The Law watch blog claims that the lesson that should be learned from the Duke case is "... a prime example of why American justice insists that a person charged with a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty."
I disagree. In fact this assumption about what the Duke case is an example of can create dangerous changes in the criminal justice system. This case, like the OJ Simpson double murder trial, shows that money matters and money can get dramatic results.
If we isolate this case from all other high profile and high money cases like OJ's, disempowering prosecutors can seem like it will solve all the problems in the criminal justice system, but when we broaden the lens we can see this isn't true.
Those who talk about "innocent until proven guilty" acknowledge that concern for the defendant shouldn't end because the evidence against the defendant is overwhelming or because the defendant is repugnant. So why do most of these people expect that concern for alleged rape victims should end because the evidence for the defendant's innocence is overwhelming or the alleged victim is repugnant?
Why aren't those who scream, "Throw her to the wolves!" viewed as endangering our legal system and due process rights? And why are those who refuse to abandon the rights of alleged victims called man haters when those who refuse to abandon the rights of convicted rapists say they don't deserve the label of women haters or rape lovers?
They attack what they call "the unassailable victim" while standing guard over "the unassailable nice guy."
The guilty are supposed to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment, yet alleged victims who lose public support and are labeled as an unreliable witness routinely face cruel and unusual punishment from people who claim to uphold the rights of all men.
Many of those who kept saying, "innocent until proven guilty" hated the fact that this woman's claim was being investigated at all. They decided this based simply on who she was and because of who the alleged rapists were. Look at the number of people who said they knew the truth about this lying **** the day the story broke. They don't have ESP. They decided that women like her can't be raped, especially not by upstanding white college men. Case closed.
Not only that, but many of them said that if the support for the investigation of this case weren't dropped immediately that they would no longer put any effort into fighting rape. (As if they put any effort into fighting rape before.) They talk about justice in one moment and then show how selective and petty they can be about justice in the next moment. I can almost see some of these people standing at the door to an exam room yelling, "Call the Duke lacrosse players heroes and admit you were part of a grand feminazi conspiracy or the rape victim gets it."
Of course they don't make these threats directly. They declare that they would never want "real" rape victims harmed, they just want policies that are as ridiculous and unjust as if they were asking to put polygraph machines in every exam room and telling all alleged victims, "You must take the test before evidence is collected and if you don't pass the test, you will be charged with a felony. So, are you feeling lucky?"
If you demand that people acknowledge that alleged rapists can be innocent but never consider that those accused of lying about being raped can also be innocent, you need to read Cry Rape: The True Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice
by Bill Lueders. You also need to consider why injustices like this aren't as well known as the cases where men who are exonerated.
Now on to this statement from the News & Observer:
"It is very troubling for anyone's faith in the innocence commission when its director [Kendra Montgomery-Blinn] testified for a man who tried to put demonstrably innocent people in prison," said Joseph B. Cheshire V, a Raleigh defense lawyer who represented a lacrosse player. "It's going to take a lot of work to give anyone any comfort that she can properly screen claims of innocence."
There's a huge flaw in this statement. The defendants weren't demonstrably innocent when the allegations were made and they weren't demonstrably innocent even when the DNA test results came back. They weren't demonstrably innocent when the case was turned over to the state attorney general's office which had to go through all the evidence in this case before the AG could state his belief that the defendants were demonstrably innocent.
So that takes us back to the assumption that the DA should have ESP and just know immediately who is innocent and who is not without the need for criminal investigations or evaluating evidence related to the alleged crime itself.
That's blatant bigotry. And it is in no way upholding the principle of innocent until proven guilty.
The level of violent hatred directed at this alleged victim long before the first DNA tests came back revealed a level of moral corruptness that took my breath away. Some of these people read my blog and decided that I deserved to be a target of the same violence as this ***. That these people who gloried in the thought of violent physical assault and rape then claimed to be on the side of justice and rule of law and of course against all "real rapes" was nearly unbelievable.
I've started seeing people using Bible passages in relation to this case such as Proverbs 21:28 "A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever." The way these passages are being used makes me shudder at the implied violence. I doubt these people trotting out this passage are thinking about men who lie and say, "she consented" and all those who believe those men.
Some people seem incapable of assuming the alleged victim is legally innocent until proven guilty or understanding logical reasons for me to disagree with them:
[Bob In Pacifica:] The woman was raped at 15. [...] If she wants to go through life presuming guilt, so be it. If this case doesn't move her away from the "all men are rapists/women don't lie about rape" position then nothing will.
[niffari glynn:] I've read this woman's blog before and she strikes me as having more than a few emotional issues.
These 2 can't comprehend the points I'm making when I criticize their cherished position so rather than critically reviewing their own position, which I am challenging, with a willingness to learn, they immediately smear my character. They say I'm assuming guilt when I do no such thing. They quote words I've never spoken or written -- and don't believe -- and they claim they are against false accusations.
Talk about not being credible.
For too many people assuming innocence of an alleged rapist means assuming the alleged victim is a liar or delusional. And I'm the one who doesn't understand the law or logic when I call bullshit on that assumption.
I also call bullshit on those who say about other rape cases that if no charges were filed then no crime was committed. People show that they don't truly believe this principle when they say the alleged victim in the Duke case perpetrated a crime by reporting and cooperating with police and prosecutors. No charges were filed so by these people's own logic no crime was committed.
If people can't imagine why Nifong would want this case fully investigated for any reason other than political gain, that tells us more about their ethics than it does about Nifong's. But then squashing a rape investigation before it is complete is considered by many to be perfectly ethical and never driven by ambition or bigotry.
When people say the outcome of this case should stop all similar allegations from being investigated that's not a system that has anything to do with justice. That's a system which holds a "don't ask, don't tell" position about most rapes.
Technorati tags: rape crime politics sexual violence sexual assault feminism