of the few blogs that bothers to voice respect for both the victims of both sexual assault and of false rape claims.  The Rambling Feminist is happy to wallow in smug, derisive ignorance about consent and assume men are rapists when they are not. Worse, he or she does a disservice to rape victims with his/her vituperative and factually absurd rhetoric. It is rants like The Rambling Feminist's that engender disrepute of people who, in good faith, want to raise awareness about rape.

Matt Lewis commented about the hysteria over Emily Yoffe's column: "I can only imagine what would have happened to Yoffe is she were a male Republican, rather than a female writer at Slate."

Former Husker charged with making false report about hate crime

A former University of Nebraska women’s basketball player who alleged that she had been assaulted because of her sexual orientation has been charged with making a false statement.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Torture in American prisons: ghastly

Ind. mom convicted in son's death in fire released

GREENSBURG, Ind. (AP) — Kristine Bunch hugged her mother and her teenage son, basking in the warm Indiana sunshine for the first time Wednesday afternoon following 16 years behind bars for a murder she said all along she didn't commit.

Man jailed after false rape claim

A YOUNG Wigan man has been sent to jail for crying rape.

Robert O’Brien falsely claimed that he had been sexually assaulted by a man who gave him a lift home from a bar in Appley Bridge.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Airlines, heed the story of Michael Matz: the man who saved two unaccompanied children sitting next to him after a plane crash

In light of the policies of two airlines to bar all men from sitting next to unaccompanied minors on planes, we thought this story should be publicized.

On July 19, 1989, Michael Matz was seated next to two unaccompanied children on United Airlines Flight 232 when tragedy struck mid-air. The plane lost an engine and its hydraulic system.

Mr. Matz kept the children calm, but the plane was doomed. It crashed in a Sioux City cornfield. The cabin tore apart and finally came to a stop in an upside-down position.

In all, 112 people died in that disaster, but Mr. Matz led the two unaccompanied children, Melissa Roth, 12, and her brother Travis, 9, to safety. The children's older brother, Jody, 14, seated elsewhere on the plane, also managed to escape.  Mr. Matz returned to the plane to search for other survivors, and then he came back to care for the Roth children, who were flying alone, for several hours.

Heroics aside, Mr. Matz has led a pretty amazing life. He's a six-time U.S. equestrian national champion. He made three Olympic teams and helped the US to a team silver medal in 1996 before carrying the flag in the closing ceremony.

Then, on a warm Saturday afternoon in May of 2006, the horse that Michael Matz trained, Barabaro, romped to a 6½-length victory in the Kentucky Derby. No one in the stands at Churchill Downs that day was happier than the three Roth children. All grown up now, they came to Louisville not to cheer on a horse, but to honor their champion, Michael Matz, who 17 years earlier had helped save them from disaster.

Off-topic: Women force 3-year-old boys to fight for the women's amusement

This news story is disgusting beyond words: women forcing very little boys to fight each other for the women's amusement. Does this come from some twisted attitude that sees boys as less than human? (Yet each of these women would be permitted to sit next to unaccompanied boys on Virgin Airline flights while men would be barred . . . . Just sayin'.)

Can we talk about false rape claims without being demonized?

Rep. Todd Akin has clarified his scientifically laughable comment that rape victims don't get pregnant. It's not the first time a Congressman has said something stupid (see, e.g., here), nor will it be the last.  But Akin's clarification might be more politically dangerous than his initial faux pas: he says he was actually talking about false rape claims. Here is what he said:
You know, Dr. Willke has just released a statement and part of his letter, I think he just stated it very clearly. He said, of course Akin never used the word legitimate to refer to the rapist, but to false claims like those made in Roe v. Wade and I think that simplifies it….. There isn't any legitimate rapist…. [I was] making the point that there were people who use false claims, like those that basically created Roe v. Wade.
The angry reaction to Akin's comments was sadly predictable, with some of the writers taking liberties with his actual words. Underlying most of the comments is an implicit belief that Akin thinks most rape claims are lies, and that when women are raped, they often "deserve" it.

Savannah Dietrich tweets the names of the boys who pled guilty to her sexual abuse in violation of a court order: It isn't fair to the boys, and it does no favors for rape victims

When teenager Savannah Dietrich violated a court order by tweeting the names of two teenage boys who pled guilty to sexual abusing her, she was treated in some quarters as a brave crusader for rape victims. For their part, the boys were treated as deserving of this smear that has reportedly ruined the life of at least one of them.

In fact, Ms. Dietrich should not be applauded for her actions, she should be chastised for them.

First, it wasn't fair to the boys. The were charged as juveniles, and their pleas were premised on an expectation that their cases would be kept confidential. They have a right to rely on the court order entered pursuant to their pleas. We now know that many innocent young men plead guilty to crimes they didn't commit because have no real choice. Brian Banks is a prominent example: Brian pled guilty to a rape he didn't commit because his lawyer convinced him he would lose if he went to trial.  Brian, then 17, wasn't permitted to consult with his parents and was given just ten minutes to decide. He sat down and cried, then he decided 18 months sounded "way better than 41 years to life." 

Second, Ms. Dietrich's actions did no favor for rape victims. She has proven to the criminal defense bar, in a high profile case, that court orders requiring confidentiality not only can't be enforced, but that any attempt to enforce them will only backfire and give greater publicity to the illegal revelation of their clients' names. Ms. Dietrich has just given young men accused of rape -- even the ones who should plead guilty -- an important reason to insist on a trial, where rapists frequently prevail. This means that more young women will be subjected to grueling trials, or, more likely, they will just drop the whole thing.

Ours is a nation of laws. Ms. Dietrich has decided that she's above the ones that apply to the rest of us, even when we happen to be victims. Vigilantism and bloodlust are never valid substitutes for justice, even when we, personally, don't think that justice has been served.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Columnist: it is 'dangerous' to assert that 'all rapes that are reported are not actually rapes'

In the wake of Rep. Todd Akin's scientifically incorrect assertion that "legitimate rapes" don't end in pregnancy, Politico reporter Dave Catanese tweeted the following, among many other things:

"So perhaps some can agree that all rapes that are reported are not actually rapes? Or are we gonna really deny that for PC sake?"

Apparently Catanese shouldn't have said that. A writer at named Tommy Christopher doesn't like the fact that Catanese dared to raise the issue of false rape claims:

". . . there is a part of Catonese’s defense of Akin that actually is dangerous on its own, in much the same way that Akin’s remarks themselves were. Akin’s use of the term 'legitimate,' as in authentic, conveyed the idea that some rapes aren’t actually rapes, and Catonese reinforced that notion by tweeting 'So perhaps some can agree that all rapes that are reported are not actually rapes? Or are we gonna really deny that for PC sake?'

"While not technically inaccurate, Catonese’s tweet gives the impression that there is a widespread problem with over-reporting of rapes, when the fact is that, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), less than half of all rapes are reported, while only 12% of rapes result in an arrest, 5% in felony convictions, and 3% in jail time. 54% of rapes are not reported, while according to the FBI, only 8% of rape cases are classified as “unfounded,” a definition that, in true circular fashion, relies on sick, Akin/Ryan-ian logic:
This statistic is almost meaningless, as many of the jurisdictions from which the FBI collects data on crime use different definitions of, or criteria for, “unfounded.” That is, a report of rape might be classified as unfounded (rather than as forcible rape) if the alleged victim did not try to fight off the suspect, if the alleged perpetrator did not use physical force or a weapon of some sort, if the alleged victim did not sustain any physical injuries, or if the alleged victim and the accused had a prior sexual relationship. Similarly, a report might be deemed unfounded if there is no physical evidence or too many inconsistencies between the accuser’s statement and what evidence does exist. As such, although some unfounded cases of rape may be false or fabricated, not all unfounded cases are false.
"In a culture that is already unfriendly to rape-reporting, Catonese has a duty to make these facts clear, and rather than firing him, Politico ought to make sure he does it."

Tommy Christopher's comments, and his stats, are disingenuous because they don't tell the whole story, for reasons we've recently blogged about here. As we explained, it is disingenuous to assert that less than ten percent of all rape claims are "false" without also explaining that the majority of reported rape claims can't be classified as rapes. No serious study, not even Dr. Lisak's, has ever refuted that assertion.

Catonese apparently learned how "dangerous" his comments were. Yesterday he tweeted: “Re last night: Bad idea trying to have nuanced conversation on highly charged issue on here. Did not intend to take a side. Lesson learned.”

At COTWA, we go to great lengths to make clear our profound concern for rape victims. Fighting the evils of both rape and of wrongful rape claims is not, and should never be, a zero sum game, and there is no necessity to trivialize the victimization caused by one in advocating for the victims of the other. 

But please, Mr. Christopher, do not try to demonize anyone who dares to talk about false rape claims by invoking Rep. Todd Akins.

Alabama Governor supports pardon for Scottsboro boys

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's governor would like to grant a request to pardon the black Scottsboro Boys over false accusations of raping two white women in the segregated South, but he lacks the legal authority, a spokesman said Thursday.

Officials with the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center in Scottsboro sent a pardon request to Gov. Robert Bentley on Wednesday after first contacting the state parole board.

"Governor Bentley supports pardoning the Scottsboro Boys. However, the Constitution does not give him the authority to do so," spokesman Jeremy King said.

The state parole board doesn't grant posthumous pardons, a spokesman said.

One of the nine black teenagers convicted of raping two white women in 1931 received a pardon from the state parole board in 1976, with the support of then-Gov. George C. Wallace. Clarence Norris was the only one living at the time, and nothing was done for the other eight.

King said the governor's staff is looking at what might be done to allow posthumous pardons.

In 2006, the Legislature passed the "Rosa Parks Law" to allow for pardons for people convicted of violating the law during protests against segregation. Relatives can apply for the deceased to obtain pardons.

King said the governor would support the Legislature passing a law similar to that.The Scottsboro Boys Museum opened in 2010. It chronicles how a sheriff's posse stopped a train at Paint Rock, Ala., March 25, 1931, and arrested nine black teenagers on charges of raping two white women on the train. They were convicted in trials in Scottsboro, and all but one was initially sentenced to death. They won new trials. One of the women recanted her story. Five of the Scottsboro Boys had the rape charges dropped, while four were convicted.

The case resulted to two significant U.S. Supreme Court decisions saying criminal defendants are entitled to effective counsel and blacks can't be systematically excluded from criminal juries. One of the men, Haywood Patterson, was tried in a Decatur courtroom by Limestone County Judge James Edwin Horton. Although a jury found Patterson guilty, Horton threw out the verdict, an unpopular decision at the time that cost Horton re-election.

When Norris obtained his pardon in 1976, there was talk of trying to do something for Andy and Roy Wright, Haywood Patterson, Olen Montgomery, Charlie Weems, Ozie Powell, William Robertson and Eugene Williams , but nothing happened. Norris died in 1989.

The museum, which opened in 2010, is trying to stir up interest again. It has received support from several prominent Alabama lawyers.

"It's time to officially clear their names. We will do all we can to see that this happens," the governor's spokesman said.

Monday, August 20, 2012

So if a rape accuser gets pregnant, she's lying about rape?

As one of the only blogs that gives voice to persons wrongfully accused of sexual assault, you'd think COTWA would have heard of Rep. Todd Akin's "test" before this. Shows how dumb we are.  I've got a better idea, Mr. Akins: why not just toss rape accusers in the lake and if see they float?

In the past several weeks, this site has covered a series of unspeakable injustices against innocent or possibly innocent persons. We certainly hope that Mr. Akin's ill-advised comments aren't mistaken for advocacy on behalf of the wrongly accused -- they aren't.  And we certainly do wish that even a small amount of the press coverage being heaped on this story -- which is enormous -- could be diverted to expose some of the injustices we cover here. I'm not holding my breath on that last one.

Stamp out nocturnal emissions!

We are stranded in an era where a crime committed with a penis is deemed to warrant greater punishment than a crime committed with a loaded gun; where college men are expelled for engaging in consensual sex because they asked for it too much; where a high ranking British leader suggested with a straight face that police and prosecutors be assigned quotas to nab more rapists; where legal scholars urge that the burden of proof to prove "consent" in rape cases be placed on the accused male, thus making the sex act a presumed crime whenever a woman cries rape; where female statutory rapists can hold their male victims responsible for paying child support for a child born as a result of that sexual assualt; where strip clubs are financially penalized because victims' advocates insist there's a correlation between looking at naked women and rape even though experts say there isn't; where the Department of Education mandates that your son be found guilty of sexual assault, with all the attendant destruction to his life, even though the disciplinary panel is 49.999% sure he didn't do it.     

In point of fact, mankind has always had a love-hate relationship with the penis, and penile hysteria is nothing new. Society's machinations to control the vile tendencies of the male organ of copulation have taken many wild and fantastic forms throughout the centuries. There always seems to be a cottage industry ready to spring up to wage the War on Penis Terror.

In modern times, few efforts were as barbaric as those stemming from the hysteria in the 19th and early 20th centuries over boys' and young men's nocturnal emissions. In the 19th Century, Spermatorrhea was considered a disease brought on by nocturnal emissions and "that dreadfully destructive habit of Self Abuse." The list of terrors -- physical and psychological -- that supposedly resulted from it is mind-boggling, but the "cures" were even more bizarre. This is from a Quebec newspaper, September 15, 1859, touting an invention to "permanently" cure young men of both nocturnal emissions and "the secret habits of youth":

We don't know what the "instrument" looked like, but we can imagine. There were all sorts of inhumane devices floating around in that era to keep young men from ejaculating, and they are cringe-inducing.

Here's a lovely device designed to awaken any young man who experienced the misfortune of an erection in his sleep (which, we know, is routine). It is referred to as "Jugum penis," and it appeared in the UK 1880-1920. According to NewScientist: "Guaranteed to bring tears to the eyes of at least half our readers, this device was intended as a treatment for 'nocturnal incontinence' and to prevent masturbation. It was designed to deter nighttime emissions by causing enough pain to waken the sleeper if an erection threatened. Until relatively recently, masturbation was considered a moral weakness and at least partly responsible for a whole range of debilitating medical conditions."

How about the thing below. The Frisky asked if you can "GUESS WHAT THIS THING WAS USED FOR."
"Go ahead," the Frisky wrote, "just guess. Fancy faucet? Nope. Ornate door knocker? Wrong again. This is a rare 19th century, copper anti-masturbation device. The oh-so-comfie looking chastity cup was strapped on with a belt and worn by boys in France in the late 1880′s to prevent them from committing the “sin.” This cruel antique was auctioned off on eBay in 2008 for starting price of a little under $1,000. I just hope the lucky owner is not using it. Oh, the things the Catholic church came up with to keep people from getting off. At least they had the decency to include pee holes. But still. Sad face."

It is frightening that these devices were once deemed acceptable, just as male infant circumcission is deemed acceptable today. 

Conviction but no tangible evidence


Last Modified: Aug 17, 2012 10:16PM
This is not a story about the innocence of Darrell Williams.

It is too late for that.

Last month, a jury in Stillwater, Okla., found the former Dunbar High School basketball player guilty on two counts of rape by instrumentation.

This is a story about shattered dreams, about fate’s ironies and about a criminal justice system that continues to wrongfully snare young black men.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Assange to Obama: 'End the witch hunt'

Troubling article trivializes the community of the wrongly accused

A troubling article trivializes the false rape problem:

Our comment:

It is well to point out injustices to women who likely were raped and to encourage rape victims to come forward without fear of stigmatization. But your article manifests a problematic “rush to judgment” bias that treats every rape accuser as a victim, and that blinks at the problems faced by the community of the wrongly accused. Throughout your article, you repeatedly label accusers as “victims,” which does a grave disservice to the presumptively innocent who are accused of such crimes since, by necessity, they must be guilty if their accusers are, in fact, "victims."

Regardless of how prevalent false rape claims are, there have been numerous instances of shocking injustice suffered by persons falsely and otherwise wrongly accused of rape, and their plight does not deserve to be trivialized. Moreover, the assertion that less than ten percent of all rape claims are “false” would represent a staggering number in itself, but the statistic is disingenuous without an explanation. As a leading feminist legal scholar has acknowledged: ". . . the statistics on false rape accusation widely vary and 'as a scientific matter, the frequency of false rape complaints to police or other legal authorities remains unknown.'" A. Gruber, Rape, Feminism, and the War on Crime, 84 Wash. L. Rev. 581, 595-600 (November 2009) (citation omitted). Why so much uncertainty? Because in between the claims we are reasonably certain were actual rapes, and the ones we are reasonably certain were false claims, lies a vast gray area consisting of the majority of the claims that can neither be classified as "rapes" or as non-rapes -- because we just don't know. So if you insist on pointing out that only 10 percent of all claims are “false,” you need also to state that of the 90 percent of remaining claims, the majority simply can’t be classified as actual rapes or false claims.

It is bewildering that you deem it necessary to trivialize a serious problem just to make the point that another problem is also serious. Why can't we all advocate for all victims?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Off-topic: Disdain for the boyfriend

Below is a You Tube video of a Pizza Hut commercial that, in just a few seconds, manages to sum up a host of really screwed up gender roles. Sadly, they ring true. Watch it first, then ask yourself if this commercial could have been made with the genders reversed -- that is, with the son asking his mom about a veggie pizza for his girlfriend, and the mom reacting with disdain. I sincerely doubt it, because that would not have played into the familiar stereotypes: dads being overly protective of their daughters and viewing their male suitors with disdain, especially if those male suitors don't meet dad's standards (and a veggie-loving boyfriend often wouldn't).

I know, I know -- it's "just" a commercial -- but like a lot of commercials, it holds a mirror up to our culture, and we need to ask ourselves if we like what we see.

Friday, August 17, 2012

This blog berated for 'thumping our chest' when we advocate for the wrongly accused

A disturbing comment was added to one of our previous posts on this site ('Jon McCay's perilous defense of the 'Dear Colleague' letter: he refuses to acknowledge the risk of getting it wrong'), and it warrants our brief discussion. The post we wrote concerned comments made by Jon McCay, UNC's former Student Attorney General, defending the mandate of the Department of Education's April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter that lowered the standard of proof for sexual assault cases on campus to "preponderance of the evidence.”  Mr. McCay conceded that “the new standard likely will result in more guilty convictions,” but we were dismayed that he seems to take it as a given that the new standard will not subject students to punishments they don't deserve.  “That,” we explained, “is a conclusion that is unwarranted because it is only reasonable to conclude that the risk of wrongfully punishing innocent students is enhanced by lowering the standard of proof.” 
We were careful to add: “No one disagrees that holding more rapists responsible for their misconduct is a laudatory goal. The problem is that McCay doesn't bother even to consider whether the new standard poses the risk of punishing innocent students. And it does.”
This morning, a comment was added to that post asserting, in the face of clear language to the contrary, that we “blink” at the fact that “[o]ne guy and his family can sleep at night knowing that justice prevailed, when 17 [sexual assault] victims and their families can't get any sleep because there is no justice and you thump your chest and break your arm patting yourself on the back because you stood on the wall for the 1.”
The comment is a grotesque distortion of our post and a dishonest attempt to reduce this blog to caricature. In our post, we neither blinked nor thumped nor broke anything. This blog has been a steadfast defender of rape victims, and we do not tolerate any comments that might trivialize their plight.
But the comment is disturbing on a more fundamental level. It evinces a shocking absence of appreciation for the principles of due process and fairness that have informed Western Civilization's jurisprudence for centuries.  We are accustomed to such ham-handed attempts to demonize our defense of the wrongly accused, but, once in a while, it is well to demonstrate how wrong they are. 
The comment’s sentiment flips on its head a long-settled principle of law famously expressed by the celebrated English jurist William Blackstone: it is "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." (Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1765.)
In fact, the debate about whether it is just to punish the innocent in order to insure that the guilty are punished has been settled since the time of Abraham, as chronicled in Book of Genesis. When God was deciding what to do about the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham put the question to him: "Are you really going to sweep away the innocent with the guilty?" After repeated probing by Abraham, God made it clear he would not destroy the guilty if it meant destroying the innocent with them.
In modern times, "Blackstone's formulation," or as it is sometimes called "The Blackstone ratio," has been imprinted on the DNA of our jurisprudence.  Our Supreme Court, in various ways, has underscored that it is one of the pillars undergirding our jurisprudence. 
Justice William O. Douglas, a liberal icon for much of the 20th Century, stated: "It is better, so the Fourth Amendment teaches, that the guilty sometimes go free than that citizens be subject to easy arrest." Henry v. United States, 361 U.S. 98, 104, 80 S. Ct. 168, 172 (1959).
Justice Harlan once wrote: "I view the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case as bottomed on a fundamental value determination of our society that it is far worse to convict an innocent man than to let a guilty man go free." In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S. Ct. 1068, 25 L. Ed. 2d 368 (1970)(Harlan, J. concurring).
Somehow, this formulation has been cavalierly turned on its head in the current debate over the "Dear Colleague" letter.
Is the pain of a rape survivor in seeing his or her rapist go free in any sense comparable to the injustice inflicted when the state deprives an innocent person of his liberty?
"Terrible as it is for a victim to see a rapist escape punishment, it is far, far worse for an innocent person to be convicted of a sex crime." Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, S. Taylor, K.C. Johnson (2007).
Take, for example, Dwayne Dail, who was convicted of a rape he did not commit as a teenager and spent the next 18 years in prison. While in prison Mr. Dail was repeatedly and brutally victimized by the same crime that he, himself, did not commit. His life was shattered, and it is fair to assume he will never be whole after his unspeakable ordeal.  Can anyone seriously assert that the pain of the rape victim in Mr. Dail's case was in any sense lessened by having this innocent man destroyed?
Rape victims whose misidentification of their perpetrators lead to wrongful convictions often develop deep psychological trauma when they learn what they've done.  Actual rape victims have no interest in punishing the innocent and are often among the most vocal critics of false rape accusers because they know that every rape lie diminishes the integrity of every legitimate rape claim. I have put the question to one of the most prominent victims of clergy sex abuse, and his unhesitating answer was that he hates false accusers because of what they do to real victims.
While an individual is capable of doing terrible things to another individual, including rape, neither the state, nor an institution of higher learning acting at the behest of the state, should ever fall to the level of a criminal and reasonably risk doing a terrible thing to another human being. Convicting an innocent man of rape, or expelling an innocent man for rape, is not an acceptable risk in the name of nabbing more offenders. 
Punishing the innocent undermines public confidence about the way rape claims are handled.  Judges, juries, and the people who decide college disciplinary hearings, would be all the more wary of punishing men for rape charges, even those who deserve to be punished, if they believed that the system allows the innocent to be punished, too.
A wrongful acquittal is a terrible thing, of course. But a wrongful acquittal is never, ever the equivalent of a wrongful conviction -- morally, legally, or any other way -- and to suggest otherwise is nothing short of morally grotesque.
Dictators throughout history have justified the ruthless imprisonment, torture, and murder of the innocent to insure that the "guilty" -- who always happen to be their enemies -- are destroyed.  It is a monstrously barbaric, and singularly un-American, practice.
The reason Blackstone's formulation retains its validity is self-evident. It is the very hallmark of a civilized society.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Free Brittni Colleps

A female teacher on trial might go to prison for having consensual sex with five male students. All of the men were 18 at the time, so she didn't statutorily rape anyone. Instead, she is being charged with a relatively new crime -- having an improper relationship with a student. A group sex video apparently taken by one of the young men was shown to the jury, and one of the young men testified: "She said that she craved, that I had something that she wanted."

A teacher-student sexual liaison involving adult students raises the prospect of improper coercion, but whether that occurred here is something we can't answer. In any event, regardless of the gender of the alleged perpetrator, we think this law is unjust, and that it is but another manifestation of our culture's hysteria about sex. Under the guise of "protecting the children," we have now officially turned grown men into infants. Is it any wonder we live in the Prison Capital of the World?

For the record, we don't condone what she did here -- to her husband or her family -- but that is a private matter. We do not regard these young men as victims, and we don't think this ought to be a crime. This is an apt case for jury nullification.

Ecuador grants asylum to Assange, calls rape charge 'political persecution'

By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo! News | The Lookout

Ecuador's foreign minister announced on Thursday that they would grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, defying threats by the British government to raid the Ecuadorean Embassy and extradite Assange to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with alleged rape and sexual molestation cases.

"We have decided to grant political asylum to him," Ricardo Patino said at the end of a long televised statement from the Ecuadorean capital of Quito, where he criticized the U.S. and U.K. governments for failing to protect Assange from political persecution.

"The countries that have a right to protect Assange have failed him," Patino said. "[Assange] is victim of political persecution ... If Assange is extradited to U.S., he will not receive a fair trial."

"Asylum is a fundamental human right," Patino said, adding that "international law" overrides local laws, and that Assange has "the right not to be extradited or expelled to any country."

A crowd gathered outside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where Assange, a 41-year-old Australian native, has been holed up since June, to hear the verdict. At least one protester was arrested.

The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office called Ecuador's decision to grant Assange asylum "regrettable."

"British authorities are under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden," a spokesman for the office said. "We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorian government's decision this afternoon does not change that."

It's unclear what will happen to Assange now. U.K. authorities say his asylum is a violation of his probation--and there is reason to believe he would be arrested if he tried to leave the embassy. "Assange is going to Sweden," Louise Mensch, a conservative member of the British Parliament, tweeted. "We are going to extradite him there. That's it and that's all. #rape"

Assange fears his extradition would lead him to be turned over to the United States, which has condemned WikiLeaks' publication of classified documents. (Assange says the U.S. would charge him with espionage; the U.S. has not said whether or not it would pursue charges against him.)

On Wednesday, Patino said he received a "clear and written" threat from British authorities who claimed "they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange."

"We want to be very clear, we're not a British colony," Patino said on Wednesday. "Colonial times are over."

British officials said they are obligated to turn Assange over to Stockholm.

"The U.K. has a legal obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offenses and we remain determined to fulfill this obligation," a spokesman for Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in response. "Under British law we can give them a week's notice before entering the premises and the embassy will no longer have diplomatic protection. But that decision has not yet been taken. We are not going to do this overnight. We want to stress that we want a diplomatically agreeable solution."

In a statement early Thursday, WikiLeaks condemned the U.K.'s threat:
A threat of this nature is a hostile and extreme act, which is not proportionate to the circumstances, and an unprecedented assault on the rights of asylum seekers worldwide.
In 2010, Swedish prosecutors in Stockholm issued warrants to question Assange about the alleged sex crimes involving a pair of former WikiLeaks volunteers. Assange claims the charges are part of an international smear campaign stemming from WikiLeaks' publication of diplomatic cables.

After a brief international manhunt, Assange turned himself in to London police in Dec. 2010. He was granted bail and placed under house arrest. After Assange's appeals to fight his extradition to Sweden were denied, he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy.

Inside the embassy, Assange "sleeps on an air mattress in a small office that has been converted to a bedroom," according to the New York Times. "He has access to a computer and continues to oversee WikiLeaks, his lieutenants have said."

How to prevent false rape claims: Mirabile dictu! Amanda Marcotte and Amanda Hess get it right (pretty much)

Why do false rape claims occur? If we recognize the reasons, we can sometimes avoid them. We have closely studied the false rape phenomenon for several years and, in a very unscientific way, we've identified three general situations where false rape claims are more likely to occur. Only one of the three areas involves claims that are preventable.

I.  Attention seeking. A significant percentage of false claims are lodged by women with emotional problems whose attention-seeking needs override any concerns that reporting a rape claim might be personally intrusive. Typically, these women (and sometimes girls and boys) don't mean to hurt anyone, but there are many examples where their lies end up doing just that. Once unleashed, a rape lie is impossible to control absent an embarrassing, and potentially costly, recantation. A man caught in a police investigation for one of these kinds of lies has no ability to prevent it.

II.  Situations where the woman has motivation to deny sex was consensual A perceived need to cover up an illicit sexual encounter is a primary motivation for false rape claims, and it's the one kind of "false rape claim" that is preventable. An unlikely source, feminist gadfly Amanda Marcotte, once wrote that "the idea that it's shameful to just have sex because you want to" is "the reason that you have false rape accusations in the first place." Marcotte noted that "women who aren't ashamed of having sexual adventures like group sex-even ones that go bad-don't use rape accusations to cover up their choices. It's the women who are afraid they'll be called sluts if it gets out that make up these rape stories." Amanda Hess similarly talked about women who make false claims to defend their "femininity." There is much truth in what they say.  Without excusing the false accuser (who, like the rapist, must be held accountable for her actions), false rape claims are largely culturally induced.** 

Men and women view casual sex differently, and women feel remorse more than men following one-night stands. A study shows how common remorse is for women following one-night stands: "Overall women’s feelings were more negative than men’s [about one-night stand casual sex]. Eighty per cent of men had overall positive feelings about the experience compared to 54 per cent of women. . . . . The predominant negative feeling reported by women was regret at having been 'used'. Women were also more likely to feel that they had let themselves down and were worried about the potential damage to their reputation if other people found out. Women found the experience less sexually satisfying and, contrary to popular belief, they did not seem to view taking part in casual sex as a prelude to long-term relationships."

Similarly, last year in Ohio State University's student newspaper The Lantern, Amy Bonomi, a professor of human sexuality at OSU specializing in domestic violence and assault, said: "Women tend to feel bad after having a "random hook up," she said. Typically men are not upset by these occurrences. Bonomi attributed this situation to society's "gender double standard" that men are expected to be more sexually forward than women.

In addition, it is well to note that one of the common motives cited by experts for false rape claims is "remorse after an impulsive sexual fling . . . ." Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, S. Taylor, K.C. Johnson at 375 (2007).

The fact that only women can get pregnant should not be discounted as the primary reason why women seem hard-wired to have greater ex post facto regret than men.

We've seen repeated examples of this sort of rape lie:

Alcohol-fueled one night stands where the parties have no history together.
The accuser has a husband or a boyfriend, even if they are estranged.
The accuser doesn't want her parents or other loved ones to know she is serious about the male she's bedding -- perhaps because she is too young or the male otherwise would not be "acceptable" to them.
Consensual group sex activities with young men spawn off-the-charts regrets. The accuser typically fears that one or more of the young men will "brag" about it. It is a recipe for false rape claims.
Teen boy, older woman. The illicit nature of the affair sometimes results in false rape claims.

III.  To gain the upper hand on someone, for revenge, money, or children.

A man caught in one of these rape lies has no ability to prevent it. Examples:

Nasty divorces and custody disputes spawn false rape claims in order for the accuser to gain the upper hand in the dispute. 
Spurned ex-lovers sometimes use false rape claims as a tool of revenge. 
Being a school teacher, a police officer, or a cab driver. Police officers are at risk because some women charged with crimes lie about rape out of revenge or to claim that the charges were trumped up. Numerous cases involve cab drivers who are falsely accused by women seeking to avoid paying a fare. Teachers are sometimes targeted by students looking to "get back" at them.

** NOTE:  The example both Ms. Marcotte and Ms. Hess use is the Hofstra false rape case, and, respectfully, that one doesn't really make the point. In that case, the accuser's boyfriend was trying to call her at the very moment she was urging four strangers to insert their penises into her. The accuser wasn't "defending her femininity" when she lied about this particular consensual romp, she was covering up for violating her boyfriend's trust in a very nasty way.

Partner vows to marry girlfriend jailed for lying that he raped her

We talk of the damage that a false accusation can do on this site on a regular basis. However, one has to wonder why someone would intentionally return to a person who has falsely accused him.  It is a recipe for disaster. He is only reinforcing to that false accuser that it is an acceptable thing to do. And the odds of it happening again would likely be 1:1. I expect at some point, we will be running a story of another false accusation concerning this couple.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Update on the 'he said-he said' sexual assault case lodged against Korean barber


There won't be any physical evidence introduced in the sexual assault trial of Jung Gon Kim, which we reported on yesterday.  You will recall that this is the case where the teen boy who accused his barber of sexually assaulting him returned to get another haircut after the alleged assault because the haircut was free, and this time, he brought a witness. (That witness, a 13-year-old neighbor, took the stand yesterday and testified that he actually left the shop while the accuser was still there.)

You will also recall that the prosecutor, Jennifer Ritter, told the jurors that to find the barber guilty of sexually assaulting the teen boy, they should trust their "instincts." She said: “Your instincts are going to be very important in this case.” We took issue with a prosecutor inviting jurors to bypass their dispassionate reason and instead convict a 54-year-old immigrant based on gut reactions.  Ritter also told jurors they would have to ask themselves: “Do you believe this 14-year-old boy came to court and put himself through all of this if it wasn’t true?” We noted that COTWA can proffer many, many examples of accusers who put themselves "through all of this" even though it wasn't true.

Yesterday, the testimony revealed that there is no physical evidence of any assault, and this case is nothing more than a "he said-he said" claim. Prosecutors contend that in mid-October, the barber allegedly sexually assaulted his then 13-year-old male customer in a storage room in the salon, propping the boy up against a coffee table. Crime scene technician Lynne Olsen said yesterday that during the crime investigation, she was directed to take fingerprints from bookshelves in the storage room, but not from the coffee table. When prosecutor Jennifer Ritter asked Det. Kimberly Bennett if, based on the information she had at the time, she should have asked Olsen to look for prints on the coffee table, Bennett replied, “Yes, I should have. It was my mistake. I just didn’t think of it.”

In addition, Dr. Wendy Lane, a consultant with the Childcare Advocacy Center of Howard County, said that an exam of the boy did not reveal any signs of trauma, though that did not mean he had not been assaulted.

So why was this case brought to trial?  Consider this: the defendant is a 54-year-old Korean male who needs a translator even to follow the trial. In contrast, Det. Bennett called the alleged victim “very well-groomed, polite, well spoken; a nice kid.” The boy's testimony apparently confirmed this impression: at the trial, the defense counsel said to the boy: “The reason you’re having trouble remembering is because it didn’t happen.”  According to the news report of the trial, the boy answered in a clear voice and looked straight ahead: "It did happen.” 

In short, the boy makes a good witness, and the defendant is an easy target to be demonized as a sexual creep.

It would be an injustice to allow a sexual assaulter who preyed on a child to go free. It would be a greater injustice to convict a man of a vile sex crime based on disputed evidence, just because the prosecutor could.

Another revenge false rape claim: Woman from Salford who falsely accused boyfriend of rape after 'Facebook row' jailed for four months

A  judge has told a woman who falsely claimed she’d been raped by her boyfriend: “This was a wicked, terrible thing to do.”

Sabrina Booth-Guy, 22, of Lydford Street, Salford, told police that boyfriend Stephen Delaney had raped her in their home.

But she refused to undergo a physical examination or a police interview - and after Mr Delaney had spent 18 hours in custody she withdrew the allegation.

She told officers she had made up the story to ‘get her own back’ following an argument over her alleged infidelity on Facebook.

The court was told Booth-Guy and Mr Delaney were still together despite the allegations and in a letter to the judge Mr Delaney said that he loved her and would continue to stand by her.

Locked up August '12

The pair both wept as Booth-Guy was caged for four months at Manchester Crown Court.
Sentencing her, Judge Philip Cattan told Booth-Guy that he had to make an example of her to deter other false allegations.

He said: “This was a wicked, terrible thing to do and resulted in Mr Delaney being held in custody for 18 hours and in a serious waste of police time.

“You told your mother, nursing staff and police that Mr Delaney had raped you but he had not and you knew he had not.

“I have heard that Mr Delaney still loves you and stands by you but I have got to consider whether this could happen again.

“It is precisely this sort of thing that undermines the confidence juries have when they hear an allegation of rape.

“The courts must and will be firm where false allegations of rape are made and must send a message that false allegations of rape mean custody.”

For the prosecution, Christopher Beckwith told the court that Booth-Guy had withdrawn the allegation two days after triggering the police investigation in January.

He said: “She did not have any sign of visual injuries and said she did not want to take part in an interview but would do one at a different time.

“She also said she did not want to undergo a physical examination.

“She then later told police she had wanted to get her own back after an argument and that she had wanted to hurt him due to the things he was calling her.”

Alistair Reid, defending Booth-Guy, said she had a history of attention-seeking behaviour but had shown courage in quickly moving to withdraw the accusation.

He said: “Difficulties in her past have perhaps led to her seeking attention but through the support of Mr Delaney and regular counselling she is working through those problems.

“She never sought to embellish any details and she became trapped between not wanting to continue the lie but being terrified of the consequences if she was to own up. She showed great courage to come forward and set the record straight.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In 'he said-he said' sexual assault case, boy says he returned to barber after assault because 'he would give me free hair cuts'

In a sexual assault trial in Maryland, there is no evidence except the word of a teen boy who accused his barber, Jung Gon Kim, of sexually assaulting him. The boy testified that he returned to get another haricut after the alleged assault because the haircut was free, and this time, he brought a witness.

The prosecutor, Jennifer Ritter, told the jurors that to find the barber guilty of sexually assaulting the teen boy, they should trust their "instincts." She said: “Your instincts are going to be very important in this case.” At the end of the trial, she told jurors, they would have to ask themselves: “Do you believe this 14-year-old boy came to court and put himself through all of this if it wasn’t true?”

It is frightening that an immigrant's liberty is left to the "instincts" of jurors. It is as if the prosecutor is inviting them to bypass their reason and convict this man based on their feelings -- their gut reactions -- which rarely bodes well for presumptively innocent men accused of vile sex crimes.  Jurors should instead be directed to use their rationality in making this most important decision they probably will ever make.

And, yes, Ms. Ritter, COTWA can proffer many, many examples of accusers who put themselves through the trial experience even though it wasn't true.

We don't know what happened, but we pray justice prevails.