Saturday, April 28, 2007

Duke Lacrosse Case Report Exposes Flaws In State's Understanding Of Rape

From the AP:

On the night she accused three Duke lacrosse players of rape, a woman told a nurse she had been attacked, then told police it didn't happen before reversing herself again.

It was the first in a line of contradictions from the accuser over the next year. And with no physical evidence that an assault took place, her conflicting statements were among the most convincing evidence prosecutors cited in declaring the accused players innocent, according to a report by the state attorney general's office released Friday.

"The state's cases rested primarily on a witness whose recollection of the facts of the allegations was imprecise and contradictory," the 21-page report said, adding that the woman's changing accounts led to "insurmountable credibility issues."

If this is the smoking gun people are using to say this woman couldn't have been raped, it's a faulty one. As a rape survivor, trusting some people (like a nurse) and not others (like a cop) while you are still in the immediate aftermath of rape makes perfect sense. Perfect, logical sense.

Nothing irrational about it at all, folks.

With the way this case was handled in and out of the criminal justice system, a woman with no previous issues would develop serious issues.

The problem is not with rape victims, the problem is with how rape victims have been treated in the past and how they are treated in the present. How can rape victims know who is trustworthy and who will prove unworthy of trust? Many rape victims were raped in situations they had assumed were safe so that trauma will understandably make previously trusting people suddenly wary of trusting strangers.

We'll begin to make progress when all those in the medical and legal response teams and all those who analyzing rape cases are held to the standard currently expected of rape victims. All those other people had a choice to comment on rape cases or to be involved with them while rape victims had choice taken from them.

Revictimization of rape survivors is still epidemic. Some of it comes from people who boldly hold rape supportive attitudes (sluts are asking for it) and some of it comes from people who think their limited knowledge and limited experience is complete. Any victim who doesn't fit their pre-formed mold is seen as a fake victim.

The biggest problem here may be that many rape victims don't feel safe opening up to the police -- and for good reason. Telling the truth to the police may open a rape victim up to being charged with making a false report or being immediately called a liar or being abandoned when the prosecutors make mistakes. If a rape victim has seen other survivors treated like they are the only criminals why would that person have any faith in the criminal justice system?

Being raped is bad enough.

I'll repeat it again: not having credible evidence to support a criminal conviction isn't the same as having credible evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that no rape took place. The North Carolina AG seems have forgotten this basic truth.

When Cooper dropped charges against former players Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, he said they were victims of a "tragic rush to accuse" by Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, who now faces ethics charges for his handling of the case.

If the alleged victim wasn't credible enough for a criminal trial from the first day then going forward with the case and further adding a photo lineup of "questionable validity" victimized her as well. But that doesn't fit the Duke Hoax meme. In this popular world view, only alleged rapists are allowed to be called victims when a case ends without a guilty plea or a guilty verdict.

If that's the current trend, I'll happily be untrendy.

Addendum (4/29): I forgot to mention that these newly revealed facts on the alleged victim's inconsistency disprove the Duke Hoax fanatics updated explanation that the alleged victim immediately cried rape to the first cop she saw. Their first explanation that the 2 dancers plotted against the lacrosse team and went to the cops with their story was disproved months ago.

If anyone should be eating crow in this case right now it is the Duke Hoax fanatics since their assertions have now been disproved -- twice. But apparently, their claims don't need to be backed by any credible evidence and can continue unabated in the face of clearly contradictory evidence.

Either their integrity or their intelligence is seriously lacking.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:05 PM   0 comments links to this post


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