Wednesday, January 03, 2007

No Interpretation Needed Rape Myth

I've received several anonymous comments telling me that there is evidence in the Duke case that doesn't require interpretation, but what's really meant is that this evidence must be interpreted only one way.

Their way.

This attempts to elevate one particular opinion about facts into the realm of undisputed fact. It is then used as a weapon against anyone who challenges their interpretation. Name calling frequently ensues which reveals that their position has little to do with objectivity.

In the comments over at Concurring Opinions NCProsecutor wrote:

Trauma often muddles the memories of crime victims, and expert testimony can help juries understand this reality. My motto has always been, "If I don't want the defense to have it, I need to give it to them."

Having said that, I know a number of prosecutors who have told me that, since the inception of our new discovery laws, they no longer routinely interview sexual assault victims because it makes it too easy for defense attorneys to play up inconsistencies in the victim's various accounts of the crime. Like I said, I don't agree with that view, but it's out there.

This demonstrates that most defense attorneys are aware that being able to find inconsistencies in an alleged victim's story doesn't equal finding proof that the alleged victim is lying. But because their goal is to get the best outcome for their clients -- both guilty and innocent -- they are not going to voluntarily pass that insight on to the public or to jurors. In fact they are more likely to intentionally distort normal inconsistencies until they look like a smoking gun. If that slanders an innocent victim that's just part of doing their job.

Any time we relate a significant event, we will be inconsistent to some extent depending on how fresh the memory is and what questions we are being asked about that event. If the event that we said happened on Friday is listed repeatedly by other attendees as happening on Saturday it's natural to later say we aren't 100% sure it happened on Friday even though our memory hasn't changed.

In no way is that a recanting of our initial recollection or a change in our story. Yet these normal inconsistencies will be identified as proof of a deliberate lie by those who want to deny the truth ASAP and by those who refuse to believe the truth because it doesn't fit their assumptions. For many people, all they needed to hear was that the alleged victim was a stripper to turn the Duke Rape Case into the Duke Rape Hoax. That was the no-interpretation-needed evidence.

Even so called hard evidence such as DNA, or lack thereof, requires interpretation. For example, it is a fallacy to say that lack of DNA evidence, or complete DNA matches, proves a rape didn't occur.

Now that the collection of DNA evidence is well known, many rapists will take actions to prevent or remove DNA evidence if they don't believe a defense of "it was consensual" will work for them.

The post Alas: Experts answer: What Does DNA Evidence Prove? explores some of the issues that many people assume need no interpretation. It's interesting that in these questions, there was disagreement among experts. So if DNA experts disagree on how to interpret hard evidence how can it be possible that there is no interpretation required for evidence in the form of testimony?

The cold hard fact is that it isn't possible to have testimony or multiple testimonies that require no interpretation. What the no-interpretation-needed people are advocating for is that knee-jerk reactions based on long-held biases (women lie about rape) be taken as irrefutable facts.

This myth is at work far beyond the Duke case and is used as an excuse to prejudge cases and alleged victims. It is a way for people who are in no way objective to falsely present themselves as objective observers.

If any type of testimony would be seen as needing no interpretation, it would be the confession. But many confessions are coerced or flawed to the point of being useless as factual-no-interpretation-needed evidence.

So those who say there is such a thing as evidence that does NOT need to be interpretted or does NOT need to be viewed in full context are revealing that their analysis of a case is not trustworthy.

I've written multiple posts about this subject including these:

Ethical interrogations and the rape victim
Ethics and the defense attorney who represents alleged rapists
City offers payment to woman falsely accused of lying about rape

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:13 AM   4 comments links to this post


At January 03, 2007 12:59 PM, Blogger Holly Desimone said...

Great post Marcella! Very interesting post with unique insight! Sincerely Holly Desimone

At January 03, 2007 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

posting more bull shit? Making fake posters again? You're such a loser. Anyone who knows how to hack your site knows what you're doing.

you loser

At January 03, 2007 4:29 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Joe, I decided to let that one through because it's an example of one type of comment I've been getting on my Duke case posts from the very beginning. Also this comment wasn't so vile as to be unprintable and the attack was directed at me rather than this alleged victim.

At January 03, 2007 6:09 PM, Blogger Holly Desimone said...

Hi Marcella,
I also have received similar comments. I have posted some of those types of comments, some I have not posted. Take care Holly


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