Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Railroading Alleged Rapists Bad, Railroading Alleged Rape Victims Good

Or at least that's the message being sent on various blogs which are anticipating that the North Carolina Attorney General's office will drop all charges against the 3 defendants when it announces the result of their office's review of the Duke Rape case.

It's no longer surprising to me that all that talk last year about innocent until proven guilty and the need for due process for the Duke lacrosse players and the demand that the offensive email from a lacrosse player about skinning women at the next party be seen as saying nothing about the sender's character or potential guilt magically disappears.

We were supposed to see these men in the best possible light and ignore their troubling behavior which wasn't disputed until the case was closed, but we are supposed to assume the worst about this alleged victim and label her a proven criminal.

If the charges are dropped because the AG's office doesn't believe it can prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt that doesn't mean that the alleged victim told even a single lie. One of the issues in this case is identification. If the AG's office believes that the only reasonable doubt is in that area, it could still be enough to end this case.

Not being able to prove a specific crime was committed by a specific person doesn't mean that the crime never happened. Yet those who yelled "Hoax!" from the day this story broke are acting as if that's exactly what it means.

It will be interesting to see if these bloggers continue to be interested in defendant rights even when the defendants aren't white or college sports players. Based on the reactions I've read regarding another, more recent rape allegation near the Duke campus I have little reason to have any faith in the Duke "hoax" bloggers declared belief regarding how all rape defendants should be treated.

Post-press conference update: I watched the AG statement about what their office believes regarding this case. The weaknesses in this case came down to inconsistancies in the evidence and the fact that the pictures in the line up only included lacrosse players. The legal case against the Duke lacrosse players is closed.

There was a mention of "normal" inconsistancies in rape cases with the statement that the inconsistancies in this case are outside the range of what they consider normal. Since some of the evidence inconsistancies depend on timestamps, and since if I look around the room I'm sitting in and see 4 different times, I can't consider timestamps and reported times to be more than estimates.

Many spam comments have come in and been deleted because they conflate this prosecutor's belief with legal proof. When Nifong publicly stated his beliefs about the validity of this case, many people who considered the case a hoax made it clear that what a prosecutor believes should never be confused with legal proof of what happened and who committed a crime.

Yet again another concept is applied selectively.

While the Duke "hoax" bloggers have been going on and on about how the legal system doesn't work for the Duke lacrosse team including comparing them to the 1931 Scottsboro case, this press conference actually shows that our legal system worked quite well for these men. None of them went to trial and none of them were convicted. The railroading hype was just that in this case: defense team hype.

As for what it will take for me to believe that this case involves a false accusation: evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:15 AM   6 comments links to this post


At April 11, 2007 1:57 PM, Blogger Pirouette1196 said...

I just watched the NC Attorney General online as he explained his reasons for dropping the charges against the lacrosse players. His main reason was that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the players. My coworker asked a really good question. "How much evidence is enough in a rape case?" It really got me thinking. Just because there was not enough evidence to prosecute, doesn't mean something didnt' happen.

I think this is a sad day for women, especially black women who have virtually no standing in these kinds of cases. According to Imus, we're just "nappy-headed hos."

At April 11, 2007 4:29 PM, Blogger Holly said...

I watched both news conferences. It is a sad day because any one who reports a rape will wonder if reporting it is worth the cost. The news outlets that are naming this woman today should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. The NC Attorney General outline the reasons as not enough evidence to prosecute.

Justice to be served was to see the case properly investigated, no one who wanted to see justice in this case would have wanted anyone to be wrongly convicted.

Sincerely Holly Desimone

At April 11, 2007 11:11 PM, Blogger The Speaker said...

It is a sad day.

I reported sexual abuse that occured for almost three years in my childhood and because there wasn't "sufficient" evidence, meaning there wasn't DNA evidence or a confession of guilt, a child rapist walks free. After six years there wouldn't be DNA evidence and he isn't going to admit to what he did.

That would be too logical. An animal doesn't think in logic.

People get so wrapped up in what they can see, what they can prove.

The even sadder part is, by the time most rapes are reported they can not be proved. Is it not then a fair statement to say: that most rapists are walking free.

A recent statistic released by RAINN stated that "Barely 3% of all reported rapes result in jail time."

It is a sad day.

At April 12, 2007 12:20 AM, Blogger Professor Zero said...

I just so doubt it was a hoax. Unlikely, given the current state of things.

At April 12, 2007 6:23 AM, Blogger The Speaker said...

PS: I wrote a rant on my blog and just wanted to let you know that I directly qoute you. I've linked your name to your blog. I hope this is okay. If not please tell me and I will remove the direct qoutes.

At April 12, 2007 1:12 PM, Blogger sailorman said...

"As for what it will take for me to believe that this case involves a false accusation: evidence beyond a reasonable doubt."

Well put. I'm quoting this because I think it needs to be said again (hmm, I think I should add it to my own blog post on the subject.)

If folks are going to raise the "false accusation" claim, they need to reconcile their evidence with their responses to the rape claim.


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