Saturday, November 30, 2013

Roxanne Jones: Young men, get a 'yes' text before sex

Editor's note: Roxanne Jones is a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and a former vice president at ESPN. She is a national lecturer on sports, entertainment and women's topics and a recipient of the 2010 Woman of the Year award from Women in Sports and Events. She is the co-author of "Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete," (Random House) and CEO of Push Media Strategies.
(CNN) -- "Watch out for the stupid girls," I tell my son. "They are trouble."
You know the type -- the party girls, the girls who thrive on attention. The girls who will do anything to get a guy to notice them, as the pop star Pink riffs on one of her best-ever songs, "Stupid Girls": "If I act like that, flipping my blond hair back, push up my bra like that ... that guy will call me back."
The problem is that all the kids in college are smart or they wouldn't be there in the first place, as my dean's list son likes to remind me. Admittedly, it's a tricky conversation to navigate, but I'm not giving up. There's too much at stake.
It seems nearly every week, we hear news stories about sexual encounters at parties where everyone is drinking -- and a young woman says she was raped, and a young man insists the encounter was consensual.
Make no mistake, no woman -- no matter how much she parties -- is asking to be raped. But too often when heavy drinking is involved, the meaning of consent can be misconstrued on both sides.According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,each year about 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. And those are only the cases that are actually reported.
So understandably, parents worry about how best to prepare their daughters and sons for college. We spend a lot of energy learning to navigate the academic and financial requirements. We give years of thought to which colleges are a best fit for our kids. Once they are accepted, we make sure our children are sent off to college with every overpriced, not-so-necessary item listed on the "what-to-pack-for-college" list. And just before we drop them off on campus, we make sure we have "The Talk" about focusing on grades and not getting caught up in the party scene.
In my case, I filled my son's duffel bag with about 300 condoms and told him watch out for party girls but have fun; meet new people but stay focused on academics.
But I know from my own fun-filled years at Penn State that campus life can be confusing even for the best of kids. So I taught him how to do his own laundry, grocery shop and cook -- just so he wouldn't have to depend on anyone else to do those things. But lately, I've been worried that I left out one important piece of advice that is a must-do today:
Never have sex with a girl unless she's sent you a text that proves the sexual relationship is consensual beforehand. And it's a good idea to even follow up any sexual encounter with a tasteful text message saying how you both enjoyed being with one another -- even if you never plan on hooking up again.
Crazy, I know, but I've actually been encouraging my son and his friends to use sexting -- minus the lewd photos -- to protect themselves from being wrongly accused of rape. Because just as damning text messages and Facebook posts helped convict the high-schoolers in Steubenville of rape, technology can also be used to prove innocence.
How to protect yourself from false rape allegations is a constant conversation among professional athletes. I've covered many rape cases over my career, including those of Kobe Bryant, the Duke lacrosse team, and many others that never made the headlines. Sports agents and athletes have tried everything from openly or secretly recording their sexual encounters, which is illegal in some states, to asking all women they have sex with to sign a pre-consent form. And though the public may scoff at stories of athletes who frequent strip clubs or solicit prostitutes, many athletes say they do this to avoid unwarranted sex assault charges.
NIAA research shows that more than 80% of college students drink alcohol, and almost half report binge drinking -- five drinks for men, four for women, over two hours -- in the past two weeks. And binge drinking can cause many of us, no matter what age, to make bad decisions.
Let's face it, the sexual revolution is real -- but because we still fail to discuss sex and evolving sexual mores frankly with our sons and daughters, all this freedom has led to confusion about the ever-changing rules of engagement when it comes to sex. But one thing is a constant: When a girl tells a boy no, he must always believe her and stop.
Parents need to step up. I'm doing my part, raising a son to respect women and himself by talking to him about how to navigate the freedom that comes with college life.
But we need to do more work to teach our daughters that women also have an equal personal responsibility to respect their bodies. And true equality means that we are also held accountable for our actions. Partying and drinking until you are no longer in control of your body or mind instantly sets you up to become a victim of rape or bodily harm -- or even to die.
Nobody wants to be a stupid girl. It's time for us girls to smarten up. And it's time for guys to understand -- when a girl is way drunk, it doesn't make it open season on her. In fact, it's just the opposite: If she's falling down drunk, stay away, far away.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Emily Bazelon should be fired for writing the stupidest sentence ever

A long-time reader sent me the following message:

"I'm guessing you may have already seen this. But in case you didn't...

"In a Slate article about the Jameis Winston case at Florida State found here http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/jurisprudence/2013/11/jameis_winston_the_sexual_assault_allegations_against_the_florida_state.html

"...here's the opening sentence of the last paragraph:
Whether schools should punish athletes who have been accused but not convicted—or in Winston’s case, even charged—is a hard call.
"Good Lord. I've read it three times now, and it gives me chills every time. Literal chills.
Sometimes, I don't even know in what country I'm living anymore."

The sentence was written by someone who goes by the name Emily Bazelon, and the query she poses is unworthy of any, much less serious, debate, response, or refutation. Bazelon, and any editor who reviewed the piece before it was posted, should be fired for their appalling stupidity. And that, dear readers, is NOT a hard call.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Crystal Gail Mangum goes to prison: did the system fail her victim, Reginald Daye?

There is no celebrating here. Crystal Gail Mangum is going to prison for a long time because she murdered her boyfriend, Reginald Daye. This is a tragedy, and one that might have been avoided if the very serious crime of making a false report were treated seriously.

We have to wonder if the justice system failed Mr. Daye.

Mangum, of course, is best known for falsely accusing three Duke lacrosse players of rape in March 2006. The charges hung over the heads of the innocent young men until April 2007, when North Carolina's attorney general Roy Cooper declared them "innocent."

Mangum was not charged for her heinous lie. Mangum had made a rape accusation similar to the Duke lacrosse allegations in 1996 that was never prosecuted. See here.

So what happened after Mangum got away with her rape lie against the lacrosse players?

Mangum was arrested in February 2010 on charges of attempted murder, arson and child abuse. She was convicted only of misdemeanor charges in connection with that incident and was sentenced to time served.

Then in 2011, she stabbed Mr. Daye to death.

If Ms. Mangum had been properly punished for her rape lie in the Duke case, she would have been in prison at the time she stabbed Mr. Daye to death. Even if she had served a shorter term, a custodial sentence might have deterred her from further criminal wrongdoing. One of the purposes of custodial sentencing is deterrence.

Professor Alan Dershowitz once said this: “Rape is such a serious crime that deliberately bringing a false accusation of rape should be an equally serious crime and women are not being punished for those crimes. I believe that being falsely accused of rape is as traumatic as being raped.”

So why wasn't Ms. Mangum charged? After all, rape cases less compelling are charged.  There is an unfortunate strain of thought among some sexual assault victims' advocates, and among some in our justice system, that charging women for making false rape reports has a chilling effect on the reporting of rape.  There is no evidence for this at all. None.

Yet, a prominent feminist blogger once wrote this: "Well, what do you want the police to do—just let women who make false reports GET AWAY WITH IT?! Yes. That is exactly what I want."

And Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape, and Dr. Kim McGregor, director of Rape Prevention Education, and many others, have made it clear they don't want rape liars charged.

The evil attendant to their position is self-evident. Those advocates should have attended the viewing of Reginald Daye -- to see the sorrow on the faces of his family and friends, to learn about his life, his hopes, his dreams, his struggles.

Because if false rape claims were treated the way the "equally serious crime" of rape is treated, Mr. Daye likely would be alive today.

Is it one-in-four, one-in-125, or one-in-1,876?

We are loathe to attack rape statistics because we don't want to trivialize a serious social pathology. But time after time after time, we read articles about rape where the authors see fit to inflate the stats on rape, and then go out of their way to trivialize the victimization of the wrongly accused. They just can't help themselves -- they simply have to take a shot at the sort of advocacy we do here by declaring that "only" a small percentage of rape claims are false. They typically add -- even though they have no way of knowing whether it's true -- that the percentage is the same as every other crime.

Here's a newsflash: you don't have to lie about numbers to underscore the seriousness of rape. You hurt your own cause by saying things that are ridiculous, and that are hurtful to the community of the wrongly accused. We don't think rape should be trivialized, and we don't think false rape claims should be trivialized.

We received a fascinating email from a long-time reader, who took issue with rape stats in a recent widely read article. He furnished his own analysis, which, try as we might, we haven't been able to refute. We paraphrase it below. Stay with this one until the end.

The latest bit of rape hysteria is courtesy of Slate. It appears under this none-too-subtle, top-of-the-homepage headline box: RAPE IS MUCH, MUCH MORE PREVALENT THAN WE THOUGHT. THE U.S. HAS UNDERCOUNTED IT FOR YEARS.

We'll save you the trouble of reading and cut right to the important part: the numbers are much higher than we thought, the sky is falling. So much, in fact, that there are 1.27 Million sexual assaults a year. Or roughly 6.5 times as many as we previously thought.

Never mind that the new number is almost 15 times the number reported in real-live crime statistics. We suppose that just proves it must be true. And never mind that these numbers come from surveys where every rape allegation is uncritically accepted and untested against competing claims of innocence. The irony is that for those rape claims that are actually reported to police, every serious study ever conducted shows that the majority of claims can't be classified one way or the other as rape or non-rape. It's only when the claims are unreported that they are uncritically and automatically accepted as rape, so long as they meet whatever definition is assigned to them in the survey -- and surveys are notorious for engorging the definition of rape beyond legal recognition.

Fine. Let's go with the 1.27 Million per year figure.

If you take a population average for the last three years (2010-2012), you get 311,610,092. US population is 51% female (actually 50.9%, but I round off). Which gives you an average female population of 158,921,147. Now here's the link to the FBI's Crime Stats. The average number of reported rapes for those same three years is 84,715. (Which, again, is 15 times fewer than the number quoted in the Slate piece). Divide the population by the number of reported rapes, and you get... wait for it....

...1-in-1,876.

That's right. 1-in-1,876. Almost exactly the number reported in Chad Hermann's landmark article which took a three-year average for three universities.

But, again, back to the original point.  Even if we ignore these real, live, actual crime reporting stats and accept that 15x as many figure (which would mean that 93.33% of all rapes, not 90%, go "unreported"), and accept that those numbers (taken from surveys and interviews) are indeed correct, that still leaves us at 1-in-125. Which is a damned far cry from 1-in-4.

All of which proves, yet again, that people who spout these numbers simply can't -- or, more accurately, won't -- do simple math. The one-in-four is not in the same universe as the number you get if you use THEIR OWN STATS.

And these are the same types of people who just can't resist trivializing the victimization of the wrongly accused by suggesting there are too few of them to worry about.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Alabama pardons Scottsboro Boys after 82 years

Story reported here:

Alabama granted posthumous pardons on Thursday to three of the Scottsboro Boys, a group of black teenagers whose fight against false charges that they raped two white women in 1931 helped spur the modern civil rights movement.

The three men exonerated by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles - Charles Weems, Andy Wright and Haywood Patterson - were among nine youths accused of gang-raping the two women aboard a freight train in Alabama, and convicted by all-white juries in the town of Scottsboro.

The group's legal journey to fight the convictions and win new trials sparked protests over racial injustice and two landmark rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Today, we were able to undo a black eye that has been held over Alabama for many years," said Eddie Cook, the board's assistant executive director.

All of the Scottsboro Boys served prison time, but convictions against five of the teens were overturned and the charges dropped in 1937, according to the board.

A sixth man, Clarence Norris, got a pardon in 1976 from then-Gov. George Wallace.

Earlier this year, Alabama lawmakers passed legislation aimed at allowing the parole board to grant posthumous pardons to the Scottsboro Boys. The measure required that the cases eligible for pardons have elements of racial and social injustice, Cook said.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Writer challenges the "cult-like elevation" of the "inalienable 'truth' . . . that we live in an age where rape is part of everyday culture, and where those in power are doing nothing to stop it'

Luke Gittos has written an uncompromising piece that challenges the prevailing narrative about rape: "We must be free to question rape laws: Feminist academics are using slurs and threats to chill the debate on rape. They must be challenged."

Here are some excerpts:
We are seeing the cult-like elevation of one inalienable ‘truth’ above all others. This ‘truth’ is that we live in an age where rape is part of everyday culture, and where those in power are doing nothing to stop it. Anyone who dares question this prevailing orthodoxy on rape is guilty of a chauvinistic heresy, attributable to their immersion in a controlling patriarchal society.
. . . .
. . . those who dare to question the prevailing view on rape are dismissed as ‘apologists’ who unwittingly contribute to ‘rape culture’ through their espousal of prejudices against women. In the words of the Feminists at Law journal, the arguments of these ‘apologists’ ‘feed dangerous stereotypes’ that perpetuate a culture which legitimises sexual violence. 
What is most worrying about the drive to close down debate around rape is that the prevailing view is so often completely wrong. Consider the often-spouted idea that rape has a low conviction rate. Anyone who questions this holy nugget of truth is likely to find himself called a ‘rape apologist’. But the fact is that rape convictions are at an all-time high: 63 per cent of rape trials end in a conviction. Rape is one of the few offences in which a jury is more likely to believe a complainant than not. Even Baroness Stern, whose review of rape statistics in 2010 is usually quoted as the holy bible of rape truth, pointed out that the idea that the conviction rate for rape was peculiarly low was ‘distorting public understanding’ and putting off complainants from coming forward. 
Or take the idea that the police and prosecutors do nothing about rape. Wrong again. Recent legal history is awash with laws and policy reforms designed to make the prosecution of rape easier. The introduction of complainant anonymity, the establishment of specialised medical investigation units to recover the best possible evidence as soon as possible and the introduction of pre-recorded evidence are just three examples of a long list of reforms targeted at convicting more people of rape. Yet the idea that the police will ‘ignore’ complainants, or that all rape cases are doomed to fail, is bandied around as an unquestionable truth. It’s completely wrong.

Miscellaneous

A teen admitted making up a report that she had been sexually assaulted on the way to her bus stop on Tuesday morning. Police said the girl gave detectives a detailed description of her alleged attacker and his vehicle -- a man in his 40s in a white van -- which local media and Greater Clark Co. Schools disseminated Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday.

A man accused of sexually assaulting a young girl more than 20 years ago took his own life even after being cleared because he never got over his depression from the ordeal.

James Winston, the college football superstar, awaits the results of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault. Forbes says this: "Jamies Winston's Heisman Hopes Contingent On Sexual Assault Investigation." This, despite the fact that Winston has not been charged with anything, and the so-called "investigation" has been on-going for almost a year. See here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cuccinelli argues for Montgomery's innocence

Johnathon Montgomery, who suffered a terrible injustice, is back in the news.

News story found here: http://www.dailypress.com/news/crime/dp-nws-montgomery-hearing-20131119,0,3925357.story

RICHMOND — Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday lent the power of his office — in the form of his personal court appearance — to argue that a man convicted in Hampton five years ago should be declared an innocent man.

Though the attorney general's office nearly always opposes innocence petitions, Cuccinelli is fully backing a motion filed by lawyers for Johnathon Montgomery, who was sent to prison in 2008 after a 17-year-old girl lied on the witness stand in Hampton Circuit Court.

"We have come to the conclusion that not only has justice not been done, but an injustice has been done," Cuccinelli said. His office's job, he pointed out, isn't to protect convictions, but "to seek the ends of justice."

Cuccinelli's appearance at the Virginia Court of Appeals marked only the fourth time he's argued a case since he took office nearly four years ago — with one of the other three being an innocence petition for a man who served 27 years for a rape he didn't commit.

Cuccinelli's involvement in the case came against the ironic backdrop that his office blocked Montgomery's release from prison a year ago.

The AG's office said it blocked the order not because it believed Montgomery was guilty, but because the Hampton trial court judge who issued the order did not have authority to do so. That is, under Virginia law, only higher courts can order a defendant's release more than 21 days after a trial court's judgment.

The appeals court did not make a decision Tuesday on whether to grant Montgomery's petition. There's no set timetable for the judges to make a decision, but a spokesman for Cuccinelli saying a decision could come in "weeks or months."

Montgomery, who has been free from prison since November 2012 and now lives in North Carolina, was on hand at the hearing. But he didn't testify, with lawyers and judges typically the only ones talking at appeals court hearings.

At a trial in Hampton in 2008, Elizabeth Paige Coast, who was then 17, swore under oath that Montgomery had sexually assaulted her eight years earlier, when he was 14 and she was 10. Among other things, she claimed that he had forced her to perform oral sex.

Based on Coast's testimony, Montgomery was convicted of three felony sexual assault charges. He was sentenced to 45 years behind bars, with 7.5 to serve.

But in October 2012, after Montgomery had served about four years, Coast came forward to say she had lied. She explained that she made up the story of being sexually assaulted after being caught looking at sexually explicit material online, using a fictitious assault as a way to explain her behavior.

At a hearing in November 2012, a judge ordered Montgomery released from custody. That was followed, however, by the attorney general's office blocking the order. After weeks of wrangling, Gov. Bob McDonnell granted Montgomery a conditional pardon, days before Thanksgiving.

At Tuesday's hearing, Cuccinelli pointed out that his office joined the petition after Coast was convicted of perjury in August.

Because witness recantations are not uncommon, courts don't often reverse trial decisions simply because of a witness changes their story. There can be other evidence of guilt, for example, or it can become a question of "were you lying then or are you lying now?"

But this case stands out for two reasons, Cuccinelli said.

First, Coast's perjury conviction is "unique from any prior cases in Virginia" in which a defendant was seeking a writ of actual innocence. Second, he said, "there was no other direct evidence of Johnathon Montgomery's guilt."

"Her testimony was the sole basis of Johnathon Montgomery's conviction," Cuccinelli said.

When the trial judge pronounced his guilty verdict against Montgomery, he said he saw no motive for Coast to lie. "But when Elizabeth Coast recanted, part of her recantation was an explanation of her motive to lie," Cuccinelli said. "Not only was the only piece of direct evidence removed, it was effectively reversed."

Montgomery's lawyer, Jon M. Tolatta of the Northern Virginia firm Hogan Lovells, told the court that at Coast's hearing in August, Circuit Court Judge Bonnie Jones said, "I believe you," to Coast's recent explanation for her lie.

"If that's not a finding of credibility, then I don't know what is," Tolatta said, saying it would be a "cruel irony" for Montgomery and Coast to both be convicted on one lie. "There's only been one crime here, and that's perjury, and there's only been one victim, and that's Johnathon Montgomery."

But much of Tuesday's hearing did not pertain directly to the merits of Montgomery's innocence petition.

Instead, a judge cut off Tolatta's opening statement by expressing concern over whether "the separation of powers" was violated when McDonnell issued the conditional pardon.

One of the conditions of the pardon was that Montgomery file for a writ of actual innocence. Under the pardon, if the petition is denied, then Montgomery could be subject to "immediate arrest." But if it's granted, the pardon's terms are lifted.

The three judge panel — Judge Robert J. Humphreys, Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. and Judge Teresa M. Chafin — said they were concerned that the conditions involved a different branch of government in any way. "It's a procedural mess," Humphreys said.

Cuccinelli explained that McDonnell's philosophy was simply that all legal procedures had to be exhausted before a pardon could be considered. In issuing the conditional pardon, Cuccinelli said, McDonnell "had the obvious goal of getting Johnathon Montgomery out of prison" while he awaited the court's decision.

Cuccinelli said his office did not have communication with the governor's office over the drafting of the conditional pardon. "We need governor's offices to talk to the attorney general's office," he said at one point.

But Cuccinelli said he hoped the judges' concern would not affect Montgomery's petition for innocence. "I hope they don't base their decision on their concerns over separation of powers," he said.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When children engage in sex, why are the boys charged but the girls aren't?

A disturbing story out of Oregon. An 18-year-old man is in jail, accused of raping and sexually molesting four high school girls. He admits to having sexual relations with them but says it was consensual. And he says the charges against him aren't fair: even though all the girls were under the age of consent when the alleged crimes happened, so was he. Yet he was charged and the girls weren't.

"And I'm engaging in sexual activity with students too young to give consent. Well, I was too young to give consent," he said Monday from jail. "So if I'm too young to give consent and they're too young to give consent, then who's the one who's supposed to take the blame for this?"

He says months went by after the alleged crimes happened, and he hadn't heard about a problem. After he turned 18, he says detectives showed up to arrest him at his work. He was fired. Walter says he's scared to be in jail, and he's worried that if he's guilty he'll have to register as a sex offender. And even if he's not guilty, the accusations will follow him for the rest of his life. He said he has been in jail for two weeks now and hasn't talked to an attorney yet.

This is all his side of the story. It is possible that he actually raped the young women. But if what he's saying is true, it is shades of Milton Academy, the infamous case out of Massachusetts several years ago. A 15-year-old girl engaged in group sex with five teenage boys in the boys’ locker room. They were 16. The boys, and only the boys, were expelled and charged with statutory rape, and the court ordered the boys to publicly apologize to the girl and her family, and to do community service.

Alan M. Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor and criminal defense lawyer whose daughter attended Milton Academy, said this: ”This represents the most senseless use of prosecutorial discretion I’ve seen in a long time.” He added: ”The idea that these youngsters should be branded rapists and the girl should be labeled a victim is preposterous.”

Read on only if you want to get your blood boiling. The 16-year-old boys read their apologies to the girl and her family, in open court, as part of their plea bargain. One boy read this: ”Not a day has passed since the incident that I don’t wish I had shown more respect for you, myself, and everyone involved. I understand that by taking part I put myself in a very dangerous situation with consequences none of us had dreamed of.” Another boy read this: ”Every day I am sorry, so sorry, for what happened. And every day I think of how hurt you must be and how upset your family must be. More than anything in the world I wish that I could turn back the clock. . . . All I can do at this point is truly and sincerely apologize for my actions and wish you happiness.”

The girl's family sat there stony-faced as the boys were publicly emasculated.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Appalling: FOX sports reporter Clay Travis assumes sexual assault based on nothing more than an accusation

Read it yourself -- here's the whole thing, and the following is an excerpt:
5. Is it fair that sex accusations against anybody are made public before any charges are filed while victims are protected by law? 
Put simply, no. 
You can't unring the bell of a sexual assault allegation. If Jameis Winston is 100-percent innocent, then he's been wronged by this process. 
But I think the alleged victim believes a crime was committed against her — by someone — for a couple of reasons. 
First, keep in mind that making a demonstrably false accusation is liable under the law. That is, if you make false statements to the police, you've committed a crime. So it's not like a woman — or man — can use this shield as a weapon. 
Second, remember that sex crimes are dramatically underreported in this country. A woman is much more likely to keep quiet about sexual assault than she is to press charges. This woman contacted authorities within a couple of hours of an alleged sexual assault. The quicker you report a sexual assault crime, the more legitimacy you have with investigators and with physical examiners. 
Would this woman subject herself to intense questioning, physical examinations by strangers — it's reasonable to assume she was treated by medical professionals that night to assess her well-being and examine her for signs of physical trauma — if nothing at all happened to her?
Sigh. 

There you go, folks. The usual struggle faced by the wrongly accused. It is somehow acceptable to assume that a sexual assault occurred based not on any facts in the case at issue but rather on nothing more than a belief about what has happened in other cases. Clay Travis assumes probable guilt based on nothing more than an accusation.

It is well to note that not only does Clay Travis know nothing more about the facts of this case than the rest of us know, but Clay Travis knows precisely nothing about the unnamed female accuser in this case. For all Clay Travis knows, she might be a serial false accuser. Or does Clay want to tell us there is no such thing?

Wouldn't it be helpful, Clay, before opining about a matter so terribly serious to a young man's life if you actually knew the facts about it instead of relying on your very peculiar stereotypes about sexual assault? A few examples of these peculiar stereotypes:

You actually suggested that because making a false rape claim is illegal, it's unlikely she made a false claim. 

Excuse me while I bang my head against the wall. By that logic, it's even more unlikely that Winston is guilty of sexual assault since sexual assault not only is illegal, but it carries with it a greater punishment and typically a much longer statute of limitations period.  My assertion is silly; yours is sillier.

Then you seem to suggest, Clay, that because underreporting of rape exists, it's not likely that this claim is false.

Can you say "non sequitur," Clay? Women do lie about rape -- for all manner of reasons, just as women don't report their rapes for all manner of reasons. The one has nothing to do with the other.

Then you assert: "The quicker you report a sexual assault crime, the more legitimacy you have with investigators and with physical examiners."

Or would it be more logical to assume the investigators aren't at all impressed with her claim? Despite the accuser's prompt complaint, it's been almost a year, and the accused hasn't been charged. You also seem to discount Mr. Winston's attorney's statement where he said he was advised by the local police department in February that the case was closed. It was only reopened after media inquiries. See here.

Then you pull out the old "Would this woman subject herself to intense questioning, physical examinations by strangers . . . if nothing happened to her?"

The answer, Clay, is that she might.

Spend a few weeks reading through the true stories recounted in this blog and our predecessor blog, and perhaps you will understand how terribly uninformed your opinion is. This blog advocates for the wrongly accused. Nevertheless. we repeatedly note that before an adjudication, we don't know what happened -- because we don't. Neither do you, and you do your readers a grave disservice by spewing your reckless opinion all over the Internet.

Your commentary is offensive to the community of the wrongly accused.

19-year-old man spends two weeks in jail over a false sexual assault claim -- the false accuser's second this year

An Appling woman was arrested Wednesday and charged with falsely accusing two men of sexually assaulting her, authorities said.

Mindy Rickerson Readdy, 32, was charged with making a false report of a crime and making false statements.

On Oct. 31, Readdy called authorities about 2 a.m., claiming her 19-year-old boyfriend put a knife to her throat and raped her in their bedroom. She said her boyfriend, Cody Carson, told her he’d get away with raping her because he is her boyfriend.

Carson was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and spent two weeks in jail. He was cleared of the allegations and released Wednesday, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

In April, Readdy had told authorities that a friend physically forced her to perform oral sex on him while they watched a movie at her home. Her friend was never arrested.

Morris said both sex acts were consensual and that Readdy admitted she lied about them.

Readdy was being held Thursday in the Columbia County Detention Center on an $11,700 bond, according to jail records.

Source: http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2013-11-14/appling-woman-charged-making-false-rape-claim?v=1384474778

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Witch hunt brewing in Florida? The sexual assault accusation involving a Heisman Trophy candidate

This may become a very big story, and it needs to be monitored carefully. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, a very serious candidate to win the Heisman Trophy, is the subject of a sexual assault investigation in Tallahassee for something that allegedly occurred last December 7 (almost a year ago). Winston denies any wrongdoing. This past February, two months after the alleged claim, Winston's attorney says he was told by the Tallahassee Police Department that its investigation had been closed.

But according to the Miami Herald, State Attorney Willie Meggs said the nearly year old complaint was turned over to the state attorney's office just this past Wednesday -- "after media inquiries were made to the Tallahassee Police Department."

According to the Herald: "Meggs said he did not know why it took 11 months for the local police to ask his agency to get involved in the investigation. 'I don’t have the answer to that,' Meggs said. 'You’ll have to contact the police department.'”

Are we missing something here? A case is apparently dormant for nine months (since February), and it's suddenly turned over to the state attorney's office -- after "media inquiries"? Is the local police department concerned because the media just now found out about the sexual assault accusation? And is it concerned that it will be accused of whitewashing the investigation? Is there a reason for the local police to be concerned about the way it handled its investigation? If so, the state attorney didn't seem to know about any such concern.

One writer raised this possible reason for this sudden turn of events: "Could it be that the 19-year-old athlete is now ranked #2 in country for passing efficiency and is the frontrunner for the Heisman trophy? It seems it was only a matter of time before the media began digging around for dirt on this emerging star."

We can't discount that possibility. We will be watching this one very closely. If the local police department was simply bowing to external pressures having nothing to do with the facts of the case, that would be very disturbing indeed. Given that sexual assault is so terribly politicized, it would not surprise us. Sometimes, allegations of sex crimes that should never see the inside of a courtroom are pushed ahead and brought to trial to appease a public outcry. We remind readers about the recent Jordan Johnson case, where external pressures may have had an influence in the prosecutor's decision to charge a star college quarterback -- and to try to win at all costs. In that case, the evidence was so weak that an alternate juror said this: "The lack of evidence was troubling. The alleged victim's mixed messages and comments to friends cast doubt on allegations. The alleged victim even questioned events of the evening and there was no evidence that Jordan Johnson knew that he had sex without consent." We were concerned about that charge from the outset, and we have serious questions about this case, too.

"Does 'rape culture' constitute a measurable crisis that justifies diluting basic principles of due process and the presumption of innocence?"

Chris Selley strikes a blow for the wrongly accused with this excellent commentary in the National Post.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

False report charge filed in UAF sex assault case

FAIRBANKS — A University of Alaska Fairbanks student has been charged with making a false report of a sexual assault.

Bianca V. Angaiak, 21, a resident of the university campus, called police early in the morning of Oct. 5. She gave police a detailed description of a man who she said grabbed her and hit her on the head while using sexually aggressive language, according to a criminal complaint filed against Angaiak.

Police sent out a public-address message asking for more information about the man she described.

Video surveillance from the Moore-Bartlett-Skarland dormitory complex later disproved Angaiak’s account because it showed she was in the complex during the time of the assault, university police said. Police said Angaiak later recanted her story and said she made up the report for attention and to feel safe, police said.

Angaiak was charged with making a false report, a misdemeanor punishable similar to a driving under the influence conviction. Her first court date has not yet been scheduled. Angaiak has no previous criminal record in Alaska.

Story here: http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/false-report-charge-filed-in-uaf-sex-assault-case/article_d45ac162-4c3a-11e3-8b7c-0019bb30f31a.html

Serial sex assault accuser finally going to jail -- but not before having two innocent men arrested

Helen Read, 44, was upset that her parents supposedly favored her brothers over her, so she falsely accused both of them of rape. Both brothers were arrested.

It turns out she also accused her father of rape on his deathbed. She also accused a neighbor and a paramedic of sex attacks. Too bad the police didn't bother to look into her background before arresting two innocent men. The cases proceeded, and a trial date had been set.

After initially pleading not guilty, finally, she pled guilty to two charges of perverting the course of public justice and was jailed for 15 months.

Judge Adele Williams told her that she had subjected her brothers to “the appalling prospect of being accused of rape.” She said: “I have no doubt that you caused your brothers a great deal of stress, their friends and family. Rape is an ugly and cruel offence and to make false allegations undermines the criminal justice system. You wanted to punish your brothers because of what you perceived to be favoritism by your parents in your childhood. Those who make false allegations of rape can expect nothing but a custodial sentence.”

Richard Ashley, defending, said doctors had diagnosed Read as suffering from a paranoid personality disorder which resulted in her craving attention. He claimed she had been taken to hospital after overdosing on medication the night before her expected sentencing hearing last week. He said she had taken the drugs because she want to stop “the voices she was hearing in her head.” Mr Ashley added: “It’s a case of malice against mental health...bad or mad? She suffers from a severe personality disorder and acted on impulse. What she did was as a result of mental illness not malice.”

Source: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentish_express/news/woman-jailed-after-crying-rape-8757/

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

At Sarah Lawrence College, a white lesbian accused a black male of rape, then writes a 'poem' alluding to lynching

Annie Robertson, a 21-year-old lesbian, accused Garvey-Malik Ashhurst-Watson, a 22-year-old black man, of rape. Both are students at Sarah Lawrence College, a school that is overwhelmingly female and white.

Mr. Ashhurst-Watson claimed that their sexual encounter was consensual. He says that Robertson told him she was a lesbian but “would make an exception in his case.”

Ashhurst-Watson was arrested and hauled off to custody. He was charged with two counts of sexual misconduct. The charges later were dismissed after a Westchester District Attorney’s Office investigation noted inconsistencies in the accounts and said there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute.

According to a news report, Robertson "put a scathing poem on Facebook, later taken down, which her critics have called racist but which she says is her refusal to be victimized in silence." The poem is odious in the extreme:
How can you tell a woman she is safe when her body no longer belongs to her? When you are finally able to burn me at the stake, frame my ashes for your school’s distinction. Until then, I will be tying nooses with the strong cords of my voice. I will be hanging your boys up and invoking my no until the spirit takes them and their legs stop twitching.
The poem's references to "tying nooses," and "hanging your boys up . . . until the spirit takes them and their legs stop twitching" conjures up images of the darkest, ugliest chapter in our nation's history. The words seem purposefully intended to inflict the deepest sort of pain imaginable. That an educated, young lesbian would write these words, and then defend them by declaring that she won't be victimized in silence, is almost surreal. That there hasn't been a lot more outrage about this poem is beyond mystifying.

To his credit, Mr. Ashhurst-Watson didn't sit still for it. He invoked the memory of young black men being led to slaughter on the basis of nothing more than an accusation of rape by a white woman. “I suppose that when a young woman of her background accuses a young man from mine, in the area of this country where she is from that should be enough to take the freedom of the young man for a long time,” he wrote. “In the past, young men of my background have not only lost their freedom but they have lost their lives, due to baseless charges such as those that have been made against me,” he said. “It is in their memory and out of respect for the sacrifices that my family has made for me that I choose to raise my voice in defense of my character. For all who are not blinded by biases, I have been proven innocent. I will not suffer the consequence of lies.”

Sarah Lawrence College subsequently suspended Mr. Ashhurst-Watson for the remainder of the academic school year. Mr.Ashhurst-Watson's attorneys have responded:  See here.

We don't know what happened between the two students, but we do know that Ms. Robertson should be censured severely for her racist poem.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rape accusers have the right to be taken seriously, not to be "believed"

Advocates for sexual assault victims, gender academicians, and feminist writers often insist that women are entitled to be believed when they cry rape, but that women aren't believed because of the prevalence of popular "rape myths," including so-called "victim blaming."  According to the meme, women, cognizant of these "rape myths," know they won't be believed, and as a result usually don't report that they've been raped. The hurdles to obtaining justice can be removed if only the public, police, judges and juries would "believe the victim."

Entire books could be written about the factual inaccuracies underling this meme. For example, the fact that fear of not being believed is no longer a major reason for not reporting (see the testimony of Scott Berkowitz, the founder of RAINN, on this point here). Further, it is possible to believe the accuser while still engaging in so-called "victim blaming" (the hanging trees in the Old South surely were filled with young men accused of raping daughters even though the daughters were "victim blamed" for putting themselves in harm's way).

But there is a more fundamental problem with this meme that necessitates that all persons of good-will insist it be scrapped: the "right to be believed" does not comport with fundamental notions of fairness or our most cherished due process rights.

A woman who cries rape has the right to be taken seriously; to be treated with respect; and to be supported if she avers that she is suffering trauma or other effects of sexual assault. A woman who cries rape does not have the right to be "believed."

The insistence on believing the "victim" assumes that an accuser is a "victim" and turns on its head the long-settled consensus of civilized people that it is far more important to protect the innocent than to convict the guilty. This sentiment was most famously articulated by the celebrated English jurist William Blackstone, but its roots extend back at least to the Book of Genesis, when God was deciding what to do about the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah.

If it isn't obvious to objective third parties whether a rape claim is valid, that's rarely because the claim is being viewed through a lens of misogyny. Rape is unlike other serious offenses in that its only physical evidence is often the same as the evidence resulting from an act of making love. The latter occurs on a routine basis every day around the world in numbers so enormous it can't be quantified. Most rape claims are of the acquaintance variety where an act of love-making is often a plausible alternative to a felonious violation. Law enforcement personnel often are left with murky "he said-she said" cases that don't lend themselves to quick and tidy denouements. The absence of corroborating evidence to establish guilt or innocence in "he said/she said" rape cases underscores the necessity of being ever more vigilant of the possibility of punishing an innocent person for something he did not do.

This blog, and our predecessor blog, are replete with examples of cases where women who cried rape were believed -- wrongly as it turned out, and often with seriously negative consequences to the victim of the false claim. The problem is not that we don't believe the "victim," it's that we too readily rush to judgment and believe the accuser, often with horrific consequences.

Sexual assault victims' advocates do victims no favors by touting an entitlement to be believed. By insisting that every claim of sexual assault should be "believed," these advocates are giving victims of sexual assault dangerously unrealistic expectations that can never be met. When accusers realize the system won't deliver -- because it can't deliver -- what they've been told they deserve, they assume a misogynistic system is coddling rapists. That assumption, of course, is as puerile as it is wrong. Worse, it is likely putting off women from reporting rape. When we bombard young women with the message that rape victims can't get justice because they aren't believed, is it any wonder they don't bother to report?

It is a tenet of the Community of the Wrongly Accused that every civilized society must strive to eradicate heinous criminality by punishing offenders, but it also must insure that the innocent aren't punished with them. The latter concern too often is absent from the public discourse. What we need are more adult voices grappling with these issues in sincere, reasonable ways, not simple-minded incantations designed to foment a public outcry to get tough on rapists. Mark A Godsey of the Innocence Project recently said that "the risk of wrongful conviction is the highest when there’s public outcry. Most of the exonerations and wrongful convictions have occurred in rape cases."

That there is no entitlement to be believed should not be at all controversial. What is astounding is that this meme has been repeated so frequently without serious challenge.

Police didn't believe rape accuser when she tried to tell the truth and admit she wasn't raped

A woman whose rape lie sent an innocent man to jail wasn't believed when she tried to tell the police the truth -- that the man was innocent. They said she was just trying to protect the man she falsely accused of raping her. Fortunately, eventually they did believe her. Read the whole story here.

We often hear that a significant stumbling block for sexual assault victims is that they are not "believed." First, sexual assault accusers have no right to be "believed." The only legitimate expectation they should have is that their claims will be treated seriously. Second, this blog is a testament to the indisputable fact that too often, some women are "believed" when they shouldn't be. Third, sometimes, as in this case, women aren't believed when they are trying to correct a rape lie.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Campus activists say their university perpetuated 'victim blaming' because of the way it handled -- a false rape claim

I had to read this story twice just to make sure it said what I thought it said. It does a disservice to rape survivors and sets back the cause of raising awareness about sexual assault.

First, the back-story. On September 15, 2013, the University of Northern Iowa issued a crime alert that a sexual assault had been committed earlier that day inside a residence hall. But more than a month later, it was reported that UNI police had arrested the woman, Elizabeth Kathryn Richmann, 21, for making a false report to law enforcement. Investigators were able to identify the men suspected in the incident, and they told officers there had been consensual sexual activity, according to court records. The court records also show that Richmann later gave a statement admitting the sex was consensual.

End of story, right?  Wrong. The school newspaper has written an article using the false report to help raise awareness about . . . sexual assault.

The campus Feminist Action League claims that the September crime alert issued by the school after the alleged incident perpetuated "victim blaming."  Yes, you read that right: the school perpetuated 'victim blaming' because the crime alert indicated that "the victim" (that's what the Feminist Action League called the false accuser) had been drinking.

We can't find the actual crime alert that was issued -- the only crime alert we find on-line relating to the incident does not allude to any drinking by the accuser. But according to a news report: "Richmann told police that two white males drove her home from a bar around 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 15." It is possible that the crime alert issued on September 15 included this information, which is hardly inflammatory or suggestive of "victim blaming."  But according to the president of the campus Feminist Action League, revealing that the "victim" had been at a bar "just put emphasis on something other than the attack.”

We pause to allow you to do a double-take. The president of the Feminist Action League is upset because a crime alert regarding a false sexual assault put emphasis on "something other than the attack."  Um, there was no attack. And note that the president of the Feminist Action League is not upset because a crime alert was issued over a false sexual assault claim.

If you are shaking your head over that one, read on. The president of the Feminist Action League also took issue with "tips at the bottom (of the alert) that said how to protect yourself, like have a designated driver … basically saying that if she had done these things, she wouldn’t have been raped." The Feminist Action League says that the alerts should center on the assailant rather than the victim.

The president is missing something, isn't she? In fact, the woman who reported the attack was not a "victim"; there was no "assailant"; and the accuser was, in fact, perfectly safe -- she lied about being attacked.

But wait, that's not the end of it. The article quotes Catherine MacGillivray, the associate professor and director of the UNI Women's and Gender Studies Program, who weighed in on the incident: “These crimes are happening in a social context, where lots of other people could potentially intervene.” She added: “In my field, one of the things that we say is that we live in a rape culture. That means it’s a culture where rape is not only accepted, but also, in some ways, promoted.”

The article goes on to state that this was the first incident during the fall 2013 semester but "this isn’t the first time the issue has arisen. In 2011, UNI reported a total of eight forcible sex offenses and one nonforcible sex offense on campus." The context of the comments indicate that the article is conflating this false claim with real ones. It goes on: "As part of an ongoing effort to curb this kind of behavior, UNI has implemented and revitalized several programs and resources on campus in recent years." What does the article mean by "this kind of behavior"? If you keep reading the article you'll understand that its referring to sexual assault.

Raising awareness about sexual assault is a worthy and necessary endeavor. This article is going about it the wrong way, and it's having the opposite effect. I respectfully suggest that virtually every objective reader is having the same reaction I'm having: "She lied -- how is this evidence of 'rape culture' or 'victim blaming'?" But this is typical of so much of the advocacy in this field. Too often, it overshoots its mark.

This blog respects survivors of sexual assault and does not tolerate the trivialization of rape. Our mission is not to advocate for sexual assault awareness, but if it were, we'd be talking about real cases, not false claims. There are enough horror stories to focus on without pretending a false claim is the same as an assault. (And if we did mistake a false claim for a real one, we'd apologize for it.) For example, we'd be hammering the Steubenville case. We'd do posters of the unresponsive girl being hauled away like so much beef by the two teenage perpetrators who used her as their sexual plaything. We'd do TV ads with those two boys sobbing in open court -- and maybe other boys would think, "Gee, they look a lot like me."

We might even do a poster quoting the rape chant at St. Mary's University: “SMU boys we like them young. Y is for your sister. O is for oh-so-tight. U is for underage. N is for no consent. G is for grab that ass.” Maybe with a tagline: "Would you be proud of your son if he was one of them?" Or something.

What we wouldn't do is make outlandish claims that most people know aren't true -- comments that suggest that rape is part and parcel of our notions of masculinity, which is just silly to most people. And we wouldn't ignore or trivialize the horrors of false rape claims. We wouldn't pretend a false rape claim is the same as a rape claim. That's unfair to false rape victims, and it does no favors for rape victims. In false rape case after false rape case after false rape case, we read about judges who reprimand the false accusers for the harm they do by diminishing the integrity of rape victims. These reprimands, sadly, do not resonate on the pages of college newspapers or among sexual assault victims' advocates. We need to teach our sons and daughters what rape and consent are (the real, legal definitions), and insist that they respect not just the bodily integrity of other people but also the power of words -- and that means we cry "rape" whenever rape occurs, but only when it occurs.

But then again, nobody asked me.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It is time for all people of good will to insist that idiocy like this stop

Jennifer Hammat, institutional Title IX coordinator and assistant vice president for student affairs at the University of Texas, said the following: “For a campus population of 50,000 [students], that means we should be seeing 12,500 cases [of sexual assault] a year. And we’re not.”

Enough!  Please -- just stop!

Prof. KC Johnson puts Hammat's other-worldly epiphany into perspective: ". . . according to Hammat, her campus--all by itself--experienced an amount equivalent to around 15 percent of the alleged sexual assaults in the entire United States."

Peter Bonilla of FIRE tweeted: "That quote put differently: 'we should be seeing 250-300 rapes/sexual assaults per week.'"

If Hammat were correct, would anyone allow their daughter to attend that school?  How many young men would deserve to be expelled every year? Even allowing for multiple victims per perpetrator, it would have to be thousands of young men. Does that ring true here in the real world?

There were just 18 reports of forcible sexual assault at the school last year.  Likely some or many of those reports were not actual sexual assaults. Even assuming they were all sexual assaults, according to Hammat only 0.144 percent of all victims reported?

This doesn't just strain credulity, it shatters it into a thousand pieces. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to stop treating this kind of silliness as if it were worthy of serious discourse. Hammat's statement is patently absurd. If you took a poll among average people on the street who don't go looking for gender oppression oozing from every crevice on campus, overwhelmingly they would agree this is downright laughable -- and they'd be right.

People in positions of authority like Hammat should not be paid to make laughable statements. There is a legal term for assertions like Hammat's that we all need to start using: bullshit.

Can we please ditch the simple-minded 'Oppression Olympics' when it comes to rape and false rape claims?

Among the most infuriating things about writing a blog like this one is that we are forced to endure comments like the ones posited by Hailey Cross, a University of Wisconsin senior, who trivialized the victimization of the wrongly accused by engaging in a sort of twisted "Oppression Olympics." She posited that "the rate of false reports . . . hovers around 2 to 8 percent," but that "only about 40 percent of sexual assaults are even reported to the authorities." But Cross then declared: "The problem here is not false reporting, but the lack of a culture where survivors feel safe and supported enough to disclose their experiences with the hope of finding justice."

Being falsely accused of rape is not a problem?

Cross's blithe and cavalier dismissal of the horrors of a wrongful accusation of rape isn't just ill-informed, it's offensive to the community of the wrongly accused. Beyond that, it does no favors for rape survivors. With all due respect, Ms. Cross, it is not "either/or." Mature and rational people can accept the fact that rape is a serious problem for its victims, and that false rape claims are a serious problem for its victims. A civilized society should not tolerate either, and a college newspaper should not trivialize one to advocate for the victims of the other.

But we urge Ms. Cross to try and tell Brian Banks, or the young men falsely accused of rape at Hofstra, or Jonathan Montgomery that what happened to them wasn't a "problem." They are the tip of the iceberg -- the line forms to the left, Ms. Cross. One need not look back to the hanging trees of the Old South for such tales. We've been chronicling the horror stories of the wrongly accused here and on our predecessor blog for years.

You are fortunate that false rape claims aren't a problem for you, Ms. Cross. But too many others don't share your good fortune.

Take Sumbo Owoiya. He was just 18 years old when he gunned down while looking through the peep hole of his front door. The killer was exacting vengeance, because a 15-year-old girl lied that Sumbo had raped her.

Cory Headen, 19, was beaten to death with a baseball bat while he slept by another 19-year-old who wrongly believed a girl's rape lie.

John Chalmers, a 47-year-old prominent businessman, suffered devastating brain injuries in a vicious attack by the brother of a woman who wrongly believed Chalmers had raped her. The beating was so terrible that Mr. Chalmers had to relearn how to do things the rest of us take for granted.

A man named Darrell Roberson came home unexpectedly from a trip when he found his wife, Tracy Roberson, and Mr. Devin LaSalle together in Mr. LaSalle's truck. To cover up her affair, Mrs. Roberson falsely told her husband she had been raped. Mr. Roberson shot and killed Mr. LaSalle.

Cody Wightman, 25, incurred the wrath of Felisha Hardison, 25, when Hardison along with her mother, picked up a group of young men, ages 19-22, and drove them to Mr. Wightman's home. Hardison and her mother then sat in their minivan while the young men proceeded to kick in Mr. Wightman's front door, then punch and kick him, and finally, beat him with a claw hammer. You see, Hardison had told the young men that Mr. Wightman had raped her. Police say the rape claim was false. It turns out that several weeks before the attack on Mr. Wightman, Hardison had falsely accused another man of raping her.

Then there was the nameless Quiznos worker who was gunned down because a 23-year-old woman lied to her boyfriend that he had raped her -- the lie was told in an attempt to cover up the fact that the woman was two-timing her boyfriend.

We can't forget Daniel Cicciaro. John White, a 50-something black father, shot the 17-year-old Cicciaro, who was white, following a heated exchange over a false rape claim. At his trial, Mr. White testified that late in the evening of August 9, 2006, his 19-year-old son, Aaron, woke him up to tell him that he had just come from a party where a young woman said he had threatened to rape her. Aaron told his father that a group of angry white youths were headed to their house to beat him up because they wrongly believed the young woman's story. Mr. White and his son walked to the end of their driveway to confront the youths, and in the heated confrontation that followed, young Mr. Cicciaro was killed. Mr. White claimed his gun accidentally discharged. According to a news report: "Cicciaro Jr. and four friends descended on White's home to confront his teenage son because they were wrongly led to believe that in an online chat room Aaron had threatened their friend with rape. She later recanted the claim."

And remember the gypsies who were displaced from their homes when their camp was burned down outside of Turin? The fire was started to avenge a rape after a 16-year-old girl falsely claimed she had been raped by two men. She lied to conceal the fact that she had lost her virginity to her Italian boyfriend.

Closer to home, on a steamy day in June of 2009, an innocent man named Michael Zenquis was beaten by an angry mob after he was wrongly accused of raping an 11-year-old girl. In light of this despicable atrocity to an innocent man, what did the mayor and the police commissioner do? Nothing. Worse, the next day, a different mob caught up with the actual rapist and gave him a brutal beating that lasted several minutes until the police got there. The police gave two of the men who helped "apprehend" the rapist $5,750 each.

Trust me, Ms. Cross, I could go on and on and on and on. The point is that for far too many people, false rape claims are devastating. Despite all your twisting and pounding, they are a problem, and they are worthy of society's attention.

If we want to take sexual assault seriously, we need to take false accusations of sexual assault seriously, we need to stop trivializing the victimization of the wrongly accused. After all, a society that doesn't think falsely "crying wolf" is a serious matter must not think the wolf is such a bad thing after all.

It may surprise you to know that rape victims we've heard from loathe and detest false rape accusers because they diminish the perceived integrity of rape victims. I put this question to a prominent victim of clergy abuse, who told me he "hates" false rape accusers. In false rape case after false rape case after false rape case, we read about judges who reprimand the false accusers for the harm they do by diminishing the integrity of rape victims. These reprimands, sadly, do not resonate on the pages of college newspapers, where ill-informed comments like the ones Ms. Cross made are not uncommon. Your advocacy for sexual assault victims is admirable; your off-hand dismissal of a problem that afflicts too many innocents is not.

We can't leave without briefly addressing your statistics. When you posit that only two to eight percent of rape claim are false (you wrongly state that it's the same as every other serious crime -- there is no support for this), you seem to suggest that remaining 92-98 percent should be categorized as definitive rape claims. My guess is that you actually believe this.

Don't take my word for this, check it for yourself: no research has ever shown that. We've written about it many, many times and won't bore our readers with the breakdown again. While only a relatively small percentage of rape claims can be definitively classified as false claims, the fact of the matter is that only a relatively small percentage of rape claims can be definitively classified as actual rapes. Surprised? The majority of rape claims fall into a grey area where no one can say one way or the other whether it was rape. (Only in polls where every rape allegation is uncritically accepted and untested against competing claims of innocence is every rape claim construed as an actual rape -- but when claims are actually reported, most can't be proven by even a preponderance of the evidence.) Even Dr. David Lisak, whose research is widely touted in feminist circles, has demonstrated that the majority of rape claims can't be definitively classified one way or the other. Of those claims that can be definitively classified one way or the other, the percentage of false claims is much higher than 8 percent.

None of that should deter us from recognizing that rape is a serious social pathology that needs to be eliminated. It is unnecessary, unjust, and hurtful to trivialize the victimization of the community of the wrongly accused in order to reach that conclusion.

And lest you are tempted to make unwarranted assumptions about this blog, you should know two things: (1) this blog advocates for women who've been wrongly accused with the same zeal it advocates for men, and (2) this blog does not tolerate any trivialization of the horrors of rape. We believe that every civilized society must strive to eradicate heinous criminality by punishing offenders, but it also must insure that the innocent aren't punished with them. The latter concern typically is absent from the public discourse. Accusations of serious criminality, especially alleged sexual wrongdoing, are often their own convictions in the high court of public opinion because the stigma is so severe, and because definitively proving innocence in a disputed sex case often is impossible. This blog highlights the injustices suffered by persons wrongly accused of serious criminality.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Athens 'sexual assault' that never was: the final word

Cathy Young has written another brilliant -- I don't use that term lightly -- piece on the Athens, Ohio "sexual assault" that never was. Ms. Young holds a mirror up to a culture punch-drunk on political correctness where ostensibly intelligent people are happy to rush to judgment on the basis of nothing more than accusations of sexual wrongdoing by young men.

Read it. Re-read it. Send it to everyone you know. This is ground zero for the struggle that the wrongly accused face every day.

http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2013/11/is_this_a_campus_rape_well_no.html

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

If there were a potential murderer loose on campus, would the school defer to the victim's estate as to whether to report to law enforcement?

Is "sexual assault" a serious crime or isn't it, and aren't most perpetrators serial offenders?  Newsflash: expelling a rapist isn't going to stop him from raping -- women on campus will still be at risk. The following is the sort of news report that is beyond perplexing to us.

IOWA CITY, IA. — The University of Iowa says it is proceeding according to its policies after a female student reported a sexual assault but asked university police not to proceed with a criminal investigation.

According to a news release, the University of Iowa Housing and Dining staff received information Sunday that a university student had been sexually assaulted by an acquaintance in a dorm room.

The incident reportedly occurred between the late night hours of Saturday and the early morning hours on Sunday. According to the release, university officials know the identities of both parties involved “and are proceeding with actions in accordance with university policies.”

At the student’s request, U of I police are not investigating the incident, the release said.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20131105/NEWS01/311050040/U-of-I-sexual-assault-reported-but-police-will-not-investigate?News

One of the best, and most important, essays we've come across for the wrongly accused at college

Chris Powell, the managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut, has penned a short and powerful essay that should be required reading on all American college campuses. Powell says the indignation -- he calls it "the ritual and politically correct indignation" -- being ginned up by claims that rape is mishandled by the University of Connecticut stems from an implication "that all accusations of sexual assault are valid and provable, when of course they are not. Some such accusations are completely false. Some, especially in the college environment, where raw passions collide with tender feelings, arise more from resentment and regret than from any violation of criminal law. And even the most truthful accusation against the most contemptible predator may be unable to disprove a lie."

Powell says that "if the accusers really want a public review, they can always bring suit in court against the people they accuse and against the university itself" instead of asking a federal agency to review their cases.

Then Powell addresses the elephant in the room. "[I]t must be asked . . . why UConn handles sexual assault accusations through a student disciplinary system quite apart from police investigation and why such accusations are not just automatically forwarded to the police for them to handle exclusively." He states the obvious: ". . . sexual assault is a crime, not a student disciplinary infraction, and the university is not part of the criminal-justice system and is hardly more competent to judge intimate relationships between students. Indeed, such administrative reviews seem like the work of a sort of Office of Broken Hearts, a mechanism by which aggrieved students can get the university to scold the worst cads without requiring the aggrieved to take full legal responsibility for their accusations, a mechanism for smoothing over cases that probably would not sustain criminal prosecution."

Powell notes: "Most of if not all the sexual assault complaints may have been impugned from the start by the failure of the accusers to make them directly and promptly to the police. Timeliness is everything with physical evidence in rape cases, and delay inevitably raises suspicion that emotional developments are distorting events.

"As some observers have suggested, maybe rape complaints on college campuses should be investigated by state police rather than college police, but that is hardly the problem when no complaints to police are made at all."

Powell ends with the quote that ought to be read and re-read by every college administrator: ". . . while Governor Malloy says he wants assurance from UConn that sexual assault victims are treated with 'the utmost respect,' will anyone in authority in Connecticut ever respect them enough -- and respect the public enough -- to stop patronizing them and instead start explaining the distinction between victims and accusers and the supremacy of due process of law?"

Attorney for star basketball player says his expulsion may have been driven by University president's bias against males

More on Dez Wells' suit against Xavier University in connection with his expulsion. We've previously reported on Wells here and here. Dez Wells' attorneys are arguing in Federal Court that "a question of fact exists as to whether [Xavier President] Father [Michael] Graham’s support for the flawed investigation and adjudication of this matter was motivated by a gender-driven bias against males.”