Thursday, May 31, 2007

Rape Case Where Confusion And Misunderstanding Makes sense

In so many rape cases, the defendant or the defense attorneys claim what the prosecution says is a rape is in fact a misunderstanding when it isn't being disputed that the defendant was pushing for sex or exploited someone incapable of giving legal consent. The confusion and misunderstanding is alleged by the defense to show that the defendant thought the alleged victim might have legally consented.

There's no real misunderstanding in these cases except for what the defendants thought they could get away with. Often people who advocate for a not-guilty verdict will admit that what the defendant did was wrong, but not so wrong that the defendant should be labeled as a criminal.

By their words these "clearly in the wrong, but clearly not guilty" people remind defendants and potential rapists that there is strong support for the belief that many defendants can and should get away with it. They also remind victims that the harm done to them is no big deal or is viewed as self-inflicted.

This case, where an ambulance worker is charged with rape in Australia, is the first one I've seen where the defense is raising a legitimate issue rather than playing on stereotypes. The possible misunderstanding in this case is on the part of the witnesses. Was the defendant groping the woman during the ambulance ride to the hospital or did the contact happen innocently?

This case, unlike the cases where the defense claims that the alleged victim didn't resist with sufficient force to make it clear that she really didn't want to have sex with him, raises legitimate questions about what really happened and doesn't rely on victim blaming or victim bashing.

This case reminds me how normal it has become for people to excuse rape when the alleged rapist claims ignorance. Frankly, if a defendant can't tell the difference between engaging in truly mutual -- legal -- sex and engaging in rape, that person is a danger to society.

And someone who is numb to the harm they can do to others in one area isn't just a danger when it comes to sex crimes. That person can easily excuse harming others in a variety of ways, especially where the risk of being charged with a crime is low or where he can plead ignorance of the law and hope to con a jury.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:34 AM   0 comments links to this post


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