Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gang Rape Case Highlights How Consent Turns To Rape

This case where 6 men are on trial for participating in an alleged gang rape of a 16 year old in the UK shows that initial and limited consent should never be seen as proof that no rape occurred.

Prosecutor Amjad Malik told the court on Wednesday the girl sent a number of text messages before she reported the attack to police on Sunday, August 13, last year. He also read a message that she had sent to Luke Morten, of Devonshire Green, Farnham Royal, accused of aiding and abetting rape, who the jury was told she had consensual sex with before the others barged in.

It read: “You had me fooled. I didn't think you were like that. We were sh**ging, which we were both enjoying, then you let me loose like a slag, which I ain’t. You let all your w****r mates have a go.”

Half of the men are charged with rape and the other 3 are charged with aiding and abetting rape. If a girl is being held down while others watch the door, nobody there is assuming that what is happening is consensual.

The question seems to be whether a jury will see the girl's initial consent as being irrevocable and transferable.

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

Friday, June 29, 2007

Another False Rape Conviction?

The mother of convicted rapist Antonio McAllister thinks so and tells a reporter that she believes the 3 hairs found in a sock -- which are the only pieces of physical evidence linking him to the crime -- were placed there.

So where are all those who obsess over rape charges leveled against athletes and who combed through every shred of prosecution evidence in those cases to ensure that those men weren't railroaded by prosecutors so eager to appease a public hungry for justice that they leave ethics far behind?

Most of these people claimed that their interest was to see that justice was served for all those accused and was not a selective interest based on the identity of the defendants or the alleged victims. Now we have a mother who absolutely believes that her son is innocent and needs to be exonerated.

So where are all those who said that they've had their eyes opened to the potential for injustice to be done against those less privileged?

Are they failing to research this man's possible innocence and failing to talk about the weaknesses in this case because they can't accuse the 78 year old alleged rape victim of being a slut or a lying 'ho or someone suffering from morning-after regret?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:15 PM   3 comments links to this post

Man Who Confessed Via Text Message Acquitted

There is another case where bias and stupidity rules.

The jury heard that Mr Forbes sent a series of text messages and a letter to the woman telling her that his guilt over what he had done was "slowly eating me alive".

Basically, the man confessed but because the woman had consensual sex with this man a week earlier and couldn't testify with absolute certainty that she hadn't mumbled yes after falling asleep on top of the bed fully dressed except for her shoes, the judge threw the case out.

The line of questions that defense attorneys are allowed to use against alleged victims who wake up to find someone using their body exploits unconsciousness the same way rapists do.

Can anyone imagine this line of questioning directed toward a man who woke up as someone he thought was a friend removed his Rolex and let his arm drop? If this alleged victim gave that friend a watch the week before does it make it credible that this alleged victim was truly giving legal consent for his friend to take his watch from his wrist and to keep it?

Do we really believe that a fully conscious decision to do something or to give something looks anything like unconscious or semi-conscious passiveness when that something is being done to you or taken from you?

With the logic used by this judge in this case as long as someone can get you to mumble yes in your sleep or you can't testify that you didn't mumble yes in your sleep, that person has gained your legal consent for whatever they want from you. Your testimony of waking up mid-crime will be less than meaningless.

But we, and judges like this one most likely, immediately understand the flaw in this logic when what's been taken is a watch or cash or an expensive leather coat or a piece of electronics.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:48 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Still Crazy After All These Years

After I learned how soon the statute of limitations had kicked in for my rapist, I was assuming that in 2007 schools would have better training so signs of distress would be recognized and once a rape or sexual assault was reported to someone at the school that law enforcement would be contacted.

I didn't have the words "I was raped" in my vocabulary at the time of my rape because of the limitations of how rape was described to me as I and other girls were warned about strangers. But it is now 2007 and another girl in Washington state did have those words (or at least the concept) in her vocabulary so she was able to report her experience to an adult at her school. That should have begun the process toward recovery and justice.

Only it didn't work that way.


According to a police report obtained by KIRO 7 Eyewitness News, the alleged victim said a male student forced her into a restroom and assaulted her while another male student stood guard at the door on June 4. The girl then told an adult, who told the school officials, according to the police report. Details as to what those officials did next aren't clear.

Since according to this story the Seattle police were called on June 21 by the student, and the adult she initially reported to, it's pretty clear that no school official at Rainier Beach High School called the police.

This adult who was told by the student should have been instructed by school policy and training to call the police immediately. Once that call was complete then the school administration should have been contacted. The crime scene should have immediately been closed until the police were done collecting evidence.

The girl needed to be treated as someone who has been through a serious trauma. Treatment after a sexual assault of, "Yeah, thanks for telling us now get lost so we can do our job" sends the message that sexual assault isn't a true crime and that feeling traumatized means there is something wrong with you.

Finding out that the boys involved were suspended for 3 days and either knowing or suspecting that the police hadn't been notified must have felt like the school didn't see sexual assault as much more serious than students skipping school.

This message in turn contributes to the post-sexual assault trauma many survivors experience when they don't get the support they need and I believe this message contributes to the increased risk of suicide.

It isn't just the student victim who is harmed and put at risk when schools don't report alleged sexual assaults to the police. Schools who handle report of sexual assaults internally are putting themselves at risk of a lawsuit from the alleged rapists.

An ex-student of Southern Methodist University is suing them for $750,000 for their disciplinary action against him which he claims unfairly branded him a rapist. He appealed his original hearing and his expulsion was overruled and he was given a lighter sentence which allowed him to reapply after a year suspension.

From the Dallas News:

The incident is another in a series of troubling reports involving SMU students. Three students have died from drug overdoses or alcohol poisoning in a little more than six months.

According to the lawsuit, the student was a freshman at the business school when he met the young woman at an off-campus fraternity party on Jan. 21, 2006. He says that the two went back to his dorm room after the party and had consensual sex.

But the woman testified at the disciplinary hearing that she began to feel dizzy and sick after taking two sips of a drink that tasted like cranberry juice, the lawsuit says. She later told her resident adviser that a stranger offered to drive her home from the party and instead took her to his room and raped her, according to court documents.

This information doesn't make the man filing suit sound like someone who has any proof that he was wrongly accused of rape. This is one of the complaints in the lawsuit:

The panel was allowed to consider rumors that the student "pushes himself on women," while most courts restrict the use of prior bad conduct.

In a college hearing these "rumors" are directly relevant since this isn't a criminal trial and because a university has to consider whether this student has the potential to pose a serious risk to other students.

The problem I see isn't one of what's relevant, but of training. If in this case the woman was given a spiked drink by someone at the frat party, depending on the substance, it's possible she wouldn't exhibit what people would recognize as impairment even though her behavior is out of character. That would mean that the man accused of rape (if he is being truthful) could be blaming the college and the woman for the fallout of criminal actions taken by someone else at that party.

I find it interesting that at least one blogger has described the young woman as someone who "cried rape." An interesting claim to make when decrying a college's rush to judgment when that college has far more information about the case and the students involved than the blogger does.

There is also a flip, victim-blaming attitude by many people who react to alleged rapes on or near colleges when it comes to alcohol use. This attitude conveniently overlooks the students who have died of alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses. Many student parties are regularly run in a way that puts lives in danger but often it is the person who is raped or the person who dies who is given full responsibility while no responsibility is assigned to those who deliberately provide drugs or dangerous levels of alcohol.

Warnings about not drinking too much which are directed only at girls and women are either assuming all alcohol-related deaths happen to them or these people don't care when boys and young men die.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:08 AM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Inside The Twisted Thinking Of A Murderer

The defendant who shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend testified in his murder trial on Tuesday.

[Steve] Van Keuren claimed that [shooting victim Teri] Lee told him he would never have kids and that's what prompted him shoot her.

This thinking in no way makes this man insane, but it does show how unbalanced the stimulus and response are in him especially when this is what he says when he is trying to defend his actions. You insult me after (or before) I break into your house, so of course I murder you and your new boyfriend and leave your four children orphans.

It also shows that this man was a danger to other people since the underlying problem isn't in the relationship that ended but in this man's thought processes and what he views as an appropriate response to hurt or humiliation.

Thankfully, earlier today the jury convicted him on 2 counts of first degree murder.

We see this imbalance between stimulus and response most obviously in road rage crimes. You wouldn't move into the other lane so I rammed you with my car sending you and all your passengers into the ditch. Thanks to me, next time you'll treat all other drivers with respect.

We need to stop this twisted thinking when it first pops up around us or inside of us so it has less chance of taking root and leading people who think of themselves of as law abiding into rationalizing away horrific acts of violence.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:23 PM   0 comments links to this post

Catching Rapists Can Protect More Than Women

So often when people talk about the danger that rapists pose to public safety they are only thinking about potential rapes and women's safety if they become targets of these rapists.

But as this case in Niagara, New York shows, Darren Bradberry who was recently convicted of a 1997 rape went on to fatally shoot a man during a 2005 bar robbery attempt. It was only the conviction on the manslaughter charges which allowed the earlier crime to be solved through a DNA match.

Many rapes have more clues than this one and don't result in convictions because of human error and/or lax attitudes about sex crimes.

In these 2 crimes this man was a stranger to his victims, but those who will rape people they know are also people who have proven that they are willing to hurt others they know. Men have a false sense of security if they believe that the so-called non-violent rapists can't turn on them.

The way the sex crimes are committed likely will match the way the non-sex crimes will be committed so the rapist who waits for his rape victims to fall asleep or pass out will be completely trustworthy to his friends when they are together and awake. Maybe he will slip a few bills out of his friends' wallets. Maybe he will find nice items he can sell online. Maybe he will borrow his friend's debit card whenever he knows his friend will be too drunk to remember that he didn't make that withdrawal.

Or maybe when this rapist is planning to rape someone he meets, he will use his buddy's name instead of his own so his soon to be falsely accused friend won't have a clue about who the perpetrator of that injustice really is.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:37 AM   1 comments links to this post

Call For Nominations For 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.

If you've missed any past editions, you can find a link to all of the previous editions here at the carnival homepage. Please don't feel limited by what has already been included in past editions. There are so many issues which deserve more consideration. By sharing how sexual violence has impacted your life in large or small ways or by sharing how you have dealt with sexual violence or its aftermath, you are helping others know they aren't alone and you may be giving others needed support or insight.

Feel free to pass the word on to your readers who might have posts which would enhance the carnival.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:06 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rape Trivialization Of The Day: Rape Of A Name

Townhall has a story The Name Of A Rape Is Also Rape which opens with this whopper:

The rape of a name can be as vicious a crime and as destructive an act as the rape of a body. Sometimes the rape of a body is worse, sometimes the rape of a name is worse. But they are both rapes. And morally likening the two is in no way meant to lessen the horror of rape; it is meant only to heighten awareness of the horror of intentionally destroying the name of an innocent person.

This absolutely trivializes real rape. It also is being applied very selectively. Only men charged with rape or other sex crimes or accused of sexual wrongdoing have their names "raped." I've had people viciously attempt to destroy my name so by this definition my name has been "raped." Same goes for all the women who were attacked on AutoAdmit.

By calling behavior which clearly isn't criminal a crime, the author of this story is making a false statement in the very foundation of his position. I would be shocked if this man called unethical but legal sexual behavior a crime - let alone a vicious crime. He would likely accuse those who did so of wrapping themselves in victimhood. Apparently, that blanket is for men only.

"Raping" of the name of the alleged victim is something many people want to do from the moment a case goes public, and the efforts some people put in to finding and then distributing the name of alleged victims show that this "raping" of the alleged victim's name is premeditated. This "raping" of the name is why most legitimate news outlets have a policy of not naming the alleged victims of sex crimes.

These name "rapists" often go beyond "raping" the alleged victim's name and "rape" her image by posting pictures of her. Some go even further and "rape" her safety by saying they would be happy if this alleged victim were physically and/or sexually harmed or giving out information which helps other people find that person.

If the alleged victim is never charged with a crime she is legally innocent (just like men accused of rape but not convicted) and if "rape" of the name is equal to real rape then these people who attack her are, according to the standards set in this story, no better than felons convicted of rape.

Many people have no trouble "raping" the name of women who have not been convicted of the crimes they are accused of. Every time someone spits out the name Tawana Brawley, they are "raping" her name by the standards used in this article to determine which men have had their names "raped."

What this catch phrase is attempting to do is artificially balance out the gender of those raped. They might as well say, "Yes, far more women are physically raped, but far more men are charged with rape and most if not all of these men become victims of the rape of their name. So overall woman and men are raped at about the same rate and about the same severity."

This article also plays fast and loose with the phrase "falsely accused of rape" since in most cases, that is a claim not a proven fact.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:26 AM   1 comments links to this post

Update on Stranger Rapist: She Didn't Say No

In the case I blogged about in my post Stranger rapist: she didn't say no and Defense attorneys like canaries in the mine the defendant was convicted of sexual assault and burglary and could be sentenced to up to 24 years in prison.

While the attorney's defense strategy was not an ethical violation even though it relied on stereotypes, it has the side effect now that the defendant has been convicted of undermining the credibility of other defense attorneys.

As more cases where the "she consented" defense falls flat result in convictions, this defense strategy has the potential to be seen by increasing numbers of potential jurors as a defense of desperation.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:20 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, June 25, 2007

Homeless Man Saves Woman From Rape

This story out of Miami made me cheer.

Police are searching for a man who tried to rape a woman at Bayfront Park Monday morning.

Sebastian Baxter, a homeless man who witnessed the attack, ran for help when he saw the man drag the woman into some bushes. "He tried to get the female to come in the woods," said Baxter. "So, she says, 'No.' Next thing you know he grabbed her, and he snatched her in the woods."

We should all be thanking Sebastian Baxter and others like him who have the courage to actively prevent rape. Thanks also go to the security guard Gerald Etienne.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:20 PM   5 comments links to this post

Washington State Rapists Can Be Free and Clear In One Year and One Day

I had assumed that the statute of limitations had expired for my rape, but after my post Man charged with rape 32 years later I had to find out for sure.

According to this pdf from the National District Attorneys Association which contains the statute of limitations related to rape for each of the 50 states (updated through 2001 at least), in Washington State where I was raped, the statute of limitations is 10 years, but the rape must be reported within one year if the victim was 14 or older at the time of the crime.

I was stunned.

Because I was 15 at the time of the crime (2nd degree rape), my rapist was legally off the hook before the end of my first year of high school since I wasn't able to tell anyone during that first year -- anyone except my rapist that is. Because criminal rapists were assumed to be strangers and monsters who maimed their victims, I didn't even consider contacting the police and filing a police report. My rapist got an earful more than once after the shock wore off which was as close I could get to holding him accountable for raping me.

But realizing now that he was legally off the hook around the time I got my driver's license makes me want to repeat every scornful word and add a few more for good measure. I wonder if he looked up the statute of limitations or if he was so certain that nobody would believe that I was a victim of a real rape that he didn't give the statute of limitations a single thought.

I wasn't able to tell, but that's not the same thing as not having any supporting evidence.

If the Planned Parenthood office is still in my hometown and if they have kept all their old records, I do have supporting evidence of sexual contact since I went there when I was terrified of being pregnant. But I can't remember at this moment if I was too terrified to give them my real name and because of the statute of limitations there is no point in pulling those memories back up to the surface and reliving the fear that I might be pregnant and that everybody would treat me as if I were the immoral one.

The woman who was preparing to do my pelvic exam (I can't remember if she was a doctor or a nurse) didn't ask about rape, only asked if I had been sexually active yet. What a question to ask a rape victim. I wonder if my open distress was noted in my file as I tried to express the fact that I wasn't sexually active but that I still might be pregnant from one of two rapes committed by my boyfriend even though I didn't feel I had the right to declare myself a crime victim. I remember saying, "I've only had sex twice" and then saying something that expressed my wish to not do it again. She seemed to assume that my opinion was based on societal attitudes rather than trauma and I didn't have the fight in me to set her straight.

As I think about conversations I had with classmates about my boyfriend including one who told me not long after the second rape that he had another girlfriend, there might be enough supporting evidence to prove that he had sexual contact with me even if there wouldn't be enough supporting evidence to prove second degree rape.

Then there was my call around the one-year anniversary of my first rape to the local mental health crisis line and my subsequent appointments with counselors which focused on my distress at not being a virgin and my fear of disappointing my parents. I couldn't say rape since the memories were still too fresh and raw to bring anywhere near the surface without rendering me mute except for the sound of my crying. I thought all I got out of those sessions was the temporary relief of crying, but if there were no statute of limitations, my records might provide supporting evidence.

This shows me clearly that the requirement to report rape within the first year doesn't line up with any magical time when all evidence is gone. It also shows me that my assumption that I had absolutely no supporting evidence might have been dead wrong.

In essence for most rapes in Washington state the real statute of limitations is 1 year, not 10. That limitation clearly benefits rapists. Apparently, it isn't fair in Washington state to keep rapists on edge for more than one year. I've always been proud of my home state until now.

That law means that by the time I reached my 18th birthday, my rapist had been free from legal accountability for about a year and a half.

That's wrong. Just flat out wrong.

For anyone who wants to look it up, here's the current statutes of limitations for Washington state.

Fortunately, there was an attempt to change this unacceptable statute of limitations in Washington state in 2005 so there would be no statute of limitations for the crimes of rape in the first and second degree, if the victim is under the age of 18, and for rape of a child in the first and second degree.

Unfortunately, this change didn't make into the final bill which was signed into law last year. The change wouldn't have made a difference in my case since it isn't retroactive but it would have made a difference in all the rapists who have reached legal safety since this bill became law. The defeated update doesn't go far enough. There should be no statute of limitations on rape -- period.

Every month that goes by with this existing statute of limitations allows more rapists to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they got away with rape.

If rape is really the second worst crime after murder as many people claim, then we need to treat it that way not only in sentencing but in setting the statutes of limitations.

Last year New York state legislators repealed their statute of limitations for rape. Washington state needs to do the same.

If you are a current resident of Washington state please call your legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 during their business hours to let your representatives know that you want the statute of limitations changed in the next legislative session. Or if aren't comfortable leaving a phone message, please go to the Member E-mail List page and send an email to your representatives.

If you have friends or relatives in Washington state ask them to call or write. If the legislators get flooded with individual citizens in their districts demanding a change then they will have a harder time simply ignoring this problem or assuming that few people in the state really want the statute of limitations for rape eliminated.

If you don't live in Washington state, look up the statute of limitations in your state and contact your representatives if you don't like what you find.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:44 AM   2 comments links to this post

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Man charged with rape 32 years later

In this Rhode Island case the defendant, now 48, is accused of raping an acquaintance in 1976 when both were 16. The alleged victim reportedly didn't tell anyone and repressed the memories until recently.

With the attitudes about this type of rape which were so strong back then (and which still exist to a lesser extent today) this scenario of repression is an understandable coping mechanism.

For anyone who wants to argue that if a rape is repressed then it causes no harm, don't bother. I knowingly blocked the memories of being raped for about 20 years and that didn't magically undo the harm my rapist inflicted. Note in the way many people talk about it that repression doesn't always mean that someone doesn't know something happened. Sometimes repression is like having coils of barbed wire around the memories of certain events.

What's surprising is that this case wouldn't be dismissed instantly by investigators as too bad, so sad, too late with no effort to see if the allegations can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

It's interesting that in this case the defense strategy is to deny sexual contact since that means if the prosecutors can prove that he did have sexual contact with her he will be a proven liar or an unreliable witness.

I wonder how many men will read about this case and worry that their past actions may come back to haunt them.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:29 AM   3 comments links to this post

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Rape Survivor's 10 Commandments For Sex

A Rape Survivor's 10 Commandments For Sex* by Marcella Chester

  1. Be trustworthy and honest - with others and yourself

  2. Use sex only as a means of connection and respect

  3. Use courtesy, uprightness and prudence

  4. Be charitable and help your neighbor stay safe

  5. Sex shall not be an expression of power and domination or disdain

  6. Don't use impairment or availability as a tool or an excuse

  7. Support those harmed and don't benefit from their previous injuries

  8. Shun sexual assaulters/exploiters and those who make excuses for them

  9. Protect those more vulnerable than you even if it makes you uncomfortable

  10. Do only what you and anyone else involved will never regret

* adapted from the Vatican's 10 commandments for cars

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:20 PM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, June 22, 2007

Lessons From Duke Case

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.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:36 AM   17 comments links to this post

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Forget the Duke Scottsboro Boys Analogy Remember Scottsboro Guantanamo Bay

Once again conservative pundits, this time at the WSJ, are comparing the Duke defendants to the Scottsboro Boys. Corey at Sex Crimes shows the flaws in that comparison.

I was reading Corey's post as the evening news mentioned that the Bush administration may soon close the prison at Guantanamo Bay as it is being pressured to do, but that a final decision hasn't been made. The key deterrent is lack of evidence against most of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. If these detainees are moved to the US they either have to be criminally charged or set free. The Pentagon reportedly only has enough evidence to charge a handful of the 375 detainees now in custody.

That's a big problem.

It's interesting how those who are shouting about innocent until proven guilty and governmental overreach when there is no supporting evidence and calling for more officials to be removed from office aren't comparing the Scottsboro boys to most of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

I can see why they would deplore this comparison. If Mike Nifong had to go, then by their own logic President George W. Bush should immediately be impeached and they should be leading the charge.

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

Defense Attorneys Like Canaries In The Mines

In my post Stranger rapist: she didn't say no TRVolk commented that the defense attorney was just doing her job and might not enjoy putting forth the defense she's using and so we should wait to see if the jury buys the defense strategy and then get mad.

For me the bottom line isn't about being mad at defense attorneys, it's about highlighting the full impact of ideas that many people put forth carelessly.

The people who put forth these ideas (it can't be rape if she didn't say no, it can't be rape if there was no gun or knife, it can't be rape if the victim climaxes, it can't be rape if the victim didn't physically struggle, and so on and so forth) are usually trying to excuse the behavior of people they don't find repugnant and who they don't think should be considered guilty of any crime.

But excuses once accepted don't limit themselves to the otherwise upstanding teenage boy accused of raping his girlfriend. They propagate to people whose surrounding actions make the idea's proponents sick. This propagation is natural and shows how dangerous the original ideas really are. This propagation also proves that the original premise is false in all cases -- even the ones involving otherwise upstanding teenage boys.

If the defendant in the case underway now had knocked on the door without the mask and the victim had opened the door, the crime would be the same but many people wouldn't be able to perceive it that way since to them it can't be rape if the victim gave the rapist access. Instead of focusing on the rape, they would be saying about the victim, "What did she think would happen when she opened the door for a man like that?"

Like the saying about people who are not able to see the forest for all the trees, they are not able to see the rape for all excuses.

The smarter rapists are going to take notice and modify their MO accordingly. When these rapists are the darling of those who pride themselves for defending those falsely accused of rape, these rapists likely will enjoy feeling more powerful than their stupid defenders. But they will use their defenders just like they used their rape victims.

Many times the excuse is that certain rapes aren't harmful and therefore don't justify criminal consequences for the rapist. We see this often when defense attorneys refer to the duration of the rape when a videotape is used as evidence. "The whole thing took only 10 minutes."

The flaw here is that many murders and gun crimes only take a second as the defendant squeezes the trigger. If we think about it fully we will realize that a crime which took one hundred times longer doesn't automatically become worthy of one hundred times the punishment of the briefer crime.

What many defenders of these excuses forget is that in criminal trials many of repugnant surrounding details are not admissible evidence or they are disputed by the defense. The disputed details are where all the unfounded claims like "almost 50 percent of women who report being raped are lying about having been raped" do their intended dirty work.

What we accept as stranger rape can get spun by the defense attorney into a consensual and possibly kinky encounter between strangers. He didn't kick the door in. There's no proof he was wearing a ski mask. She asked to have that slip put around her head. All real rape victims immediately call 911.

So often the goal is to get jurors to a point where they mistake being spun around, possibly on tiny and meaningless details, for having reasonable doubt.

So while this and other defense attorneys are doing their jobs, watching how defense attorneys try to get acquittals for defendants who are obviously guilty tells us a lot about pervasive and dangerous attitudes which allow rapists to justify their actions and which allow rapists to escape justice.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:01 PM   0 comments links to this post

DA Employee Charged With Selling Victim Info

As a follow up to my post DA employee accused of selling sensitive information official charges have been filed in the case and the allegations are more disturbing than the initial report.

Kesha S. Green, 33, worked as a victim/witness advocate. Police received a tip that Green was providing information to criminals and an undercover sheriff's deputy called her at work, requesting information about a witness in a homicide trial.

Police said Green gave the undercover deputy information, including names, addresses and telephone numbers, about not only that witness but also about people involved in an armed robbery trial.

The undercover deputy told the woman that the information would be used to ensure that the witness would no longer cooperate.

The woman claims that she gave the information because she felt threatened and even if that is true she should understand enough about the criminal justice system to know that giving in to that threat would put people's lives at risk.

She had the choice to report the first requests for information along with the threats (direct or implied) so she could remain safe and so those interested in witness tampering could be caught.


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

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Colleges Hide Rape? What Nonsense ...

... or at least that's what many people were saying last year when the Duke case sparked on-campus protests.

There were no similar protests in the days after Laura Dickinson’s sexual assault and murder in her dorm room at Eastern Michigan University last December. But why?

The answer is simple and appalling. Neither her family nor her fellow students knew her death wasn't from natural causes as they had been led to believe. Her murder wasn't disclosed as required by a federal statute which was enacted after another female college student, Jeanne Clery, was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room back in 1986.

If the police in Michigan hadn't made an arrest of a fellow student 10 weeks later, it's unknown if her family and fellow students would still believe a lie. If the police had decided to ignore this crime and not process the evidence for some reason there would have been no outside pressure to investigate.

Those who scorn anti-rape protests on college campuses still seem to want to believe a lie and still want to label those who protest as paranoid nutjobs.

When colleges and universities change so women don't have to worry that their administrators are actively working to suppress the existence of sex crimes and rapists on campus and suppressing or blocking criminal investigations, the angry protests will go away naturally.

In the meantime many people will continue to disdain those who will keep the pressure on their administrators until they know they will put the safety and protection of students above the public image of the institution.

For more information on this case and on the Clary Act check out the Shakesville post on this case.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:19 PM   1 comments links to this post

Stranger Rapist: She Didn't Say No

In this Texas (correction: Colorado) rape case in which a man who isn't claiming that he knew the woman before he allegedly raped her, his defense attorney is claiming the sex was consensual.

The charges were filed with the man's DNA as the only identifier. Allegedly he was wearing a ski mask when he kicked the woman's door in. He was only found because his DNA was in the system due to a rape conviction in Kentucky.

“All the (DNA) science in the world is not going to resolve the central issue — if the sex was consensual,” [Deputy Public Defender Cindy] Jones said. “There was no force, no weapons — he just tied a slip around her head.”

He just tied a slip around her head? If the slip wasn't also around her neck it could easily be moved there so that if she didn't do as she was told that he could easily strangle her. But, hey, as many people claim, if the rapist didn't use a knife or a gun it can't be real rape. Never mind if they break in wearing ski masks.

For all those who defend alleged rapists who knew their victim simply because she didn't say no to unwanted sex, your attitude contributes to men like this rationalizing rape when their victims are too scared to say no and too scared to try and call 911.

When you rationalize away date rape until it becomes non-criminal (she could have escaped if she really wanted to, she didn't call 911 immediately, etc.), all rapists thank you for giving them more leeway.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:33 AM   10 comments links to this post

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Genarlow Wilson The New Duke Lacrosse Defendant?

With the outcome of the Duke case it seems like people want to get results for others accused of sex crimes before the public's mood changes. There's only one problem with those painting Genarlow Wilson as a victim of a rogue prosecutor.

This portrait is false.

He was found guilty of a specific statutory crime. His guilt isn't in question. Yet still he's being painted as someone falsely accused. He was found not guilty on another, non-statutory, charge and faced no punishment for that crime.

There are many cases where the defendant faces multiple charges and gets a mixed verdict either by a single jury or a mixed result in separate trials. Those who say Mr. Wilson is being punished unfairly because he was found not guilty on one charge are effectively asking that defendants either be found guilty on all charges or not be found guilty of any charge.

This is very dangerous.

Think about robberies that end with a home owner dead. The prosecution is able to prove to a jury that the 3 robbers are all guilty of the robbery but they can't prove who killed the homeowner beyond a reasonable doubt. All of them are found not guilty of murder charges. Do we really believe that these robbers were unfairly punished if they get the maximum punishment for robbery?

How about if the robbers received the minimum sentence for robbery? Are they really being unfairly punished because a man died? Mr. Wilson was given the minimum sentence. Just as in the robbery/murder scenario the lesser crime might not have come to the police's attention without the report of the more severe crime.

That's no excuse for the lesser crime.

Here is a snippet of an opinion piece written by Ken Wynne, president-elect of the District Attorneys Association of Georgia.

Wilson decided to test the evidence in front of a jury of his peers. Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation. His conviction was affirmed by the Georgia Court of Appeals. The Georgia Supreme Court refused to review the case. Wilson rolled the dice and lost, and somehow, in the eyes of some, that's the fault of the attorney general and the district attorney. [...] In the hysteria surrounding this case, important facts and principles are buried or overlooked by the media. Like it or not, Wilson committed aggravated child molestation. That fact is downplayed in the media because there seems to be some notion that "all kids do it." Well, not all kids do it; and to assassinate the character of an entire generation is just wrong.

I've seen too many people paint this man as a helpless and completely innocent victim when his choices have placed him where he is today. I've seen the "all boys do it" defense given by people who think that should make this action okay rather than being confirmation that this illegal behavior is as rampant as those "awful" feminist surveys report it to be.

If the change in law which subsequently reduced his crime to a misdemeanor should be applied retroactively to him then any change in law which increases a crime from a misdemeanor to a felony or makes a previously legal act illegal should also be applied retroactively. I doubt those who committed so-called moral rapes would be pleased to be subject to new laws which recognize how these moral rapists operate. They found a legal way to rape and they don't want to be convicted if and when all the loopholes in the rape laws are closed.

They'd say, "The law at the time of the act is the only law that applies."

If this man was charged with the rape of a 17 year old and the statutory crime against a 15 year old while his white counterpart wouldn't have faced any charges either through bigotry or a view that the alleged victim isn't credible, the problem is not with this prosecution but the lack of prosecution in other cases.

I saw this in a local murder trial. The black man who was murdered had a criminal history while his white murderer had no prior criminal history. Only it wasn't even close to being a first offense. He had been known by the police for years and was an admitted long time illegal drug user.

The solution to this imbalance isn't simply to ignore crime that has been enforced unequally.

The law in Georgia was changed primarily because of this case, but what he did has been transformed into something that should be celebrated. He has been transformed by many people into a grand and tragic hero when he is no such thing.

If the 10 year sentence is too long for the crime it is too long even if the defendant was a high school dropout who instead of carrying a football had a reputation for carrying contraband. In essence Mr. Wilson's defenders tried to prove that he was more like those who get away with their crimes because of their race or social status than the stereotype people have of black men as a low life criminals. The problem with this is that this outcome which is based on the packaging of the defendant is responsible for so much injustice.

That's more troubling than having a man serve out his entire sentence if the courts ultimately rule that he must serve the sentence in place at the time of the crime.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:51 PM   5 comments links to this post

Georgia Governor Suspected Of Having Ties to 1946 Lynching

The Associated Press obtained the full case file only last week after a 2-year effort to get the information on this case through the Freedom of Information Act.

Newly released files from the lynching of two black couples more than 60 years ago contain a disturbing revelation: The FBI investigated suspicions that a three-term governor of Georgia sanctioned the murders to sway rural white voters during a tough election campaign.

According to this story, Governor Eugene Talmadge's re-election campaign had a violently racist tone back in 1946 and after a fight between a black sharecropper and a white farmer where the white farmer was injured, the governor allegedly offered immunity to anyone who took care of that negro.

On July 25, 1946, a white farmer posted the sharecropper's bail and took this man, his wife and another black couple in his car and was driving them as they were ambushed. All 4 passengers, Roger and Dorothy Malcom, and George and Mae Murray Dorsey, were tied to trees and then murdered in three volleys. One of the women shot to death was 7 months pregnant. The white man driving the car wasn't shot even once and claimed he didn't recognize even a single person in that mob.

Even if all of the unproven suspicions by FBI agents weren't true, the undisputed details of this case highlights why so many African Americans don't trust that law enforcement officials will be a source of justice.

Yet lately it is those who salivate over the idea of killing Mike Nifong and the alleged victim in that case who claim to be the victims now that being a white person accused of committing violence against a black person may actually result in criminal charges.

How unfair life has gotten for them since 1946.

No wonder these people say "Duke 88" as if these people are notorious criminals who must be destroyed rather than referring to them as Duke professors who used their free speech rights to publicly acknowledge that the fear of violence and the fear of injustice is real and needs to be addressed.

I came across a "Christian" forum where one man disgusted over this case wrote: "Just remember, we're the ones who own American industry, the economy and plenty of weapons."

Personally, I view this man and the many others like him as a far greater public threat than the "Duke 88."


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   4 comments links to this post

Monday, June 18, 2007

DA Employee Accused Of Selling Sensitive Information

This is sickening. A Hennepin County (Minnesota) Attorney's Office employee is accused of selling sensitive information about crime victims and may have compromised the safety of undercover officers.

So often when victims talk about being afraid to tell the authorities what happened to them or talk about being too scared to give contact information to the authorities, people call them paranoid or flat out delusional.

When there is discussion of possible wrongdoing within a DA's office or law enforcement, it's always focused on the harm that can be done to defendants. Harm done to victims doesn't seem to merit discussion.

Thankfully in this case, the potential harm wasn't ignored and a full investigation was launched. Now this employee no longer has access to sensitive records and may face criminal charges and most likely is in the process of being fired.

The employee is described by a neighbor as not being the type of person who would do this, but as with many crimes not being the type of person who would do something means they can commit those crimes with less fear of being caught.

As with many other crimes with selfish motives, it's surprising how easily some people can rationalize their actions until they convince themselves that they are doing nothing really wrong while refusing to consider the harm their actions may cause others.

Any defendants who were found not guilty as result of information they received, or actions they took based on that information, cannot be retried. I hope, however, that those who bought confidential information can at least be charged with a crime for that act and any criminal acts they took related to the information they bought.

The full story is here.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:07 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mike Nifong Ethics Trial & Disbarment Reaction

I'm finding it interesting to see what those who are gloating about the turnabout in the Duke case from last year are saying. What they are focusing on in their writing and what they are ignoring reveals more about them than it does about Mike Nifong.

An attitude I've seen holds that when defense attorneys use tactics far beyond anything Mike Nifong is accused of doing, those actions not only shouldn't put the attorney at risk of disbarment those actions are praised as effective representation.

Public statements about alleged victims which are inflammatory and which go far beyond claiming their client's innocence. Participating in fraud to gain access to information about an alleged victim. Using the media to intimidate witnesses. Hiding evidence. All good.

Prosecutors are painted as Goliaths crushing innocent men (never women) under their feet while defense attorneys are painted as Davids protecting all who are innocent. This depiction of might vs. right is a deliberate distortion of reality especially in rape cases.

"By hook or by crook" is just fine when you are an attorney -- unless you are a prosecutor then you are a “minister of injustice” who wove “a web of deception,” as a state bar prosecutor said in closing statements of Nifong's ethics trial Saturday.

Those who put forth the David v. Goliath model and who are willing to acknowledge the unethical behavior of defense attorneys who are "ministers of injustice" and who weave "a web of deception" basically justify defense attorneys stepping over the line because everybody's doing it -- even the prosecutors who never get caught.

This mindset echoes what they say about men who are charged with raping a girl or woman too drunk to defend herself or to say yea or nay. According to them nearly every man has taken advantage of this situation at some time in his life so it's a grave injustice to punish any boy or man for typical behavior. It's noteworthy that those who say this also deny the statistics about the number of rapes which actually support their rationalization for not convicting certain men of rape.

Most rapists get away with rape so it's grossly unfair that some rapists who commit the types of rapes which are most common get charged with rape, are found guilty and go to prison. Not surprisingly, these people don't say that it's unfair when a woman who lied about rape is charged with making a false police report. Rather than the "women lie about rape" being a reason for leniency it is given as a reason for giving a harsher punishment than to those who file non-rape related false reports. Got to teach those lying women a lesson for the public good.

I'm sure those charged with a DUI would love to use the "everyone does it at one time or another" defense. Ditto for those caught at tax fraud.

Another common theme is that free speech should cover the most despicable statements made by lawyers and law students -- unless a prosecutor says outside of the courtroom that the defendants are criminals. However, if a prosecutor makes similar statements or implications about an alleged victim who hasn't been charged with any crime then that is a job well done and should never be considered an ethical breach.

Many of those who scream that prosecutors have too much leverage and therefore must be held to a higher standard deny the existence of leverage and the need for a higher standard when it comes to sex crimes. If an alleged rapist didn't put a gun to his victim's head or a knife to her throat, it was consensual. Period. The more power the alleged rapist has the less they are willing to look at any of the evidence. Powerful people don't need to rape so the case would be summed up by most of these people on day one as, "She's a gold digging, man-hating ho."

Sometimes powerful people step over the line simply because they believe they can. These people believe prosecutors can do it but deny that anyone charged with rape can do it too.

Many of these people who are appalled that a prosecutor could press forward on a criminal case despite a lack of supporting evidence will vigorously defend men accused of pressing forward to get sex despite a lack of supporting evidence that the sex was welcome. These people seem willing to acknowledge the harm prosecutors can do while "just trying to do their jobs" yet will actively deny the harm that can done by those "just trying to get laid."

They have seen the enemy and he is them.

I don't want to live in a police state, but neither do I want to live in a land where serious accusations are simply ignored or sluffed off because the case could be hazardous to the prosecutor's law license. A legal system which runs only to the benefit of the accused is an unjust system and helps create more crime.

We need to hold true to a familiar motto: justice for all.

What I have seen none of these people acknowledge is the harm Nifong did to this alleged victim and the harm he did to all rape victims. They either refuse to see the harm or they simply don't care about it or too often they celebrate the harm to alleged victims as long as no defendants are harmed in the process.

This from a post written by a man who has said from the beginning (long before all the evidence was collected and analyzed of course) "... nailing this lying stripper from the very beginning as opportunistic race baiting whore...":

3 Innocent Men, one overly ambitious and crooked prosecutor, and a bunch of inept bumbling cops in the end are all screwed, some for life, by an accuser who for some odd reason has come through this whole episode completely unscathed and unharmed. The whole world now knows for a fact she is nothing but a filthy, dirty, lying slut that should be ruined for life and in cage or a casket for what she's gotten away with.

This wish to harm this alleged victim, likely from the day the story broke, is nothing new and if a few alleged victims get murdered, hey too bad so sad. The fact that it has not been proven that she ever said anything she didn't believe doesn't matter. She still deserves to die.


I found a thread on the Lie Stoppers bulletin board De Anza College Rape Allegation when I backtracked from a referral to my blog which illustrates that this motto is often ignored.

This response from the administrator to someone who objected to statements being made about the alleged victim:

I'd like to think that we'd champion a sytem of justice that is equal for both the people considered rightly by the community to be monsters and for the people considered wrongly by the community to be monsters.

Notice who isn't included in those being championed? The alleged victims.

When Wade Smith spoke on behalf of the family of the Va Tech mass murderer did he suddenly become an advocate for school massacres? When Bannon, Cheshire, or Cooney represent guilty men do they become advocates for the crimes their clients committed? If not, then why would anyone here arguing for prudent prosecutorial discretion or championing the rights of the accused suddenly become advocates for the crimes they are accused of?

Why indeed. Someone earlier in this thread wrote:

...I suspect that the sexual history and activities of the young lady have a strong bearing on this case...
[response to that statement:] And what makes you suspect this about this particular 17 year old girl?
[response to the question:]
(1. The corset.
(2. The lack of ruckus.
(3. Other party goers were aware of the situation presumably from the start of the
assignation. No one intervened?

There was no scolding of this person by the administrator for not championing the system of justice, but those who had a problem with this stereotyping of alleged rape victims as sluts were scolded and basically told to fall back into line or leave.

Where would anyone get even a hint that members of this group advocate for the crimes the men at the De Anza were accused of or the crimes that the Duke lacrosse players were accused of? And why would anyone view these people's opinions on rape cases as so biased in favor of rapists that they lose all credibility?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:27 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Defending Sexual Terrorism As Merely Free Speech

The comments made by bloggers Ann Althouse (a law professor) and Glenn Reynolds (a conservative pundit) and quoted in this Feministe post in response to the Auto Admit lawsuit match the beliefs of too many people.

A little background: Auto Admit is a site where a series of rape-related comments were allowed to be made about specific female law students by a group of people which according to those who posted included those women's classmates.

Those who don't put 1 and 2 together to reach a troubling conclusion trouble me. So what are 1 and 2?

1) An atmosphere where the posting of personal information which comes from stalking is acceptable.

2) An atmosphere where posting statements like this: “for minimising this tragedy, she deserves a brutal raping" is just regular guy stuff and possibly considered tame.

So what is 3?

Ann Althouse wrote:

“the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe” exactly what we always used to say people had to put up with in a free country?

Glenn Reynolds wrote:

Stuff that offends dumb hicks in the heartland is constitutionally protected. Stuff that offends Yale Law Students must be stamped out!

Both of these statements equate something like crudely-written erotica to people who -- under the shield of anonymity -- salivate over the prospect of seeing specific classmates brutally raped and who with the support of pack mentality do what they can to make that crime easier for someone else to commit from both a logistical and rationalization perspective.

To put it in the rawest terms the price for freedom in the US becomes allowing 100 men at a law school related event to chant, "She deserves to be raped. She deserves to be raped. She deserves to be raped." to the man closest to the woman who happened for any reason to become the focus of their attention. And if -- wild shock -- she is raped by that man, those egging him on are completely innocent. They never said, "rape her," they were just expressing a personal opinion about this woman -- a constitutional right.

It's not like college women ever prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were raped on or near campus so how were these men to know that some man could take this meaningless talk seriously?

And of course the women treated to this hostility and increased physical risk are the only ones attempting to harm anyone if they demand, through the courts when needed, that the chanting and the stalking stop.

Don't these women know that freedom always comes at a heavy cost?

Update (6/17):

I found this quote from Eugene Volokh:

The posters’ actions are pretty disgusting and unprofessional; they violate codes of basic decency endorsed by most of society, left, center, and right. If their identities are disclosed, they are likely to lose their jobs (or job offers), lose friends, and be set back for many years and by many hundreds of thousands of dollars in their careers.

If women are supposed to pay the price for other people's freedom of speech, then those people who attack women must also be willing to pay the price for that freedom as well. Free speech doesn't mean people should never be legally accountable for their words and never have their words seen as reflecting on their true character.

According to Prof. Volokh rape threats should be viewed as hyperbole rather than be viewed as actual threats. Maybe in cases where men threaten to rape other men, it is more easily assumed that the threats are nothing more than hyperbole, but since many men do rape women in far too large of numbers, a threat by an anonymous man to rape a woman he disdains should never be dismissed as hyperbole that can be ignored as an idle threat.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   4 comments links to this post

Friday, June 15, 2007

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 25

Welcome to the June 15, 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 25th edition of the carnival against sexual violence:

personal stories

In It happened then, why is it still happening now? posted at Birthcycle, we get a frank discussion of the harm created by sexual harassment that is allowed to continue unchecked and how much of the advice meant to stop sexual harassment makes the victim feel responsible for being victimized.

creative expression

In when i think about it sometimes i hate you posted at kagablog: great art daily, we get a poem written to a mother who minimized the trauma of her daughter's rape.

In Swing, swing posted at My Soul's Phantasm, we get a short poem about what can happen at fraternity parties.


In above and beyond all this. posted at a cat and twenty., we get a discussion of crimes which express a hatred toward women and how entrenched the support for that hatred is.

In Men Can Stop Rape Invited to Speak on Capitol Hill to Discuss Poll Results Showing Men's Increasing Desire to End Violence posted at Masculinities in Media, we get information about a recent poll and the efforts of men dedicated to fighting violence against women.

In Where Did Men Learn That Sexual Predatory Behavior Is A-Ok? posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss an old educational film Are You Popular? (New) which presents the message that enables many good boys to have no guilt over coercing or forcing not-so-good girls to have sex.

In invisible boundaries posted at 2 B Sophora, we get a discussion about the boundaries that are placed on women when it is their responsibility to prevent violence against themselves.


In Duke Rape Case Fall Out - the Power to change our Collective Narratives? posted at Luke Gilman's High on the Hog Blog, we get a discussion of how high profile cases can impact the narratives potential jurors compare the evidence to and how these narratives can result in puzzling inconsistencies in the verdicts of rape cases.

In Placing Blame Where It Belongs posted at The Thinkery, we get a discussion of victim blaming in rape cases to the point of effectively putting the victim on trial and how that contrasts to non-sexual crimes.

In Unfounded Claims Made Against Alleged Rape Victims In South Africa posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the conclusions which were made based on giving rape victims treatment to prevent HIV.

In Outrageous Treatment of Nashville Rape Victims posted at Women's Health News, we get a discussion about how all rape victims in Nashville (except Vanderbilt students seen at the University hospital) who get treatment at area hospitals can only get an evidentury exam at one local hospital.

In Womanizing police chief retained in Corpus Christi posted at South Texas Chisme, we get a discussion of the decision by a city manager to keep a police chief who was accused of rape by an ex-girlfriend.

In An Internet Harassment Case With A Depressing Twist posted at PrawfsBlawg, we get a discussion about the Allison Stokke case and what her father's position regarding what is happening to her contrasts to what he has said to rape victims in his role as a defense attorney.

In Attempt Murder/Rape Suspect Found Guilty in Nicaragua posted at LAPD Blog, we get information about a crime which happened in the US but which was tried in Nicaragua since that country doesn't extradite their citizens.

In Genarlow Wilson freed--but that doesn't make him a bookworm posted at The Last Plantation, we get a discussion of the problems created when calls to correct unjust sentences are based on boosting the likeability of the person convicted of a crime while ignoring the reality of the criminal's actions.

In Former Presbyterian Pastor Charged With Rape posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a case where the alleged victims found strong support from within the church where the alleged abuse happened.

In Our Society has Failed Women posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of the De Anza case and many of the disturbing comments made about this case.

In 'Vigilante' admits to assault; Man lured to beating after woman claimed to have been raped posted at Sex Offender Issues, we get a discussion of a case where a man who committed a premeditated assault against another man was sentenced to a month in jail and released for time served.

In City (Waukegan in suburban Chicago) refuses to pa... posted at Strange Justice, we get information about the false conviction of Alejandro Dominguez on rape charges which allegedly occurred because the identification process was unfairly suggestive of his guilt and because the investigator ignored significant differences between him and the victim's description of her attackers.

In FIERCE, violence against women of color, support posted at Women of Color Blog, we get a discussion of a case where a man harassed and then attacked a group of lesbian women, including pinning one woman and choking her, resulted in charges against the women, but not against the man and not against other men who interceded when they saw a woman being choked.

In Eugene, don't be daft posted at The Bull in Full, we get a discussion about resistance from a Durham city council member to a request by other council members that a representative from the Durham Crisis Response Center sit in on the lacrosse investigation panel.

media watch

In Elizabeth Foyster, "Marital Violence: An English Family History, 1660-1857" posted at Feminist Law Professors, we get information about a book which explores the role of marital violence in English history.

In Shame and Blame posted at Shakesville, we get a discussion about an article which blames girl's clothing choices for male teachers who cross the line into inappropriate behavior.

In Christian Prayer As Rape Prevention posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a chain email which reduced God to an omnipresent form of mace.

In On How We Keep Blaming Women For Rape posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of the flaws in an article about women journalists who are raped while on the job.

raising awareness

In Flow of Consciousness posted at O'Doyle Rules, we get a discussion of the difficulty people have understanding the reality of sexual violence including a vivid scenario involving a baseball bat which shows the obvious flaws in dismissing the possibility of a real sexual assault when the victim began as a willing participant.

In What is sexual assault/sexual abuse? posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get a discussion about the confusion victims can have about whether their experience is true sexual assault or sexual abuse and we get information to help clear up that confusion.

In Can We Stop Predators from Being Hired as Teachers? posted at Teacher Smackdown, we get links to information about what schools can and/or should do to screen the teachers they hire and to provide information about troubling behavior so other schools don't hire teachers who are likely to prey on students.

In Types of Rapist: posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get information on the characteristics of some the different types of rapists.

In Young people are committing sex offense more! posted at Only Three Notes, we get a discussion of a recent study and the possible causes for the results of the study.

In Rape victim speaks out in new crisis posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get an article about the human costs of a proposed budget cut for a rape crisis program.

In Catholic Men's Group Cheers At Idea Of Forcing Rape Victims to Give Birth posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss how Sen. Brownback contradicts his statement that "rape is terrible" as he explained his anti-abortion stance.

In Profile of female sex offenders slowly emerges posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get an article by Tony Rizzo that looks at what is known about the differences and similarities between female sex offenders and male sex offenders.


In Reparations posted at Everyone Needs Therapy, we get a discussion of what reparations are in a therapy (vs. legal) situation and how having a perpetrator take full responsibility for harming another person can help the victim's recovery.

In Rape victim blames herself posted at Writhe Safely, we get a discussion of the harm that can be done when people try to correct a rape victim who expresses self-blame.


In Traditional Attitudes and Sexual assault posted at The Difference Blog, we get a discussion of a study which looked at the relationship between gender roles and sexual assault.

In Smith on Sexual Abuse & Slavery posted at Legal Theory Blog, we get information about a study by Brenda V. Smith (American University - Washington College of Law) titled Sexual Abuse of Women in United States Prisons: A Modern Corollary of Slavery.


In Rainbow Girl Stars in SEXY WAR Comic Book Fundraiser. posted at Team Rainbow, we learn about a comic books where all of the proceeds go to support Umoja Uasa Kenyan Women's Village, which is basically a shelter for women who have survived rape, domestic violence, and other forms of oppression.

In The rape resistance 'backpack' posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get information about a program which seeks to give women's efforts to protect themselves a more accurate label and keep the focus on true empowerment.

In Sexual Violence - resistance and reality posted at The F-Word Blog, we get a discussion of an effort to move away from using the term rape prevention when we are talking about helping people stay safe.

In How to teach your kids not to rape posted at Gatochy's Blog, we get a discussion of what mothers who have been raped should disclose to their sons, if anything, when trying to emphasize the right choice to make when stepping over the line is tempting.

That concludes this 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 June 28 at 11 pm and the next edition will be out on July 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,

Also worth noting is that the first anniversary edition of the Carnival Against Child Abuse is still open for nominations until June 19.

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   9 comments links to this post

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Judge: Alleged Rape Victim Can't Say Rape

I had to read this story to believe that a judge would restrict an alleged victim from accurately describing her experience. Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront based his decision on a 1970s law*.

LINCOLN - For 13 excruciating hours, Tory Bowen testified in court about waking up with a man she didn't recall meeting. She said he was sexually assaulting her. Bowen, however, was barred from using terms like "rape" and "sexual assault" to describe her plight because a judge ruled they could be prejudicial to the defendant.

If the alleged victim isn't allowed to use labels such as "rape" or "sexual assault" then defendants and defense attorneys cannot be allowed to use labels such as "consent" or "mutual" to describe the situation or in questioning witnesses since that would be prejudicial to the alleged victim who has been barred from directly countering those claims.

The words "sex" and "we" and "they" should also be barred from descriptors in any questioning or testimony regarding the alleged sex crime or events which preceded those alleged crimes since they all imply consent and would prejudice a jury against the alleged victim.

Instead of saying that (or asking if) the defendant and the alleged victim had sex, the defense attorney should have to say that (or ask if) the defendant put his penis in the alleged victim's body. There's a clear difference between an alleged victim being cornered into saying, "Yes, we had sex" and saying, "He must have because when I came to his penis was in there." The first question asked by a defense attorney is designed specifically to mislead the jury -- a violation of the law.

There's also a clear difference between a defense attorney saying, "the fact that they had sex is not in dispute" and "the fact that he put his penis in her body is not in dispute." The first statement is absolutely prejudicial.

Instead of the defense attorney saying that (or asking if) they (the defendant and the alleged victim) left the bar together, the defense attorney would have to separately describe and/or question the actions of the two people from the time they interacted in the bar.

A defense attorney saying that they were shown leaving the bar together is definitely prejudicial since it falsely implies that equality in actions has been proven and removes the possibility that the alleged victim was guided out of the bar by someone intent on exploiting another person's intoxication or that she was followed outside.

The defense would have to show in detail what actions the alleged victim took and what words she said which demonstrate the victim's willing and legal participation -- in the entire interaction -- without saying anything prejudicial against the alleged victim or claiming that "she consented" since that is a conclusion rather than a specific action taken by a specific person at a specific time.

Just as the prosecution (through the alleged victim's testimony) is expected to show -- not tell -- that a sexual assault happened, the defense must show -- not tell -- that the charges cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

When fair trials are only fair from the the defendant's perspective they are only a mockery of true fairness.

Clarence Mock, the lawyer defending the man accused of raping Bowen, said certain terms can "inflame" a jury, leading them to rule on emotion rather than facts.

If this is the true concern then this attorney must also support the barring of any testimony or evidence that focuses on the good character of the defendant or the bad character of the alleged victim since that would lead the jury to rule on emotion rather than on the facts of the case.

Too many cases take the "Oh, he's such a nice man and nice men can't do what the evidence is indicating he did. If he did break the letter of the law, he couldn't have meant to do so."

Certain so-called inflammatory terms can definitely inform a jury about the facts. Emotion absolutely belongs in criminal cases when it is used to accurately capture events directly related to the alleged crime. Without emotion and descriptive words to communicate being mugged, the mugger is free to put forth the unchallenged lie that he was simply given a gift of the alleged victim's wallet. That opens the door to the giver's remorse defense. I doubt people who walk the streets want muggers to be able to easily paint themselves as the true victims.

A sentence like "I woke up to discover I was being sexually assaulted" describes that person's experience and is directly relevant to a criminal trial. What the defense is trying to paint is a scenario where the alleged victim was fine with what the defendant was doing. That illusion is broken when the person who "legally consented" wakes up and immediately thinks "What the ...? I'm being raped."

In this particular case what I find telling is the man's response of "You don't remember last night? You consented" since his word choice indicates that the man was thinking in legal terms about what to say if the woman regained consciousness before he was done. The phrasing also doesn't match what someone would say if they were truly shocked that an active partner in sex couldn't remember even meeting that person.

It's no surprise that the first trial under this ruling resulted in a hung jury. The full unprejudiced story wasn't allowed and unless something changes, it won't be allowed in the retrial. Maybe the next jury will be able to see beyond the prejudicial and one-sided restrictions, but maybe their prejudices will match the prejudice which is still allowed in this case.

* Nebraska Revised Statutes
Section 27-403
Rule 403. Exclusion of relevant evidence; reasons.

Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

Laws 1975, LB 279, 13

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:49 AM   5 comments links to this post