Friday, November 30, 2012

Woman with track record for crying rape falsely accuses ex-step-father, has him dragged from his home at 2 a.m. and subjected to terrifying arrest

Jodie Simpson, a 22-year-old woman is going to jail for 21 months after she falsely accused her former step-father of raping her twice even though she had not seen him in years. We are not naming the former step-father here.

Simpson has a penchant for crying rape. In December, 2009, she made allegations of rape about multiple alleged offenders and locations.

Then in January, 2010, Simpson told the police her former step-father had abducted her and, with four other men and a women, subjected her to a horrific gang rape.

As if that wasn't sufficiently far-fetched, days later she again called the police, this time claiming her former step-father had gang raped her for a second time, this time with three other men.

With her track record for crying rape, and in the face of far-fetched claims about her step-father, according to the news report, "[police] officers had early doubts about her stories . . . ." 

So what did they do?  They swooped into the ex-stepfather's home at 2 a.m. and arrested him in front of his new wife. They hauled him off to jail, where he spent the next terrifying 14 hours in custody. He was strip-searched and intimately examined. Meanwhile, his computer -- containing his recent wedding photos -- and his phones were seized.  Police contacted his employer to check out his alibi. When the innocent man was finally released on bail, he was in tears.

How was this allowed to happen on nothing more than the bald allegations of a woman with Simpson's track record?  In the face of even ridiculous rape claims, the policy seems to be arrest-and-subject-to-a-terrifying-ordeal-first, THEN investigate.

In all, seventeen police officers were involved in an investigation that spanned 264 wasted hours. Add to that 62 hours of support staff time, and the cost came to £17,000 to the local police force.

At her sentencing hearing, the judge properly condemned her as "wholly malicious." 

For his part, the former step-father has installed video cameras at his home to monitor his own whereabouts in case it ever happens to him again. He also keeps all receipts to maintain a record of where he has been.

http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/10080405.Young_mother_jailed_over_false_rape_allegations/

19 percent of college women are sexually assaulted while only 2.5 percent of college men are sexual assaulters? Isn't rape 'normalized' among 'men' in general?

This blog does not tolerate any effort to trivialize sexual assault. Our focus is on the men, women, and boys who have been wrongly accused of sexual assault -- whether falsely or otherwise -- because too often their victimization is trivialized, and some of our laws and policies have made it too easy to punish innocent people for offenses they didn't commit. One can, and should, be concerned about both the wrongly accused and victims of sexual assault without trivializing the victimization of either. It is not "either/or."
Society must strive to punish the perpetrators of heinous sex offenses while insuring that the innocent aren't punished with them. Why is this such a controversial subject?

Nanny jailed over false rape claim after one-night stand with boss: A nanny who cried rape when she was shunned by her boss after a one-night stand has been jailed for two years

Tina Greenland shared a night of passion with divorced Nicholas Mouna, who employed her to care for his disabled daughter.

The mother-of-three sent a text to her boss the next day saying: ‘Had a lovely night... hope you don’t think I’m some kind of tart.’

But when Mr Mouna, 55, made it clear he did not want a relationship the vengeful nanny called police and claimed she had been raped after her drink had been spiked.

Insurance broker Mr Mouna was arrested and sacked from his job despite never being charged with any crime, a court heard.

When detectives looked at text messages the pair had exchanged they realised Greenland had made up the rape claims.

The 49-year-old maintained her innocence throughout her trial, but her account of what happened in December last year was rejected by a jury.

Jailing Greenland for perverting the course of justice, Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl quoted poet William Congreve, saying: ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’

He added: ‘This is serious because people who make false allegations make it harder for real victims to be believed.’

Greenland, of Folkestone, in Kent, screamed: ‘Oh no, my God no,’ as the sentence was passed.

The court heard after being rejected by her boss, Greenland tried to take an overdose of tablets and vodka.

Paul Hogben, defending, told Canterbury crown court that Greenland ‘couldn’t cope with rejection’.

He added: ‘She is not a bad person, but by the jury’s verdict she did a bad thing. She has made a terrible mistake.’.

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/918600-nanny-jailed-for-two-years-over-false-rape-claim-after-one-night-stand-with-boss

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Getting it Wrong on Preponderance'

Andrew Kloster's brilliant piece can be found here: http://www.themoralliberal.com/2012/11/28/getting-it-wrong-on-preponderance/

College student expelled for alleged sex offense is afforded no due process at all: the most shocking display of academic hubris we've encountered

A male college student has alleged that his school engaged in conduct that can only be described as an Orwellian affront to his Constitutional rights. The case reported below is an example of how the Department of Education's April 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter is being applied to strip college men accused of sex offenses of their due process rights. This is among the most shocking displays of academic hubris we've encountered in all the years we've been reporting these incidents, and that is saying a lot.

The student, an undergraduate, has sued the University of Georgia, claiming that on November 7, 2012, he received an email from Kristopher Stevens, Associate Director of Equal Opportunity Office at the university, who advised him that he was being expelled, "effective immediately." 

Stevens informed the student that the student had been accused of engaging in sexual conduct with a female undergraduate last August during which she claims to have been too intoxicated to consent.

The female accuser left the accused student's room and continued to text with him while going to another residence hall. She ended her texting by writing "night."  Copies of the texts are linked here. Some 48 hours later, she reported the incident as an alleged assault to campus police.

No criminal charges have been filed against the male student, but Stevens embarked on his own, secret investigation that apparently did not include reviewing police reports or video surveillance of the accuser from the residence halls.

The accused student claims that when he was expelled, he had not been accorded any due process whatsoever. None. There was no hearing of any kind; the accused student was not permitted any opportunity whatsoever to confront, cross-examine, or test the credibility of the accuser or the persons Stevens interviewed; in fact, Stevens will not even release the names of the persons he interviewed and their identities remain shrouded in mystery.

The accused student went to court and successfully petitioned for a temporary restraining order pending a hearing this Friday.

We do not presume to know what happened in this classic "he said, she said" encounter. Indeed, there has been no adjudication of the facts, so it is premature for anyone to pretend he knows, except the accused and the accuser.

The University's process, in all its Star Chamber ramifications, is at odds with even rudimentary principles of due process. Summarily expelling a student after engaging in a secret process that relied on clandestine evidence and undisclosed witnesses is contrary to everything we, as a people, believe in.  How could the accused student possibly mount a defense or contest this purported evidence if he does not know even the identity of his accusers?

If he doesn't even know who his accusers are, how could he prove, for example, that one of them was, in fact, out of town or incapacitated by alcohol on the night of the incident and could not have seen what she claims she saw? Or that she told someone something completely contrary to the account she gave Stevens?  In short, the accused student could not challenge anything they said. Stevens made certain their credibility would be unscathed because their accounts could not be tested by the well-honed scalpel of cross-examination. The accused student became like the warrior of old entering a combat by discarding his shield and breaking his sword. The "trial" was over even before it had begun.

Among the dark ironies of this sad affair is Mr. Stevens' admonition to the accused student that it would constitute a violation of the school's policy to retaliate against anyone who participated in the investigation. It seems not to have occurred to Mr. Stevens that it would be impossible to retaliate against undisclosed witnesses.

The university's secret justice is intolerable and should be a grave concern to all persons concerned about justice on our college campuses.

The accused student's complaint is found here: http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/redandblack.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/36/236f7448-39bb-11e2-b1ec-0019bb30f31a/50b6ab3d12515.pdf.pdf

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Making a false claim of attempted apparently isn't a crime to the Univ. of Cincinnati police

Police have no plans to charge a woman for making a false attempted rape claim that led to a campus crime alert and an intensive police investigation, with police scouring images from surveillance cameras.

Police did noy say whether the woman would face any university discipline for making up the story.

The claim was made by a female student at the University of Cincinnati who alleged that a masked gunman attacked her in a university garage earlier this month. She claimed she escaped after punching him.

Apparently no male was targeted in the police investigation, but there are many cases where men have been targeted by police in false rape cases where no male was identified by the false accuser.

In this case, images of the men who passed through the university garage around the time of the alleged attack were studied by police. While that created no personal hardship in this case, it is a tad disconcerting to think that the police might be studying your face and your actions because of your gender and the happenstance that you were in a particular place at a particular time. Consider also that if the unwitting conduct of one of these men had raised suspicion, the police might have targeted him. The risk for injustice is enhanced even when a false accuser doesn't single out a particular man or boy.

Making a false claim of rape or attempted rape is a crime. If law enforcement is convinced to a moral certainty that the woman lied, it is inappropriate not to charge her. She is entitled to a trial, and there is always the possibility that she was innocent. We are not suggesting we know more than the police.

The university should also bring a disciplinary action against her. Is it fair to the university's student body to allow an anonymous woman to remain on campus if, indeed, it turns out she is a false rape accuser? 

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20121127/NEWS/311270061/UC-will-not-charge-student-who-made-false-allegation

Attempted rape claim at university parking garage false, say police

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS — When it was first reported, the incident seemed to be the most dramatic in a series of alleged groping attacks inside University of Cincinnati parking garages: a female student alleged that a masked gunman tried to rape her but she escaped after punching him.

Now police say the report was bogus.

In an alert issued Monday afternoon, UC police said they had closed their investigation of the Nov. 5 sexual imposition alleged to have occurred inside Calhoun Garage. “There was no offense ... and the report was fabricated,” police said in an alert posted via Nixle.com, an alerting service that many law-enforcement agencies use.

Police gave no additional details as to how they discovered that the woman’s allegation was false, nor did they say whether the woman would face any charges or university discipline for making up the story.

The false report led to a campus crime alert and an intensive investigation; police scoured images from surveillance cameras.

Attempts to obtain further information from UC officials were unsuccessful.

At the time of the report, the case was the ninth such attack women had reported this fall. In September, a 15-year-old boy was charged in eight of the incidents, some of which occurred at Calhoun.

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20121126/NEWS/311260122/UC-police-Groping-allegation-bogus

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

'Wendy Murphy Comes to the University of Virginia'

The Obama administration's April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter, which instructed colleges to lower the standard of proof to find guilt in cases of sexual misconduct on campus to a mere "preponderance of the evidence," is an affront to the community of the wrongly accused because it makes it far too easy to punish the innocent for offenses they didn't commit. Here is more evidence of the abuses caused by that abominable policy, by Prof. KC Johnson:

Written by KC  Johnson for Minding the Campus: 'Wendy Murphy Comes to the University of Virginia'

Nuneaton woman who falsely accused her own dad of rape facing jail

A young Nuneaton woman who falsely accused her own father of raping her has been remanded in custody for perverting the course of justice.

Samantha Sherriff, 20, was arrested at her home in Vernons Court, Vernons Lane, Nuneaton, after failing to turn up at the Crown Court in Leamington for a hearing last week.

The 20-year-old has pleaded guilty to a charge of perverting the course of justice between March 4 and March 15 by making a false allegation of rape.

The charge detailed that she made a false allegation to the police that she had been raped by her father, Andrew Sherriff, and made a false statement to the police.

As a result, Mr. Sherriff was arrested and held in police custody where police interviewed him under caution.

He was given conditional bail while police investigated the allegation - only for them to find that the story was a lie, and arrest Samantha Sherriff herself.

When she failed to turn up for last week's hearing, the court heard she had also failed to attend an appointment with a probation officer, and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Judge Alan Parker yesterday adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on her, and remanded her in custody.

Link:
http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/2012/11/21/nuneaton-woman-who-falsely-accused-her-own-dad-of-rape-facing-jail-92746-32274327/

Monday, November 26, 2012

Prof: In light of the 'Dear Colleague' letter, Duke lacrosse players likely would be expelled if it happened today

Here's an excerpt from Prof. Dan Subotnik's great, no-holds-barred article on the Duke Lacrosse case, "The Duke Rape Case Five Years Later: Lessons for the Academy, the Media, and the Criminal Justice System" 45 Akron L. Rev 883, 919-20 (2012):

. . . in April 2011, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights announced guidelines for the many hundreds of colleges and universities it regulates. Under these rules, which distinguish sexual assault from other types of criminal behavior, schools now have to judge students accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault based on a "preponderance of the evidence" instead of "clear and convincing evidence," which is apparently the standard that a number of schools currently apply.

 More malefactors will be expelled from schools under this standard, and that is to the good; but would the Duke accused have had any chance of justice under a lower evidentiary standard for complainants that trumpeted the special heinousness of sexual assault?

Young man falsely accused of rape is freed, spends first Thanksgiving home in four years

Here are two stories about Jonathan Montgomery. His is among the most important false rape stories in recent years. Mr. Montgomery spent four years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Johnathon Montgomery leaves prison after receiving Governor's pardon

ARRATT – Jubilant family members converged on Johnathon Montgomery Tuesday night as he walked out of Greensville Correctional Center after being wrongfully imprisoned for 4 years.

"I'm real good, and I'm glad to be out," Montgomery said. "The biggest thing I can say, and my mom has said it to me a couple times, and I didn't realize it until, you know, 3, 4 days ago: 'The truth will set you free.'"

Governor Bob McDonnell issued a conditional pardon for Montgomery Tuesday night and ordered his immediate release from the prison.

Montgomery is the 26-year-old man from Hampton who was sentenced in 2008 for a rape he did not commit.

The governor says he called Montgomery to deliver the news and also spoke to his mother and father.

“Our staff, together with their counterparts in various state and local agencies, did a great deal of work on this petition in under 20 hours. And I thank them for that service. After reviewing the petition for a conditional pardon sought by his attorneys, the evidence that came with it, and additional evidence gathered by our staff, I have granted Mr. Montgomery a conditional pardon, as requested, effective immediately. Mr. Montgomery will leave Greensville Correctional Center this evening. This situation has been a tragedy. An innocent man was in jail for four years. While tonight Mr. Montgomery is free from prison, he will never get those years of his life back. Tonight I called Johnathan to personally offer, on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth, our heartfelt apologies for all that he has been put through due to this miscarriage of justice. I am thankful that the witness in this case finally stepped forward to recent her testimony. Justice, while tragically delayed, has been served. I thank everyone who worked so hard on this case to achieve tonight’s outcome. More than anything else, I wish Mr. Montgomery a successful and fulfilled future with his family and his friends," McDonnell said in a press release.

McDonnell went on to say, “It is a travesty of justice when an innocent person is confined in a jail or prison, and it should never occur in our society. Our office became aware of Mr. Montgomery’s situation last week. Since that time members of my staff, along with the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, the Mid-Atlantic Actual Innocence Project, the Hampton Police Department, the Hampton Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General, the Virginia Department of Corrections and the Virginia State Police have worked diligently to gather all necessary information in this case and review the matter thoroughly. I asked Mr. Montgomery’s attorneys to file a petition for a pardon with our office, as that action would allow me to exercise my gubernatorial authority and take immediate action. We received that petition at 10 p.m. last night, and began reviewing it immediately."

"I had a lot of, a lot of anxiety getting here," said Montgomery's mother, Mishia Woodruff. "I was excited, and anxious, and all that stuff."

"It's great. It's great to be with my mom. You know, you don't know what you've lost until you've lost it. It's a great feeling to have her by my side at all times," Montgomery said.

Montgomery's accuser, 22-year-old Elizabeth Paige Coast, recently admitted she lied. She was 17 when she accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was 10 and he was 14. In recanting, she said she made up the story after her parents caught her looking at sexually explicit websites.

She reportedly picked Montgomery for the lie because he and his family had moved away.

She is now charged with perjury.

"She's done what she's felt like doing, and she's got to deal with it just like I have to, and I can't comment on any feelings I have towards her at this point," Montgomery stated.

Click here to read the governor's conditional pardon.

Montgomery couldn't be released because Virginia law states a convicted person has just 21 days to return to the circuit court to have the conviction vacated. After that time, the person must appeal to the higher courts for a “writ of actual innocence.” The only other course of action is to appeal to the Governor for a pardon.

Montgomery and family members left Greensville Correctional Center with plans to grab a late dinner. Montgomery said he enjoys eating. During his time in prison, he lost more than 100 pounds, so being able to eat whatever he wants, whenever he wants to eat it, is among the things he looks forward to doing. He, also, is anxious to see his family's pets.

http://www.wvec.com/news/Governor-issues-condtional-pardon-for-Johnathan-Montgomery-180245431.html
____________________________

Wrongfully accused man enjoys holidays at home after spending years in jail

HAMPTON-- Johnathon Montgomery spent Thanksgiving at home with family for the first time in four years.

His father, Dave Montgomery, sent WVEC.com these photos of Montgomery and his family. In an e-mail sent to 13News he said, "John carved the turkey this year."

"He also is getting to do things that he hasn't been able to do like cook his own food," his father added.

26-year-old Montgomery was wrongfully accused of sexual assault in 2008. His accuser later admitted that she made up the story.

Governor Bob McDonnell pardoned Montgomery last Tuesday and ordered an immediate release from prison.

Watch the video here: http://www.wvec.com/my-city/hampton/Wrongfully-accused-man-enjoys-holidays-at-home-after-spending-years-in-jail-180748551.html

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Times Square sailor and Jenny McCarthy: sexual assaulters?

A few months ago, it was "revealed" that the principals in Alfred Eisenstaedt's iconic 1945 Life Magazine photograph depicting a sailor passionately  kissing a nurse in Times Square at the conclusion of World War II were, in fact, strangers. This was scarcely a "revelation" since the photographer himself long ago wrote about the incident and made it fairly clear that the subjects of his photo were strangers.  But the "revelation" prompted some bloggers to declare that a crime had been committed because "the image actually and unambiguously depicts an act of sexual assault." The Feministing blog solemnly called it "stomach turning" and noted: "If there is a better symbol for how messed up our ideas about sex and romance are, I can’t think of one." See here.

Fast forward to last Sunday night at the American Music Awards. After announcing that teen heartthrob Justin Bieber, 18, was the winner in the rock/pop album of the year category, Jenny McCarthy, a 40-year-old ex-Playboy model, suddenly and without warning, grabbed Bieber by the neck and the ass and kissed him.

I might be wrong, but I don't think that Feministing has even written about the McCarthy-Bieber incident, much less condemned it. Otherwise, the reaction to this incident is curious. 

"Wow. I feel violated right now," Bieber himself said, laughing it off.

McCarthy attempted to explain herself. "I couldn't help it, he was just so delicious, so little, and just, ahhhk, I wanted to tear his head off and eat it."  And: "I took the opportunity in the window, considering I'll never get to do it again, and kind of molested him."

Some snarky Hollywood news outlets have even invented a pithy term for it: "cougar rape." They are treating it as an inappropriate, yet humorous, "cougar" moment, not a crime. One report said this: "McCarthy is known her pranks and funny personality so most likely she meant nothing by it and was probably even trying to embarrass Bieber a little in front of an audience for a laugh."

Is is wrong to kiss someone of either gender without his or her consent? Yes, it's a personal violation. Yet, do we, as a society, want to see either the Times Square sailor or Jenny McCarthy criminally charged?  My guess is that a poll in response to such a question would yield an overwhelming "no" as to both, with at least a slight majority rolling their eyes over the fact that the question was even asked in the first place. While most people would probably claim to have "zero tolerance" for sex offenses, in practice, even "zero tolerance" has its limits, and not every personal violation should end in a jail term.

So, how do we deal with personal violations like these?

Does it matter, for instance, that Justin Bieber, and, my guess, the nurse in the Times Square photo, were OK with being kissed? A little startled, but OK with it?  Or do we really want to head down the path of deciding whether something is criminal based on how offended the victim was?

Does context matter? Does the jubilation over news of the end of a horrific war lessen the seriousness of the Times Square assault? How about the jubilation over a major music award among wacked-out, free spirit Hollywood types?

Does the fact that the public isn't at all concerned about either kiss simply mean that most people are unenlightened? Consider that virtually everyone would be outraged by news of a rape -- so does their indifference to the Times Square and Bieber kisses mean they are unenlightened, or does it just mean that people are able to make judgments about the seriousness of these sorts of incidents and that they don't think the kisses are that big a deal? 

I just just raise the questions, you can answer as well as I can.

I know one thing: these sorts of incidents shouldn't be treated differently when the genders are reversed. The Feministing blog said that it hoped that a kiss like the one in Times Square would "garner the proper prosecution it deserves" in today's world. So what does the McCarthy kiss deserve, or was that somehow "different" because the victim was an 18-year-old guy?  Haven't we reached the stage where we all agree that an assault that merits prosecution is an assault that merits prosecution regardless of the genders of the victim and perpetrator? And if it isn't appropriate in this case, shouldn't we stop using 67-year-old incidents to make political points?

Sources: see, e.g., http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/gossip/la-et-mg-mccarthy-kisses-bieber-amas-justin-bieber,0,3577726.story and
http://www.examiner.com/article/jenny-mccarthy-accosts-justin-bieber-and-creates-a-buzz

Must read: 'What to Make of the Rape Accusations at Amherst College?'

By Wendy Kaminer, author, lawyer, and civil libertarian. She is the author of I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional, and a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Published in The Atlantic Nov. 21, 2012

"Sexual Assaults Roil Amherst," a New York Times headline declares. The campus is in crisis over student accusations of assaults met with administrative indifference to a culture in which sexual misconduct and sexist speech thrive. It's a depressingly ordinary controversy, but this time it was sparked by extraordinary charges of rape and malfeasance, published in a college newspaper: Former student Angie Epifano described being raped by an acquaintance on campus and eventually institutionalized by administrators after they refused to pursue her complaint and she complained of suicidal thoughts.

It's a remarkable story but only a little more remarkable than the apparent assumption that it's entirely true. "Alleged Sexual Assaults Roil Amherst," the Times should have reported.

I don't assume that Epifano's story (among others) is false. I do assume (at least for the sake of argument) that it was offered in good faith, that she believes that she was raped and badly mistreated (perhaps wrongly imprisoned) by college administrators. Her report is generally plausible, but responses by her alleged rapist and the administrators, counselors, and doctors she mentions might be equally plausible. (As far as I can tell, none are publicly available.)

In any case, plausibility isn't proof, obviously, and reading Epifano's "wrenching account," you can't possibly evaluate the accuracy of her perceptions or recollections. Neither, it seems, can the New York Times, which reports that she is in Europe ("friends say") and could not be reached for comment.

But accepting her statement of the facts, you can evaluate her beliefs about how alleged rape victims and rape accusations should be treated. Epifano says that she was raped by a fellow student in May 2011 and reported the attack about a year later, this past spring, to a college sexual assault counselor. She says her counselor questioned her rather skeptically, asking if "it might just have been a bad hook-up." Her request to change dorms was denied, she was advised to "forgive and forget," and assured that her fears of being raped again were unfounded and that she was safe remaining on campus.

The counselor reportedly discouraged Epifano from pressing charges, because her alleged attacker was about to graduate and a disciplinary hearing might not vindicate her claim. Accompanied only by a faculty adviser, she would have to face him (and his faculty adviser) and prove that he had raped her. "It wouldn't get you very far to do this," she reports being told.

Put aside questions about the accuracy of Epifano's recollections and the soundness or gross insensitivity of the counselor's advice. Never mind the absence of discussion about reporting the alleged attack to law enforcement; rape is, after all, a felony, which courts are better equipped to address than colleges. Focus instead on Epifano's reaction to the prospect of a disciplinary hearing:

Hours locked in a room with him and being called a liar about being raped? No, thank you. I could barely handle seeing him from the opposite end of campus; I knew I couldn't handle that level of negativity.

I sympathize with Epifano's feelings but still wonder: If she wasn't willing or able to testify against her alleged attacker in an informal hearing, if she wasn't capable of handling questions about her accusations, what did she expect administrators to do? Simply take her word that a rape had occurred a year earlier and punish her "rapist" (perhaps by expelling him) without giving him a chance to confront his accuser and present his side of the story?

In fact, if Amherst was in compliance with federal Department of Education guidelines, the burden of proof on Epifano would have been slight, and she could have been shielded from questioning by her alleged attacker. A 2011 directive from the Department's Office for Civil Rights errs on the side of protecting the accuser's feelings in these cases, instead of the rights of the accused. OCR requires colleges and universities to use a preponderance of evidence standard in evaluating allegations of sexual assault. That is the lowest possible standard of proof, requiring a hearing officer to be only "50.01% certain" that the accused is guilty as charged.

OCR guidelines also strongly discourages schools from allowing a student accused of sexual violence to confront his accuser, because "allowing an alleged perpetrator to question an alleged victim directly may be traumatic or intimidating." (OCR does not consider the trauma that may be inflicted on a student wrongly accused and denied the right of confrontation.)

Maybe Amherst was out of compliance; maybe Epifano's counselor was ignorant of the relatively new OCR rules; maybe Epifano misunderstood the counselor's advice. Amherst is reportedly investigating her case and its treatment of sexual assault claims, and the counselor who advised her has resigned.

Epifano dropped out of school, after the administration denied her request to study abroad in South Africa. "It's for the best; Africa is quite traumatizing, what with all those horrible third world conditions," Epifano recalls being told by her dean. Maybe she recalls correctly; maybe not. But given the extreme emotional instability that she describes -- deep, possibly suicidal depression and intense fearfulness -- it's hard to know exactly how college administrators could have helped her. Consider how Epifano responded to the denial of her request to study in Cape Town:

Living was difficult. Each day I woke up and wondered around in a daze. At night I stared blank faced at a wall and curled up in my chair in a fetal position. I couldn't talk with people. If I talk with them they might become infected with my dirtiness. I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. I secretly hoped that one day on a run my heart would just stop and no one would have to see me again. I wasn't worth anything anyway.
If Epifano's account of her state of mind is accurate and not an exercise in self-dramatization, then I have some sympathy for administrators who reportedly wanted to "monitor" her. I'd venture to describe her as deeply troubled and wonder if her troubles were exclusively attributable to the reported rape.

Is rape necessarily this traumatic? Are all rapes equal in the damage they inflict? Yes, according to some popular feminist wisdom. No, according to the diverse experiences of rape victims I've known -- including women who've been raped while hitchhiking and by strangers who broke in to their apartments, as well as women raped by dates or acquaintances. Years ago I slept with a guy who made a veiled threat to kill me if I didn't. The sex was perfunctory and not at all memorable; what I remember most clearly is the threat.

I'm not criticizing or judging Epifano for being acutely frightened and depressed. I'm not presuming to tell women how they should or shouldn't react to being raped. Quite the opposite. I'm simply suggesting that different women react differently, according to their different circumstances, strengths and vulnerabilities. I'm not denying the horrors of rape and the outrage, shame, or fear it can engender, but I am questioning the assumption that it naturally and inevitably breaks women down. I'm wondering if that assumption isn't sometimes self-fulfilling.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Double standard: Some men accused of sex crimes are more presumptively innocent than others--the Kevin Clash case

Compare the way Duke University treated the news that three of its lacrosse player students had raped a black woman with the way Kevin Clash's employer treated the accusations of statutory rape lodged against Mr. Clash by two young men.

On March 25, 2006, in his first official statement that accompanied the cancellation of the lacrosse team's game against Georgetown and its following game, President Richard Brodhead opened with the following: "Physical coercion and sexual assault are unacceptable in any setting and have no place at Duke." Three days later he added the following: "Let me explain my own thinking about the suspension of play. Physical coercion and sexual assault are unacceptable in any setting and will not be tolerated at Duke. As none of us would choose to be the object of such conduct, so none of us has the right to subject another person to such behavior. Since they run counter to such fundamental values, the claims against our players, if verified, will warrant very serious penalties, both from the university and the courts." A few weeks later he made the following well-known statement: "If our students did what is alleged it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn't do it, whatever they did was bad enough."

We won't even talk about the reaction of the Group of 88 or the potbangers carrying the giant "castrate" banner.

Remember Hofsta's statement following the infamous false rape claim by Danmell Ndonye? “We are saddened and deeply distressed by these allegations of horrific crimes perpetrated against a member of our community. Acts of sexual violence are not tolerated on our campus.”

How does that compare with the reaction of Sesame Workshop, the producer of “Sesame Street,” to news that a second young man had come forward to announce that he, too, had underage sex with Elmo creator Kevin Clash? Read it yourself. Sesame Workship issued the following statement: “None of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from ‘Sesame Street.’” According to the New York Times, the statement concluded, “This is a sad day for ‘Sesame Street.’”

Can you imagine if Penn State had called the allegations against Jerry Sandusky a "distraction" without condemning vile sex acts of the kind alleged? 

Oh, and by the way, the New York Times names one of the accusers against Mr. Clash. Has it ever named Crystal Mangum even after the lacrosse players were declared "innocent"?

The reaction to the Kevin Clash story stands in stark contrast with the usual reaction to news that a male has been accused of a sex offense.  The New York Times reports that prominent feminist Katherine Franke, a professor of law and the director of the center for gender and sexuality law at Columbia University, said she worried that Mr. Clash was “the most recent victim of what we call in my world a ‘sex panic.’"  She added: “At precisely the moment when gay people’s right to marry seems to be reaching a positive tipping point, sexuality is being driven back into the closet as something shameful and incompatible . . . decency (as in the case of Clash).”

Then, Ms. Franke did something we rarely see feminists do in high profile cases involving men accused of sex crimes. She underscored his presumptive innocence. Mr. Clash, she noted, “has not been convicted of a crime, but merely accused of one in a completely unsubstantiated, vague complaint.”  (By the way, you can read about Prof. Franke's views on sexual offenses here, starting on page 155: http://www.floridalawreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Kelly-Hill-BOOK.pdf.)

The way that Sesame Workshop, the New York Times, and Prof. Franke treated the allegations against Mr. Clash is the way claims of sexual misconduct should be treated in all cases. 

Unfortunately, not all men accused of sex offenses are acclaimed artists who work for revered public television shows.

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/20/kevin-clash-elmo-puppeteer-resigns/

Cops: Alleged Sex Assault on CLC Campus Proven False

An investigation by College of Lake County Police has concluded that an alleged sexual assault on the Grayslake campus last month did not occur and was a false allegation.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Claim of sexual assault proves to be false


A north Ruidoso couple were startled early in the morning Nov. 4 when a woman came to their door begging for help.

"The dog, he started to bark," the resident said. "And he never does that because nobody's ever around. And my wife's in the other room and she goes, 'Honey, there's somebody downstairs.' I said, 'Downstairs? There's got to be a nightmare here.'"


Monday, November 19, 2012

The 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard of proof is the reason for the rape problem? Seriously?

The ignorance is appalling, and more than a little tiresome.

Katelyn Sack, a writer for the UK Guardian's blog, has the American college rape problem all figured out, so she thinks. Among her other off-the-mark epiphanies is the following indictment of our criminal jurisprudence: "This 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard reduces the likelihood to a single-digit percentage chance that a rapist will be convicted and sentenced to prison."

Wait, wait, wait. We see comments like this so frequently that we probably don't even think about what they mean. What Sacks is saying is this: because the standard of proof makes it difficult to get a conviction in a rape case, if you have 100 rapists, less than 10 of those rapists will be found guilty.

Do you see what she does? She assumes they are all rapists to begin with. The "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of proof is their "get out of jail free" card, a technicality that makes it almost impossible for victims to get justice.

Sack's assertion is beyond appalling. Does the standard of proof allow some rapists to go free? Undoubtedly it does. Blackstone's formulation is a hallmark of our criminal justice system. By the same token, even with the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of proof, are some innocent men and boys convicted of rape?  Spend a few weeks reading through this blog if you don't know the answer to that. The standard is "beyond the reasonable doubt" to insure, to the best of our ability, that only the guilty are punished. It must be wonderful to be Sack -- she doesn't need any standard of proof to know who's guilty--in Sack's world, the trial is over before it has begun because an accusation is as good as a conviction.

Sack's other points are scarcely worth responding to. The screwball centerpiece of her argument is this: ". . . universities deny otherwise available legal counsel to students involved in disputes with other students. If you get arrested for drunk-driving, most American universities offer you legal assistance. Not so if you get raped by another student – as in the majority of college rape cases. This policy reinforces survivors' ignorance about civil complaints. Because criminal rape complaints usually fail, civil complaints give survivors an otherwise-absent fighting chance in court."

Sack wants the university to provide to the services of a civil lawyer so that rape accusers can sue their rapists, and she has no concern that this is completely unrealistic. The cost of a civil lawyer to handle a claim of this nature in a major metropolitan area could easily run in the $50,000-$75,000 range, perhaps much more. Moreover, it is likely that most college rapists are essentially judgment-proof. It is for that reason that it is so difficult to attract qualified contingent fee counsel to handle these cases to begin with. If the rapist can't pay the judgment, the entire exercise is a waste of time and self-defeating. Beyond that, Sack doesn't bother to address the issue of whether the accused student is entitled to a free civil attorney to handle his defense and counterclaim. She likely hasn't even considered the possibility that the accused student might actually have a defense and a counterclaim, but if the school is going to pay for the accuser's costs, it should also pay for the accused's costs as well.  So double the legal fees. Oh, and by the way, on his counterclaim -- the accuser is as likely to be judgment-proof as is the accused.

I swear, we are regressing on these issues, and it's because the people who are addressing them in media outlets with big audiences are often ill-equipped to do so.

Sack's unfortunate blog post is here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/18/reform-campus-rape-second-assault

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Off topic: College writer uses 'Movember' to raise awareness about a critical issue: a women's right not to shave

November is "no-shave" month -- "Movember" -- and it's among the few well publicized initiatives that brings attention to serious problems that exclusively affect men, prostate and testicular cancers. How are women reacting to this effort?  My impression is that women who are aware of it are pretty much unanimous in their support of it.   

Then there's Hannah Bauer

Bauer, writing in a college newspaper, first mildly belittles the effort: "Traditionally, No Shave November has been an excuse for men to let their facial hair grow out to lumberjack-level beastliness. This generally results in the occasional turned-off chick, and the often jealous or admiring fellow bro."

Then, Bauer had an epiphany. "No-shave" November presents a golden opportunity to raise awareness about a critical problem. No, not prostate cancer or any other issue relating to men's health. Women's rights.

Yep. You read that right. Bauer explains: ". . . we have to ask ourselves why women feel this internal and external pressure to shave. If we, as women and as society, can accept body hair on a man, that means that body hair isn’t disgusting. It’s just gross when it’s on a woman. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems a little unfair. I’m not really sure when or how society began to expect women to be magically and perpetually hairless, or why this expectation has been maintained, but I intend to find out."  Therefore, Bauer announced, "in the name of great feminism, I will be participating in No Shave November this year."

So you see?  Silly "Movember," where men grow facial hair as an "excuse" to be more beastly, can actually be used to raise awareness about something damn important.  Bauer writes:  "Feminism is a lengthy subject, but it’s not about being a lesbian or a man-hater, it’s about being equal. It’s not even really about shaving, but about choice."

You are excused to go bang your head against the wall.

You know what, Hannah? I agree -- it is unfair to women that they are are expected to shave. But to make that point in the context of a campaign devoted to saving lives (a campaign where, finally, men have come together to actually address a male health problem in a productive, activist way instead of doing what men do too often -- ignore it) is a tad insensitive, don't you think?  Not evil, not man-hating, just eye-rolling petty, that's all.  Everyone agrees that there are at least some issues that affect men because they are men -- prostate and testicular cancer have to rank high on that list -- is it so terribly difficult to get behind the men on this issue without trivializing the problem, or without making it a problem for women?  Seriously?

The Huffington Post quotes a Tumblr user named chunkymonkeyandme, a "stay-at-home mum," who responded to Bauer more succinctly than we would: "[D]o not take this prostate cancer awareness month away from men and make it about feminism and your rights not to shave!"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

ACLU's efforts will make it easier for colleges to punish the innocent

In an affront to the community of the wrongly accused, the ACLU said it will investigate whether Virginia’s public colleges and universities have tightened their policies on sexual assault to meet stricter federal guidelines. See here.  For anyone new to this blog, the stricter federal guidelines mandate that schools make it easier to punish the innocent for offenses they didn't commit. Specifically, the federal government is requiring schools to lower the standard of proof for sex offenses in order to find more persons guilty.

For the first time in memory, a group historically at the forefront in fighting to preserve the due process rights of Americans whenever they were in danger of being taken away is working to roll back due process rights in a significant and blatant way. 

What is the harm of a school getting it wrong and punishing an innocent student for a sex offense he didn't commit? “The consequences for someone expelled for sexual assault are enormous and will follow him throughout his life, leading to rejection by other schools, inability to qualify for the bar and a great deal of stigma,” Prof. Cynthia Bowman of Cornell has explained. 

Claire Gastañaga, the author of the statement by the ACLU, fails even to acknowledge the significant student interest that Professor Bowman referenced. And she fails even to acknowledge the possibility that the new rules will make it easier to punish the innocent.

Gastañaga's stance has the perverse effect of allying progressives with law and order conservatives who typically have fought the expansion of individual due process rights at every turn.  She accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of putting the ACLU in bed with Bob Dole, the architect of Fed.R.Evid. 413, and every law and order loony for whom no law is strict enough to nab and punish sex offenders. To hell with worrying about whether stricter laws might punish the innocent with the guilty!

Over the past century, valiant progressives at the ACLU and similar organizations have waged many famous battles to insure that presumptively innocent persons accused of crimes were afforded individual due process rights. It is for this reason that Gastañaga's efforts are so jarring, and so wrong.

Gastañaga's efforts are an affront to the wrongly accused.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Woman admits telling social worker that her sex abuse claims were false

A WOMAN has admitted she told a social worker that allegations of sexual abuse she and her older sister had made about her mother’s boyfriend were false.

The 26-year-old woman was giving evidence in the trial of a 52-year-old man who is accused of sexually abusing his partner’s six daughters.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Washington Post Editorial demands wrongly accused man be released

A wrongly imprisoned man in Virginia

The Washington Post Published: November 13

IN VIRGINIA, a young man has languished in prison for four years for a crime he did not commit. Now that his lone accuser has admitted that she invented the charges against him, the state and the courts seem paralyzed, unable to quickly arrange for the release of the wrongfully imprisoned man. This is a travesty.

The man is Jonathan Montgomery, age 26. In 2007, a then-teenage girl named Elizabeth Paige Coast accused Mr. Montgomery of having molested her six years earlier, when she was 10 and he was 14. It wasn’t true.

In the alternative, according to the attorney general’s office, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) could pardon Mr. Montgomery or commute his sentence. But until Tuesday morning, Mr. McDonnell seemed unaware of the case, and there is no evidence that Mr. Cuccinelli (R) alerted him to it.

According to the Daily Press of Newport News, which broke the news, Ms. Coast recanted her story last month. She says she made it up as a way to deflect her parents’ anger when they caught her surfing pornographic sites on the Internet. She told investigators that she chose Mr. Montgomery because his family had moved away and she believed police wouldn’t be able to find him. She was wrong. Mr. Montgomery was located, arrested, brought back to Virginia, and tried and convicted for sexual assault. In 2008, he was sentenced to 7½ years in prison.

After Ms. Coast came clean last month, she was charged with perjury and fired from her job as a civilian clerk in the Hampton police department.

The chief prosecutor in the city of Hampton, Anton Bell, agreed with Mr. Montgomery’s request that his conviction and sentence be thrown out. Hampton Circuit Court Judge Randolph T. West, who presided over Mr. Montgomery’s trial in 2008, said he was mortified to learn of Ms. Coast’s deception. “You will never forget this, and God knows, I will never forget it,” the judge told Mr. Montgomery in a hearing last week.

Since his conviction, Mr. Montgomery has been incarcerated at the Greensville Correctional Center, a gloomy state prison south of Richmond that houses Virginia’s execution chamber. He has lived his life amid career criminals, behind a double perimeter fence topped with razor wire, in the shadow of six five-story-tall guard towers.

If Mr. Cuccinelli is unwilling or unable to act, then Mr. McDonnell must do so, and immediately. If that means taking time out from the annual conference of the Republican Governors Association, beginning Wednesday in Las Vegas, so be it.

Ozark child falsely accuses man of rape, admits sex with another

The Ozark Police Department is investigating the rape of a 12-year-old girl who initially accused one man before changing her story.

 The girl told her parents she was raped, and police were brought in to interview her. It was at that point when the girl accused a man of raping her. Police then interviewed the unidentified man, but he maintained his innocence.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alleged victim of sex abuse denies making up story for cash

A MAN claiming he was molested as a schoolboy by “sex predator” Mark Watson has denied making up a story for money.

The alleged victim accepted he had told unconnected lies to police in the past – including a false rape allegation.

But he said his claims of weekly sex attacks at Watson’s home were all true.

BBC issues apology for false sex abuse report, Entwistle resigns

George Entwistle, director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation, resigned today in light of an erroneous report that implicated a senior politician in a child sex-abuse scandal.

BBC announced Entwistle would take over the public broadcaster in July, and he had spent just 54 days in command.


Harvard students vote on rule change that would make it easier to punish the innocent for sexual assault

I am at a loss to understand how people who otherwise would at the forefront of the battle to extend due process rights to persons accused of wrongdoing are, instead, at the forefront of efforts to roll back, in significant ways, the due process rights of persons accused of sexual wrongdoing on campus.

Sarah C. Stein Lubrano, Harvard anticipated class of ’13, has written a piece that is an affront to the community of the wrongly accused because she advocates that her college change its rules in a way that will make it easier to punish the innocent for offenses they didn't commit.  Lubrano urges students to vote to adopt a standard of “affirmative consent,” which she says redefines consent in sexual encounters to mean "saying yes to the sex with words or clearly enthusiastic actions.”

"This is necessary not to harshly punish people caught in seemingly ambiguous situations," Lubrano writes, "but rather to prevent these situations from being as ambiguous in the first place."

But harshly punish people caught in ambiguous situations it would do, and that's the problem. "Clearly enthusiastic" consent is unworkable as either a legal standard or an official university policy. It is critical to note that if this standard becomes law on campus, it would punish students with expulsion even where actual consent is present if it is not sufficiently "clearly enthusiastic." This would require campus disciplinary boards to sometimes expel young men for having sex even if it finds that consent was present.

Let's make this clear: COTWA supports any efforts to instruct college students to be certain their partner clearly consents to any sexual encounter. But that's far different than saying colleges should legislate, on threat of expulsion, that consent be "clearly enthusiastic." 

Who, on earth, will decide if consent was "clearly enthusiastic" anyway? Men and women do not carry "enthusiasm" meters into the bedroom. How can a disciplinary board tell the difference between ordinary consent and consent that is "clearly enthusiastic"? There is no mistaking midnight for noon, but at what point does twilight become night? It's a line as indistinct as a dense New England fog.  From a legal perspective, consent is like pregnancy: women aren't just a little pregnant, and likewise, there either was consent or there wasn't.

Our criminal law is not a guessing game, and campus rules shouldn't be, either. A valid criminal statute puts the public on clear notice as to the conduct that is forbidden. “A penal statute, . . . to be valid, must be sufficiently definite to show what acts the legislature intended to punish.” William Lawrence Clark et al, A Treatise on the Law of Crimes at 59 (1996). This is a component of due process. “The test is whether the language conveys sufficiently definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured by common understanding and practices.” Jordan v. DeGeorge, 341 U.S. 223 (1951). A law that does not meet that standard is unconstitutionally vague.

College sex policies should not be free-floating standards of purported wrongdoing that punish wrongdoing “in the air.” Fundamental notions of fairness dictate that college rules of conduct be sufficiently definite to warn the accused when he’s in violation of them. This rule would not do that.  To punish young men (the target of this rule change), for not conforming to an artificial and politicized construct that would be impossible to fairly gauge borders on the barbaric.

Lubrano's unfortunate column is here: http://www.thecrimson.com/column/exodoxa/article/2012/11/14/harvard-referendum-policy/

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Man recants claim that Elmo puppeteer is a statutory rapist

No harm done, right?

I mean, right?

A man who accused Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash (Clash made the puppet Elmo a superstar) of having sex with him when he was a teenage boy has recanted his story.  The unnamed man now admits that the consensual sexual relationship occurred when he was an adult.


Isn't the news media glad that it smeared this man with an allegation so repulsive that he can't possibly be unsmeared?  And by the way, his false accuser retains his anonymity.

When the news media parrots an unsubstantiated allegation of a vile sex act, the general public believes there must be something to it. Why else would the Associated Press report it?  But too often, there's nothing to it.

Have you ever tried to get the toothpaste back in the tube? Or unring a bell?

If you don't you think that Sesame Workshop, the producer of Sesame Street, would love for Kevin Clash to just slink away of his own accord, you've been living under a rock all your life. Clash is damaged goods, and a lot of parents aren't going to want their kids near Elmo after this.

On behalf of the wrongly accused -- thanks, AP! You've done it again!

Mental health care ordered after false sex assault report

A Naperville woman who falsely claimed she was assaulted in Aurora has a chance to avoid having a felony on her record, after reaching a plea agreement in DuPage County.

Valenta pleads no contest to attempted prostitution

A Wilber woman who falsely accused a Wymore man and several other men of rape in November 2011 pleaded no contest to attempted prostitution Wednesday morning.

Jennifer L. Valenta, 28, pleaded no contest to three counts: attempted prostitution, tampering with physical evidence and false reporting in a criminal matter.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Off-Topic: The UK gets it right on gender equity in auto insurance

From the BBC:  "Women are being urged to check their car insurance ahead of a new rule coming into force next month which will ban firms from taking gender into account. It means female drivers will see their premiums go up by as much as 25% after 21 December."

Brogan Mooney, 18, doesn't think it's fair that young women will have to pay around 25% extra. "I've been driving a year now and I've had no crashes and no claims, so I should be rewarded," she says.

What isn't fair is is the current system, where all young men -- even the ones who drive safely -- are penalized with higher premiums just because they were born male.

Safe drivers should pay the same whether they are male or female. Reckless drivers should pay the same, but more than safe drivers, whether they are male or female.  Why is this in any sense controversial? 

And, yes, yes, I know -- for a long time, insurers got away with discriminating against individuals based on gender by hiding behind their precious actuarial tables. Make no mistake, they only got away with it because people allowed them get away with it. Actuarial tables will also show differences based on skin color, but no rational person thinks it's fair to use race as a criteria to set premium rates.

It is unfortunate that President Obama, who has won applause from women's groups by bringing gender equity to health insurance, hasn't noticed that a lot of young men are being penalized when it comes to auto insurance just because they were born male.

At least on this issue, the UK got it right.

Calgary woman sentenced for falsely accusing her father of sexual assault

My only question in this case, is why hasn't she been remanded for a psychiatric hold, if she attempted suicide. House arrest and later a curfew seems awfully light for falsely accusing her father.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Man charged in arson, false report

Norfolk fire officials have charged a man with setting his estranged wife’s vehicle on fire and falsely reporting a rape near his home on Halloween.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Off-topic: The Election--our Best Impulses

Many are writing the obituary for the GOP this week. Republicans, they tell us, are happily waving at a parade that has passed them by. They insist the GOP won't be winning a presidential election any time soon because of "new demographic realities."  Some are happily celebrating the pending demise of white male rule. 

Here's what some newspapers had to say:

"As the Grand Old Party reawakens," the New York Times wrote, "it faces the harsh old realities of minority status and long-term decay, and the prospect of further losses . . . ." 

The GOP's troubles, another news report proclaimed, stem from the fact that it has lurched to the right to appease extremists, and it's "been in steady decline" for a decade. 

Yet, many within the GOP just don't get it. Another news report says that right wing extremists in the party are talking about starting a third party to carry out the party's true mandate.

Sounds pretty awful for the GOP, doesn't it?

Oh, I forgot to mention that each of the news reports referenced above appeared in print not this week, but in the second half of 1974, when pundits were busy writing the GOP's obituary in the wake of the Watergate scandal. See here, here, and here.  In case you don't know what happened then, the GOP lost the White House in 1976 to a moderate southern Democrat named Jimmy Carter, but it came roaring back in 1980, when the "extremist" who was talking about starting a new party in the reference above -- by the way, his name was Ronald Reagan -- beat Carter in an electoral college landslide of 489 to 49. Four years later, that "extremist" did even better, winning 49 states and an unprecedented electoral college victory of 525 to 13.

This time around, the experts tell us, the GOP is finished because it is too white and too male. An ABC News report noted that among the 28 percent of voters who are nonwhite, Obama pulled in 80 percent of the vote. Among Hispanic voters, Obama pulled in 71 percent of the votes.

Sounds pretty dire for the GOP, doesn't it?  I mean, nothing like this has ever happened, has it?

Not so fast -- some perspective. Rewind to 1960. Almost 8 out of 10 Catholics voted for John F. Kennedy. No Catholic had ever been elected president, and, as one Catholic writer explained, a Kennedy victory would "seem[ ] to confirm to the Catholic population that we would no longer be treated as second-class citizens in America." http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/the-not-so-mindless-american-catholic-voter

It's fair to say that the Catholics no longer feel like second class citizens -- both vice presidential candidates this time were practicing Catholics, and Catholicism wasn't much of an issue. Oh, and in Tuesday's vote, it wasn't anywhere near 8 out of 10 Catholic votes for Obama. Catholics were pretty evenly split among Obama and Romney supporters, 49-48 respectively. http://www.lifenews.com/2012/11/07/despite-attacks-on-catholics-they-vote-to-re-elect-obama/ 

Do changing demographics spell the death knell for the GOP? Well, the Democratic Party does have a monopoly on black votes -- and that's something that ought to be a concern -- but the other demographics are a lot more flexible.

In 2004, for example, George W. Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/elections/how_groups_voted/voted_04.html  That's pretty astounding -- my guess is that white voters with similar incomes would not have voted for Bush in those numbers.

What about the youth vote? In 1984, 61% of voters ages 18-24, and 57% of voters ages 25-29 voted for the oldest man ever to serve as president, again, Republican Ronald Reagan.

What about women?  In 1984, 58% of women voted for the most conservative man to serve as president in the modern era, Ronald Reagan. http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/elections/how_groups_voted/voted_84.html

One thing is for sure: when the GOP treats groups like second class citizens, those groups flock to the Democratic Party.

So what to make of this election? 

Fair and objective people recognize that much of the mainstream news media has a rooting interest in Barack Obama. It is difficult to remember a president who's been subjected to so little criticism by the mainstream media, and that surely was an important -- quite possibly the overriding -- factor in his reelection.

By the same token, no president has been subjected to so much disdain by conservative outlets, especially talk radio.  Much of that disdain was kooky and vile.

The fact is, this was probably the most divisive election in modern times. Reducing people who don’t share our world views to caricature, and assuming outlier attributes are the norm for an entire class, are social evils that were rampant in this election. The de rigueur consensus seems to be that points are best made by demonizing, and that grotesque exaggeration is every bit as valid as nuance, reasonableness, and truth. For example, when Harry Reid talks about “seventeen old white men” trying to buy the White House for the radical conservatives, it makes for a pithy sound bite, and anyone taking offense must hate women, the poor, and minorities.

In many ways, Governor Mitt Romney was among the most impressive, and decent, candidates to run for president in modern times. But he was viewed with suspicion by extremists in his own party, and in order to win the nomination, he took a sharp turn right on immigration. In retrospect, that alone might have cost him the election.

In the end, regardless of your choice in this election, there is much celebrate about it. First, the fact that we went to the polls and chose our leaders in an open, free, and largely fair manner is remarkable. In the history of the world, our electoral process is an outlier.

Second, the fact that a black man has been elected to serve two terms as president of the United States is remarkable. In the not-too-distant past, even during Barack Obama's lifetime, in some places in America, blacks weren't allowed to drink out of the same water fountains as whites. For that reason alone, Mr. Obama's election as leader of the free world should inspire even the most ardent opponents of Mr. Obama's actual policies. His election, and reelection, are microcosms of the very promise of America and a reflection of the best impulses of a people that strives to live up to the ideals of the Statue of Liberty.

We hope that President Obama governs in the conciliatory spirit of his victory speech.

Loving dad's year of torment

In reality, nothing we can write here at CotWA, can do justice to the story told at the link below. 20 months of what I would describe as a living hell, all due to an overzealous police/prosecutors. While I'm not a big fan of lawsuits (sorry Pierce :) ), this is a case where I think it's justified. The only problem is, where does he go to get back his reputation?

Thanks to Fathers & Families where I came upon the story.

Here is the link directly to the story:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/7903081/Loving-dads-year-of-torment

Baby P father's £75,000 libel damages for teen rape claim is cut by Court of Appeal

The natural father of Baby P who was falsely accused of having been convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl has had a libel award of £75,000 cut to £50,000.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Woman released from prison after accuser recants sex assault accusations

Chalk another one up for the Innocence Project. 12 years. One third of her life. It's great that she is so forgiving to the accuser, but the sad fact is, she will never be able to get back that time. Best wishes to Ms. Vasquez.


Trooper cleared of sex assault allegations, accuser upset

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- After months under investigation, a state trooper accused of sexual assault will not face charges.

In July, a Brunswick County woman claimed the Wilmington-based trooper brutally raped her in his home. Today, the district attorney said the relationship was consensual.

When we spoke with the alleged victim this summer, we did not disclose her name or show her face. Now that the DA says no crime was committed, we feel it is only fair to the trooper that we do identify his accuser.

"In this day and age, it's no longer a he-said-she-said case," DA Ben David said. "It's a he-texted-she-texted case."

Investigators say Tpr. Bryan Phillips and Audrey Finch exchanged 563 documented text messages and phone calls, many sexually explicit, over four days in July. That's what led them to determine the couple's sexual encounter was consensual and not rape.

David says three calls and nine text messages between the two happened after the night Finch claimed the rape happened.

"I will not describe one of the pictures that the victim sent after the alleged assault, but suffice it to say that there was no indication that there was any lack of consent at any time," David said.

Finch and Phillips met on an online dating site. Finch said the attack happened when she went to Phillips's Wilmington apartment. After telling Wilmington Police she was raped, the investigation was handed to the SBI and the Conference of District Attorneys, which made the determination that no charges should be filed.

Finch is not happy with the decision.

"Tpr. Bryan Phillips brutally raped me, and I am devastated and outraged he got away with it," Finch told WWAY today. "From nightmares to fear of men, I am forever tortured, and will never be the same girl again. I have nothing to gain from this."

David says he also looked into possibly charging Finch for giving false information to law enforcement. He says Finch has been convicted of that crime in Virginia.

Tpr. Phillips remains on administrative duty as Highway Patrol completes an internal investigation.

We tried to call Phillips today for comment, but he did not answer our call.

http://www.wwaytv3.com/2012/11/01/trooper-cleared-of-sex-assault-allegations-accuser-upset

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Woman, 21, claimed to have been raped in Liden

And yet, she still is not named. Glad we protect the identities of criminals.


A WOMAN has been given a fixed penalty notice for wasting police time after making up a false allegation of attempted rape.

The 21-year-old claimed she had been grabbed by a man as she walked around Liden Lagoon earlier this month but had managed to get away after hitting out at him.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Where is the outrage over politicians who malign opponents for not bringing rape charges where there is insufficient evidence of rape?

When a politician suggests that a child conceived in a terrible rape is, nevertheless, a gift from God, it is a national story, and the politician is widely attacked by the left, even by the president of the United States.

So where is the outrage when a politician claims that a district attorney didn't properly perform his job simply because he refused to prosecute a rape claim when there is insufficient evidence that a rape occurred? Why isn't that a source of concern to persons who claim that rape shouldn't be politicized?

In Macon, Georgia, the race for District Attorney of the Macon Judicial Circuit has been politicized to the point that one candidate, David Cooke, is inappropriately claiming in ads that incumbent Greg Winters improperly dismissed rape cases. According to the WMAZ-TV, "Cooke is running advertisements that claim Winters dismissed all eight of the rape cases he's handled as prosecutor."

13WMAZ says it has looked at those eight cases. "The files show that Winters did dismiss those rape charges but each appears to have been dismissed for legitimate reasons. Those reasons include insufficient evidence, witnesses giving different statements, and in one case, a video that didn't support the alleged victims accusation.  In another rape case, the alleged victim and her mother asked for the case to be dismissed. In addition, one statutory rape case was dismissed in Superior Court because it was already handled in State Court."
Winters said this: "When you're told by law enforcement either, one they arrested the wrong person, or two, the rape didn't happen, you know, the number one job of a prosecutor is to seek justice and for me to continue on with the prosecution when, one you either have the wrong person, or two what the person is charged with didn't happen, I think it obviously would be improper."

Of course it would be improper, Mr. Winters. The accusation against you is outrageous, and the absence of any outcry beyond Macon is not just heinous, but telling.

http://www.13wmaz.com/news/article/202576/175/Fact-Checking-Claims-in-the-Macon-DAs-Race

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dallas News writer bemoans victim blaming, then assumes the accuser in rape case is a victim

Jacquielynn Floydwriting in the Dallas News, takes offense at the reaction of some readers to the news that a high school baseball player was charged with sexually assaulting a teenage girl in his car last weekend. Floyd bemoans the unfairness of people who assume the accuser's account is false. "Their automatic disbelief is so sad, so utterly lacking in compassion, that they sound like savage animals tearing at the flesh of a wounded member of their own pack," she writes.

Let's examine Floyd's claim of unfairness more closely. This is a verbatim quote from her piece: "What’s unfortunate about this case — wait, scratch that. What’s revolting, what’s sickening about this case, is the outpouring of comments on public forums vilifying the victim, an unidentified teenage girl."

Floyd's hypocrisy is breathtaking. In a piece where she bemoans a rush to judgment that assumes the innocence of the accused, before a single scrap of evidence is admitted at trial, much less an adjudication of guilt, Floyd, herself, has declared the accuser to be a "victim." That can only mean that the young man must be guilty.

Is it even necessary to explain that such a description does a grave disservice to (1) the presumptively innocent young man who, unlike the accuser, is named in the Dallas News, and (2) Floyd's readers, who are entitled to accurate reporting but receive something less than that when she transforms an accuser into a "victim."  People reading the newspaper assume the writer is writing responsibly. Branding the accuser a "victim" is unjust and irresponsible by any measure.

People of good will need to insist that people stop assuming they know what happened in rape cases based on nothing more than information about an accusation. That includes Floyd, who should be held to an even higher standard than those casual readers she compares to "savage animals."

Floyd's entire unfortunate piece is after the jump.

The '50 Actual Facts About Rape' Not Entirely 'Actual'

Soraya Chemaly has a piece in Huffington Post called "50 Actual Facts About Rape."  Number 24 is dishonest because it doesn't tell the whole story about the prevalence of false rape claims. Look at numbers 23 and 24:

23. Percentage of rapes that college students think are false claims: 50 percent

24. Percentage of rapes that studies find are false claims: 2-8 percent

We are loathe to dwell on numbers lest our words devolve into an unfortunate and divisive Oppression Olympics or be construed as trivializing the seriousness of the rape problem, something we will not do. But we do need to address a nasty, and dishonest, trope that insists essentially every rape claim is, in fact, a bona fide rape that warrants punishment for the accused, and that the wrongly accused are too insignificant to worry about.

A leading feminist legal scholar has acknowledged this fact: ". . . 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).

Studies can look at a population of rape claims and discern that a certain percentage are reasonably certain to be false. What no study can do, and no serious study has ever done, is to say that aside from the claims we are reasonably certain were false claims, all of the rest were actual rapes.

In between the claims we are reasonably certain are actual rapes and the ones we are reasonably certain were false claims is 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. Of all the claims we are reasonably certain were either actual rape or false rape claims, false rape claims make up far more than 8 percent.

Forget about "false" claims, let's talk about claims that were actual rapes and claims that weren't (that latter includes false claims, but it also includes claims that were mischaracterized as rape).  It makes little difference to the wrongly accused if the claim was a lie or simply a claim that doesn't amount to rape. 

Why so many gray claims?  Because that's the nature of a rape claim, of course, where the act that gives rise to the claim is almost always committed in private. The claims in this vast gray middle area often suffer from evidentiary infirmities. Sometimes, the claimant herself might think a rape occurred, but her outward manifestations of assent did not match her subjective disinclination to engage in sex, so it wasn't rape. And that's just one of a countless number of examples.

Dr. David Lisak published a study on the subject in 2010 in Violence Against Women where he classified 8 out of the 136 (5.9%) reported rapes at a major northeastern university over a ten year period as false. This figure has been cited by some prominent feminist blogs. Dr. Lisak used an exacting definition of false claims:
. . . a case was classified as a false report if there was evidence that a thorough investigation was pursued and that the investigation had yielded evidence that the reported sexual assault had in fact not occurred. A thorough investigation would involve, potentially, multiple interviews of the alleged perpetrator, the victim, and other witnesses, and where applicable, the collection of other forensic evidence (e.g., medical records, security camera records). For example, if key elements of a victim’s account of an assault were internally inconsistent and directly contradicted by multiple witnesses and if the victim then altered those key elements of his or her account, investigators might conclude that the report was false. That conclusion would have been based not on a single interview, or on intuitions about the credibility of the victim, but on a “preponderance” of evidence gathered over the course of a thorough investigation."
While Dr. Lisak's study found that 5.9% of the claims were coded as false reports, this does not mean that 94.1% can, or should, be regarded as actual sexual assaults.  Some feminist bloggers, however, are happy to spread misinformation by failing to explain that simple fact.  See, for example, http://manboobz.com/2010/11/11/mens-rights-myth-false-rape-accusations/

Read that again, and again. Dr. Lisak's report shows that 58.8% fall into the vast gray area referenced above where we simply don't know whether it was a rape, a non-rape, or a false claim (and, again, from the innocent male's perspective, it makes little difference whether a wrongful claim was also a false claim). Specifically, Dr. Lisak explains that 44.9% of the claims did not proceed to any prosecution or disciplinary action, did not result in a referral for prosecution or disciplinary action because of insufficient evidence or because the victim withdrew from the process or was unable to identify the perpetrator or because the victim mislabeled the incident (e.g., gave a truthful account of the incident, but the incident did not meet the legal elements of the crime of sexual assault). Moreover, another 13.9% contained insufficient information to be coded.

So that leaves 35.3% of the claims that were referred for prosecution or disciplinary action. For those claims, Dr. Lisak offers no opinion as to the propriety of the referral and does not reveal the outcome of the prosecution or disciplinary action.  It is interesting that Dr. Lisak did not use an exacting standard similar to the one he used to determine if a claim was "false" to determine whether an actual rape occurred. 

We have provided ample evidence on our blogs of wrongful claims that had been improperly or incorrectly referred for prosecution or disciplinary action. In short, of the claims comprising the 35.3%, we have no idea how many were actual rapes.  Thus, it is disingenuous to assert that "only" 5.9% -- or "only" 2 to 8 percent -- were false claims and to leave it at that without an explanation. It is reasonable to assert that while the number of false and wrongful claims is unknowable, the percentage is considerably higher than 2 or 5.9 or 8 percent.

Again, that is not to detract from the seriousness of the rape problem because we have not even discussed the problem of unreported rapes. It is merely to counsel against trivializing the problem of false and wrongful accusations.

Chemaly's is just the latest in a never-ending cavalcade of writings that trivialize the wrongly accused.  The wrongly accused have few resources available to them. The Innocence Project does monumentally important work in focusing attention on systemic defects that allow the innocent to be punished along with the guilty. But the Innocence Project was founded "to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing." Its work is largely confined to DNA exonerations and generally does not assist men and boys who admit to having sexual contact with the accuser, which is the vast majority of rape claims.

For many men and boys, our site is among the few outlets to let them know they are not alone. We have received notes from young men who tell us that our blog was instrumental in their decision not to take their own lives. This is a tremendous burden to place upon one unfunded, overworked blog. For some, one blog is one blog too many.

We share the concerns of victims' advocates about claims by some so-called men's rights advocates that women routinely lie about rape. We believe just the opposite: given the relative ease with which a false rape claim can be lodged, the fact that there are not many more is a testament to the good will of the vast majority of women.

Just as we do not tolerate the trivialization of rape, nor do we tolerate those who trivialize the victimhood of the community of the wrongly accused.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Stanford student: Students concerned about lowering the standard of proof in sex cases just want to 'act irresponsibly' in their sexual interactions

Jonathan Poto, Stanford class of 2013, writes here:  “I want to take on those who say this lowered standard is unfair to the accused. Ultimately, I believe that Stanford students are able bear the responsibility of acting in a manner that does not anywhere approach that benchmark of preponderance of evidence of a sexual assault. We should hold ourselves to high standards, rather than be concerned about our freedom to act irresponsibly in situations where there is legal uncertainty regarding our sexual interactions with others.”

Poto’s lack of understanding about these issues is breathtaking. By suggesting that students’ conduct should not "anywhere approach" a “preponderance of the evidence of a sexual assault,” he frames the issue so strangely, it is difficult to know where to begin to refute it.

In fact, Poto's inanity is not worthy of serious refutation. In “he said, she said” disputes, one party says there was consent and the other says there wasn’t, and it is often difficult, if not impossible, to know who is telling the truth. To suggest that the party who claims there was consent faces no danger of being unjustly punished if he merely “act[s] in a manner that does not anywhere approach that benchmark of preponderance of evidence of a sexual assault” is dangerously stupid. And to suggest that students concerned about being wrongly accused because of the reduced standard simply want to "act irresponsibly" is nothing short of morally grotesque. 

Mr. Poto's self-righteous rant is an affront to the community of the wrongly accused. He is woefully unschooled about these issues and would do well to spend a couple of months reading through the posts on this site and our predecessor site (that's how long it would take to get through them). Maybe then he wouldn't posit smug and dim-witted opinions about things he knows nothing about.

This is what Stanford is pumping out? Wow!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

ACLU's acceptance of "Dear Colleague" letter standards: a betrayal of progressive values

The Obama administration's April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter, which lowered the standard of proof to find guilt in cases of sexual misconduct on campus to a mere "preponderance of the evidence," is an affront to the community of the wrongly accused because it mandates that schools change their rules to make it far too easy to punish the innocent for offenses they didn't commit. The suggestion that this standard is necessary to comply with the law is simply wrong. Colleges are legally permitted to apply a clear presumption of innocence to disciplinary proceedings, and civil-rights laws like Title IX do not override that right. Colleges are liable only for their own culpable failure to respond to  harassment in a reasonable fashion, but such response does not require dispensing with students' clear presumption of innocence.

Yet, for the first time, some who call themselves progressives are applauding a government effort to roll back, in a blatant and significant way, the due process rights of persons accused of wrongdoing.

Yesterday, Katherine A. Greenier, Director, Patricia M. Arnold Women’s Rights Project, ACLU of Virginia, wrote a piece that tacitly supports this effort. https://acluva.org/10628/sexual-assault-on-campus-assessing-compliance-with-title-ix/  We respectfully suggest that this represents nothing less than a betrayal of traditional progressive values.

First, Ms. Greenier makes this erroneous statement: "The OCR advised the schools to use the standard of a 'preponderance of the evidence' that is usually applied in civil rights lawsuits and administrative proceedings rather than the heightened proof standards normally applied in criminal proceedings."

In fact, most schools previously utilized the "clear and convincing evidence" standard, which is lower than the criminal standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt." The "clear and convincing" standard is sometimes applied in civil actions for monetary damages, and college disciplinary proceedings implicate interests more significant than civil actions seeking monetary damages. “The consequences for someone expelled for sexual assault are enormous and will follow him throughout his life, leading to rejection by other schools, inability to qualify for the bar and a great deal of stigma,” Prof. Cynthia Bowman of Cornell has explained.

Second, Ms. Greenier's statement suggests a fealty to group identity politics that has the perverse effect of allying progressives with law and order conservatives who typically have fought the expansion of individual due process rights at every turn.

Over the past century, valiant progressives at the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and many other organizations fought to uphold due process rights for Americans any time they were in danger of being taken away. In the 1950s and 60s, they waged many famous battles to insure that presumptively innocent persons accused of crimes were afforded individual due process rights. At other times, they successfully advocated that communists seeking to exercise First Amendment rights, that Japanese-Americans imprisoned during World War II, and that the homeless rounded up just for being on the streets, were all entitled to due process. One could probably chronicle the history of our nation in the 20th Century by tracing the unstinting efforts of liberal reformers to insure that the innocent aren't punished by unjust laws. Their efforts made our people more tolerant of one another, and more accepting of diversity.

It is for this reason that the Obama administration's April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter, and the wholesale acceptance by some progressives of that letter, are so jarring, and so wrong. Those who defend the "Dear Colleague" letter sweep over the rights of the presumptively innocent like a high-speed rail and do not address even the possibility that a college disciplinary proceeding might get it wrong when the standard of proof is so low.

Some of those same progressives will read this post and will roll their eyes at the very suggestion that a law affecting primarily young white males is worthy of anyone's advocacy. That attitude itself is, of course, a betrayal of the principles of equal justice under law, and it evinces an unbecoming PC elitism that sadly flavors the efforts of the campus sexual grievance industry.