Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Police: Woman Lied About Sex Assault in 5 Points

Columbia police have charged a woman they say made up a claim of a sexual assault in Columbia's Five Points.

Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott announced Wednesday at a news conference that his officers charged 26-year-old Heather Felicia Atkins with perjury/false swearing to police and filing a false police report.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cartersville woman charged with falsely reporting sexual assault by deputy

Bartow County Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested a Cartersville woman on felony false statements and writing charges.

According to Bartow County Sheriff's Office reports:

26-year-old Cheryl Alisha Graves of 402 East Church Street, Cartersville was arrested Thursday morning, on three felony counts of false statements and writings after she allegedly lied to law enforcement officials.

Graves reported to officials she was sexually assaulted by a deputy during a traffic stop on the morning of Tuesday, October 16, 2012, near Euharlee.

An investigation by Internal Affairs led officers to believe Graves fabricated her claims about the incident, which lead to her arrest.

Graves is being held in The Bartow County Jail pending a $7, 500.00 bond.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stigler woman pleads guilty to falsely accusing man of rape

McALESTER — A Stigler woman recently entered a guilty plea in a case accusing her of falsely accusing a man of raping her.

Katheryn Marie Louise Clark, 21, of Stigler, pleaded guilty Oct. 16 to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting of a crime. She was fined $150 and sentencing was deferred for one year.

According to court records, Clark was charged Dec. 19 after she told authorities “that she had been raped by her soon to be brother-in-law.”

On Dec. 16, Pittsburg County Deputy Jack Suter was dispatched to Longtown and took a report from Clark that the man had raped her, according to a police affidavit. Clark accused him of dragging her by the hair and forcibly having sex with her while she was screaming and biting him, according to the affidavit.

A medical rape kit was performed on Clark, according to the affidavit, and the nurse performing the rape kit told authorities that “there was not any evidence of sexual assault.”

Authorities then interviewed the man Clark accused of raping her, as well as a possible witness identified by Clark in her statement to police, according to the affidavit. Suter determined that there was no evidence of any kind that the man raped Clark and determined that Clark had falsified the report.


A stinging indictment of the Dept. of Education's efforts to strip the presumptively innocent of their rights in sex cases

Jason Willick has written one of the most stinging indictments of the "Dear Colleague" letter, and one of the strongest defenses of the presumptively innocent, we've seen yet in the student newspaper of the University of California, Berkeley. The op-ed is here: We hope that readers will comment on the article and write to Jason to lend your support. Here are some excerpts:

"Prominent New York University law professor Richard Epstein questioned the constitutionality of the directive, declaring that 'the Department of Education is on a collision course with the Bill of Rights.' He took particular issue with the mandate that all schools use the weak 'preponderance of the evidence' standard in disciplinary hearings regarding sexual misconduct. Former Department of Education attorney Hans Bader noted that this standard of proof 'means that if a school thinks there is as little as a 50.001% chance that the accused is guilty, the accused must be disciplined,' and former American Civil Liberties Union board member Wendy Kaminer called it 'practically a presumption of guilt.'
. . . .
"It’s impossible to know whether cutting back on protections for the accused actually encourages victims to come forward, but it is clear that this approach can lead to intolerable injustices. Just ask Caleb Warner, who, as a student at the University of North Dakota, was found guilty  of sexual assault under the shameful 'preponderance of the evidence' standard. He was banned from campus and sentenced to three years of suspension. A year and a half later, he was exonerated because law enforcement determined that his accuser was lying and charged her with filing a false report.

"As the instances at Yale and Amherst have amply illustrated, there are unacceptable strains within the culture at American colleges that create an environment conducive to sexual violence. But restricting the civil liberties of students accused of sexual misconduct does nothing to address this. On the contrary, this approach merely formalizes the unhealthy perception that sexual assault is a 'different' type of crime that should be subject to a different set of rules and procedures — inviting more cultural baggage and stigma.

"As colleges around the country grapple with sexual misconduct issues in the wake of the Amherst scandal, they should not draw their inspiration from the Department of Education directive, which does violence to America’s tradition of civil liberties and due process. I am hopeful that the soul-searching brought about by Epifano’s courageous account of her experience at Amherst will give rise to serious ideas about how to improve colleges’ responses to sexual misconduct so that they can protect the rights of all of their students."

Man pleads guilty to falsely accusing officer of rape

Authorities said 26-year-old Andrew Jackson Boyington pleaded guilty Monday, October 15, to filing a false report after accusing a Fairhope police officer of rape and threatening to go to the news media with the allegations.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Middlesbrough man hounded despite being cleared of rape

A MAN cleared of rape says he's still "living a nightmare" by being continually hounded by those who don't believe his innocence.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Court: False testimony used to convict 'Beatrice Six'

A federal appeals court ruled that Gage County authorities likely manufactured the false testimony used to convict six people of the 1985 rape and murder of a Beatrice widow.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis applies to two separate civil rights claims brought by five members of the so-called “Beatrice Six.” Monday's decision means the cases can proceed to jury trials in U.S. District Court in Lincoln.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rape accuser "hates" false rape claimants

Natalie Carmichael, who alleges that she was raped, spoke of her disgust for women who come up with malicious rape allegations and make it harder for true victims to be believed when they give evidence.

She said: “I don’t know any female who would deliberately put herself through a rape case but I understand people do make false allegations and that’s wrong.

“I hate people for that, because it’s made it more difficult for folk like me.”

George Whitmore Jr., Who Falsely Confessed to 3 Murders in 1964, Dies at 68

George Whitmore Jr., an eighth-grade dropout who confessed in 1964 to three New York murders that he did not commit, and whose case became instrumental in establishing historic legal reforms — including the Supreme Court’s 1966 “Miranda” ruling, which protects criminal suspects, and the partial repeal of capital punishment in New York State — died on Oct. 8 in a Wildwood, N.J., nursing home. He was 68.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Proposal at York University to respond to sexual assaults: require all undergraduates to take a women's studies class

York University has had six sexual assault claims in less than one month. According to police, the latest attack occurred at a bus stop, just one day after another incident was reported of a sexual assault inside a student residence.

In response, the York student union, theYork Federation of Students (YFS), has revived a pet “preventative” solution: a mandatory equity or women’s studies class for all undergraduate students at York University as a condition for graduation. Safiyah Husein, the VP equity for YFS, maintained that such a course would serve as a “preventative measure to get to the root causes and stop [sexual assaults and violence] before that happens.”

The suspect in this most recent attack is alleged to be in his 30s or 40s—most likely not a York University undergraduate student. And the arrest following a string of assaults in July saw three counts of sexual assault (and others) brought against a 20-year-old Toronto man — also not a York University student. In those cases and others, a mandatory course would have absolutely zero effect.

Is it prudent to require all undergraduates to take a women's studies course? Or it is overkill? Dr. David Lisak has shown that the vast majority of rapes are committed by a small group of predators.Likak "says schools put too much faith in teachable moments, when they ought to treat sexual assault as a criminal matter. 'These are clearly not individuals who are simply in need of a little extra education about proper communication with the opposite sex,' he says. 'These are predators.'"

As one writer put it: this debate "distracts attention from the real issue at York — the appalling state of security on the campus. York covers a huge geographic area, with campus facilities spread across all of it. There are plenty of dark fields and blind corners, and not nearly enough patrols and security cameras. York is always pledging to do better here, and no doubt after the latest string of assaults, will promise to do better still. But it’s not working. The campus is not a safe place, and that needs addressing. Now."  And: "The need to clamp down on sexual violence at York University is obvious. But forcing a new equity course on every student will do nothing to make the campus safer, and would serve only to encourage students uninterested from funding someone else’s thought experiment to take their tuition dollars elsewhere."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Are you as sick of politics as I am?

The chronically offended are hard at work inventing things to be chronically offended about.

People who wouldn't vote for Mitt Romney under any circumstance and regardless of his record are manufacturing yet another gender Circus Maximus to cast him in a bad light. This time, they are feigning offense about an innocuous comment the Governor made during this week's debate. You know the one--the "binders full of women" comment.

The Governor's shorthand remark was made when he was describing his track record of seeking out women for important government jobs. By any measure, that's a laudable effort. Yet, extremist loons and ideologues with a bent for prevarication are insisting that the comment "flaunts" the Governor's "gender bias."

And the campaign has just entered The Twilight Zone.

Perhaps most amusing of all, Vice President Joe Biden even took time out of making faces at his opponents to attack the comment.

You may recall that Mr. Biden once famously said this about Barack Obama: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." 

Am I suggesting that the local village idiot has more credibility than Joe Biden? I'll leave that to you to decide.

Norcross False Incrimination Bill Passed By Senate

Please take note of the votes for/against in the final paragraph. This is very heartening to see.

In an effort to deter those who would abuse law enforcement resources, Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) has sponsored legislation to increase the penalties for perpetrators issuing false police reports. S1878 – which increases the penalties for any person who gives or knowingly causes to be given false information to a law enforcement officer in order to implicate another – was passed by the Senate today.

Monday, October 15, 2012

DNA lab error sent innocent 19-year-old to jail for months

A woman was raped in Manchester, a city Adam Scott, 19, had never even visited, but Mr. Scott was arrested and charged with the rape and thereafter spent three months in jail.

Why? Because LGC Forensics in Teddington, South West London, which does scientific testing for Greater Manchester Police, allowed Mr. Scott's DNA sample (which police had on file from an unrelated matter) to come in contact with a swab collected from the rape scene. The contaminated DNA made it look for certain that Mr. Scott was the rapist.

Now, Forensic Scientist Regulator Andrew Rennison has issued a report (found here: that says Mr. Scott was an “innocent victim of avoidable contamination.

Rennison’s report stated that, “It is estimated that the chance of obtaining matching DNA components if the DNA came from someone else unrelated to Adam Scott is approximately one in one billion (one billion is one thousand million). In my opinion the DNA matching that of Adam Scott has most likely originated from semen.”  Rennison said that the procedures were not adequate and that the records were not maintained properly by the technicians. He cited that used trays were not marked to indicate that it was already used.
Scott disclosed in a statement that he was angry that he was wrongly accused and that the false allegations had caused him and his family great pain.

When Mr. Scott was arrested, police said he was “absolutely adamant that he had never been to Manchester so that gave us some concern.” But obviously not enough concern to believe him over the results of DNA testing. The lab pinpointed Mr. Scott as the culprit, and that all police needed to arrest and charge him.

“I am angry I was falsely accused. I am angry about the amount of pain it has put me and my family through," said Mr. Scott. "I sincerely hope justice comes for the victim and the true rapist is caught.”


Friday, October 12, 2012

Obama 'justice' in college sexual assault cases 'a travesty of due process'

Posted by Mark Bauerlein at Minding the Campus

In this week's Chronicle of Higher Education, Joseph Cohn, director of policy at FIRE, summarizes the due process implications of a letter sent to colleges and universities last April by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. As was widely reported at the time, the letter instructs schools to adopt the lowest standard of proof in our judicial system, preponderance of the evidence, in cases of alleged sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to rape.

During the Bush Administration, Cohn notes, colleges enjoyed greater flexibility in their proceedings, and the Office of Civil Rights accepted a wide variety of standards among institutions. The new directive, signed by Obama appointee Russlyn Ali, allows little latitude.

Supporters have defended the lower standard of proof by citing civil lawsuits that also rely on a preponderance outcome, but the elements of civil lawsuits that are missing from campus hearings are worth listing:

Civil trials have impartial, legally-trained judges; campus hearings often rely on "a panel of faculty, students, and/or administrators."

In civil cases, either party may demand a jury; in campus hearings, the option isn't available.

In civil cases, parties have right to counsel; in campus hearings, "parties to these hearings frequently have no right to counsel."

In campus hearings, "rules of evidence don't apply," and witnesses "are usually not placed under oath."

According to Cohn, of 198 colleges ranked by U.S. News & World Report, 30 institutions so far have complied.

This is a travesty of due process, but it pleases advocacy groups such as the Women's Sports Foundation, the Association of Title IX Administrators, and Wendy Murphy (remember the Duke Lacrosse Scandal?), all of whom signed a statement in support of the letter. One particular sentence in the support statement indicates clearly why the new standard is a dangerous one. It reads: "The preponderance standard is the only equitable choice under Title IX as it avoids the presumption, inherent in a higher standard of proof, that the word of a victim is less weighty than the word of an accused individual's denial."

Note the acceptance of victim status for one party before the respective "words" have even been given. In some cases, of course, there will be physical evidence of assault, but in other cases, we have precisely a contest of words alone. With the stakes so high for the accused, should the accuser's accusation be as "weighty" as the accused's denial? Yes, according to these groups and the Obama Administration, and they dress it up in a language of "equity."

Feminist criminal defense lawyer commentary worth a read

She is asked "how can you defend men who victimize women?" and "how can you be a feminist and also a criminal defense lawyer?"  Here is what she said:

"I've found that responding with a statement about the Sixth Amendment right to counsel can produce eye-rolling and that attempts to talk rationally about cases where women have made false accusations of rape nearly always fail.

"Yes, I do know victims of rape, and as the mother of two girls, I desperately want 'no' to always mean 'no,' but my unqualified disgust with acts of violence against women does not lessen my commitment to the rights of the accused."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Legislators ought to stop giving sexual assault tutorials

Wisconsin state representative Rep. Roger Rivard (R-Rice Lake, Wisconsin) is in trouble for addled and insensitive comments he made about rape.  He has done the community of the wrongly accused no favors.

Rivard, for reasons I cannot discern, was commenting on a case in Wisconsin where a boy was charged for having sex with a younger girl. The boy was 17, the girl was 14, and children under 16 can not legally consent to any type of sexual contact in Wisconsin. This is commonly referred to as statutory rape where valid legal consent is deemed by law not to exist because of the age of the girl.

Given the age of the children in the scenario Rivard addressed, the compassionate, and just, response is to hope that the boy is not punished as if he were an adult. It can even trigger a legitimate debate about whether a three-year age gap in teens should negate the offense altogether. I have no expertise in such matters, but rational people recognize that society has to draw bright-lines when it comes to the age of consent. The appropriate age is something over which there is much debate, and this case raises troubling, and very serious, questions.

Instead of positing a serious response, Rep. Rivard made these startling comments: He said his father warned him, "Some girls rape easy" - meaning that after the fact they can change what they say about whether sex was consensual. Then, Rivard "clarified" his remarks and related what his father told him about premarital sex: "He . . .  told me one thing, 'If you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry.'" Rivard said. "Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she's not going to say, 'Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.' All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she's underage. And he just said, 'Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,' he said, 'they rape so easy.'"

Instead of "clarifying" his remarks, Rivard tumbled deeper down the rabbit hole. This blog, which is the leading blog that gives voice to the wrongly accused, does not support Rivard's comments.

First, boys should not have sex with underage girls, but not for the reasons Rivard suggests. Putting aside issues of morality, the girl was underage at the time of the act, and her willingness, or unwillingness, to engage in the act has nothing to do with crime of statutory rape. If she was underage, it was rape the moment the act occurred. Yes, Rep. Rivard, rape is "easy" in that instance -- because the girl was underage.  If a girl becomes pregnant, the illegal tryst will come to light, and the state has a duty to prosecute. Rivard seems to be telling boys to be wary of having sex with underage girls not because it's illegal but because the girl might reveal the tryst, which is troubling and bizarre on a host of levels.

Second, Rivard's comments suggested that boys should be wary of having sex with underage girls because the girls will lie and claim it was nonconsensual.  Rivard's message wrongly suggests that girls have a propensity to lie about rape. The reality is that teen sex occurs routinely in our culture -- it would be impossible even to estimate its frequency -- and the overwhelming number of such incidents do not spark false rape claims. That is a fact.

If Rivard wanted to talk to boys about having sex, he missed a golden opportunity to paint a mature, and serious, picture for them. He should have talked about the dangers of pregnancy, and the boy's responsibility to support children born as a result of the encounter -- about how the boy will exchange a few minutes of immediate pleasure for 18 years of child support.

Rivard should have talked about the necessity of consent, and about not proceeding if the boy is unclear about the girl's intentions. Beyond that, Rivard should have talked about how studies show that girls have much greater after-the-fact regret than boys, and that even if she says "yes," she might later regret it.  Rivard could have told the boys to envision how their girlfriends might react to the sexual encounter after it is over.  He could have told the boys to envision how their girlfriends' parents will react to the news that she's having sex with him. Will she feel pressure to lie to them and claim it was non-consensual? False rape claims sometimes occur, as Amanda Marcotte has written, because of "the idea that it's shameful to just have sex because you want to." Amanda Hess similarly talked about women who make false claims to defend their "femininity." Society holds young women to standards different than young men (although recent studies show that is changing among young people), and girls typically feel greater societal pressure than boys to refrain from sex. (That, of course, does not excuse false rape claims.)

What we need is a mature, serious discussion about these matters. Not warped views that "women routinely lie about rape," or, for that matter, that "women never lie about rape."  The world is far, far more complex than that, and the issues are too serious to reduce to mantras. Lawmakers, like most bloggers, should stay out of the public discourse on these issues until they actually know what they're talking about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wrongly accused man sues NY City and the Brooklyn DA's office

Darrell Dula, wrongly accused along with three other men of raping a young Orthodox Jewish and forcing her to become a prostitute, has sued New York City and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office for malicious prosecution, defamation and false imprisonment. Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, and Lauren Hersh, the chief of Mr. Hynes’s sex-trafficking unit, were named in a separate, related suit.

Mr. Dula spent ten months in jail without bail before prosecutors last month dropped all charges against Dula and his three co-defendants.

Hynes had called all four men “low lives” in front of reporters, claiming they’d forced the young woman into prostituting herself for eight years, starting when she was 13. “It’s one of the sickest cases I’ve ever seen,” the veteran prosecutor gushed. In addition, reporters were told that Mr. Dula had been involved in sex trafficking, and had threatened the woman’s family members, according to one of Mr. Dula's attorneys.

Hynes and lead prosecutor Lauren Hersh proceeded with the prosecution despite knowing that a year prior, the woman had brought similar allegations to NYPD sex crimes detectives, only to change her mind and recant within hours.

Then, an assistant district attorney, Abbie Greenberger, quit her job, complaining that Ms. Hersh pressured her to continue the prosecution even though the accuser had partially recanted her allegations. The accuser claimed the recantation was pressured by the police.

Shortly after, Ms. Hersh, who oversaw the case, also quit her job, amid claims that she had failed to tell the defense about the changed account or about other evidence that could have damaged the prosecution’s case. She resigned in May, after the district attorney’s office conducted a review and concluded that she had not acted improperly.

According to a former Brooklyn prosecutor with close ties to Mr. Hynes’s office, the lawyer-disciplinary committee of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court’s First Department, in Manhattan, is investigating Ms. Hersh’s conduct in the rape case and other cases.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

'Given the horrific nature of Jerry Sandusky's crimes, will the public care what happens to him in prison?'

Jerry Sandusky's misconduct is both universally and properly reviled. It would be overly-charitable to characterize as "delusional" Mr. Sandusky's continued insistence that he is guilty only of bad judgment.

Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence to falsely accused: 'a righteous indignation instead of fear should inform your feelings'

Great answer, and I am sure the community of the wrongly accused appreciate it:

Q. Confessing My Darkest Secret: I have fallen in love with a wonderful woman, but I harbor a secret I'm terrified will send her running in the other direction. Seven years ago a vengeful ex-girlfriend falsely accused me of raping and beating her. She either hurt herself or convinced someone to hurt her. I was arrested, and my parents spent most of their savings on the lawyer who finally exonerated me. Eventually the cops figured out she lied, though at that point many people at our small college saw me as a rapist. I have undergone extensive counseling and am in a much better place now, but no amount of therapy can calm my fear that when they hear my story, people will go running in the other direction. I love my girlfriend but do not know how to begin to tell her about the false rape accusation. If you are kind enough to answer this question, I seriously hope it doesn't inspire gender-bashing or hyperbole from readers. I just need advice about how to confess this secret.
A: You've been through a terrible trauma and it's something you should share with someone you love. Even though you've had therapy it sounds as if you've absorbed much of the shame that was heaped on you. Perhaps a new therapist can help free you more. Of course you want to put this behind you and not dwell on it, but a righteous indignation instead of fear should inform your feelings. Before you tell your beloved, rehearse what you want to say—you will not be convincing if you speak with an air of terror. Remember you, not your ex, were the victim. Say you want her to know about a terrible episode in your life because it's something important you experienced and because you wouldn't want her to hear a distorted version from someone else. If you have some legal paperwork about your exoneration you can offer to show her, explaining you know such cases can raise doubts in people's minds, and you don't want her to have any about you.

Woman charged with making false reports of rape at Warriors Path

Please note the plural "reports" in the title. You are reading that correctly. Kimberly Evans reported that she was raped not once, but twice, to cover up an affair she was having, that she didn't want her husband to know about. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is the Military using the University of Montana Standard of Coercion?

A court martial for rape at Ft. Detrick raises an interesting issue of what constitutes rape:

The events began June 3 when police received a call for help from a woman at Landy's home. While police were there, Landy admitted he had an unregistered gun in a closet in violation of post regulations.
On July 10, the woman reported to police that she had been raped by Landy. Two military police officers from Fort Meade who investigated the case said the woman told them she was raped when they interviewed her at the hospital and then again the next day.
But the woman testified Thursday on behalf of Landy, saying she called a counselor to discuss their rocky relationship when Landy failed to respond to her text messages after he had roused her from sleep for sex earlier that morning. The counselor sent out an advocate who then took her to Frederick Memorial Hospital, the woman testified.
The woman called the rape charge "absurd" and said that she initially did not want to have sex but eventually submitted.
"I never said that he raped me," she said. "Everybody else assumed that's what it was."

So, on June 3, Landy was not arrested for rape.  However, he admitted that he violated a regulation by having an unregistered gun in his closet.  Then around July 10, she goes to talk to a counselor about her rocky relationship with Landy and tells the counselor that Landy roused her from sleep for sex.  She says that she initially did not want to have sex, but then submitted.  The key question is: why did she change her mind?  Did he threaten her?  Or, did he nag her, guilt trip her, beg her, etc.?

I've worked with CPT Sean Moran on a previous case, and he seems to be a skilled litigator.  The question is whether or not the Army follows the same standard as the University of Montana in its definition of unlawful coercion?

Friday, October 5, 2012

La. death row inmate released after confession turns out false and after being cleared by DNA

15 years. On death row. After a forced confession. It's amazing what the advent of DNA testing and technology have done for those innocents. Without going through the Innocence Project's list of profiles one by one, I think it's reasonable to assume most of them are men. Regardless of the gender makeup, one conviction from a false accusation is too many.

Kevin Thibodeaux is the 300th person whom DNA has shown to be innocent of the conviction. In this case, it also was enough to get him off of death row, and released from prison.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Teen charged with filing false rape report .

NEWPORT NEWS-- A 15-year-old Newport News girl who claimed she was raped last week is now charged with filing a false report.

The teenager claimed she was raped while waiting for the school bus near the Lochaven Apartments off Old Oyster Point Road.

According to Detective Amber Rogers with the Special Victim's Unit, "The girl made up the story so she wouldn't have to tell her father she had sex and she could still get protected with the Plan B."

Plan B is a morning after pill that prevents pregnancy.

Police have taken out a petition charging the teen with filing a false report. The department also wants to be reimbursed for the $1,200 rape kit used in the investigation.

Detective Rogers says, "It's very frustrating because we have legitimate cases and we had to take time away from those cases for one that didn't happen."

Police say that in the last two years there have been two legitimate stranger rape cases reported in Newport News.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

French man gets 800,000 euros for false rape conviction

A French court Tuesday ordered nearly 800,000 euros to be paid in compensation to a former farm worker who spent more than seven years in prison after being falsely convicted of child rape.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Man imprisoned for rape since 2003 to get new trial, or be released, because newly discovered evidence shows accuser claims she had been raped by up to eight different people on nine or more separate occasions

In 2003, James Eugene Grissom was convicted and sentenced to a 15 to 35 year prison term for allegedly raping a woman in a Michigan parking lot. Last summer, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered the trial court to consider giving Mr. Grissom a new trial because of evidence discovered after his trial that casts doubt on the purported victim’s credibility. The decision is reported here: People v. Grissom, 2012 Mich. LEXIS 1231 (Mich. filed July 31, 2012).

According to a concurring opinion filed in that case by Justice Marilyn Kelly, the newly discovered evidence shows that the complainant reported to the police, family, or friends that she had been raped by up to eight different people on nine or more separate occasions.

Yesterday, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Cynthia Lane has recommended a new trial for Mr. Grissom. "Because the prosecution lacked physical evidence, the complainant’s credibility became the cornerstone of its case. Had the jury not believed the complainant, the prosecution would have had little evidence to support the defendant’s guilt,” Lane wrote in her opinion. Lane wrote evidence found after Grissom’s conviction might have affected the jury’s assessment of her credibility. That new evidence includes numerous other allegations of sexual assault by the victim in California. “... The other newly discovered evidence is exculpatory because it tends to make the complainant’s testimony about the [instant] assault unbelievable — and thus tends to prove the defendant’s innocence,” reads a portion of Lane’s opinion.

Sara Ylen told investigators she was attacked May 12, 2001, in the Fort Gratiot Meijer parking lot in broad daylight. She didn’t report the rape until June 2002. Lane wrote that Ylen was portrayed differently by local prosecutors and California police officers. Here, Ylen was depicted as a “courageous wife and mother who struggled to overcome unthinkable shock and embarrassment,” Lane wrote. In California, investigators said she was “a woman with a traumatic childhood who actively participated in an on-line rape support group before she was raped; who concocted incredible stories of abduction and gang rape in apparent attempts to gain attention; and who made anywhere between one and nine prior false accusations of rape.”

Lane’s opinion has been turned over to the Supreme Court, which will determine what happens next. St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling said that if it is determined the case should have a second trial, the prosecutor’s office will determine if it moves forward. “Then we have to make a decision as to where we’ll go, and our decision will come relatively quickly because there is an individual waiting," he said. “We’ll just have to weigh it all out, see if justice will support another trial and if there’s any reasonable likelihood of a conviction with the evidence we’re presented with, including the newly discovered evidence,” he said.

The state Supreme Court decision contains ample information about the prior false rape claims. Justice Markham wrote:

A review of the newly-discovered evidence in this case indicates the following:

-- In California, approximately four months after the reported assault at issue in this case (but before the complainant reported that assault), the complainant called her father and told him she had been kidnapped and was being held in a room with no windows. Her father told the police he did not believe the com-plainant, explaining that he was "afraid it's just a smoke screen" because com-plainant "likes to have a lot of attention." Finally, the complainant's husband told police that her clothing and toothbrush were missing.

-- Police discovered that the com-plainant was actually in California staying with friends, and that she had told those friends that she had been raped several times, including by her brother in Colorado, and that her husband had been "in on it."

-- When contacted by police, the complainant stated that a man and woman had kidnapped her at knife point, driven her to a concrete block room with no lights or windows, and given her six large, white pills. The complainant stated that the man robbed her of her jewelry.

-- The complainant then recanted her report of the robbery and kidnapping, stating that it "never occurred" and that her friends, whom she had met in an online rape support group 18 months ear-lier, had picked her up from the restau-rant.

-- The complainant explained that she had joined the rape support group before being raped in Michigan because "she was raped when she was six years old" and "she has been in and out of support groups and therapy for years." However, the complainant's husband expressed "a difficult time believing [she] was telling the truth."

-- The complainant told the police that she had planned to spend the night with her friends without telling her hus-band or family and had fabricated the kidnapping story to "buy some time" to be alone.

-- The complainant then gave a third version of what happened outside the res-taurant, one that was strikingly similar to the assault at issue here. The complainant told the police that she never went in the restaurant; instead, a man grabbed her, put a knife to her back, and assaulted and raped her in the restaurant parking lot between two parked cars. The complainant then stated that she went in to the restaurant and had lunch with her family.

-- When asked about the complain-ant's reported rape in the parking lot of the restaurant, her mother reported that the complainant was never alone in the parking lot of the restaurant. Rather, the complainant had gone in the restaurant with the rest of the family and appeared fine at lunch.

-- When the complainant went to the hospital after reporting the rape in the restaurant parking lot, she told the police that the man had inserted a small, hand-held, gray flashlight into her vagina, as well as penetrating her digitally and then with his penis. The complainant said that the man wore a green mask and fled when she began screaming and hitting him. The complainant "had some injuries consistent with a sexual assault."

-- The complainant then told the po-lice that in Colorado she had been raped by her brother's friend, who had "tracked her down" at her motel. She later recanted this story and denied that any assault had occurred in Colorado.

-- The complainant told the fiancé of her friend from the online rape support group that her brother and his friends had gang-raped her 18 months earlier and that they had been convicted. The complainant said that her brother had found her in Colorado after he was released from jail and raped her again and that she thought her husband was also involved.

-- The complainant's friend's fiancé, a police officer, reported that the com-plainant had lied to them, that she might be mentally unstable, and that he was worried she might raise false allegations about him.

-- . . . the California police reports "show that complainant reported to police, family or friends that she had been raped by at least eight different people on at least nine separate occasions."

Sources: and People v. Grissom, 2012 Mich. LEXIS 1231 (Mich. filed July 31, 2012).

Police charge woman with falsifying rape claim, fraud

After months of investigating an alleged rape that happened on a public trail, St. George Police have charged the alleged victim with fraud and filing a false police report.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Campus Is a Poor Court for Students Facing Sexual-Misconduct Charges

The following article appears here:

By Joseph Cohn,

As student-conduct administrators nationwide know all too well, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights required in a letter issued last April that institutions adopt our judiciary's lowest standard of proof—the "preponderance of evidence" standard—for use in campus sexual-misconduct hearings, which handle allegations ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault and rape.

Under the new standard, if it is determined that an accuser's claims are a fraction of a percent more likely to be true than false, the accused may be subjected to discipline, including expulsion.

At Univ. of North Florida, four false police reports in past calendar year reap steep consequences

When students at the University of North Florida file false police reports, they may not be aware that more than $3,000 of fines could be waiting for them when UPD finds the reports untrue.

And since October 2011, there have been a total of four false police reports, said UPD Lt. Tammy Oliver, which has caused a waste of time, money and resources by UPD officials who investigate the crimes that never occurred.