Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Defense Attorney Exploits Bigotry To Counter Rape Charges

Here's another rape case, this one in Philadelphia, where the defense strategy is to evoke bigotry in order to fight evidence of rape.

The women — attractive, ambitious professionals — told strikingly similar stories about their dates with Marsalis at a November preliminary hearing.

They spoke of meeting a smooth-talking Marsalis between 2003 and 2005, then feeling unusually intoxicated after returning from the bathroom or letting him buy a round from the bar.

The women said they woke up hours later, back at his apartment — groggy, sometimes undressed — after an apparent sexual encounter or even in the middle of intercourse.

Khan [the prosecutor] said the women felt confused or ashamed after the dates. "They thought, 'He couldn't have done anything wrong. He's a nice guy. He's a doctor. He's an astronaut,'" Khan said.

When you believe one thing about a person and that doesn't fit your image of rapist, you can question your own sanity when that seemingly normal man commits rape without the use of drugs. With the use of drugs the conflict between experience and assumptions would be much greater.

There's a label for this and it is cognitive dissonance. Just because a victim has a hard time believing they've been victimized doesn't mean the crime never happened.

If you could manage to get your brain around such a bizarre experience, most women would reasonably assume that if they reported what happened to them that they would be accused of consenting but either not remembering doing so or they would be accused of flat out lying about being drugged because that's what women reportedly do most of the time.

And surprise, surprise...

The defense attorney said the women thought they hit the jackpot meeting a doctor.

This sort of anti-women bigotry often works in rape cases when one victim comes forward but I hope it doesn't work when there is a pattern of behavior on the part of the defendant. And make no mistake, this is bigotry aimed at exploiting stereotypes about women.

This bigotry makes no sense in this case since the women were professionals looking for compatible men. The man's lies gave him access to women he wouldn't have otherwise been able to meet, but it's the women who supposedly were out to hit the jackpot when they believed his lies. How is that in any way logical?

Defense lawyer Kathleen Martin called the case one of regret, not rape. She said the women consented to sexual intercourse, even if they regretted it after learning they had been duped.

Here we get more anti-women bigotry when the defense attorney tries to make it impossible that the women would put all the pieces together once they learned from the police that the man lied. Instead, the only viable reason for the women's stories is petty revenge. The rape as morning-after regret stereotype.

Imagine if someone doing okay financially was drugged and then robbed by someone posing as so flush with cash that they don't need to steal. Because the victims were drugged they can't testify with perfect clarity about what actions the other person took. Some of them might not realize they had been robbed until the cops found that person's possessions with other items which had been reported stolen.

We wouldn't believe that all those victims voluntarily gave their possessions away simply because they hadn't reported the thefts. Plenty of people are robbed by careful thieves and don't realize what happened until the cops show them that their possessions have been found in the liar's possession. It would be ridiculous to explain away a pattern of robberies because a defense attorney says all those hardworking people thought they'd hit the jackpot and were so angry about being lied to that they would falsely claim to be robbed because they now regret giving their possessions away.

What isn't credible in a robbery by drugging and deception case suddenly becomes credible in a rape case? Not for those who aren't blinded by their bigotry. What's scary is the number of people -- men and women -- who accept bigotry as if it were absolute truth.

We understand that the person pretending to be flush with cash is being intentionally deceptive and is therefore less reliable than the alleged robbery victims. Yet in rape cases, we are supposed to understand that the alleged victims are less reliable than the alleged rapist who has been caught using deception to gain access to his alleged victims.

The only way that works is through bigotry against women and that bigotry doesn't pop out of thin air. It's no coincidence that so many people keep repeating "women lie about rape." Whenever I hear that phrase now, I think, "Thou doth protest too much" and "who are you trying to help escape accountability?"

This case also highlights that rape isn't about supply and demand as some idiots claim. It's about the character of the rapist. From the description of his lies, he seemed like someone too insecure to initiate sex where the woman had the power to say no.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:05 AM   0 comments links to this post


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