Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Next Duke Case In The Military?

When I read about the case in the Air Force where a woman, Cassandra Hernandez, who reported being raped and who reportedly couldn't take the stress of the process anymore, was then charged with a crime for having consensual sex with the men she had reported as her rapists, I knew somebody somewhere would bring up the Duke case. I didn't think there were any true parallels, but I was wrong.

On Feministing, Joe commented:

So. I guess I'm wrong. But: this post takes severe liberties on what happened - ie, she says she was raped, therefore she was raped. Um, fuck no.

The initial "She says that three male airman raped her." does not equal the later
"The woman was raped." Think it's never happened before? Think that those who say they are raped are necessarily infallible? Three words: Duke lacrosse team.

The fact that she refuses to testify is objectively to her detriment.

Three words: DUKE. LACROSSE. TEAM.

Will there be any moment in time where those accused of rape are innocent until proven guilty? Has no one here learned a lesson from the Duke case? Simple because she is a woman does not mean she gets protection.

And no, I'm not defending her harassment or scrutiny or what she had been through. But, I am wary of making an accusation of rape a verdict.

The problem here is that the correct usage of innocent until proven guilty applies to this woman and not to the men involved since she is the defendant. Using that fact and Joe's own logic, we must then assume that she was indeed raped as she reported since the charges against her are predicated on the assumption that the contact was consensual.

If it is wrong for people to say she was raped, then it was equally wrong for people to say the Duke players were innocent before all charges were dropped.

To give this woman a fair trial the prosecutor must prove there couldn't have been a sexual assault. The accusers in effect are the men who say they had consensual sex with this woman. Clearly they benefit from making this claim as it gets them off the hook.

This echoes what people said about the Duke accuser and how she had a clear reason to lie. These men have an even stronger motive to lie since they were given immunity to the rape charges against them in exchange for testifying that they had consensual sex with this woman. According to Joe's logic (ignoring the sexism) we must view them with at least as much skepticism as he views the Duke accuser. If she was non-credible, these men are non-credible.

We cannot afford to take their words as holding any truth until their words have been proven in court or we have learned nothing from the Duke case. Right, Joe?

This defendant claims she is innocent and did not have consensual sex with those men and that the DNA evidence exists because she was raped. That is what must be proven false beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case the burden is not on the woman to prove she was raped as she reported.

To use another parallel to the Duke case, does anyone remember how the lack of cooperation from the Duke players was seen as "objectively to their detriment" as Joe puts it? People like Joe likely slammed this assumption, yet he does the exact same thing against another defendant with a clear conscious and a total lack of awareness simply because she is a woman who reported being raped.

This woman doesn't get protection because she is a woman, she gets -- or should get -- protection because she is a defendant.

The lesson we must take from the Duke case is that prosecutors can and will go after people who are innocent of the charges against them. Joe demands that we learn this lesson, but then demonstrates that he himself has failed to learn this lesson when it is a woman being accused. He isn't worried about her being falsely charged or falsely convicted. He's only worried about what happens to the men.

Apparently, Joe believes due process is for boys and men only. If that's a lesson we are supposed to take from the Duke case, then I reject that lesson.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:19 AM   1 comments links to this post


At August 09, 2007 2:42 PM, Anonymous joe said...

Just wanted to say that I'm the Joe that comments here and on alas and I didn't write that. As far as i can see this does NOT have much in common with the Duke case.


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