Monday, April 30, 2007

WaPo Laments Weak Women Bloggers Who Can't Receive Threats As If They Are Nothing

As several other bloggers have noted here and here the WaPo article on threats against women bloggers focuses too much on women's actions and too little on the actions of the men making threats against women.

It's as if death and rape threats against women are as natural as breathing. They support this view by quoting studies of chats which show that in chat rooms women receive on average 25 times more sexually explicit and malicious messages as their male counterparts. Joan Walsh editor in chief of Salon said it was hard to ignore that in the letters against women writers are "much more brutal and vicious" but why does she try to ignore this?

Why are so many people tolerating this pervasive viciousness commited for no reason other than the gender of the person being written about? For those who say the reason isn't gender then women wouldn't be attacked for blogging on controversial and mundane topics.

This isn't about civility and decorum. This is about ethics and respect for all human beings -- even women. Without a change in the underlying attitudes all civility will do is cloak brutality and viciousness in prettier packages so those with those attitudes can say their victims are imagining the carefully worded attacks are just that.

Sexual violence against women -- in person and online is a choice. A man who partakes may say his target made him do it, but that is a crock. He wants to take the actions, but he doesn't want to take responsibility for his actions.

What this online behavior should show us is that sexual violence isn't dependent on pheronomes, physical proximity, mixed signals or any of the victim-blaming excuses people make to let rapists and in-person sexual harassers off the hook.

Sexual violence reflects the character of the person who commits it whether it is physical violence or virtual violence. When we forget that or ignore it, we give those men a free pass to continue unabated.

If anyone should be lectured on proper behavior, it shouldn't be the targets of threats it should be the issuers of those threats.

If we shun all those who issue threats or tolerate them, then we will make the blogosphere hostile territory for thugs and abusers and a better place for the rest of us.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:57 PM   1 comments links to this post

Charges Filed Against John Doe In Case Where Investigator Called Victim A Liar

This Minnesota case first made the news because of the appalling actions of the initial investigator.

Criminal charges have been filed against a "John Doe" in connection with an abduction and sexual assault of a White Bear Lake girl. The victim was 13-years-old in 2001 when she told police the crime happened.

Back then, the police officer who investigated the case didn't believe her story. He repeatedly accused her of lying during an interrogation. "You keep lying and lying and lying and lying," the detective told her during the 2001 interrogation. "Do you want some innocent guy, driving around, doing his own business, to get arrested?" [...]

It is still difficult to watch the video of the 8th grader, who is now a freshman in college, being interrogated by the officer who didn't believe her story. However, her parents, who don't want their names to be used, refused to give up.

Too often the case ends once the investigator decides -- without any credible evidence -- that the alleged victim is the real perpetrator. Thanks to this girl's parents who refused to accept this outcome, other investigators looked at this case and they at least have DNA from this girl's kidnapper, but I wonder what might have been.

If the first investigator did his job maybe they would have quickly found the perpetrator while people's memories were fresh and maybe they would have been able to find enough evidence to make a strong case against that person and maybe a jury would have gotten the case and found the kidnapper guilty.

Someone who will kidnap a child will likely look for another potential victim. Maybe this investigator's mistake has contributed to additional crimes. That means one false accusation against one victim likely has an impact on more than this one victim and that victim's family.

We must demand the highest ethics from all investigators and we must support giving those in law enforcement -- who can learn to do better -- the training needed to reduce the number of incidents like this until they are only a distant bad memory.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:38 PM   1 comments links to this post

Manhunt for Man Who Sexually Assaulted Helpless Woman

If only the response to this case was the response people had to all sexual assaults.

A member of staff at the home in Nottinghamshire, disturbed a naked man in the woman's room, while making routine patrols at 0520 BST. [...]

Mr Anderson, who is in charge of the inquiry, said: "It defies belief that someone can sink so low as to attack and sexually abuse a helpless old lady who has had a stroke and who is incapable of defending herself."

He added that it had yet to be established how the offender had entered the premises and that the man was "very dangerous and must be caught as soon as possible".

I don't know any men who disagree with the assessment that a man who preys on vulnerable women like this are very dangerous and need to be caught as soon as possible, but unfortunately there are plenty of people who have a very different reaction when the victim is incapacitated after a night of partying.

Sometimes the difference in reaction is so great that people deny even the possibility of real rape. But the nature of the crime is exactly the same. The nature of the nursing home rapist is the same as the nature of the rapists who exploit other vulnerabilities.

Judge cases based on the criminal and on the crime, not on anyone's assessment of the worthiness of the victim.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:05 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Agenda Behind Duke Hoax Theory

Another Anonymous commenter has accidentally revealed more than he intended.


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Duke Lacrosse Case Report Exposes Flaws In State's...":

I'll repeat it again: not having credible evidence to support a criminal conviction isn't the same as having credible evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that no rape took place. The North Carolina AG seems have forgotten this basic truth

What a total crock!

There was all sorts of evidence in this case. The woman was, to use the words of Dennis Miller, the Louvre of DNA. The problem was that none of the DNA belonged to anyone that could have possibly been the perpetrator in any of her many stories.
Sorry, but when your expert on DNA evidence is a comedian your credibility goes right in the toilet. The analogy isn't even slightly accurate but apparently inaccuracy is fine and dandy as long as you aren't an alleged rape victim. Then it is EVIL!

If the DNA is unidentified and there isn't solid evidence (not just testimony) that proves beyond a reasonable doubt exactly who was there and for how long, then that evidence only tells us who it doesn't match. But again reasonable doubt is being applied selectively.


What this case DOES demonstrate is the fallacy of the feminist argument that women never lie about rape, in fact they lie frequently and even when they don't knowingly lie, are frequently tremendously unreliable. How many more people does The Innocence Project have to free by demonstrating that a large number of those convicted demonstrably could NOT have been the perpetrator to convince people of that?

Since this case's resolution is not based on any evidence of a lie committed by the alleged victim, this case doesn't demonstrate anything about women's honesty and it certainly doesn't prove that women lie frequently and it doesn't prove that when women are honest that they are frequently tremendously unreliable.

The only proven lie by anyone involved in this case is the lie made by the lacrosse player who ordered dancers for this party. He lied about his identity and he lied about how many people would be at the party and he lied about what type of party it was. But this case proves that it's women who lie. Right.

This case doesn't prove anything about women as a whole. Yet repeatedly men who insist on calling women as a class dishonest and unreliable say it does. To me these men sound unreliable and incapable of basic logic.

If they can judge all women based on only one woman, then I should be allowed to judge all men based on only one man. Since they get to select the woman who represents all women, I would get to select the man to make each of my points, I could say that men frequently murder, men frequently rape, men frequently attempt to kill witnesses in rape cases, men frequently lie, men frequently are unreliable witnesses, men frequently are serial murderers. The list of what I could assert about men as a group could go on endlessly and as long as I had one case as my prototype for each male characteristic, I'd be fine using the identical type of logic this man and many others like him are using.

Hey, I could even say that men frequently walk on the moon if all I need is one example to prove my assertion. Hopefully, we all know men don't frequently walk on the moon and that one example is just that.

What Mr. Anonymous is carefully avoiding mentioning is that many of the problems in this case were caused by men. The problems in some or possibly all of the Innocence Project exonerations were caused in whole or part by men but all exonerations prove women lie or are unreliable while men are honest and reliable. Right.

Some of the Innocence Project exonerations involve murder cases and those exonerations didn't magically reincarnate the victim. Other Innocence Project exonerations also didn't disprove the rapes men were convicted of committing. But the victims in those cases are the one and only problem.

Mr. Anonymous seems to believe that every time a man isn't found guilty or is exonerated that a woman is to blame. Personally, he sounds highly unreliable. But I don't judge all men based on him and others who share his opinion on the Duke case. I certainly don't judge all men by the vile things men have written in comments on my blog. I don't judge all men by what men have done in criminal cases or that lead to criminal cases. I understand that each of those men are not automatically representative of all men.

What this case DOES demonstrate rather conclusively is that the rape-shield laws and similar policies of the media need to be terminated. If an accused person's name is published, it is only fair that the accuser's name is also published.

Here we get to the heart of this comment. The wish to be able to attack all alleged rape victims without limit inside and outside of the criminal justice system from the moment a rape victim reports being raped.

He wants trials to be based on character assassination rather than evidence. The media should be encouraged to give out the alleged victim's name so every sicko in the world who believes that women frequently lie about rape can find her and harass her -- or worse.

This call for change has nothing to do with an honest desire for justice and everything to do with a desire to support all those accused of rape and to destroy most of those who report being raped. A few rape victims must be supported to prove that men like Mr. Anonymous are completely against all "real" rapes.
Enough of this compromising of justice in the interests of political correctness.

Mr. Anonymous doesn't want to compromise justice. And what is the compromise he's against but balance. He wants justice in rape cases to be tilted so far in the men's favor until one side of the scale touches the ground and stays there.

When justice in rape cases is for men only, it isn't justice at all. So what possible reason could so many men have for wanting this outcome which would benefit so many rapists?

Hmm.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:14 AM   5 comments links to this post

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Duke Lacrosse Case Report Exposes Flaws In State's Understanding Of Rape

From the AP:

On the night she accused three Duke lacrosse players of rape, a woman told a nurse she had been attacked, then told police it didn't happen before reversing herself again.

It was the first in a line of contradictions from the accuser over the next year. And with no physical evidence that an assault took place, her conflicting statements were among the most convincing evidence prosecutors cited in declaring the accused players innocent, according to a report by the state attorney general's office released Friday.

"The state's cases rested primarily on a witness whose recollection of the facts of the allegations was imprecise and contradictory," the 21-page report said, adding that the woman's changing accounts led to "insurmountable credibility issues."

If this is the smoking gun people are using to say this woman couldn't have been raped, it's a faulty one. As a rape survivor, trusting some people (like a nurse) and not others (like a cop) while you are still in the immediate aftermath of rape makes perfect sense. Perfect, logical sense.

Nothing irrational about it at all, folks.

With the way this case was handled in and out of the criminal justice system, a woman with no previous issues would develop serious issues.

The problem is not with rape victims, the problem is with how rape victims have been treated in the past and how they are treated in the present. How can rape victims know who is trustworthy and who will prove unworthy of trust? Many rape victims were raped in situations they had assumed were safe so that trauma will understandably make previously trusting people suddenly wary of trusting strangers.

We'll begin to make progress when all those in the medical and legal response teams and all those who analyzing rape cases are held to the standard currently expected of rape victims. All those other people had a choice to comment on rape cases or to be involved with them while rape victims had choice taken from them.

Revictimization of rape survivors is still epidemic. Some of it comes from people who boldly hold rape supportive attitudes (sluts are asking for it) and some of it comes from people who think their limited knowledge and limited experience is complete. Any victim who doesn't fit their pre-formed mold is seen as a fake victim.

The biggest problem here may be that many rape victims don't feel safe opening up to the police -- and for good reason. Telling the truth to the police may open a rape victim up to being charged with making a false report or being immediately called a liar or being abandoned when the prosecutors make mistakes. If a rape victim has seen other survivors treated like they are the only criminals why would that person have any faith in the criminal justice system?

Being raped is bad enough.

I'll repeat it again: not having credible evidence to support a criminal conviction isn't the same as having credible evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that no rape took place. The North Carolina AG seems have forgotten this basic truth.

When Cooper dropped charges against former players Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, he said they were victims of a "tragic rush to accuse" by Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, who now faces ethics charges for his handling of the case.

If the alleged victim wasn't credible enough for a criminal trial from the first day then going forward with the case and further adding a photo lineup of "questionable validity" victimized her as well. But that doesn't fit the Duke Hoax meme. In this popular world view, only alleged rapists are allowed to be called victims when a case ends without a guilty plea or a guilty verdict.

If that's the current trend, I'll happily be untrendy.

Addendum (4/29): I forgot to mention that these newly revealed facts on the alleged victim's inconsistency disprove the Duke Hoax fanatics updated explanation that the alleged victim immediately cried rape to the first cop she saw. Their first explanation that the 2 dancers plotted against the lacrosse team and went to the cops with their story was disproved months ago.

If anyone should be eating crow in this case right now it is the Duke Hoax fanatics since their assertions have now been disproved -- twice. But apparently, their claims don't need to be backed by any credible evidence and can continue unabated in the face of clearly contradictory evidence.

Either their integrity or their intelligence is seriously lacking.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:05 PM   0 comments links to this post

200th DNA Exoneration Vs. Umpteenth Shocking Acquital

With all the talk about the number of DNA exonerations, I was surprised to read this story and to learn that only 200 convicted men have been cleared based on DNA evidence. With the number of stories on this subject, I thought the number was in the thousands.

Many will say that it should be in the thousands, but that is conjecture rather than proven fact. What is a fact is that these overturned convictions have been used as the basis for calls to make the prosecution of rape cases harder than it is now.

Then I saw the not-guilty verdict in this case which I previously blogged about here where a previously convicted sex offender who built a tiny underground bunker and allegedly left his 2 rape victims to die had the outcome I feared would come based on barrage of statements that turn all alleged rapists into the default victim.

I view this case as as great of an injustice as a wrongful conviction but I view this verdict as creating a much greater risk.

Who knows what type of men will feel validated by this verdict and what actions they will take with even greater confidence that the law will benefit them and their choices?

The answer to that question terrifies me.

But that won't make those who claim that no alleged rapist ever gets a fair trial think twice about how their efforts contribute to rape or even murder. With all their calls for women and feminists to take responsibility, they consistently deny having any responsibility of their own.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:11 AM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, April 27, 2007

Call For Nominations: Carnival Against Sexual Violence

Tomorrow (the 28th) at 11 pm is the deadline for the next carnival against sexual violence. Please nominate a post, one you've written or one you've read, for the 22nd edition which comes out on May. 1st.

Some great posts have already been nominated, please add more to the list.

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

If you don't find any posts on a specific issue, area or pattern of violence, etc., please nominate posts to help fill in those gaps.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:43 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thank You For All The Support In The Week Since Keith Died






My dad and my brother, Keith, both gone but not forgotten.




















Keith Stiles was my oldest brother and he died in his sleep one week ago today. The memorial service was Wednesday evening and held in St. Paul's (pictured) in Denver.

Thanks to everyone who worked behind the scenes, all those who spoke or sang during the service and for all those in attendance where tears and laughter mixed freely. It was clear that a wonderful diversity of people cared about, and will miss Keith. My host for my temporary return to Denver went above and beyond what a friend had to do. You were a great friend to Keith and you are a great friend of mine.

Since I once attended this church with Keith, I knew how much care he had for the church and it's mission but I didn't know how many projects he was involved in or supported wholeheartedly over the years. One of those projects is the new improved wheelchair-accessible ramp currently under construction (lower right).



Thank you to friends of Keith's who brought flowers to the church. By the stories I heard about my brother's strengths and weaknesses, it's clear that he won't soon be forgotten and that what he could and would do outweighed what he either couldn't or wouldn't do.

Thank you to Holly and Don for the flower arrangement on the right side of the picture. You didn't know Keith but you helped to honor him anyway.

Keith had some great friends and this last week has reminded me that I have some great friends backing me up when I need support.

Next time you drink a glass (or an entire carton) of milk say a toast to Keith and empty that sucker as fast as you can.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:31 AM   1 comments links to this post

Monday, April 23, 2007

In Memory of Keith

I will be out of touch for most of the rest of the week. Comments that come in this week may sit until Friday before being reviewed.
Keith on his 5th Birthday

Keith, you will be missed.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:06 AM   3 comments links to this post

Girls Deaths Ends The Investigation Into Their Rapes

This case highlights a major problem in law enforcement.

A 14-year-old girl's psychiatrist has told an inquest jury in Cardiff that she was raped exactly a month before she walked in front of a train. Ahmed Darwish said Kay Miller had suffered from anorexia and depression but these were not responsible. [...]

Her psychiatrist Ahmed Darwish said her condition had improved dramatically in the previous months but the rape, which had happened on her way home from school a month earlier, had "pulled the trigger" in her mind. Police discontinued the rape investigation after Miss Miller died. Social worker Janet Rees said of the rape allegation: "It was a very traumatic process. Perhaps that is something that tipped the balance."

Lately, when people talk about a rape case ruining someones life, it's the alleged rapist they are talking about. Because of the concern over "the trauma of being accused," the recommendation is frequently to make the system significantly more hostile to girls and women who report being raped. (And yes, that recommendation is usually gendered.)

But this case shows that the process of reporting can be traumatic enough to not only ruin a victim's life, but to contribute to the victim committing suicide. Yet those who are focused only on alleged rapists want to subject girls and women to even more trauma. Sure, they will give lip service to supporting all real rape victims, but girl's like this are merely collateral damage in those people's proposals for change.

With the rape investigation ending, it reinforces an existing incentive for rapists to pick fragile victims who may not be able to endure reporting or the criminal justice system. And it reinforces the success of defense attorneys who focus not on evidence but on character assassination of the victim. This fits with the opposition many people have to rape shield laws and to media outlets who don't use the alleged victim's name. Defense based on personal destruction rather than defense based on evidence or lack of evidence.

Often with these people a clue to their attitude is the persistent use of accuser rather than victim or alleged victim. And the defendant isn't an alleged rapist, he is the accused.

Then there is this case in Minnesota:

The man accused of raping a young girl when she was 8 years old won't stand trial because the girl was later scalded to death and can't testify against him, an Isanti County District Court judge has ruled.

We need to have a way to hold rapists accountable, while ensuring that defendants still get a fair trial, even when their victims die between the time of the rape and a trial.

In this particular Minnesota case the rape was allegedly reported to the girl's father -- who is now accused of causing her death -- so his testimony is non-credible for obvious reasons. That means it was more than her death which ended the investigation.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:45 AM   2 comments links to this post

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Good Student Rape Defense

This case caught my attention because the defense attorney focused on facts which have absolutely no bearing on guilt or innocence, but which focus on what type of men the general public believes commits rape and what type the general public believes doesn't commit rape.

An attorney representing the Hobart student accused of raping two students and sexually abusing a third told a judge Friday that his client had been wrongly charged.

"He was a good student with B grades at school," said defense attorney Michael Roulan of his client, Preston Wido. "He has no criminal record. ... Whatever happened was consensual."

This defense strategy may convince some people that this man must be innocent, but for me this strategy sends the opposite message.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:28 PM   4 comments links to this post

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Preventing Future Mass Suicide Killings

After Monday's shootings at Virginia Tech plenty of people are calling for changes. Some of these changes I believe would do nothing to make anyone safer. Others have the potential to save lives.

First, we need to accept that no preventative action can stop all mass killers. Second, we need to accept that in at least some cases, there are preventative actions which can make a positive difference without turning schools into mini-police states.

I believe that the best preventative actions come from identifying the thought processes and actions which are the stepping stones toward mass violence and having the power to act on multiple pieces of information which individually may not be warnings of any criminal behavior.

Because there have been reports that Cho Seung-Hui was bullied some people have made bullying the cause. I disagree. Bullying isn't good and should never be ignored or viewed as harmless, but other people were likely bullied far more than Cho Seung-Hui and have never assaulted anyone. It isn't a matter of stimulus and response but stimulus -- choice -- response.

I've seen calls by some to have all mentally ill students removed from school, but that would harm plenty of students who pose no risk to others and it would give students a practical reason not to get help when they need it most. This might increase school violence rather than reduce it.

It may seem like an unneeded step, but we need to communicate individually and as a society that responding to bad or humiliating situations with violence is wrong and that there other acceptable options besides violence. Then we need to enhance those options so they will be used when they are needed.

For many mass suicide killers I believe they are attempting to use their violence to turn themselves into anti-heroes. Anti-violence initiatives should help communicate that there is nothing heroic or grand about planning mass murder.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:48 PM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, April 20, 2007

Charges of Making A False Rape Report Again Backed by Evidence

After all the unfounded allegations of criminal behavior people continue to make about the alleged victim in the Duke case, this case shows the importance of examining all the evidence.

I've said it before, but obviously it needs repeating: Not having credible evidence that a rape happened is not evidence that a false report has been made.

Those who ignore this fact reveal their lack of knowledge or their lack of concern for wrongful accusations when those accusations are made against alleged rape victims. They also reveal their willingness to harm real rape victims. Their, "Of course I'm against rape" rings hollow.

[A man now cleared of rape accusation] spent most of two days in jail but said he didn't have sex with anyone and had fallen asleep in the parking lot of the restaurant because he lost his keys and couldn't drive home.

"The next thing I knew the cops were tapping me on the shoulder and said you are being charged with rape," he said. "Then they just put me in handcuffs."

Battle Creek police said they arrested Westry that morning because the victim described a violent sexual attack and identified him as the attacker.

But Detective Sgt. Todd Madsen said a few days after the incident that detectives viewed surveillance video from the restaurant that showed the woman leaving alone and Westry leaving the building after the woman said she was attacked in the parking lot.

The woman eventually told detectives she lied about the attack. Detective Greg Huggett said Thursday investigators still aren't sure why the woman made up the story.

It's not known when the woman will be taken into custody and appear for arraignment.

It can be easy to say that the police, prosecutors and the courts have too much power but the problem isn't power, it is unchecked, incompetent or unethical power.

We, as taxpayers, have to be willing to pay for both well-trained law enforcement and well-trained public defenders and we have to pay for enough of these people so they are spread too thin. If we refuse to pay for what we want our legal system to do then our demands are hollow.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:11 PM   1 comments links to this post

April 28 is the National Day of Truthtelling in Durham

The closing of one criminal case has by no means stopped the sexual violence in Durham or in any other city or state. There are plenty of people who either think some rapes are acceptable or they believe that this case will stop rape victims from telling the truth about what happened to them.

On April 28, if you can make it to Durham NC and want to show that you support justice for all rape victims, please check out this event described in more detail at: http://truthtelling.communityserver.com/

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:05 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Man Charged With Plotting to Kill 14

Before the Virginia Tech shooting this story might be dismissed by many as a man simply fantasizing about violence with the assumption that nobody would act out such a huge crime.

A Missouri man acquired whips, handcuffs, dog chains and a girl's tank top with "Princess" printed on it in a plot to kidnap, rape and kill two girls and kill 12 others, police said Wednesday.

Investigators searching the apartment of Randy L. Rust found detailed notes on the supplies he needed to abuse and kill the girls, ages 4 and 9, and kill the others, according to court documents.

I'm so glad this is a case of someone being arrested for plotting a crime like this rather than being arrested for committing a crime like this. One of the people on the list to be killed is the man's ex-wife and supposedly the notes were either therapy or creative fiction.

People do commit horrific crimes and we need to respond to all plans in order to stop potential crimes and to make it clear that making plans or threats is a serious issue and not something to be shrugged off as harmless.

Thank you to the woman who discovered the alleged plot for going to the police and thank you to all those in law enforcement who worked on this case and who took this threat seriously.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:12 PM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In Virginia Tech Gunman's Video He Claims "You Decided To Spill My Blood"

Today's revelation that Cho Seung-Hui sent a package (one that he reportedly had been working on at least 6 days beforehand) to NBC News in New York answers the question about why there was a gap between the first set of murders and the second set.

Some who view the video may conclude that the man must be insane, but I disagree. It proves his sanity by showing his clear rationalizations about why nothing he did at that point, and nothing he would do, was his fault. To do what he did he had to deliberately remove remorse and empathy for others from his emotional toolbox. He had been training for the day when someone would take an action where he could justify responding with deadly force.

That doesn't contradict the reported view that he had been assessed by someone, at least unofficially, as disturbed.

He had to recreate reality to fit his short-term needs. Likely the top need was the need to be absolutely in the right. He decided that the punishment for anyone reacting to him in an unfair way was death.

In a nutshell, his rationalization was, "They started it and they gave me no other choice."

Once someone starts buying into this way of thinking, every piece of information which contradicts this belief becomes suspect or is flat-out ignored. Most people who think this way never escalate to this level of violence, but a key difference here is the fantasy that the person is powerless in life to create a more positive life experience because all the people around him are intentionally making him powerless.

There is also a sense of megalomania in this video. Maybe in life he didn't feel in control or properly respected, but in death he will not only have control he will have created a legacy none of those around him can match.

What he failed to understand is that Professor Liviu Librescu who sacrificed his own life to save the lives of his students has earned a legacy a thousand times greater than the legacy that comes from murdering that professor and 31 other people. Each of those other victims also has a far greater legacy than he will ever have. They all faced frustrations in their lives and made multiple choices not to take those frustrations out on others at the point of a gun.

We can't let what this one man did overshadow the lives of those who died on Monday.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:26 PM   1 comments links to this post

Rape Suspect Brags About His Dungeon Claims Sex With 2 Teens Held There Consensual

Why aren't all those people who claim that most girls and women are lying when they report being raped scrutinizing this case down to the minute to make sure the defendant in this case doesn't get subjected to an aggressive DA? Where are the pro-Duke lacrosse bloggers when it comes to cases like this?

If the Duke case is about more than those individual men then it shouldn't matter that what this man is accused of is repugnant (and clearly "real rape") or that he has a history of sexual violence. All rape defendants are innocent until proven guilty, aren't they? This man is claiming he's innocent and according to those who called the Duke alleged victim suspect from the beginning, we must all believe him with the same fervancy as people believed the Duke lacrosse players.

The avid defenders of the Duke lacrosse players give lip service to highlighting that case because it highlights systemic problems which have greater impact on poorer and less sympathic defendants, but I've seen nothing from 99% of those people to back up their claims.

The problem with their shallow interest is that many people accept the popular view of the Duke case is truly representative of all rape cases. What echoes the most is the portrayal of rape defendants as the defacto victims. If a case doesn't end in a conviction or the conviction is overturned on appeal then too many people will wrongly assume that the alleged victim is the real criminal -- with no evidence of that charge needed.

That emboldens real rapists and their defense attorneys to fight the charges through a smear campaign. Tell a big enough lie with enough bravado and some people will assume the lie must be true.

A convicted sex offender says he was proud of an underground bunker he built beneath his home, where prosecutors said he bound two teen girls with duct tape, raped them and left them to die.

Authorities have said the girls managed to escape in March 2006 and tell police about their ordeal in the room that was just 4 1/2 feet deep and roughly the length and width of a midsize car.

Defense attorney Rick Hoefer said in opening statements Tuesday that the girls lied.
"These women, they're not the victims in this case. They're perpetrators," Hoefer said. "The issue is going to be, was the sex consensual between these parties?"

If the prosecutor in this case responded to these 2 alleged victims report with the attitude of disbelief that many people advocate over an assumption that the report (no matter how improbable) is true, then a very dangerous man might remain largely uninvestigated unless human remains were found on his property. The bunker which is clearly an important piece of evidence might still be undiscovered.

People rant about too powerful prosecutors and a too powerful criminal justice system until they see evidence that an investigator, prosecutor or judge failed to use their power against someone who goes on to commit a crime that stuns everyone and has us all asking, "How could someone so dangerous not be stopped when previous complaints were made?"

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:22 PM   3 comments links to this post

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

State Trooper Convicted Of On Duty Rape

This case is one that demonstrates that rape cases must be judged on the evidence and not on stereotypes or without concern for how a person's power and position can be used to get another person to cooperate when that person is not a willing participant.

A Massachusetts State Police officer was convicted on Friday of three counts of rape while he was on duty in Cambridge last year, the Middlesex District Attorney's office said. Prosecutors said Daniel Grant, 42, of Holbrook, threatened to plant drugs on a 26-year-old woman unless she complied with his demands for sex in the Jan. 20, 2006, incident. He had denied the charges.

We need to get to the place where no one's position makes them protected from genuine rape charges and we need to have enough confidence that the process will work effectively to get at what really happened no matter the reputation of the alleged victim or the alleged rapist.

I believe that the backlash against all those accused of rape but who aren't convicted will go down only when more people have confidence that the system isn't aiding and abetting certain rapists or further harming certain victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:16 PM   2 comments links to this post

Feminists Who Attack So-called Rape Crisis Feminism ...

... earn themselves the label of rape-denial feminists. Rape-denial feminists believe that when it comes to rape cases men's interests must always come first.

These women are rapists' favorite feminists who continue the attack long after the physical rape is over. If these women were to be believed, real rape is a nearly mythical event.

If I'm a rape-crisis feminist because I oppose all rapes and want all reports of rape investigated fully and not judged based on information leaked to the media or which comes from defense attorneys, then that speaks volumes about what rape-denial feminists want.

Those who attack rape-crisis feminism tend to rely on first impressions of the alleged victim and the alleged rapist to determine whether the case should be investigated. If the alleged rapist is rich then he can't be guilty because the only possible reason a woman could accuse him of rape is for his money.

Rich men can't rape. Right?

Cathy Young wrote:

The Duke case also makes it clear that the feminist dogma on rape is far from
benign. It is hostile both to men and to basic principles of justice.

This is flat out bullshit unless she believes that the basic principles of justice means that all alleged victims of all crimes should be treated as if they are guilty of a felony until they are proven to be innocent.

There was nothing benign about the way the alleged victim in the Duke case was treated by so-called good people from the day the story broke. A few details was all that was needed to unleash pent up ugliness inside many men. Their descriptions of this woman and the pleasure many took in the idea of her suffering revealed far more about themselves than we will ever know about this woman.

The legal system is no more hostile to alleged rapists than it is to alleged criminals of non-sex crimes of either gender. But of course she had to bring in the ridiculous comparison between the Duke lacrosse players and the Scottsboro boys which demonstrates that hyperbole is far more important to her than reason.

Every reported rape begins a process that opens the victim up to hostility from all fronts. But all those women don't matter to rape-denial feminists, only men like the Duke lacrosse players matter to them.

If feminists want to retain their credibility as advocates for victims of rape,
they need to drop the habit of knee-jerk support for every accuser—and to show
decency and compassion toward the victims of false accusations.

If credibility means letting all alleged rape victims be attacked without mercy and without proof -- and joining in on that hostility -- while all alleged rapists are treated as if they are the true victims, then I'll remain non-credible, thank you very much.

Those who bemoan rape-crisis feminism repeatedly and boldly fail to show decency and compassion toward all victims of rape. They should be ashamed.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   12 comments links to this post

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Death Toll Rising: Rampage Preceeded By Anonymous Threats

This story breaks my heart and reminds me why I spend so much time speaking out against violence.

ABC News has confirmed that there were two separate bomb threats last week at Virginia Tech that targeted engineering buildings. The first was directed at Torgersen Hall, a classroom and laboratory building, while the second was directed at multiple engineering buildings. Students and staff were evacuated, and the university had offered a $5,000 reward for information into the threats.
In some cases threats never turn into reality, but all threats must be taken seriously and those who make threats of violence must be classified as criminal. We cannot afford to shrug off threats or view those who make violent threats as harmless.

At least 29 people are dead in what may be the biggest mass shooting in American history — and the death toll may rise. At least 17 injured students were admitted to local hospitals.
This violence is horrific and even one murder is one too many. My heart will be with all the survivors and all those impacted by this crime in any way.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:30 PM   2 comments links to this post

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 21

Welcome to the Apr. 16, 2007 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.

Here are the selections for the 20th edition of the carnival against sexual violence:

I want to start out by highlighting the Blog Against Sexual Violence Day Participant Links posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open. Please check out all the posts written for Blog Against Sexual Violence Day. I've added late entries so if you haven't looked at this post since the 5th go look at the new entries.

creative expression

In no escape posted at revolt in the desert, we get a powerful poem.

recovery

In Social Support After Rape and PTSD posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a study which shows a link between lack of social support after a sexual assault and increased symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

gender

In How not to be an asshole: a guide for men posted at Pandagon, we get a response to all those men who tell women to not let their emotions run rampant when it comes to discussion of topics such as sexual harassment, rape or death threats.

In Reading Between the (Head)lines posted at Fem Speak, we get a discussion of when headlines are gender neutral and when they highlight gender and how that relates to the sensationalism of certain stories.

legal

In Jurors biased in sentencing decisions by the attractiveness of the defendant posted at Psychology and Crime News, we get a discussion of a study by Dr. Sandie Taylor and Megan Butcher of Bath Spa University which gave participants a mock transcript of a mugging case with a photo of the defendant attached. The only variation in the study was the photograph and those who looked more stereotypically criminal were more likely to be found guilty.

In WHEN A Sex Offender is Released posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get a discussion of issues which are raised upon the release of a rapist at the end of his sentence (vs. parole) including the reduced level of support available to the released sex offender.

In Undoing Injustice: If there's no DNA, You'll Stay (in prison) posted at Lawyers, Guns and Money, we get a discussion about the issues of false convictions which are based on faulty witness testimony including a case where witnesses were allegedly coerced to identify a specific man and those who said it wasn't him weren't called to testify.

In Florida housing sex offenders under bridge posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get information about issues related to challenges of where to house released sex offenders.

In News Update (Good News!) posted at KitKat's Critique, we get information about prison rapists who are finally going to go on trial & about a coercive-at-social-events rapist who is finally in jail.

media watch

In Blaming the Victim posted at Providentia, we get some perspective on the history of blaming child victims of abuse as highlighted in the 19th century short story Madame Baptiste.

In Spineless bully-boys and the morons who love them posted at Pinko Feminist Hellcat, we get a discussion of reactions to comments about a proposed online code of conduct which dismissed the reality of death threats against bloggers.

In Take Violent Threats Seriously posted at Lawyers, Guns and Money, we get a discussion about how different people interpret violent threats made online.

raising awareness

In April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month posted at Dr. Deborah Serani, we get information about sexual assault awareness month.

In A New conversation about sex crimes posted at Sex Crimes, we get insight on our society's conflicted attitudes about sex from a licensed clinical social worker who began working with sexually abused children when child sex abuse was considered rare.

In Rape and Bullying, Part IV and Rape and bullying - further thoughts posted at LongHairedWeirdo, we get a continuation of a discussion meant to help those who don't understand rapes which aren't committed by a stranger who snatches victims off the street or who breaks in to homes to commit rape.

In Myths about sexual assault: STILL REPORT RAPE posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get information which counters common myths about sexual assaults.

In The Hoover How to Recognize it and Move Forward... posted at SANCTUARY FOR THE ABUSED, we get information about how abusers manipulate their victims to try to get their victims under their control.

In Sex crimes: Perils of the Internet posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get information about the challenges that come to areas of the world where children are just beginning to get on the Internet.

In Parents Responsible for Child Abuse and Neglect posted at Child protection: serious business., we get information about a report on child abuse in Queensland, Australia.

In Hotline exposes more than 27,000 assaults on women in Morocco posted at HOLLY'S FIGHT TO STOP VIOLENCE, we get information about a country's efforts to improve it's response to this serious crime.

In Religious Beliefs Impact on Severity of Sex Crimes posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a study which looked at men who were incarcerated for sex crimes to see how religious belief or non-belief impacted the nature of the crimes.

solutions

In Delayed rape incident notification raises questions about LGNA's nonchalant attitude, DPD procedures posted at BarkingDogs.org - Taking back our neighborhood!, we get a discussion about what information about crime reports is given to crime watch groups and the timeliness of that information.

The Duke case

In About the Duke case posted at LongHairedWeirdo, we get one man's thoughts on what may have happened in the lacrosse house and how that combined with the alleged victim's history and the way the police handled her while she was in custody could lead to what we know about this case.

In Does being not guilty mean that the accuser made a false accusation? posted at Westminster Wisdom, we get a discussion about the problem of calling for the prosecution of alleged victims after charges have been dropped against alleged rapists.

In About that Duke lacrosse thing posted at Feministe, we get a discussion about the case and about how people are using the dropping of the charges as an excuse to attack a woman who has been charged with no crime.

In Railroading Alleged Rapists Bad, Railroading Alleged Rape Victims Good posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the mismatch between the demand for legal proof of an alleged rape with the dismissal of the need for legal proof of an alleged false rape report.

miscellany


In POWER? FROM WHOSE POINT OF VIEW? posted at The Happy Feminist, we get a discussion about the flaws in the assertion that women have incredible power because of their sexual desirability to men.

That concludes the 21st 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 Apr. 28 at 11 pm. The 22nd edition will be out on May 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 blog dedicated to this carnival, http://carnivalagainstsexualviolence.blogspot.com/

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:05 AM   3 comments links to this post

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why Those Who Say My Position on The Duke Case Makes Me Crazy Are Wrong

I found this gem on another blog written by someone who has a history of personal attacks against me:

Abyss2Hope continues to spew 'crazy' all over the place in her recent post. It simply amazes me that someone could actually believe what she's blithely typing away and not be fundamentally derranged in some manner. It's a key symptom of a variety of psychological disorders to constantly revise history to support your crazy assumptions.

This assumption about me either demonstrates an appalling ignorance on his part or such a deep bias against the points I've been making (on this case and maybe on the entire subject of rape) that the only way he can rationalize my position is to declare me insane. Either that or he feels justified in attacking me simply because I don't agree with him and won't let him use my blog as his personal platform.

I am not crazy and I am not deranged.

The allegation of constantly revising history is interesting in light of the shifting stories told by the hoax fanatics about what exactly happened the night of the alleged attack. If that makes someone crazy then he should be giving that label to these people. But he apparently supports their cause so if they are crazy by his definition it is a good thing.

The charges have been dropped against the lacrosse players. With the evidence which exists in this case that move is the right decision. My agreement on that point isn't sufficient for me to be considered sane by this man. I can only be considered sane if I agree with all his assessments of this case and all of his assessments of everyone who had any part in this case.

If total agreement on a case, where all the admissible evidence has been given, is required for sanity then some members of all hung juries are crazy. This is clearly not the case. At least it's clear to me.

Here are some details which have not changed:

1) The taxi driver reported hearing men at the house say something about her just being a stripper and reassuring someone else that she won't go to the police because of that fact.

She didn't. The police came to her.

2) The response to assurances from Duke University leadership to the lacrosse team that at most what happened at that house would result in misdemeanor charges and the sense of betrayal when the charges were felony charges.

If everyone present that night knows that no crime at all occurred (note: physical non-sexual assault and attempted sexual assault are also crimes) why be relieved when informed that there's a good chance of misdemeanor charges?

3) A witness who was not part of the lacrosse party heard harsh, even threatening statements made against the alleged victim.

Clearly violence was on the mind of at least one attendee of that party enough for an explicit threat to be made outside that house -- a threat that hasn't been disproved.

4) The email referencing the party where the attack was alleged and inviting people to another event with even more violence.

The popular explanation is that the email was a fantasy based on a novel, but since hiring strippers is a fantasy involving real women, we have no way of knowing where individuals draw the line between unreal and therefore acceptable violence against women and real, criminal violence against women.

5) The house emptying in a rush so that by the time police arrived the place was empty.

If there was a rational fear that a woman would call the cops to report what happened to her there, it makes sense for anyone who thought they could be accused to get themselves an alibi ASAP. The same would be true for those who saw others stepping over the line.

6) The alleged victim's possessions found in bathroom where alleged attack occurred.

7) The history of reports of violence and intimidation committed by lacrosse players.

One of the Duke University reports includes a reference to lacrosse players physically intimidating other students in class.

8) There is no credible evidence that the alleged victim perpetrated a hoax, now or earlier in her life.

A hoax is a fraud made with the intention to deceive. The 30 minute estimate has been a key element used by many hoax fanatics, but during times of great trauma most people's sense of time goes out of whack. I'm sure my rapist knows to the minute how long his actions took, but I can't even begin to guess. But the police often push for a number even when the victim says she doesn't know. Then that coerced number gets used against her as proof that she is a liar.

Based on these pieces of information and on the evidence in the criminal case, I cannot declare that it is impossible that any member of the lacrosse team at that party or anyone else who was at that party that night could have committed any crimes against the alleged victim.

Apparently, to some people this makes me crazy beyond a reasonable doubt.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:55 AM   2 comments links to this post

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Why I'm Not Eating Crow Over the Duke Case

I've been getting snarky comments about how the North Carolina AG's press conference should have me eating crow over the Duke lacrosse rape case. There's a simple reason I'm not doing so.

My objections from the first have been to the still unproven allegations that this case was definitely a hoax and that the woman couldn't have been raped because of her job and her personal history.

The defendants in this case have had strong attorneys looking out for their best interests so I've had little concern that they would be falsely convicted. I also had little faith that if they were guilty that they would be rightfully convicted because of mistakes made by DA Nifong and because of aggressive and sometimes unethical techniques used by defense teams to undermine the credibility of alleged rape victims.

Being a dancer or a stripper or having a criminal history or being incoherent when questioned or anything else doesn't magically put a bubble around a woman that no rapist can violate. Yet many people continue to talk as if this were a law of nature as sure as gravity and that the case didn't need to be investigated at all. Her identity was enough for them to decide: rape case closed. False police report case also closed but with the alleged victim labeled as guilty.

Allowing this "she was just a 'ho" argument to stand unchallenged is the same as giving rapists a list of who can be raped without fear of prosecution.

That is what was behind all the protests these people found so abhorrent. How dare any Duke faculty member demand a thorough and careful investigation of the rape and kidnapping allegations when the alleged victim is a woman like this.

I believed then and I believe now that thorough and careful investigations of all rape allegations and ethical behavior by competent and ethical professionals benefit both the legal rights of alleged victims and alleged rapists. The assumption by investigators that all first-hand reports of rape are accurate -- unless and until evidence comes in showing that the allegations are false (not just unprovable) -- doesn't violate defendant rights or the legal concept of innocent until proven guilty.

The assumption of alleged victim accuracy doesn't equal charges or convictions. It doesn't change who has the burden of proof in a criminal trial. An assumption is not evidence.

Investigators who go with their gut that a rape allegation is false or who aggressively challenge alleged victims are setting themselves up for making false claims against real rape victims such as the case described in the book Cry Rape: The True Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice by Bill Lueders. These gut feelings and hostility toward alleged victims can lead to false charges against real rape victims in cases where this is enough evidence to convict the rapist.

Despite what many people allege about me, I don't support rape convictions based on gut feelings and assumptions about the defendant or defendants. It's all about the evidence. The initial report is part of the evidence but it isn't the totality of evidence.

Sometimes all the evidence available -- with nothing falsified by the alleged victim -- is insufficient to prove rape to a jury. I believe that to be what has happened in the Duke case. No evidence which has been made public and nothing the AG said in his press conference contradicts this belief.

Other people look at the same evidence and have come to different conclusions based on that evidence. This just highlights that the evidence has gaps and flaws which different people fill in according to their beliefs and experiences.

In the Duke case, the initial scenario laid out by the hoax fanatics was that the 2 dancers plotted false charges, including planting evidence in the house, and went to the cops to relate their carefully laid out false allegation. That this scenario was easily disproved didn't matter to these people at all. They just came up with the "she arrived raped" scenario and then decided it would be fun to pin that rape on these innocent men. If, as people are now saying, she wasn't raped at all, then this scenario is as false as the first one. But then the conclusion of hoax came before the evidence so this isn't surprising.

My belief is that to most of these pro-hoax people, the Duke lacrosse players are little more than a handy tool used to support their frequent allegations that most women lie about rape and that we should go back to the good old days when the only real rape victim was dead or maimed-- or as one man wrote when describing what happens in real rapes: vivisection.

Some of these people seemed downright eager for a false conviction to further their parallels between the lacrosse players and the Scottsboro boys. Their apparent goal was to prove that the tables of injustice have been turned against all white men. Many of these people used the phrase "lynch mobs" to describe everyone who didn't agree that these men were the powerless victims of a hoax and a completely corrupt system.

I don't see anyone dragging these men into the streets and publicly murdering them to the cheers of a crowd. They weren't lynched when the case first went public and they won't be lynched. I doubt that fact will stop some people from saying that's what happened when people protested against rape and demanded justice on the Duke University campus.

When I've said that I won't believe there was a hoax until there is evidence of a hoax beyond a reasonable doubt I've gotten complaints about how impossibly hard this is to prove and how because it's so so hard, we should all now just accept it without proof.

No will do.

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

Friday, April 13, 2007

Deadline Extended For Carnival Against Sexual Violence

Because of the number of posts which are being written about the results of the Duke lacrosse case investigation, I am extending the deadline for nominations to the Carnival until tomorrow night at 11 pm (April 14th) and will be delaying the carnival until Monday the 16th.

Note: Any nomination related to the Duke case which contains victim bashing or personal attacks will be rejected even if it contains some valid points about the issues of sexual violence.

Nominations can be made about any relevant topic so if you want to focus on something besides the Duke case, please do.

Posts which highlight SAAM events (past or upcoming) are still welcome. So if you missed the BASV day event there is still time to write a post and submit it for the carnival.

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

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:25 PM   0 comments links to this post

Ah, Yes. The Male Voice of Reason

Tai_Fung has left a new comment on your post "Did AG Cooper Cross The Same Ethical Line That Nif...":

Marcella is a fucking worthless c[-word] of a human being. I WILL blast her on MY blog personally, and WILL expose her for the piece of shit worm that she is. The D.A. that she is throwing her support behind is a worthless piece of shit who persecuted an immigrant just to get the testimony he wanted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/12/AR2007041200285.html?hpid=moreheadlines

In Marcella Chester's world, all a woman need do is point at a man, and say, "HE DID IT," and:

1. She will expect the man to be arrested,

2. She will assume the man "did" whatever the accuser claims, and

3. She will assume that anyone who thinks otherwise is somehow anti-woman.

Grow up Marcella, and GET OVER IT!

You were date raped. Sorry, but people have suffered worse. News flash - 90% of the country understands that [she] lied about a rape, and deserves the derision she is having heaped upon her. And with good reason, at that. For you to defend her calls much into question about your own motives. Enjoy the echo chamber that is your moderated-comment blog, and whip yourself up into a frenzy that you know the "truth." The fact is, this woman LIED about rape, was caught at doing so, and is lucky that she has convinced the AG's office that she "genuinely" believes her own story, lest she face criminal prosecution (which, in NC, requires a "knowing" false statement, thus insulating this delusional flotsam known as [redacted]).

You are a worm of a woman, Marcella Chester, and you are equally worthy of derision. Because for as much as you dislike these men, you still seek to raise a specter of guilt over them, only to promote an issue. With today's development, even NIFONG himself has apologized. Oh, and by the way -- your own blog FALSELY accuses one of the players of writing a despicable e-mail. But alas, THAT is false as well. Lie a lot? Is this something that rape victims just naturally do? You seem to do a lot to prove this point by your writing.

A pox on you, and may you be raped again because of your actions.

I won't even bother to go through all the inaccuracies in this comment point by point (including the email accusation which shows his lack of reading comprehension) since that would take me all day, but this is the sort of comment I've been getting from most of those defending the lacrosse players since the first post I wrote about this case.

Yes, the voice of reason in the face of rape charges advocates for rape.

As they say, with the lacrosse team having friends like this ...

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   3 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Did AG Cooper Cross The Same Ethical Line That Nifong Is Accused of Crossing?

After watching North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper make his statement about the results of the review of the Duke University lacrosse rape case, I'm reminded of Mike Nifong's public statement which landed him in ethical hot water and which spurred outrage among the defense attorneys in this case and among those who had already labeled the case a hoax.

Only Cooper makes his harsh and prejudicial characterization less directly and makes it against the alleged victim in the case. Officially the case was dropped because of insufficient evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, but Cooper's statement goes beyond what can or can't be proven against the defendants in this case.

The details of the statements are far different, but the motives behind the 2 very different statements are the same. Response to intense pressure from the public about this case.

[...] I promised a fresh and thorough review of the facts and a decision on the best way to proceed. I also said that we would have our eyes wide open to the evidence, but that we would have blinders on for all other distractions. [...] The result of our review and investigation shows clearly that there is insufficient evidence to proceed on any of the charges.

That part doesn't step over the line but the AG doesn't stop with the facts which led to all charges being dropped and the fact that the case against any and all lacrosse players is over. The beliefs about Nifong having "a tragic rush to accuse" edges toward personal opinion rather than verifiable fact, but Nifong's actions were part of his job.

Next week, we'll be providing a written summary of the important factual findings and some of the specific contradictions that have led us to the conclusion that no attack occurred.

This conclusion steps over the very same line as Nifong is accused of stepping over. Likely for the same reason. Cooper doesn't call the alleged victim a lying 'ho, but many people are using these words as proof that she is just that. Just like Nifong, Cooper is trying to appease the public that he is doing his job and has come to the correct conclusion about this case.

The public wants absolute certainty not reasonable cause or reasonable doubt and they don't want to wait for a trial to get what they want. They want to know who the villians are ASAP. Nifong offered it last year and Cooper is offering it this year.

While acknowledging that there are inconsistencies in real rape cases, the inconsistencies in this case are turned into more than reasonable doubt, they are turned into the smoking gun. Not being able to prove that something happened isn't the same thing as proving that it didn't happen. Cooper should have heeded his own words:

There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. And in the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly. Regardless of the reasons this case was pushed forward, the result was wrong.

If Nifong was wrong, so too was Cooper. Despite his call for changes to stop this from happening again (the PR nightmare since the system actually worked in the defendants' favor) Cooper is calling for immediate changes to the system.

This feels like grandstanding but of an even greater magnitude than Nifong is accused of. If a case becomes hotly debated and there is a push to stop the prosecution before a trial begins, Cooper wants to make that process easier.

I view that proposal as dangerous to justice and dangerous to the many less than 100% sympathetic crime victims. If a prosecutor pursues an unpopular case or one that makes the state look bad, that prosecutor has to worry that doing so will result in having the case taken away and being given the label of rogue prosecutor.

Once a case is taken away, it is likely dead in the water no matter what the evidence proves.

If there is to be a process to take cases away from aggressive prosecutors then that process must allow for cases to be taken away from passive prosecutors who refuse to pursue criminal charges. Mishandling cases doesn't only work one way.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:55 AM   8 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Railroading Alleged Rapists Bad, Railroading Alleged Rape Victims Good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet again another concept is applied selectively.

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

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

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

Call for Nominations: Carnival Against Sexual Violence

Thanks again to all of the participants in Blog Against Sexual Violence Day on April 5 for writing a diverse variety of posts related to this important topic.

Tomorrow (the 12th) at 11 pm is the deadline for the next carnival against sexual violence. Please nominate a post, one you've written or one you've read, for the 21st edition which comes out on Apr. 15th.

Since this edition will be out in the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, posts which highlight SAAM events (past or upcoming) are especially welcome. So if you missed the BASV day event there is still time to write a post and submit it for the carnival.

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

If you don't find any posts on a specific issue, area or pattern of violence, etc., please nominate posts to help fill in those gaps.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lack of Consent Blindness

It seems we have another person suffering from this disabling syndrome that makes men incapable of perceiving lack of consent.

This case occured in South Wales.

Leon Hiscox, 26, was convicted by a jury following a trial after denying raping the woman at a flat in the city, saying they had consensual sex. [...]

The woman told the jury: "He looked evil. He was staring at me. I was screaming for help." She said she sank her nails into him, kicked Hiscox off and called police on her mobile.

Of course, for those who are aware that nearly half of all women who say they were raped are liars, the notable issue in this case is probably how quickly the post-consensual sex regret kicked in.

This woman didn't even have the courtesy of waiting until the next morning to "cry rape." Oh, wait, maybe this is one of those fabled but rarely seen "real rapes."

Won't someone take pity on men like this and help us find a cure before another man with lack-of-consent blindness suffers needlessly?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, April 09, 2007

Religious Beliefs Impact on Severity of Sex Crimes

Religious holidays like Easter Sunday remind me of what is good about having a strong faith, but when people talk about sex crime prevention they often make an assumption that going to church gatherings (or another religious organization of your choice) makes them safer than they would be if they went to secular gathering places.

From my personal experience and from specific criminal cases, I know that attending church doesn't insulate people from sexual criminals. However, I never considered that religious sex offenders might be different from non-religious sex offenders except for their facade of piousness.

From the abstract of the journal article, Religious Affiliations Among Adult Sexual Offenders, by Donna Eshuys and Stephen Smallbone of School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Queensland, 4001, Australia, published in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment on Aug. 2, 2006:

ANCOVAs indicated that stayers (those who maintained religious involvement from childhood to adulthood) had more sexual offense convictions, more victims, and younger victims, than other groups. Results challenge assumptions that religious involvement should, as with other crime, serve to deter sexual offending behavior.
Since the study was done on incarcerated adult male sex offenders, it doesn't measure the rate and type of sexual offending done by those who aren't convicted. Even with the limited scope of the study, it contains important information and reinforces the importance of dealing effectively with sex crime allegations against those who seem to be good people.

I suspect that religious sex offenders use religion-based rationalizations to make their victims deserving of offending behavior. This is why I have a real problem with religious leaders who talk about women and girls luring men into sin. These demands aren't effective crime provention and may in fact increase the risk of sex crimes.

Hat tip:Schwitzsplinters

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:21 PM   0 comments links to this post