Saturday, January 27, 2007

Debunking The It's Easy To Convict Alleged Rapists Myth


ROCHESTER, MN -- From stranger rapes to domestic abuse, sex crimes affect women on a daily basis. And, even when a woman knows her attacker, it's hard to get a conviction. From the attack to an arrest to the courtroom, in a newscenter extra Jenna Gordon tells us why it seems these criminals are able to walk away with
only a slap on the wrist.

Four Rochester men and a juvenile gang raped a 15 year-old girl in 2005. After months of court hearings, the oldest four received only one year behind bars. But, why would such a brutal crime warrant such a light sentence. Jeanne Martin with Victim Services says, "In some sense that was a very successful case because there was a successful prosecution and admission."

This reality is a stark contrast to the myth that all a woman has to do is walk into the nearest police station and say, "I was raped" for the man she names as her rapist to be charged, convicted and locked up for many years.

This myth is very useful to those who have been charged with a sex crime because it creates the illusion that there might be no evidence or credibility at all behind the charge. Those who put forth this myth want to have people believe that men are being persecuted merely for being men, something those men-hating feminists set out to destroy as they advocated for stronger sex crime statutes.

The only way I and many others could possibly be seen as wanting to punish men for being men is if "being a man" means you force and/or coerce others in order to get sex from them with no respect for how your actions hurt others. That implies that real men don't have mutual sexual encounters.

But real men don't have to be bullies when it comes to sex.

The problems which can lead to false convictions for sex crimes don't stem from the sex crime statutes, but from issues which exist in a wide range of serious crimes. But people don't react with similar myths when someone is charged with arson or carjacking.

Captain Brian Winters with Rochester's police department says, "In today's CSI environment everybody says well shouldn't this be a case that's resolvable because DNA exists. The value of evidence is weighed against the individual circumstances of each crime." Captain Brian Winters is in charge of sexual assault investigations. He says the best piece of evidence collected is the victim's statement. "Often times that's what makes a sex assault case is corroborating victims statements to the actual occurrences or to things we can demonstrate occurred."

There were forty sexual assault cases reported to Rochester police during the months of January through September last year. Less than half of those suspects have been arrested and charged with a sex crime. "It indicates we have 50 percent of our cases charged out. That is not surprising to me and the reason it's not is often these investigations take months to resolve," says Winters.

Under 50% of the suspects were arrested and that low number isn't because over 50% of women lie about being raped as some people insist on interpretting data like this. They need to be able to have a reasonable belief that they can prove a sex crime happened and be able to prove who committed that crime.

Lack of proof isn't the same as proof that no sex crime occurred.

If Rochester didn't have a strong, professional sexual assault investigations team, I'm sure the arrest rate would be far lower than it is.

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