Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Review Of Rape Cases In UK Finds Police Prosecution Errors

Metro UK

An in-depth review of the way rape allegations are handled by police and prosecutors found some cases are being dropped prematurely.

Watchdogs also found authorities were failing to effectively implement a wide range of measures designed to boost the woeful rape conviction rate. Police wrongly recorded rape allegations as "no crimes" in nearly a third of cases when the claims should have been investigated further, the report said.

"There were cases identified... where lines of inquiry had not been fully explored and where further inquiries might have resulted in sufficient evidence to prosecute," it found.

This isn't surprising to me at all and highlights how much progress can be made even if new legal proposals never get approved.

I highly recommend reading the whole article to understand the scope of the problems found which harm rape victims either by incorrectly labeling what happened to them as "no crime" or giving them inconsistent treatment by people with little or no training or giving up on a case the moment the alleged rapist says, "It was consensual."

Too often the words, "we are dedicated to fighting rape" are just words without a real systemic commitment to fighting rape and demonstrating to rapists that their actions will not be tolerated or ignored.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:56 PM   0 comments links to this post

Duke Lacrosse Hearing Postponed


A critical hearing in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case has been postponed until May as the new prosecutors, who took over from embattled District Attorney Mike Nifong, study the evidence. Prosecutors from the state attorney general's office met with defense attorneys for about two hours Tuesday, the first meeting between the parties since the state took over the case from Nifong earlier this month.

Defense attorneys said afterward that a planned Feb. 5 hearing would be rescheduled. "We will use this time to continue reviewing the case files, talking to the many people involved in the cases, and making sure that all discovery requests have been responded to properly," state Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement.

The accuser in the case was expected to appear at the Feb. 5 hearing and defense attorneys planned to ask Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III to throw out her photo identifications of the defendants.

I consider this good news for justice since the extra time will allow fresh investigators time to evaluate all of the evidence. True justice can't only consider the needs of the defendants, it must also consider the needs of victims and the impact legal actions have on the general population.

For anyone confused about why a case with "no evidence" hasn't yet been dropped, read this op ed by Wendy Murphy.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:36 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rape Victim Jailed After Reporting Then Denied Prescribed EC

Fox Tampa Bay (hat tip Feminists to the rescue)

TAMPA - A young woman was walking back to her car after the Gasparilla parade on Saturday when she says a man dragged her behind a building and raped her near
the intersection of Howard and Swann. She managed to get away and called 911. Police took her to the hospital and began a routine rape investigation.

When they started checking the victim's background, they discovered she had an arrest warrant out for her. It was from an arrest when the woman was a juvenile and she was accused of not paying restitution. The woman says she was not aware there was a warrant out for her, and her attorney says it appears to be a paperwork error.

Since the issue that came up in the background check wasn't one of violence, there is no excuse for this treatment. The article doesn't say but I hope they at least waited to handcuff her until after the rape kit was completed. The evidentury exam is stressful enough without being treated as if you are worse than a rapist.

Still, the woman was put in handcuffs and taken to jail. She was not allowed bond, and the medical staff at the jail refused to give her the Morning After Pill even though it had been prescribed at the hospital.

"The medical supervisor would not allow her to take the pill because she said it was against her, the supervisor's, religion. So, here we have a medical supervisor imposing her beliefs on a rape victim," claimed the victim's attorney Virlyn Moore. "As a human being, how someone could be so violated by this monster and then the
system comes along and rapes her again psychologically and emotionally - it's
outrageous and unconscionable."

The medical supervisor at this jail should be fired or at the least demoted if she inserted her religious beliefs in dispensing medicine. One of key issues when dealing with someone who has recently been raped is to be respectful of their autonomy and their humanity. This medical supervisor failed utterly at both.

"At this point, we're very concerned about the welfare of this young woman," said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. "There's a lot of unanswered questions about exactly how this unfolded we are going to get to the bottom of it."

McElroy says there is a policy in place where anyone who is suspected of a misdemeanor is not taken to jail if they're the victim of a sex crime. She says while it's nearly impossible to draw up a policy that addresses every situation, this may be a case where department policy should be reexamined.

Setting a policy for this situation isn't anywhere close to being nearly impossible. If the alleged sex crime victim isn't a known or suspected violent criminal, then the police should take no action against the alleged victim during the rape exam or during the police interview and/or initial investigation.

Pursuing violent criminals and helping victims of sexual or physical violence must be the highest priority.

Then there is this from the Tampa Tribune:

The police department in 2002 issued a legal opinion under then-Police Chief Bennie Holder that advised against arresting victims of violent crime on outstanding misdemeanor warrants. "The goal of the policy is to avoid further traumatizing the victim of a serious crime," Assistant City Attorney Kirby Rainsberger wrote at the time. Officers should use discretion to balance "the severity of the injury suffered by the victim compared to the seriousness of the crime specified in the warrant," he wrote.

It shouldn't take a genius to figure out that unpaid restitution is less serious than rape.

The policy does not advise whether police should arrest crime victims wanted on felony charges. "It's rare in police work that someone isn't arrested on a felony warrant, but you always want to have compassion for a victim," police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said Monday. "This may be a case where we need to revise our policy."

May be? There's no may about the need to change their policy. It must be changed. Period.

Police supervisors did not learn the woman's circumstances until early Monday, after inquiries from the media and the woman's attorney, Virlyn "Vic" Moore III of Venice. At that point, police worked with Circuit Judge Walter Heinrich to grant her bail: $4,585 that a Sarasota County court said was unpaid in a 2003 auto theft and burglary case, McElroy said. Moore disputed that the money was unpaid, calling it a "technical violation." The woman thought the matter had been resolved, he said.

That last part about police supervisors not learning until Monday morning that a woman who called 911 to report a rape on Saturday has been sitting in jail without the ability to post bail is unacceptable. The rape case was, or should have been, an open and active case. To let the alleged rape victim sit forgotten in jail as if she weren't an alleged victim is flat-out wrong.

The statement that the rape investigator didn't go see the alleged victim in jail because whatever evidence she had to provide wasn't time sensitive is nonsense. If you have a victim of violent crime sitting in jail and you are supposedly trained in dealing with sexual assaults there is no excuse for not notifying the police supervisors so they know the extra trauma a rape victim is suffering.

The message this action -- and the failure by the police to give a full and absolute apology for the way this woman was treated-- sends the message that certain rape victims shouldn't bother calling 911. Believe me, rapists are paying attention to these messages and are fully willing to exploit the police department's failures.

When it takes an external force such as media attention for the police to correct a horrible injustice done to one individual victim then major changes are needed for the sake of all victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:39 PM   7 comments links to this post

UK Crackdown On Alternative Practitioners Proposed


The role of alternative therapists is to be regulated by the government in a new crackdown on medical professionals who abuse their patients, including inappropriate sexual relationships.

A white paper to be published next month on tackling rogue doctors will also signal that the growing number of therapists and alternative health practitioners, who can now set up with no form of registration or fear of sanctions, will in the longer term be brought under regulatory control.

While doctors can be struck off for incompetent or unethical behaviour - the General Medical Council's latest proposed code of conduct bans not only sex with current patients for fear of exploitation, but with ex-patients after treatment stops - there is no compulsory regulation for counsellors, therapists and practitioners of techniques such as acupuncture or hypnotherapy, who have regular contact with vulnerable people, usually women.

The need for the new regulations to provide clarity for alternative practitioners is highlighted by an Observer investigation into one of Britain's best known alternative therapists, whose actions have triggered complaints of alleged sexual misconduct.

The new regulations are needed because alternative health practitioners and therapists can easily abuse the same type of power a medical doctor has over a patient. In some cases patients turn to alternative treatments because traditional treatments have failed them so these patients may feel as if they have fewer options.

For any treatment to work the patient must defer -- partially or fully, to the authority of the person treating them. That process of deferment should be recognized as a power imbalance and it should never be abused.

All of us can become physically or emotionally vulnerable under certain circumstances. However, more women patients are exploited because women in general are more likely to be sexually exploited. This isn't because women are inferior but because of popular beliefs which says that it is normal for men to look for weaknesses in a woman's defenses and to use those weaknesses to get sex.

If it weren't for impairment, some people would get no sex at all since they don't know the first thing about having a mutual non-exploitive sexual relationship.

Sexual contact or sexual advances during treatment should always be considered unethical if not illegal. However, any new regulations need to be written with care when addressing conduct with ex-patients so fully consensual relationships with no power imbalances are not wrongly labelled as exploitive or criminal contact.

If I go to the ER to have a piece of broken glass pulled from my foot and interact with that doctor for 2 minutes, the doctor/patient relationship isn't such that a relationship a month later (sexual or not) should be assumed to be unethical.

Finding the appropriate boundaries to protect all involved is tricky, but it is critical.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 29, 2007

Video of GGW's Joe Francis and Paris Hilton

The founder of Girls Gone Wild, Joe Francis who has made millions creating sexually exploitive videos apparently doesn't like role reversal.

The malevolent founder of the Girls Gone Wild empire, Joe Francis is about to discover that turnabout is fair play. You see, Francis' former girlfriend Paris Hilton forgot to pay her long-term storage bill, so the creditor she tried to stiff is auctioning off the contents of her locker including a steamy home movie performance co-starring Joe Francis. Payback sure is sweet.
NY Post

The celebutard and "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis have amassed a pit-bull legal team to attack the creators of parisexposed. com - a pay-to-view Web site boasting Hilton's most cringe-worthy memorabilia, including porn videos made during their months-long courtship.

"We're pissed and I feel for Paris right now. She's been victimized yet again," Francis told The Post yesterday. "We want this thing down and we're seeking monetary damages."

At least one of Joe Francis's Girls Gone Wild scheduled events was cancelled earlier this month after a group of local opponents decided to speak up against the event, highlighting illegal actions including filming minors which resulted in a guilty plea and probation for Joe Francis.

After reading the quote from Mr. Francis about what he wants from this pay-per-view company, I can't sympathize until he pays similar monetary damages to all those who have made claims against his company.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:39 PM   0 comments links to this post

Domestic Violence: The Clear And Present Danger


Since the early 1990s, domestic violence has killed at least 105 women, 35 children and five men in Hennepin County [Minnesota] alone. A report released by the county's Fatality Review Team shows the progress that has been made since a state law making strangulation during domestic abuse a felony was passed in 2005. According to the report, which looked back on 11 recent domestic homicides, not enough is being done to help the young survivors of domestic violence.

"There's work left to be done. There's always work left to be done," said Judge Kathryn Quaintance, chair of the Fatality Review Team.Among the state's 33 domestic homicides in 2006 was Terri Lee and a companion, who were killed by Lee's former boyfriend. He was violating a court restraining order. In another case, Rachel Kastner, a Burnsville, Minn. mother, was brutally murdered by her husband in plain view of her children. This case highlights one glaring problem often overlooked in cases of domestic murder: child witnesses.

This is an important topic and one of the issues is what professional services these child witnesses get to help them deal with this extreme trauma.

Here's a letter from the project director included with the Hennepin County 2006 Fatality Review Report:

While our Review Team is unique in Minnesota, it is part of a growing national movement to provide in-depth case reviews of the events and circumstances surrounding domestic homicides to identify responses and strategies to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

We have gained a national reputation for the quality of our reports, the thoroughness of our review process, and our success in implementing changes. Alaska and Georgia have sought our assistance in helping them to establish a review process in their communities.

Other communities in Minnesota have received training and technical assistance from our Review Team as well. Minnesota policy makers, legislators, survivors of domestic violence, and advocates, have encouraged our outreach within the state with the goal of establishing similar review teams in other judicial districts. We have recently received additional grant funding to work with other Minnesota communities to implement fatality review teams in their jurisdictions.

The review process in Hennepin County has spawned a level of trust and cooperation among group members that fosters rigorous introspection and examination of policies, procedures, and criminal justice system responses. We have found that the process constantly evolves as we strive to improve our investigation and implementation efforts and ultimately to be an effective catalyst for change.

We hope this report will inspire change that ensures the safety of women and children in their homes and result in a safer community for everyone. In this report (at page 24) we have enumerated changes made by various criminal justice agencies that address recommendations made in our past reports. We want to recognize and commend the progress made in these specific areas.

In the future we will continue to monitor initiatives in the community and the criminal justice system that correspond to opportunities for intervention identified in our reports. In this way we hope to better hold ourselves and others accountable for taking action based on what we have learned. Through positive change in our response to domestic violence, we can pay tribute to those whose lives and deaths we have examined.

Read the full report.

In this recent double homicide there wasn't a child witness, but there was a child whose life is changed forever.

One of the suspects in a double homicide in Brooklyn Park, Minn. has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder. On Jan. 16, police found that the two New Brighton victims been shot to death in a car in the parking lot of a Brooklyn Park apartment complex.

According to the charges, 20-year-old Revelle Loving, of Coon Rapids, Minn., was the ex-boyfriend of victim Mosetta Peters, 21. He was also the father of her 3-year-old daughter. Relatives of Peters said she had been receiving death threats from Loving and had also previously been assaulted by Loving.

This history of violence and death threats is common and needs to trigger more of an official response than an order for protection. At a minimum if someone threatens to kill someone else there needs to an intensive effort to evaluate the risks and to intervene according to that risk.

Dismissing domestic abuse and homicide between those with significant relationships as a personal matter is something that should be considered a contributing factor in these types of crimes.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Carnival Against Sexual Violence Call For Nominations

The next deadline for the carnival against sexual violence is tomorrow night Jan. 29 at 11 pm. Please nominate a post, one you've written or one you're read, for the 16th edition which comes out on Feb. 1.

So far I don't have any nominations in the personal stories, creative expression or recovery categories.

In case you've missed any past editions, you can find a link to all of them here at the carnival homepage.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:42 AM   0 comments links to this post

Exit Interviews For Dakota Fanning Rape Scene

In my previous post on this film, I blogged about Dakota Fanning's response to those who attacked the film Hounddog because of the rape scene.

Here's a post which includes a short video by Karina Longworth where she conducts exit interviews of people who attended the public screening of Hounddog at Sundance.

While some of the critics were harsh in their response to the film, those who left the public screening, and who talked to Ms. Longworth, had a much more positive response to the film and to the rape scene.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Debunking The It's Easy To Convict Alleged Rapists Myth


ROCHESTER, MN -- From stranger rapes to domestic abuse, sex crimes affect women on a daily basis. And, even when a woman knows her attacker, it's hard to get a conviction. From the attack to an arrest to the courtroom, in a newscenter extra Jenna Gordon tells us why it seems these criminals are able to walk away with
only a slap on the wrist.

Four Rochester men and a juvenile gang raped a 15 year-old girl in 2005. After months of court hearings, the oldest four received only one year behind bars. But, why would such a brutal crime warrant such a light sentence. Jeanne Martin with Victim Services says, "In some sense that was a very successful case because there was a successful prosecution and admission."

This reality is a stark contrast to the myth that all a woman has to do is walk into the nearest police station and say, "I was raped" for the man she names as her rapist to be charged, convicted and locked up for many years.

This myth is very useful to those who have been charged with a sex crime because it creates the illusion that there might be no evidence or credibility at all behind the charge. Those who put forth this myth want to have people believe that men are being persecuted merely for being men, something those men-hating feminists set out to destroy as they advocated for stronger sex crime statutes.

The only way I and many others could possibly be seen as wanting to punish men for being men is if "being a man" means you force and/or coerce others in order to get sex from them with no respect for how your actions hurt others. That implies that real men don't have mutual sexual encounters.

But real men don't have to be bullies when it comes to sex.

The problems which can lead to false convictions for sex crimes don't stem from the sex crime statutes, but from issues which exist in a wide range of serious crimes. But people don't react with similar myths when someone is charged with arson or carjacking.

Captain Brian Winters with Rochester's police department says, "In today's CSI environment everybody says well shouldn't this be a case that's resolvable because DNA exists. The value of evidence is weighed against the individual circumstances of each crime." Captain Brian Winters is in charge of sexual assault investigations. He says the best piece of evidence collected is the victim's statement. "Often times that's what makes a sex assault case is corroborating victims statements to the actual occurrences or to things we can demonstrate occurred."

There were forty sexual assault cases reported to Rochester police during the months of January through September last year. Less than half of those suspects have been arrested and charged with a sex crime. "It indicates we have 50 percent of our cases charged out. That is not surprising to me and the reason it's not is often these investigations take months to resolve," says Winters.

Under 50% of the suspects were arrested and that low number isn't because over 50% of women lie about being raped as some people insist on interpretting data like this. They need to be able to have a reasonable belief that they can prove a sex crime happened and be able to prove who committed that crime.

Lack of proof isn't the same as proof that no sex crime occurred.

If Rochester didn't have a strong, professional sexual assault investigations team, I'm sure the arrest rate would be far lower than it is.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:41 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, January 26, 2007

Judges try to block UK rape trial reforms


Government plans for changes in the law to boost rape conviction rates are in disarray after the judges who would have to put them into practice told ministers they oppose them.

Since one of the proposed changes relates to alcohol and the ability to consent and since there was a study which showed that potential jurors are likely to excuse rape when the rape victim has been drinking, the idea that no changes are needed is clearly wrong.

Whether the change needs to be in the statute or a reminder that rape victims who had been drinking deserve justice as much as rape victims who weren't drinking.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:31 PM   0 comments links to this post

Dakota Fanning Responds To Attacks on Movie Hounddog


"Hounddog" is the story of Lewellen, a girl played by 12-year-old Dakota Fanning, who is growing up in the 1960s South. She is a free-spirit obsessed with Elvis Presley and has little supervision by her abusive father and alcoholic grandmother.

[...] Fanning is defending her work as well as the movie, and so is the head of Sundance, who said it was courageous for director Deborah Kampmeier to tackle "challenging material." "Hounddog" is entered in the festival's dramatic category.

The attitude behind the response by a Christian film critic who called the rape scene in the movie child abuse and similar complaints by groups such as the Catholic League seems to be one of denial.

The reality that many children have of being raped will be less likely to change if we insist that films pretend this type of violence never happens or if they must sanitize the depiction until the harm done can be minimized by those who commit these types of crimes.

The Smoking Gun has a copy of the rape scene from the shooting script of Hounddog. One of the elements which struck me about the scene is how trust is used as a weapon.

From Variety:

The furor over "Hounddog" was poised to peak Monday night with the film's Sundance Film Festival premiere at the Racquet Club Theater.

Instead of the usual post-screening Q&A, the producers scheduled a panel that included stars Dakota Fanning and Robin Wright Penn, director Deborah Kempmeier and a representative from RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. The idea was to create a forum to discuss the film's child rape issues and combat what's become, as one person close to the film said, "a circus."

Since director Deborah Kampmeier views the rape scene as being a necessary part of the story (as a rape survivor I understand how an event like this impacts everything about a character's life) and since there are ways to film a scene so it has less emotional impact on the actors than it would have on viewers of the finished film, the mere existance of the scene doesn't prove any harm has been done to underage actors.

For me the bigger issue is whether the film as a whole brings something positive to the actors and to those who view the film. If the film explores how a child works through trauma and finds realistic hope then it could be a real contribution.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:14 PM   1 comments links to this post

Cambodia Sex Industry Through The Eyes Of 6 Year Old Girl


At an age when most children might be preparing for their first day of school, Srey, 6, already has undergone trauma that is almost unspeakable. She was sold to a brothel by her parents when she was 5. It is not known how much her family got for Srey, but other girls talk of being sold for $100; one was sold for $10.

Before she was rescued, Srey endured months of abuse at the hands of pimps and sex tourists. Passed from man to man, often drugged to make her compliant, Srey was a commodity at the heart of a massive, multimillion-dollar sex industry in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

[...] Srey was rescued from the life of a sex slave by Somaly Mam, a former prostitute who runs shelters for the victims of Cambodia's sex trade. Somaly has rescued 53 children, so far. Many of them have profound psychological trauma. Some clearly are mentally ill. "A lot of them, when they arrive, have psychological problems ... very big problems. ... And they never have love by the people, by their parents," Somaly said.

While those who are exploited live in poverty and have few choices, it's important to note that the sex traffickers and sex "tourists" have plenty of choices and no valid excuses for turning these children into a consumable and making their experience as unimportant as the experience a bowling alley has.

Those who exploit others sexually are revealing a lack within themselves. If having sex with a child makes a man feel powerful, then he shows that he has no authentic power.

As that old saying goes: Follow the money.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:41 AM   3 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Detectives Probe Whether Boy Missing Since 1991 Has Ties to Devlin


Detectives investigating accused kidnapper Michael Devlin have shown photographs to relatives of a child missing since 1991 that look like they could be of the long-lost boy, the family members say. Charles "Arlin" Henderson was 11 when he disappeared in July 1991 while riding his bike on a rural road in Moscow Mills, about an hour's drive north of St. Louis.

Devlin, 41, is charged with kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby in similarly remote areas. Shawn, now 15, and Ben, 13, were found Jan. 12 at Devlin's suburban St. Louis apartment. Authorities are investigating whether he could be linked to Arlin's disappearance.

The Lincoln County sheriff's detectives who showed Henderson's relatives the photos this week said the pictures came from someone who claims to know Devlin and who said the boy pictured was an acquaintance of Devlin's from years ago, said James McWilliams, Arlin's uncle.

I don't know if there really is a connection, but the police definitely need to thoroughly investigate this cold case.

Even if the 1991 disappearance isn't connected to Devlin, Shawn Hornbeck's situation shows that many assumptions people make about kidnapped children are wrong. If someone like Devlin was the kidnapper there might be clues which were missed because of those assumptions.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Official: Sex Offender Passed As 12 Year Old for Months

I blogged about this 29 year old who posed as a 12 year old in an attempt to attend a charter school. At the time the authorities didn't know if he had successfully enrolled in any other schools.

Now we have the answer:

A convicted sex offender attended at least two Arizona middle schools, sat through seventh-grade courses and turned in homework as he moved around the state pretending to be 12 years old, officials say. Authorities in Yavapai County have accused Neil Havens Rodreick II, who is really 29, of assaulting a girl. They are not releasing details.

Rodreick was arrested last week after spending a day at the Mingus Springs Charter School in Chino Valley, about 90 miles northwest of Phoenix. School officials there called police after they checked what they called a phony birth certificate and other admissions documents.

He has been charged with misdemeanor assault, conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to commit forgery, failing to register as a sex offender, and possession of a forgery device. He remains in the Yavapai County jail.

Nice guy.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:37 PM   0 comments links to this post

Ghosts of Conquests Past

Dakota Voice

The First Annual Northern Hills Integrity Ball was held in Spearfish Saturday night. It was organized by the Northern Hills Pregnancy Care Center and “Stop and Think” of Spearfish. The event provided an evening of fun and fine dining for young men and their mothers, and encouraged young men to make a commitment to abstinence until marriage.

[...] Detweiller told another story about a man and woman coming to the altar, about
to be married, when another guy comes up from the audience and holds the bride’s hand as the ceremony is performed. More guys come forward, until six are holding
onto the bride. When the groom asks her what is going on, she replies, “These are guys from my past. They don’t matter to me now, but I gave them a piece of my heart. What’s left of my heart is yours.”

If the 6 men from the first story were asked about their sexual contact with the bride and told the truth about her so we knew she never exploited any boys or men sexually, while one or two of the men hanging on to her had forced themselves on her is that history worse than a groom's history? What if she said, "What I did with them, I will do only with you from this day forward."?

Imagine if a groom's sexual history were illustrated in the same way:

... told a story about a man and a woman coming to the altar, about to be married, when another woman comes up from the audience and hold's the grooms hand as the ceremony is performed. More women come forward, until thirty are holding onto the groom.

When the bride asks her groom what's going on, he replies, "There are the gals from my past. They don't matter to me now. What I did to them I promise from now on only to do to you."

Let's imagine what might happen next:

The bride then turns to the first woman and asks her about her relationship with the groom. "His friends paid me to have sex with him on his sixteenth birthday. They were all drunk by the time I arrived and in turn his friends jumped on top of me to show him the way real men treat women they aren't going to marry. When it was his turn he got the idea real quick."

The bride then asks the second woman her story. "I thought he was cute and I agreed to go out with him. A month later he drove out of town rather than driving me straight home. He stopped on a deserted stretch of road and told me he wouldn't take me home until I let him have sex with me. I refused at first, but when he reached over me to shove the passenger door open and to push me out, I realized he wasn't joking. I didn't know what else I could do."

The stories continue into his college years ... "I was asleep in my dorm room when I woke up to find him groping at me. He said he knew I had a crush on him and he was going to give me what I wanted. Believe me, you don't want to know the rest."

The stories continue up until the man met his bride. With one exception the groom either paid for sex or pushed himself on women he didn't respect.

So who is the impure one? The bride from the first story or the groom from the second story? And who would you recommend should reconsider going through with the wedding?

The story of a bride's past with no consideration of more than her number is to not see the difference between willing partners and unwilling partners. If the goal is to get children and young adults to act with honor, this story fails.

After I was raped by my boyfriend and had my virginity ripped away from me, I remember believing absolutely that the only man who would ever be willing to marry me was this one man. All the talk about purity by well-meaning people magnified my feelings of shame and contributed to the fear which kept me from telling my parents what happened to me.

Remembering my history, I wonder what impact calls for purity have on girls or boys who were too shamed to tell anyone that they've been raped or sexually abused? Will they see these events as reinforcing the idea that they are impure with less room in their hearts for a spouse?

Hat tip: Feministing Pandagon

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:03 PM   0 comments links to this post

DNA Evidence No Help To Rape Victim Because of Statute Of Limitation Ruling

Arizona Star

In June 1994, as she lay pinned underneath her attacker, Lee made a vow she wouldn't let the man ruin her life. Nearly 13 years later, she's vowed not to let her attacker or the Arizona Court of Appeals ruin her life.

The man suspected of attacking and raping her was arrested last year, only to be set free as a result of a December Court of Appeals decision that the seven-year statute of limitations in rapes before 1997 starts when the crime occurs, not when an attacker is identified.

Pima County prosecutors are appealing to the Arizona Supreme Court, but it could be months before they learn if the justices will even review the case. If the Appeals Court decision is upheld, the charges against Olin Gene Taylor will have to be dismissed. If not, Lee, 69, is prepared to testify against the man she believes attacked her.

Because of the seriousness of this type of crime and the continued danger these type of rapists pose, the laws need to change so there either isn't a statute of limitations or the clock begins when the DNA match has been made.

Those who say the statute of limitations shouldn't be changed because of procedural issues which make it impossible for defendants to get a fair trial ignore the fact that much of the lost evidence or fuzzy memories tend to favor the defendant since the burden of proof is on the prosecution.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

DNA Frees N.Y. Man From Murder Sentence


Fifteen years to the day after he was convicted of a brutal murder, a 46-year-old man was ordered released from state prison on Tuesday because DNA tests proved he did not commit the crime.

[...] Prosecutors relied mostly on circumstantial evidence and the bite marks on the body to win the conviction. Brown had been released from county jail a week before the killing after serving eight months for threatening social workers assigned to his child custody case. He claimed he never knew Kulakowski.

Her nude body had bite marks that an expert prosecution witness linked to Brown, even though they showed indentations from six upper teeth while Brown has only four.

Like in many cases where the person convicted was later proven to be innocent, there is other evidence which should have created a sense of reasonable doubt. Also like in many exonerations the crime itself was undisputed which is a stark contrast to the idea many people have that false convictions are caused by hoaxers posing as victims.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:38 PM   1 comments links to this post

Man Blames Daughter For Brutal Murder of His Wife


The nude body of Tami Reay, 41, was found near Lake Oahe outside Pierre [SD] two days after she disappeared last February. Authorities said some of the wounds in her chest showed a knife had been forced in all the way to its hilt.

[Brad] Reay told jurors that he did not know before his wife was killed in the family home that he was having an affair, but he said they had discussed splitting up. He said his daughter was extremely upset after they told her about the possibility of divorce. Reay said he awoke in the night to find his daughter standing over her mother in the woman's bedroom. His daughter had a knife in her hand, he said.

Haylee was "catatonic or in shock" and did not respond when he asked her what she'd done, he said. Reay said his daughter did not recover from that state until after he had cleaned blood off her and placed her in bed.

The emotion that goes into a knife attack like this is much more than would come from a 12-year-old girl at the news that her parents will be divorcing.

It doesn't sound like this man was winning any father of the year awards before this murder so the idea that he would take the blame for something his daughter did isn't high on the credibility scale.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:50 AM   0 comments links to this post

Pathology Behind Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

There's a post over at Pandagon about Dawn Eden’s use (in her book Thrill of the Chaste) of the song "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" Ms. Eden uses the song as evidence that women all secretly use sex as a way to secure commitment from men.

If the song is evidence of anything about heterosexual relationships and sex, it's that men manipulate women in order to get sex that would NOT be given to them if they were honest. Implied in the title is that the man has told the woman that he loves her, but the woman has learned that even men who seem to genuinely love them can turn out to be manipulative users.

If there is a society-wide moral to this story it's that men are ethically challenged when it comes to sex.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why The Government Shouldn't Make The Choice For Women

I blogged about the subject in my post This is why I'm for legalized abortion across the board after Bill O'Reilly stated on Oct. 11, 2006 that it's never the case that a pregnant woman's life is in danger from pregnancy.

With today being the anniversary of Roe V. Wade, it's worth remembering that abortion rights is a health issue and that women are more than disposable fetus carriers.

Those who say abortion should only be legal under very limited circumstances such as rape, forget that plenty of people refuse to believe rape victims when they report to the police and that most rape victims don't report at all. It's bad enough for rape victims when they are called vindictive liars, but to be called vindictive liars intent on murder is far, far worse.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:23 PM   0 comments links to this post

Sage's Tag

Sage’s tag via Thinking Girl

Sage has come up with an important tag, inspired by the discussion on Thinking Girl's post, Killing Prostitutes. This tag encourage ALL of us to participate in the political process and demand our political representatives listen to our voices on this important issue. If you never do another tag, please - do this one.

Here’s the steps:
1. Copy the following into a word file. (I've modified the text to reflect my perspective, feel free to modify or use the original template.)
2. Fill in the blanks and edit as desired or completely re-write (a one page limit is best). A little research on your own area makes it even better.
3. Print
4. Get a few signatures or just sign it yourself.
5. Mail it. In Canada no stamps are necessary to the really big guns. Snail mail counts more than e-mail, so the extra walk to the box is worth it.
6. Tag five people (on-line or otherwise).
7. Repeat as necessary.


Address here. Options might include your Mayor, MP, MPP, Prime Minister, other party leaders, Governor, President, what-have-you, and most important, your local newspaper. Even if the issue isn’t part of the addressee’s portfolio, a surge of letters will still have a necessary impact.

Dear / To the Honourable:

In light of the devastating slayings of 26 women in Vancouver, another 20 in Edmonton, and 5 in Ipswich, England, (and any others you can think of in your area) our government must do more to protect all women. If one woman is in danger, none of us are safe.

It’s unlikely that legalizing prostitution would be favourable to the voting public at this point in time, but there are several other useful alternatives that will guarantee you laurels from many fronts.

Let’s stop making perpetrators. All the men who commit these types of heinous crimes are found to have been raised in abusive homes. What is necessary as a solid foundation of any society is easy access to help of any kind for all parents of young children. No child should be living in poverty in a country as wealthy as _________. Any parent or child being abused should have easy access to a safe house they can live in for as long as needed. Teens abused need safe places to stay and be nurtured for extended periods.

In _________(city), there is / isn’t a safe house for abused women, but it only holds ______ women and children, and they can only stay ___________before they have to find someplace else to go. The theory is that they need to learn to fend for themselves. The reality is, if they’re in there in the first place, they likely don’t have other supports. Imagine having no access to your family bank account, no money of your own, small kids, and the only place available for you to live is run by an abusive tyrant. You’re stuck.

This should not be anybody’s fate in a compassionate country where it could be so easy to solve this problem by placing a priority on funding for safe house space, trained counsellors (emotional, career, and financial), affordable housing, and daycare spaces.

I believe it is less expensive to help people who are the most vulnerable than it is to do nothing until the violence escalates until someone is arrested. Effective prevention is not only less expensive than prosecution and imprisonment, it is better for our society.

And to stop perpetrators before they become repeat offenders, we need stronger legislation around sexual abuse and violence against women and children, domestic and otherwise. If a rapist gets a lighter sentence than someone who physically asaults a man, it sends a message to victims of rape that what happened to them is not taken seriously by our country’s legal system. Don’t you believe women and children deserve a life free from abuse?

We’ll look forward to hearing your proposal to address this emergency before the next election.



Please if you want to help reduce violence against women but don't know what you can do to help fight violence against women, do this tag. Let’s get our voices heard on this.

Remember there are people, many who call themselves pro-family, who want to undo the progress that been made through government programs such as the Violence Against Women Act. You can bet that they are doing everything they can to con politicians into believing that the legal advances to help sexual and domestic violence victims are stripping men of their constutional rights.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:06 PM   3 comments links to this post

Catholic League Attacks Sundance Fanning Rape Film Hounddog

When I read that the Catholic League is asking for a federal investigation into whether Dakota Fanning's film, Hounddog contains child pornography and whether her mother and others who approved her participation are accesories to this crime, the call for a criminal investigation struck me as very shallow.

Where was the Catholic League for all those children sexually abused by priests when the first victim disclosed? In their press release they don't ignore the subject completely:

"For the past five years, there has been a steady drumbeat of criticism aimed at the Catholic Church for allowing sexual abuse of minors to continue with impunity. Much of that criticism was right on target. Let's see now whether Hollywood will be held to the same level of scrutiny for promoting simulated child rape movies."
If the criticism was right on target, why aren't they also calling for a similar criminal investigation of those who learned about the real sexual abuse of children and didn't take sufficient action to protect children from known or suspected abusers?

If people in Hollywood should be held criminally liable for promoting simulated rape, then those in the Catholic church who transfered or promoted abusive priests after getting complaints should also be held criminally liable. If there is no criminal statute directed at those who allow abuse to continue, there needs to be.

The recent Frontline episode Hand of God demonstrated that the lack of effective response to complaints about priest misconduct was a key contributor to the number of victims associated with serial offenders.

In the documentary made by producer Joe Cultera about his brother's sexual abuse, the aftermath of the abuse and the response -- or lack of response -- by different official's within the Catholic church, it becomes clear that the problem is systemic.

If the archdiosese of Boston had responded differently and had treated all those who reported abuse or suspected abuse with absolute respect, there likely wouldn't have been a need for 895 settlements which totaled over $150 million because there would have been far fewer victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Man Cleared By DNA Test Still Listed As Sex Offender

Dallas News

Twenty-four years after he was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit,
50-year-old James Waller returned to court Wednesday to hear prosecutors and a
Dallas judge apologize and pledge to help him clear his name.

A DNA analysis of the 1982 crime evidence ruled conclusively last month that Mr. Waller is not the man who broke into an Old East Dallas apartment and raped a 12-year-old boy. But the scientific victory is just part of the battle, and Mr. Waller's quest for complete exoneration is far from over.

[...] Mr. Waller is the 12th Dallas County man to be exonerated of felony charges through DNA tests in the last five years. District Attorney Craig Watkins and national leaders of the exoneration movement said Mr. Waller's case is further cause to re-examine previous prosecution practices in Dallas County.

This pattern definitely tells me that they have a problem with how matches are made and/or verified between victim descriptions and potential suspects. There's definitely a danger that if the suspect shares physical traits with the real criminal that the rest of the investigation will not be as complete as it should be and will discount the importance of evidence which indicates this person is not the real criminal.

Like many of the 190 exonerations nationwide made possible by DNA tests, Mr. Waller's wrongful conviction was based on mistaken identification. Although the 12-year-old victim said he never got a good look at his attacker because the man was wearing a bandana over his face, he later identified Mr. Waller based solely on his eyes and voice.

If a faulty investigation creates a situation where a real victim is led toward identifying the wrong person, that's traumatic to the victim as well and causes many people to assume that rape victims deliberately lie or that their testimony can never be trusted.

That doesn't appear to be how the innocent man was initially identified in this case.

Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, said the number of exonerations in Dallas County "demands a closer look and statewide action." He said there is no clear reason there have been so many wrongful convictions in Dallas, but "many of the cases have to do with eyewitness identification." That was true with Waller.

A day after the rape, the boy was at a convenience store when he heard Waller's voice and became convinced Waller was the man who attacked him in his apartment.
Earlier, the boy had told police that he never saw the attacker face-to-face and that the man had worn a bandanna covering most of his face.

Waller was also heavier and taller than the man described by the youngster. Waller and his family were the only black residents of the apartment complex, according to the Innocence Project.

However a suspect is identified, the result of flawed processes can be that more innocent people get convicted, especially if the defendant fits the jury's image of a rapist, while more guilty people with sufficient evidence against them may be seen as automatically having reasonable doubt, especially if the defendant doesn't fit the jury's image of a rapist.

As I read about this case, I can't help but wonder if all those who say the prosecution of the Duke case is a hoax -- and who state they are interested in all who are falsely accused or convicted -- are rallying on behalf men like this. And when I say rallying, I mean doing more than pointing to these types of cases as evidence to support their assertions in the Duke case.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:43 AM   1 comments links to this post

Registering An Adult Sex Offender In School

This case is bizarre on a variety of fronts. The 29 year-old man, Neil Havens Rodreick II, who is a sex offender, was not only pretending to be 12 to the Arizona charter school he attempted to enroll in, he was pretending to be 12 to2 of the men he was having sex with, one of which was posing as his grandfather.

The two men he'd met through the internet were reportedly very upset they had been having sex with another adult and not a pre-teen boy. Another man at the house was a sex offender which Rodreick had shared a cell with while in an Oklahoma prison.

All 4 men face various charges.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:08 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Families of Pickton Victims Get Last Minute Subpoenas

According to the Toronto Star the families of the 6 women who Robert Pickton is about to go on trial for murdering received subpoenas to testify and likely won't be allowed to attend the trial until after they testify. Since the family members only knew these women were missing before their remains were found and did not witness any part of the crime, I'm not sure how their testimony related to this man's guilt or innocence.

For nearly a decade, Rick Frey has been searching for answers into the disappearance and death of his daughter, Marnie. Now, on the eve of the trial of the alleged serial killer charged with her murder, Frey has learned that instead of discovering first-hand what happened, the wait will likely continue after he was subpoenaed as a witness in the case.

The surprise move happened late this week to Frey, his wife, Lynn, and the families of the other five alleged victims of Robert William Pickton. The British Columbia Crown's office told Frey yesterday the families should expect to be barred from the courtroom until after they have been called to testify.

With the trial set to begin Monday and last about a year, and no clear answer as to when they will be called to the witness stand, they worry many more months could pass before they can take a seat in the courtroom to confront Pickton and finally learn the truth.

It's horrific enough to suffer the loss of a loved one with no idea if she is dead or alive, then to learn she's been murdered, followed by years of waiting for the trial, but this move makes the horrific even worse.

When police first began scouring the six-hectare property on a wet winter night in February 2002, few expected the enormity of the case that would unfold. Over the next 21 months, investigators painstakingly searched Pickton's trailer, his brother's house at the front of the lot and a collection of dilapidated buildings, old vehicles and farm machinery scattered about. They also expanded their search to include a nearby parcel of Pickton family-owned land containing a building-cum-boozecan that hosted illegal, all-night parties. Locals called it Piggy's Palace.

As the search unfolded, the number of first-degree murder charges against Pickton grew. In May 2005, the indictment swelled to 27 counts before Williams ruled last summer that the charge involving an unidentified Jane Doe wouldn't proceed, leaving the total at 26.

My heart goes out to the families and my hope is that law enforcement can learn how to detect patterns sooner so there are fewer serial killings.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:33 AM   1 comments links to this post

Blaming Girls In Short Skirts

National Post (hat tip to Pandagon)

WINDSOR - Convicted pedophile Reverend Charles Sylvestre blames his victims, other clergy and a school principal for the abuse he caused nearly 50 young girls, Ontario Crown Paul Bailey said yesterday.

"What we have here is a man who minimized his own involvement, blamed others, showed no [remorse] to the psychological carnage that he caused," Mr. Bailey said. Mr. Bailey told a crowd of about 200 priests, deacons and other religious staff gathered at a sexual abuse workshop that he recently met with Sylvestre in jail to try "to understand what made him tick." Sylvestre was under no obligation to speak to Mr. Bailey, but did so nonetheless, giving the lawyer disturbing insight into the 84-year-old's distorted psyche.

"According to him, these eight-year-old girls planned the destruction of their own lives," Mr. Bailey said.

This is no surprise that a perpetrator of sexual abuse sees himself as the real victim who was powerless to resist the needs those girls created in him.

In an effort to dispel the myth that pedophiles suffer a "mere moral failure," Mr. Bailey presented excerpts from his conversation with Sylvestre that shows the disgraced priest's mental illness, or "distinct psychological pathology."

When speaking to Mr. Bailey of the young girls he molested, Sylvestre talked as though the children conspired to have him abuse them. "These girls that came over there every day, they planned it," Sylvestre told Mr. Bailey. "I could hear them talking and they'd come in and sit on a chair and their skirt would be up to their crotch.? Well, it was kind of attracting."

We see this thought process as psychological pathology when it is a priest talking about 8-year-old girls, right? Now imagine that the man jailed had met his victims in a bar.

Here's what he'd say, "Those women that come over there every day, they planned it. I could hear them talking and they'd come in and sit on a bar stool and their skirt would be up to their crotch. Well, it was kind of attracting."

Except for the age of the victims and the setting, the 2 descriptions are the same.

So is the priest the only one who is pathological or has he taken a popular pathology and applied it in a way that loses the sympathy of that pathology's biggest fans?

Think about the number of people who when they hear about a rape case from the victim's perspective insist that they need to get the alleged rapist's perspective before deciding whether the victim should be considered a true victim. They seem to be looking for a pathology which they can relate to.

For those who talk about how often alleged rape victims lie, are you truly against all of what this priest believes? Or if you take a hard look at your beliefs will you find that you only reject this priest's rationalizations because he wasn't accused of offending against girls who have reached the legal age of consent?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, January 19, 2007

Asking The Right Questions About Shawn Hornbeck

With all the interest in the return of the 2 Missouri boys to their families, I've heard offensive, victim-blaming comments from people like Rush Limbaugh, but some important questions aren't being asked.

1) Why didn't Shawn's friend who joked that he looked just like the missing boy, contact the police instead of asking someone who if he were kidnapped could be too terrified to give an honest answer?

From Yahoo News:

Another friend said she would tease Hornbeck when they saw news coverage about missing posters with his likeness.“We would even kind of giggle about it and say you look just like Shawn Hornbeck but he never acted on it, no response, nothing,” Kelly Douglas told Fox News.
Obviously, we can't go back and this friend shouldn't be shamed for how he responded to the similarity. But what needs to happen is for people to realize there is a better response to the appearance of similiarities.

My suggestion would be to collect as much information as possible before reporting to the police or to a hotline so the police have more to go on in case the child disappears. Details like the license plate of the car the child gets into. Then let the authorities investigate so they can verify the child's identity.

If the child isn't the missing child then no harm has been done.

2) What can we tell children so they will know when it is worth the risk to reveal their identity if they are kidnapped?

If all we tell children is what not to do (don't get in a car with a stranger), they won't have any idea of what they can do to get free. They won't know if the person who hurt them can make good on their threats.

We also need to tell them that nothing they are forced to do by a kidnapper is their responsibility and nothing that happens to them will make them less wanted or less loved.

Children need to know how to approach the police so they won't be at risk of being returned to their kidnapper as a child who tells wild lies.

We need to learn how kidnappers control their victims and so we can give potential victims more practical tools they can use if they become victims without making them live in a constant state of fear.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:35 PM   3 comments links to this post

Willful Ignorance, Need And Sex Education

Courtney Martin's article in Prospect entitled Willful Ignorance begins with:

My friend Jen was squashed into a packed lecture hall at the University of Colorado in Boulder, scribbling notes as her sociology professor elucidated the power dynamics underlying rape, when all of a sudden her stomach and pen dropped simultaneously.

She is right on that college is too late for students to begin to understand what rape is beyond a stranger jumping out of the shrubs wielding a knife and forcing his victim to the ground and then leaving her for dead.

Students need to understand enough about the power dynamics of rape to stop themselves from misusing power against others to get sex or sexual contact and to recognize when someone else is misusing power to hurt them or others.

Unfortunately, many adults don't even have a remedial understanding of the relationship between the misuse of power and rape.

One misunderstanding remains in this column. Ms. Martin wrote:

The abstinence-only sex education that most young men and women receive does not teach them how to articulate their own sexual needs and respect those articulated by their partners. (emphasis mine)

The word "needs" is inaccurate and can be a dangerous ingredient when mixed with other common attitudes about sex. When a man says that he needs sex, he may use that "need" to justify coercing or forcing someone else to fulfill his needs.

Men don't need sex. Neither do women.

This isn't a call for absolute abstinence, it's a call to think about how we judge actions that meet our needs vs. actions that meet our wants.

We are likely to be empathic with people who steal the food they need because we know that if our needs aren't met, we will die. But we are much less likely to be empathic with people who go into a 5-star restaurant, order everything they want and then walk out without paying.

As long as we tell ourselves that men need sex, we are less likely to sympathize with women who help create the "need" in men but then won't help meet the "need."

That links into how we teach girls to prevent rape. They must not create sexual "needs" in men by wearing sexy clothes or by going out to bars or by flirting or by being available in any way. If they create a sexual "needs" in men then they shouldn't complain when men strive to have those "needs" satisfied.

When people talk about teaching girls to say no, what they are really talking about is teaching girls to say no in a way that can penetrate the fog that fills a boy or man whenever he is in "need" of sex.

This model gives boys and men a rationalization for taking sex from someone who doesn't share his need. The rationalization is even more dangerous when people believe that girls and women never "need" sex.

If she never needs sex, then her lack of a matching "need" is meaningless. If she seems to "need" sex then something is biologically wrong with her. She has become abnormal.

Because this sexual "need" model is so pervasive, there can be no such thing as accurate sex education without teaching students about what sexual boundaries are, where to go for help if their boundaries have been violated and how to avoid violating other people's sexual boundaries as well as teaching them when any sexual contact is a violation.

We must teach children that their own and others sexual boundaries trump anyone's sexual needs. The "need" for sex can never be a valid defense or reason.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   5 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rush LImbaugh Kidnap Apologist

Correction and update 2/23: It was Bill O'Reilly who made these comments I linked to, although Rush Limbaugh very likely could have made similar comments. Mr. O'Reilly is now claiming that his comments about Shawn Hornbeck were taken out of context.

Just as many people suffer from rape blindness Bill O'Reilly suffers from a severe case of kidnap blindness. Worse, he's a carrier of this disease.

If he were kidnapped and treated exactly as Patty Hearst was, he knows his murderous kidnappers couldn't have gotten him to cooperate with them unless he decided that it would be fun to play at being an outlaw.

He also knows that any child kidnapped by a stranger who is ever left alone and is physically able to escape, but doesn't escape stays for one reason only. Living with a kidnapper is more fun than living at home and having to go to school.

I don't know what fantasies he has about being the victim of a kidnapper, but it clearly has no relationship with the reality of being a kidnap victim.

For Bill O'Reilly's exact words which attack kidnap victim Shawn Hornbeck and which shift the responsibility off his kidnapper, Michael Devlin, check out Media Matters.

Something that I doubt he or anyone who agrees with him thinks about is that his attitude contributes to a kidnap victim's fear of what will happen if they tell someone who they really are once they've been allowed to be alone.

In his public denial of the power a kidnapper has over his or her victim, the kidnapper is given even more power when they say to their victims, "Nobody will believe that you didn't stay because you wanted to."
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:41 PM   2 comments links to this post

Husband Kidnapped Raped Tortured His Wife For Porn Video


A 30-year-old man kidnapped, raped and tortured his wife, then hung her from a tree to film a two-hour bondage pornography video, authorities said Tuesday. The man was charged with aggravated assault and battery, sexual battery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. He was being held in the Brevard County jail on Tuesday in lieu of $3 million bail.
And some people wonder why in 2005 for the first time the majority of American women don't live with a husband.

This case might be lurid enough to make national headlines, but violent sexual abuse is far from rare and most of the time it never gets reported to the police. The Violence Against Women Act is seen by some as a waste of taxpayer money or a diversion from the violent crimes directed at men, but many violent spouses don't see themselves as criminals even after they are arrested.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:01 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Woman Arrested In Fatal Stabbing, Says Man Tried To Rape Her

Seattle PI

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A woman who said she fatally stabbed a man who tried to rape her in her apartment has been arrested for investigation of second-degree murder. Jeannette M. May, 48, of Spokane, remained in jail Monday with bail set at $200,000 following the death of Harold W. Smith, 62, of Spokane Valley.

[...] Valenzuela told police May said Smith drove her home, where they drank more beer and she defended herself with a knife when Smith tried to rape her.

[...] A detective wrote that when May was taken to Deaconess Medical Center for a rape examination, he saw no red marks on her legs or other signs that she had been in a struggle.

I wonder if those who insist that all rape defendants must be viewed in the most positive light until the case is closed and who also say that if there were no witnesses we can never know whether or not the rape allegation is true or false, feel the same about this woman.

Will they shrug this off as unsolvable merely because there were no witnesses to the stabbing who can verify that she wasn't acting in self-defense?

I also wonder if they would agree that this is a sad situation for all involved as is said in most date rape cases when the alleged victim isn't being called the perpetrator of a cruel hoax.

This defendant has mental health issues, according to the story, and shouldn't have been consuming alcohol. That means there's a possibility that she could have believed she was acting in self defense when the man assumed their interaction was consensual.

If the man wasn't stabbed during a rape attempt then he is an innocent victim no matter what happens in the criminal justice system and no matter whether people second guess the wisdom of his choices in the hours before his death.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:37 PM   3 comments links to this post

Rape Blindness

I've read the following definition at various places by people who clearly don't understand why it creates big legal and emotional problems for many rape victims:

Rape is a violent sexual assault, where one person forcibly makes another do sexual acts through either the threat of injury or actual harm.
This definition is NOT the definition of rape. It is blind to all rapes where stereotypical violence is absent.


The crime of rape (or "first-degree sexual assault" in some states) generally refers to non-consensual sexual intercourse that is committed by physical force, threat of injury, or other duress. A lack of consent can include the victim's inability to say "no" to intercourse, due to the effects of drugs or alcohol. Rape can occur when the offender and victim have a pre-existing relationship (sometimes called "date rape"), or even when the offender is the victim's spouse.
The only possible flaw in this second, broader definition is "sexual intercourse" since that might exclude sexual assaults committed by one man against another man (where no vaginal intercourse = no rape) or rape which uses foreign objects to sexually violate the victim. This becomes a bigger problem when people don't see rape as a possible descriptor because the rapist wasn't charged with rape due to the limitations of the rape statute which have nothing to do with the severity of the sexual assault.

Many people assume that rapes which fit the first, incomplete definition are automatically more traumatic than rapes which only fit the second, more complete definition. If that assumption is entrenched enough, it can prevent people -- including jurors -- from seeing all rapists for what they are.

This rape blindness can cause people who know the facts of a rape case to call the rape victim a liar who made a false accusation of rape. They do this when it is in fact them who has carelessly made a false accusation against a real rape victim.

Because of the frequency of rape blindness, many rapists decide that the best thing to do is to exploit this phenomenom. They hide their criminal activity in plain sight. Rather than jumping out of the bushes to rape a stranger, they introduce themselves to their potential victims and sometimes go so far as to become part of their eventual rape victim's circle of trusted friends.

Their defense will be 2-prong:
1) "It was consensual."
2) Relying on those who say rape cases between people who know each other are a "he said, she said" case where the truth can never be determined.

Note: This, "It's a he said, she said situation" is another form of rape blindness which acknowledges the possibility of rape (like the possible existence of the unicorn) so as to not seem like a rape apologist, while denying that anyone except the rape victim and rapist will ever know what really happened and therefore we must all act as if no rape could have happened.

Here's an example that doesn't fit the first, limited definition of rape:

Two hours later, McCoy allegedly approached a 17 year old girl on Union Turnpike
in Hillcrest and identified himself as a police officer a third time. He told the teenager that he needed to question her before driving her to a Jamaica Avenue motel. There he wrote notes and spoke into a walkie talkie before allegedly forcing her to have sex with him. He threatened her with arrest if she didn’t comply.

McCoy faces charges of predatory sexual assault, first degree rape, criminal sexual act, coercion and first degree criminal impersonation. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.

Even though this man used a non-violent threat and coercion through deception (not included in the first definition of rape), what he did was clearly considered by the police to be a real rape.

Many people also reject this full definition of rape because they want to believe if they were in any situation where there wasn't a threat of physical violence or an actual physical assault -- which rendered them physically powerless to fight back -- that they would escape without being raped. Because they imagine they could have escaped, they have trouble viewing the victim as a completely innocent victim. "Duh. If only the victim had ___, nothing bad would have happened."

Once they do that, they can fool themselves into feeling disgust for rape victims' bad choices instead of the sympathy they say they feel for all "real" rape victims.

The rape blindness is complete if they feel any sympathy for the rapist and decide that feeling is proof that the rapist isn't a rapist because real rapists would make them feel nothing but disgust.

There's only one cure for rape blindness. The willingness to set aside monster myths and myths about what we'd do if we were in a particular situation and look at whether it meets this definition, including the follow up paragraphs:

For sexual contact to be considered consensual sexual interaction, the action must be committed free of physical force, threat of injury, control, duress, manipulation or threat of retaliation.

Consent cannot be given if there is any inability to say "no," especially due to the effects of drugs or alcohol. Consensual sexual intercourse cannot happen when one person has physical, spiritual or legal control over the other. If one party asks the other to leave or to stop and that person does not do so, any sexual contact which follows shall be considered non-consensual.

Once a negative response has been given to a request or an attempted action, the person who gave the negative response must initiate that action or request it verbally without prompting from the person who made the request.

Consent may be withdrawn at any time for any reason or for no reason. Consensual sex is a mutual act and must not harm or distress any participant.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   6 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Romancing A Rapist

The NY Times has a column written by Ashley Cross about dating a man (who from details of her story is Drew Douglas) who had been accused of rape before she met him and who pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

FOR nearly three years I dated a guy who had been dismissed from Harvard over accusations of raping another student. I lived with him during a summer of his house arrest for his conviction on sexual assault charges and traveled to be with him during the school year.

[...] "Did you rape her?” I asked. "We had sex," he said. "But I didn’t mean to hurt her, no."

This exchange is illuminating. Notice that he didn't answer the question she asked, but he did it so smoothly that she may still not recognize this fact. His no isn't to her question, but is attached to the fact that he didn't mean to hurt his victim. Just because someone doesn't mean to hurt someone else with their actions -- usually because that person doesn't matter at all -- doesn't mean they did not hurt that person and did not commit a serious crime.

Ashley is clearly under the spell of the monster myth which assumes all "real" rapists are complete monsters in all aspects of their lives and therefore you can determine guilt or innocence merely by hanging out with a man. If you admire anything about him, he can't be a real rapist.

These people fail to grasp that a real rapist is someone who has raped. Period.

But for me the experience had fundamentally altered my previously programmed reaction to stories of alcohol-fueled date rape on college campuses. No longer was my response autopilot compassion for the girl.

She's not alone judging by The Crimson coverage of the case against Drew Douglas:

During Tuesday's Faculty debate about punishment for D. Drew Douglas, Class of 2000, Faculty members said no one had any trouble calling it rape. What some did have trouble with, Faculty in attendance said, was determining degrees of consent and miscommunication between Douglas and the woman he assaulted last spring.

In particular, some still had questions about the force with which the woman refused Douglas' advances--whether she sent nonverbal signals which may have blurred any clear message about consent. But, according to court documents obtained yesterday by The Crimson, there seems to be little doubt about the events of last April 4. (emphasis mine.)

The question seemed to be how much Harvard would blame the victim for her own rape. Nice.

Ashley Cross goes on to lament that her boyfriend had to endure 18 months of house arrest (no prison time) where he was only allowed out to go to his job and allowed an additional 4 hours per week and had to go to sex offender education and evaluation programs.

These sessions, of which he spoke very little, clearly were intended to positively influence how he treated others. But the reality was somewhat more complicated. Already he felt the shame of the charge and conviction. With the sexual evaluations, he was forced to question the normalcy of his impulses. Now the rehabilitation extinguished the remaining spark he had left, the irreverence I’d originally fallen in love with, replacing it with a generic "respect" for others that in reality was a kind of bland and suffocating politeness.

Yet I stayed with him. I thought I could help reclaim the spirited guy I had met at camp. In between my visits, he would fall asleep cradling the phone to his ear as our nightly conversations met morning, and this told me everything I needed to know — I had become his lifeline.

But I could do little to stem the decline of our romantic life. From the beginning, sex was never the centerpiece of our connection. We became close friends and lovers through intimate conversations that made us both feel understood. But because we were young and healthy, I expected that we would have an unguarded sex life like normal 21-year-olds.

When we first met at camp, the physical attraction was palpable. His touch was impulsive and eager and certain. But as the effects of the case and its repercussions began to take their toll, I felt it was as if he was being reprogrammed to overrule his own impulses and passion.

She seems to assume that men who don't respect her boundaries and who won't take no for an answer are wonderfully irreverent. That might be great when she likes the man and wants what he wants, but I bet her response would be far different if she didn't want the man in question and had thought of him as nothing more than a safe, trustworthy friend.

Her opinion about this rape and the treatment of this rapist is all about her. The criminal justice system ruined her fun and she wants the world to know it.

Even so, he began asking, constantly, if I was O.K. But I didn’t want to be O.K. — I wanted to have bold, carefree, shameless sex with the man I wanted.
After reading this column, I feel pity for the man who pleaded guilty to rape, not because he wasn't a real rapist, but because he was with a woman who wanted him to behave like a rapist when he was trying to learn how to avoid being a rapist.

This sentence says it all:

In the end, I found it harder to love an emasculated boyfriend than one accused of rape.
How sad that she would label a man who wants to be sure she is enjoying everything he does as emasculated. The unintended message is that real man = man who takes what he wants without permission. She is contributing to beliefs which lead boys and men to commit rape while deluding themselves that they are simply being manly.

In my mind, he was not seeking to humiliate and subjugate a woman on that night many years ago. I believe he was a boy who endeavored for hours in the dark to express his drunken, fumbling desire in a way that, fair or not, ended up unraveling his life.

She may not realize it, but this description, particularly "endeavored for hours" again supports the rightness of the very charge she says shouldn't have been made. Not every girl or woman wants to be the object of a man's unrelenting drunken, fumbling desire, but she doesn't care about them. Only about herself.

For a very different perspective read this article, which includes this quote from Drew Douglas's victim:

I was given three reasons why they did not expel him. Reason number one, there was no precedent for the expulsion of a rapist. We don’t want that in the books, that’s not possible. Reason number two, it wasn’t really a "violent" rape. "We really have to maintain a spectrum of the kind of rape that happens here." Reason number three, he’s a self-admitted rapist, so he’s well on the way to recovery.

Reason number two makes me wonder about a place that welcomes only the nicest sort of rapists.

For more reactions to Ashley Cross's column, check out:
Moderate Left: Excusing Rape

Gawker: 'Times' Rapists aren't that great in bed

The News Blog: Hey it just happened Note: several male commenters seem as delusional as Ashley but go even further. A few of them say that since the man accepted a plea deal he must still be considered innocent since he wasn't proven guilty in a jury trial. By this standard, a man who admitted killing 4 women must be considered innocent. Also since the boyfriend pleaded guilty to a lesser sex crime, he can't be considered a rapist even if he is guilty. But the men who say this still claim they aren't rape apologists.

Gadfly: Unbelievable Worth noting is the description of the rape prevention education given to incoming males students which IMO reinforces the myth that most reports of rape by female students are lies.

Pandagon: Hating on a rape victim for throwing cold water on your love life

Shakespeares Sister: You know what the worst thing about rape victims is?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:14 AM   4 comments links to this post

Monday, January 15, 2007

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 15

Welcome to the Jan. 15, 2006 edition of the carnival against sexual violence.

Thank you to everyone who nominated a post or who wrote a post against sexual violence whether it was nominated/selected or not. Nominations that came in after the nomination deadline will be considered for the next edition of the carnival.

If you support the purpose of the carnival, you can help get the word out about it and all of the posts included in the carnival. Something I saw for the first time was a comment suggesting that a post be nominated for the carnival. That's a great way of letting a blogger know you appreciated what they wrote and think it deserves to be highlighted.

Here are the selections for the 15th edition of the carnival against sexual violence:

personal stories

In Miss Celie's Blues posted at elle, abd, we learn how the song from The Color Purple relates to one woman's life experiences including childhood sexual abuse.

In Give Me Life, Give Me Pain, Give Me Myself Again posted at Fit of Pique, we get a very personal story about all the ripple effects of rape and how different events and responses can impact a survivor's life.

In How to tell a rape victim posted at F-Words, we get Sara's story of her experience with date rape, and how the "fate worse than death" idea kept her from recognizing it as rape because it hadn't completely broken her.

In Faces of Grief: Remembering Sue Weiland posted at Dragon Slayer, we get the personal account of the author's meeting with the family of Sue Weiland who was murdered in August, but who has yet to be buried since her body is being held as evidence. Her alleged killer, Peter Whyte pled not guilty at his arraignment. The trial is slated to begin on May 7, 2007.

In Sarah de Vries was a precocious, energetic child, and a creative, beautiful grown-up, her family says posted at Missing People, we get information about the woman who was the focus of the book "Missing Sarah" by Maggie de Vries.

In NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN by Lori Culbert REMEMBER the Missing and Murdered Women! posted at Why Holly's Fight to Stop Violence, we get a glimpse into the lives of three women whom Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert (Willie) Pickton is accused of killing. His first trial on six murder charges starts Jan. 22.

In AIUK : Blog: A day in the life... posted at 16 Days. 16 Women., we get an entry to Amnesty's 16 Days Blog which is part of Amnesty's Stop Violence Against Women Campaign.

creative expression

In Poem written by Shelly Hallmark for her sister, Helen posted at Missing People, we get a heartfelt expression of love for a woman who died too soon and who shouldn't have been murdered.


In Getting Past Rape By Forgiving The Rapist? posted at Abyss2hope, I discuss the dark side of forgiving a rapist and suggest a different approach for rape survivors who who are told they can't get past what happened to them until they forgive their rapist.

In Domestic Violence Toward Women: Recognize The Patterns And Seek Help posted at SANCTUARY FOR THE ABUSED, we get information from experts that shows that domestic abuse is about more then anger.


In Rape cases doomed by errors posted at Your Town Tonight, we get information on DNA matches that sat unreported until the statute of limitations ran out.

In Files on criminals left 'sitting on desks' Home Secretary John Reid in dark over blunder! posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we learn about a Home Office blunder which may have allowed criminals who committed serious crimes abroad to escape vetting procedures in the UK. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) disclosed that information on convictions was left "sitting in desk files" in the Home Office rather than being properly examined. The cases included 25 Britons convicted of rape in other European countries whose details were not entered into the Police National Computer.

In Turkey to introduce prison terms for domestic violence posted at Why Holly's Fight to Stop Violence, we learn about this draft legislation which was passed by the parliamentary committee for justice and which has to be voted on by the parliament.

media watch

In "Feminist" Rape Apologists posted at Feministe, we get a discussion of an article that says women who go out at night are putting themselves as risk of rape until they get back to the safety of their own homes.

In Dear Ladies: Please Stop Getting Yourselves Raped posted at Shakespeare's Sister, we get a discussion of an article's habit of mentioning rape without talking about rapists.

In Because it bears repeating posted at Reclusive Leftist, we learn more about 'The Rape of Mr. Smith" dialogue including the fact that the original version was published in the American Bar Association Journal in 1975.

In Rewriting a poorly written article posted at Screaming Into The Void, we get to see how an article about a woman fighting for justice should have been written to present the victim in the proper manner.

In Lessons from a molecatcher's daughter posted at Why Holly's Fight to Stop Violence, we get an article by Jonathan Kay about how a two-centuries-old murder case and the source of the first true crime bestseller relates to the dangers currently faced by street prostitutes of being taken away, murdered and having nobody know what happened.

raising awareness

In Real consent manifesto posted at Pandagon, we get a explicit discussion based on a question asked of sex columnist Dan Savage about a boyfriend's sexual behavior that put the woman in the hospital. Mr. Savage told her that the boyfriend committed rape and suggested she press charges. The comment thread has some victim blaming, but it also has some insightful comments about boundary setting and how personal responsibility belongs to the person with the most power.

In 'Asking for it', 'Had to have it', 'Ugly enough to be unafraid of it', And Other Rape Myths posted at Mad Sheila Musings, we get a discussion of rape myths that support the link between appearance and the risk of rape or sexual assault.

In Better to ask forgiveness than permission posted at Ginmar, we get a discussion of how this phrase shows premeditation and that rape is never an accident.

In Prostitution is Sexual Violence posted at SANCTUARY FOR THE ABUSED, we get an article written by Melissa Farley Ph. D., a research and clinical psychologist who edited the book Prostitution, Trafficking, and Traumatic Stress.

In False accusations of rape/sexual assault posted at 2 B Sophora, we get a reaction to the statement that men are rightfully afraid of false rape accusations.

In 'First global serial killer' had addiction to girls posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get an article by Catherine Jones about how a series of murderous attacks on the South Wales coast were linked to the rape and murder of a Cornish schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson in France. The total number of killings linked to this man, a Spanish waiter, is estimated at 24.

In NUMBERS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES GROWS! posted at Why Holly's Fight to Stop Violence, we get a discussion about the alarming number of wives and girlfriends who are dying at the hands of so-called "loved ones."

In FIGHTING BACK posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get a list of resources and links to help people know where to turn.


In Sexuality and Identity posted at GT, we get one man's insight into what messages, intentional or unintentional, taught him as a boy how a man should behave sexually including the need to act in way that nobody could label as gay.

In Take My C*nt, Please (letter U replaced by me and not the author of this post) posted at Shakespeare's Sister, we get a discussion of men's analogy between women walking unaccompanied and men walking around with $50 bills hanging from every pocket.


In Milgram's Rapists And Rape Apologists posted at Abyss2hope, I discuss how the dynamics that contribute to people agreeing to give dangerous electrical shocks also contribute to rape.

In Treatment of Sex Offenders posted at Sex Crimes, we learn some key differences between regular therapy and sex offender therapy.

In Number One Cause of Rape: Rapists posted at Reclusive Leftist, we get the raw truth that many people go to great lengths to avoid.

In Empathy, Boundaries, and Getting Dirty posted at Everyone needs therapy? Lessons from a family therapist, we get one therapist's insight into the dynamics of telling the therapist and significant others about their trauma.

In One woman's disappearance became a focus posted at Missing People, we get an article by Doug Ward about how the effort to raise awareness about his missing friend and other women who disappeared from Vancouver Canada led to stories in the media about missing women which eventually led to at least one alleged murderer being charged.


In In Case of Emergency: Cell Phone Tip for Paramedics posted at Dragon Slayer, we get information about adding ICE (In Case of Emergency) to your cell phone address book.

That concludes the 15th edition of the carnival against sexual violence. Thank you for taking the time to visit this carnival and thank you to the authors of all the posts included in this edition.

The next submission deadline is Jan. 29 at 11 pm. The 16th edition will be out on Feb. 1.

To nominate a post (your own or someone else's) to the next edition of carnival against sexual violence, use our carnival submission form. Links to everything related to the carnival can be found on the new blog dedicated to this carnival,

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:06 AM   2 comments links to this post