Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Theft Of Services Not Rape Judge Draws Response From Bar Association

From a Boston Herald story about Judge Teresa Carr Deni:

Dominique Gindraw was accused of ordering the accuser at gunpoint to have sex with three men. But Deni dismissed the rape and sexual assault charges on Oct. 4. She upheld conspiracy, robbery, false imprisonment and other charges against Gindraw.

The chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association issued a statement Tuesday that questioned Deni’s understanding of state law. "The victim has been brutalized twice in this case: first by the assailants, and now by the court," Chancellor Jane Leslie Dalton wrote. "We cannot imagine any circumstances more violent or coercive than being forced to have sex with four men at gunpoint."

It took them long enough to respond to this outrageous and unacceptable ruling by Judge Deni.

Too many people want to impose their own bigotry onto sexual assault laws. In this case, I believe that the judge decided that the victim wasn't a worthy victim and made her ruling based on her personal opinion about the victim rather than on the actions of the defendant.

Basically, this judge gave her blessing for rape by saying that under specific circumstances rape isn't a crime in her courtroom.

The problem with this judgment of victims is that it feeds the rationalizations of rapists. Any demand that a rape victim meet an artificial standard to be a "real rape victim" is to demand that we allow all rapists to proceed as long as they pick acceptable victims.

I reject that demand.

We must have a zero tolerance policy for rape with no excuses allowed. I don't care if she's your wife or your girlfriend or a tease or slept with every other guy in the world or promised to sleep with you ten minutes earlier.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:54 PM   0 comments links to this post

Mike Huckabee's Rape Denial

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's statement related to the release of a rapist, originally sentenced to life plus 20, who went on to murder a woman after his sentence was reduced -- and parole granted -- doesn't ring true.

Huckabee said he could not remember all the details of a meeting he had with parole board members during which the case of Wayne DuMond came up. But he asserted, "I didn't try to, you know, push anybody's buttons on it."

Two months after taking office in Little Rock, [then Arkansas Governor Mike] Huckabee announced he favored DuMond's early release because he doubted the inmate's guilt and because DuMond had been castrated while awaiting his rape trial. DuMond said masked men attacked him at his home, but no one was ever charged.

If this is the truth, that Huckabee believed an innocent man was in prison, then his stated reason for not commuting DuMond's sentence -- the man would be under no parole supervision -- makes absolutely no sense.

What I want to know is what specific evidence Huckabee had that made him believe a convicted rapist was likely innocent? If it was nothing more than bigotry against DuMond's victim then Huckabee has proven himself to be a bigoted fool.

And what evidence did Huckabee have that made him believe that DuMond was too dangerous to be released without parole supervision? And did he turn that evidence over to the parole board?

Did Huckabee even verify through a prison medical exam that that DuMond was castrated as he claimed? If that verifiable claim wasn't checked out then how can we expect Huckabee to evaluate claims related to national security?

Huckabee's attempt to shirk responsibility for his part in this man's release shows me that he doesn't have the level of honor I expect from the president of the USA. And this is the opinion I had before looking at other discussions of Huckabee's involvement with DuMond's parole.


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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Whitman College's Efforts To Find Out The True Number Of Rapes

While too many college officials do everything they can to keep their rape statistics low to preserve their image as a safe place, Whitman College officials in Walla Walla, Washington are doing what they can to get their rape statistics high enough to match the actual number of student rapes.

The actual goal, rather than just the stated goal, for Whitman College's annual security report is to document the truth even when the truth breaks the illusion of safety. The report lists six on-campus rapes and 1 off-campus rape for last year, but these numbers are believed to be lower than the actual number of rapes.
“Pretty much all the numbers you’re going to see … are all statistics that come from our pink forms,” said Barbara Maxwell. Maxwell is Whitman’s sexual misconduct response coordinator. She is responsible for distribution of Sexual Misconduct Incident Report Forms or ‘pink forms,’ as they are known to students.

These forms are an anonymous, confidential way for anyone to report incidents they have either experienced or have heard from a friend, student or other acquaintance Space is provided to describe the incident, and several resources for victims are listed including the Health Center, Walla Walla Police and the dean of students.

Maxwell stressed the importance of students knowing that disclosing on a pink form does not imply any action being taken by the College.

“The pink forms do nothing,” she said. “I use them for two reasons: one, for the statistics. The other, it gives me a sense of who our students are confiding in.” One conclusion this has led to is that Residence Life members especially hear about incidents but very rarely fill out forms to report them. This fall Maxwell has spoken to residence directors about the importance of disclosing for statistical purposes.
I applaud this effort even though it doesn't result in the investigations of individuals because it gives the college a more accurate picture of the problem which in turn can lead to more effective policies that have the potential to reduce the actual number of rapes.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Family Research Institute Give Christians A Bad Name

Christian News Wire story with the headline Homosexuals Account for 29 Percent of Rape and Murder of Kids:

29% of the 714 perpetrators who made the news for raping and killing children from 1980-2005 engaged in homosexuality. 600 (66%) of the 914 kids raped and murdered children were girls. Perpetrators were male 96% of the time. The 209 homosexual perpetrators accounted for 40% of the victims – 9% of the girls and 99% of the boys.

This sort of press release reminds me of the stuff I see from the white supremacists about crimes committed by non-whites. Their agenda is simple: find any way to demonize all members of the group they identify as the "horrid them." Then use this agenda-driven data as the official justification for the agenda.

This focus on homosexuality trivializes the crimes committed by those who don't fit their focus. It turns 71% of the 714 perpetrators who made the news for raping and killing children into inherently better people.

Since 99% of the boys are listed as victims of homosexual perpetrators (men with homosexuality assumed based on the crime) this press release also tells me that the rape and murder of boys is more tragic to the Family Research Institute than the rape and murder of girls.

They make it clear that they want to stop homosexual rapist/murderers. Yet the 91% of girls who are raped and murdered by heterosexual men, according to their statistics, are barely worth mentioning. I find that repugnant.

This data in no way, shape or form proves that if you are heterosexual you are less sinful or less dangerous than those who are homosexual. Yet that is clearly the message this press release wants people to receive.

The number of so-called intelligent people who blame every crime committed by someone identified as homosexual on homosexuality, but who reject this same sort of causal relationship when it heterosexuals who commit a crime is amazing.

It is worth noting that this data isn't based on actual crimes committed, but is instead based on stories in Lexis-Nexis about the raping and killing of children. I'm left wondering why they choose not to use official crime statistics.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:24 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Decriminalizing Teen Sexuality or Decriminalizing Teen Sexual Abuse And Rape?

With the freeing of Genarlow Wilson, I've seen people (Adolescent Sexuality, Crooks and Liars among others) using this case as evidence for their demand that teen sexuality needs to be decriminalized -- as if all sexualized actions by those who are teens is non-predatory except when knives or guns are used to gain compliance.

What gets labeled as consensual is often far from the image people have of kids freely and mutually interacting during sex acts. This perception matches the general attitude many people have that it isn't rape unless the victim has an immediate fear of death and that they accept that the victim would have good reason to fear of death with no possible safe way out.

All those who don't agree with them are at risk of unfairly being slapped with the label prude. At 15 shortly after being raped twice by my boyfriend, it was not helpful at all to be told that the only reason I felt bad about not being a virgin was because of society's hang ups about premarital sex. Those who told me that nonsense fell into the same traps that people want to open back up now. They were no more right in their assessment than those who looked down on all girls who didn't save their virginity until their wedding night.

In their minds these two groups might have see the other group as opposite, but both groups are often the same in making a rape victim responsible for actions taken against her. Those who say, "It's all good" are no more right or helpful than those who say, "It's all sinful."

This demand for the stripping of statutory rape laws, if met, would put younger children and teens at even greater risk of rape and sexual abuse than they are now -- and with the blessing of the government and those who demanded this change in law.

Too often it is only the statutory rape laws which leads to the conviction of rapists since victims who say "I never consented" or "I flat out said no and that didn't even slow him down" or "I went to bed alone and woke up mid-rape" are frequently considered unreliable or liars for a variety of reasons.

I've heard too many people say, "if it happens twice, it had to be consensual." Sex abusers love these people.

I've heard too many people say that girls shouldn't be given the right to call what was done to them against their wishes rape and have that designation respected. If the guy decides what he did wasn't rape for whatever reason (didn't use a knife, didn't threaten death, etc), then that's the only decision the law should pay attention to.

The other charge against Wilson which ended in an acquittal was for the rape of a drunk -- to the point of unconscious -- 17-year-old girl. I don't know why the jury who watched that video believed that girl consented or why they believed there was reasonable doubt that she might have consented. Maybe they thought she may have said earlier, "When I pass out, please go ahead without me." Because of this assessment by the jury, I have no real trust that what was labeled consensual oral sex really was the result of freely given informed consent on the part of the 15-year-old. In short, I have little confidence in the spin about this defendant's actions.

Unfortunately, the active pushing of alcohol, to the point of putting a child's life in danger, is also seen as a normal teen activity and is also frequently described as experimentation.

For many people being a manipulative sexual predator (vs. an immediately violent sexual predator) isn't considered truly criminal unless the offender is an old man who preys on toddlers. Then he's a monster.

Frankly, the Romeo and Juliet description of sexual contact used to justify stripping away statutory protections are as fictional as the play with only the rare exception. For the Romeo and Juliet analogy to fit there can be no coercion, no use of substances to lower resistance, no use of isolation to gain consent, no use of peer pressure, no exploitation of another person in any way.

In true Romeo and Juliet relationships there are fully mutual and lasting care and respect so that if consent is given that it will still be there in a day, in a week, in a month.

In true Romeo and Juliet relationships there is no such thing as coercion or assumed consent.

In true Romeo and Juliet relationships there is no passing Juliet around to Romeo's friends.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:29 AM   0 comments links to this post

Carnival Updates & Call For Nominations

Posts of mine have been included in the following carnivals:

All Women Blogging over at Imaginif

Carnival of the Liberals over at So Queer

Feminism at its Finest over at Menstrual Poetry

Also check out the Carnival Against Child Abuse October edition

Tomorrow night at 11 pm is the next deadline for the Carnival Against Sexual Violence so please take a few minutes and nominate a post you've written or a post you've read.


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

Saturday, October 27, 2007

How To Lose My Respect With One Question

Here's the question:

If the motivation for legalized abortion really is to save the lives of women, why aren't the people who make that argument also calling for the repeal of laws against rape?

I've seen this question on several blogs and all those who think this question is a gotcha against those who are concerned over the deaths of women due to pregnancy or unsafe abortions are dead wrong.

This question makes the asker look like a fetus worshipper who celebrates unwilling human sacrifice. I'm instantly reminded of those who see rapists as a tool of God used to plant the seed of life and who therefore want to block rape victims from getting birth control and abortions.

Rather than coming across as moral, these people come across as barbaric.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:20 PM   3 comments links to this post

Now Men Are Asking For It Too?

NPR in Dallas, Texas has information on Deputy Mayor Dwaine Caraway's efforts to enforce a de facto city-wide dress code for men.

From Pull Your Pants Up! campaign myspace page:

In the prison system, when a man wears his pants around his thighs it is a signal that he is available, many of these guys do not understand the meaning and history of sagging, I am not saying anything to slander the gay community, only enlightening these guys on what it really means, what you do is your business, but if a streight (sic) man is doing something that in prison signifies homosexuality, should he not have the right to know?

I can understand why some people don't like sagging pants, but invoking rape paranoia by telling men that they are consenting to gay sex through the way they wear their pants is as stupid as telling women that they are consenting to heterosexual sex through the way they wear their clothes.

Apparently, I've seen hundreds of men trolling for gay sex as they bent over and gave everyone near them an unwanted view of their butt crack.

When I say I want equality, I don't want nonsense that's been long applied to women to start getting applied to men. I'm sure some defense attorneys who represent men who rape other men are perking up at this "obvious" sign of consent.

Defense attorney during closing: "If the pants don't fit [the victim], you must acquit."

Hat tip: Grim amusements

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:47 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, October 26, 2007

Oct. 26: Relay For Reclaim The Night

From Imaginif I learned about a great awareness raising effort to help fight sexual violence.

I'm supposed to have a photo of my real light or candle and will add it later if I can get a picture, but because I just learned about this effort (I missed an earlier announcement), I quickly created the following graphic so I could help spread the word. Please feel free to borrow this graphic as a placeholder.

Relay For Reclaim The Night Light March logo

To place the graphic above on your blog insert the following code:

Join our relay to end sexual violence and help shine the light on an area of darkness:

  1. Take a photo of your light and post it to your blog this evening (October 26 2007). Light up the night with a light march (it’s sort of like a light snack!).
  2. Link to at least one other Light Marcher so that a relay effect takes place across the blogoshpere - a Light March.

  3. Stumble or Digg this post, and yours, so that the Light March covers as much ground as possible.

Some of the relay runners:

Imaginif: Relay for Reclaim the Night MarchMelbourne: Reclaim the Night

Cheerful Megalomaniac: Reclaim the Night - Tonight!

Melbourne: Reclaim the Night

Forbes: Reclaiming the Night

Goulburn: Reclaim the Night. Stop the Violence


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:27 AM   1 comments links to this post

Another Case That Contradicts Stock Rape Prevention Advice

This sexual assault demonstrates that those who urge women to restrict their movements to "safe" places to avoid rape are creating false boundaries between safe and unsafe places. They are substituting victim blaming for effective prevention measures.

Any place can be the scene of a rape.

A Jacksonville man [Gerall Bernard Smalls] was arrested Monday after DNA testing results linked him to the reported rape more than a year ago of a 31-year-old female patient at the Ten Broeck Hospital, police said.

This case and all the other rapes that happen in medical facilities demonstrate that the underlying problem is not in where women go or don't go. The underlying problem is with those who want to take what they want irregardless of ethics or laws. This man wasn't someone who just wandered off the street to attack a patient, he was an employee of the hospital.

Recently a 91-year-old man was arrested for attempted rape. He was a patient in a nursing home when he attacked his nurse. He tried to kick the investigating officer and reportedly is in the habit of getting violent when he doesn't get his way. Old age doesn't automatically make a person safe.

Places with higher incidences of rape should tell us that those places have been turned into havens for rapists who want to get away with their crimes. Merely telling women to avoid those places does nothing productive.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Amnesty International's Day of Action for Darfur

The day was actually yesterday, but thankfully Kevin over at Slant Truth had an informative post with plenty of advice and helpful links. Please go read it.

Kevin included this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people
What many good people forget -- or never learned -- is that we have a lot more power to make positive change happen than we assume. This power can be exhibited and effective in small individual actions that become large when we are joined by many other good people.

Often we don't see the impact because that impact is in the reduction of harm rather than in some dramatic to-the-rescue moment. But if we keep chipping away at the harm done by others, we are as powerful as the rain water that nourishes us and our environment.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:58 PM   1 comments links to this post

Attempting Rape Equals Attempting Suicide?

From KCCI comes a defense that may have serious ramifications if it is successful.

Defense attorney Trever Hook said while Miller and Brucker were having an intimate encounter, Brucker tried to force himself on Miller. Hook said his client was armed, Brucker knew it, and that Brucker had a death wish.

"Jamie Brucker wanted to die, he forced Eric Miller to shoot him that night. It was a suicide by rape," Hook said.

If Eric Miller is acquitted then all men and boys who try to force themselves on girls or women they know should understand that they can be shot with lethal intent and not be victims of any crime, not even murder.

With the number of rape attempts each year, there may be an epidemic of suicides by rape. After all, girls and women who couldn't evade rape are routinely scolded for not doing more to prevent rape. If prevention is our job alone, then a permanent solution should be applauded, right? And not just against potential stranger rapists.

Rape is popularly presented as the consequences of bad decisions while not being raped is presented as the consequence of good decisions. Shooting and killing anyone who makes us believe we are about to be raped would certainly stop the rape attempt. That would, by the logic of the victim blamers, make it a good decision.

And good decisions are to be rewarded, right?

In this particular case, the varying stories about why the victim was shot make it doubtful that this defense matches the true motivation for this shooting. However, after the jury deadlocked on the murder charges related to the death of Eastern Michigan University student Laura Dickenson, who knows what the outcome of this case will be.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:08 AM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Raging At The Patriarchy

Glenn Sacks has written a post: NOW Leader Slams Glenn over Column on False Rape Accusations which includes the following.

However, some of her [Erin Boguski, a member of the board of the Baltimore chapter of the National Organization for Women] assertions lack validity. My assertion in the column that the Clothesline Project [at the University of Maryland] is a feminist event which encourages women to "rage at the patriarchy" is correct.

As compared to encouraging women to remain silent and happy after being raped? And to let men like Sacks control their free speech and stand in harsh judgment of those who reported being raped? Sounds like someone is taking this "rage at the patriarchy" a little too personally.

More importantly, Boguski dredges up the old feminist myth that "false allegations of sexual assault occur at the same rate as false allegations of other violent crimes, at just 2 percent of charges." [...] A 1997 Columbia Journalism Review analysis of rape statistics noted that the 2% statistic is often falsely attributed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and has no clear and credible study to support it. The FBI's statistic for "unfounded" rape accusations is 9%, but this definition only includes cases where the accuser recants or the evidence contradicts her story. Instances where the case is dismissed for lack of evidence are not included in the "unfounded" category.

This misuse of FBI data tells us that Sacks is quick to smear the character of all those who have had their reports labeled unfounded. He is also quick to smear the character of all those who have had their cases dropped for lack of evidence.

It's important to note that he isn't just smearing the character of those who reported rape, he is smearing victims of all crimes who had their cases dropped for lack of evidence or who had their cases classified as unfounded. I bet using his methodology that the false allegations of all violent crimes would be higher than the 2% that Sacks accepts as fact.

Because Sacks believes the number of false rape reports is much higher than for other violent crimes, those who reported rape to their college security or police must be assumed to be liars unless and until a trial ends with a guilty verdict.

Since recanting doesn't equal a false report and neither does contradictory evidence, the FBI statistics tells us only about the perception by law enforcement within the limits of how cases can be classified. That would put the FBI's 9% number on the high side of the actual number of false rape reports not on the low side as Sacks implies.

In the Baltimore Sun column that Boguski responded to he wrote:

A significant percentage of allegations of sexual assault are false. According to a study conducted by former Purdue sociologist Eugene J. Kanin and published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, in more than 40 percent of the cases reviewed, the complainants eventually admitted that no rape had occurred. Mr. Kanin also studied rape allegations in two large Midwestern universities and found that 50 percent of the allegations were recanted by the accuser.

The problem with this study and all the other evidence Sacks provides in this column to back his assertion is that none of his proof actually measures the percentage of allegations of sexual assault which are false. Some of his proof doesn't measure anything except individual opinion which he rejects unless that individual opinion matches his opinion. Then it becomes valid proof.

Mr. Kanin's studies do prove that investigators in some towns and colleges can get up to half of those who report rape to recant. When those like Sacks assume that most reports of rape are false, they have no interest in looking at the ethics used in those investigations. The studies provide him with an outcome which matches his assumptions and that's all that matters.

I'm sure that if there were similar studies that documented specific jurisdictions where investigators got 98% of alleged rapists to confess that Sacks would attack those studies as invalid due to obvious wrongdoing on the part of the investigators.

If there is no credible study that directly supports the assertion that the rate of false allegations of sexual assault is higher than the rate of false allegations of all crime, then we must assume that there is no difference and that the 2% rate quoted by Boguski is credible.

Sacks strategy is to attack alleged sloppiness with sloppiness of his own. I wonder if we are supposed to accept his sloppiness because he's a logical man and not someone who is angry about rape.

Update (10/25): Sacks responds to a letter from Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar named Lesa:

Perhaps Lesa is correct that I underestimate the therapeutic value of the Clothesline Project for rape victims. However, I believe what rape victims really need isn't the Clothesline Project, but instead criminal convictions of their rapists, along with stiff prison sentences for them. And one of the biggest problems preventing justice for rape victims is the substantial percentage of rape accusations which are false. [...] Lesa is correct to criticize some of the studies I cited as being from the 1990s or 1980s, but I have a legitimate reason--there aren't many studies of false allegations of rape. It's a difficult subject to get funding to study, if not outright impossible.

I find Sacks concern for all rape victims non-credible. Nothing in what he has said about the Clothesline Project or rape indicates genuine concern for all those who are raped. Nothing.

His concern is instead for himself and other men. That's why he keeps repeating the unfounded claim that a substantial percentage of rape accusations are false. Maybe he has deluded himself into believing his own propoganda.

He's right that there should be more studies on false allegations, but those studies should also look at the differences between perception and reality. I would love to see a review of rape cases that were classified as unfounded, lacking sufficient evidence and those labeled as fabrications to see if these classifications were based on the facts of the case or on the bias of the investigator.

Sacks doesn't seem aware of false allegations when they are made against real rape victims. Frankly, he and others who think he is credible need to buy and read Cry Rape: The True Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice by Bill Lueders about the ordeal of the victim of a stranger rape who was herself charged with a crime. Only the fact that there was enough DNA and other evidence to later convict her rapist cleared her name.

Smearing the reputations of those who report rape and calling a substantial number of them liars in no way facilitates his stated goal of seeing criminal convictions of rapists. He is instead helping keep a key problem which interferes with justice for rape victims alive and well. That shows in his closing.

I don't doubt that rape is, as Lesa says, very painful. There are two groups of people responsible for the pain of rape, and only two--rapists and women who make false accusations of rape.

It's no surprise to me that Sacks gives those who make false accusations against rape victims a free pass.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Teacher Predators And The Resistance Against Taking Systematic Action

An anonymous commenter pointed me to this article on teacher sex abuse which included the following:

The AP discovered efforts to stop individual offenders but, overall, a deeply entrenched resistance toward recognizing and fighting abuse. It starts in school hallways, where fellow teachers look away or feel powerless to help. School administrators make behind-the-scenes deals to avoid lawsuits and other trouble.

And in state capitals and Congress, lawmakers shy from tough state punishments
or any cohesive national policy for fear of disparaging a vital profession. That only enables rogue teachers, and puts kids who aren't likely to be believed in a tough spot.

The core problem for many people is denial. They can deal with the concept of individuals who step so far over the line that there is no deniability, but they need to view them as "rogue" teachers and not as part of a bigger problem within schools and within our societies.

The upside of acknowledging a systematic problem is that means acknowledging that there are systematic solutions and systematic preventative measures that can be taken. But there cannot be a systematic and well-designed response when the problem is denied or dismissed as being caused by "rogue" educators.

There is no teacher who is more "rogue" yet in some ways non-threatening than the current "it" girl for sexually abusive teachers, Mary Kay Letourneau. Since approximately 90% of the educator offenders are men, she is part of the smallest set of rogue educators. Her face and her marriage to her victim matches the description often given to this problem: Sexual misconduct.

Honestly, sexual misconduct is two teachers having consensual sex in the break room. The problem for students isn't educator sexual misconduct, it is groping, harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, rape and occasionally worse.

Just as with sexual violence away from schools, part of the problem is the normalization of predatory sexual behavior. This is often combined with victim blaming. If only we could teach children to never have crushes on their teachers there would -- according to this worldview -- be very few educator offenders.

When I was in high school, one of the coaches refused to follow in the tradition of having the cheerleaders kiss him during the pep rally. I'm sure some called him a prude, but the tradition supported unclear boundaries between male coaches and cheerleaders. Most teachers would never exploit that lack of clarity but a few would do so, rationalizing away responsibility for their actions every step of the way.

Much of the grooming process in schools with unclear boundaries could happen in front of other students, teachers and school staff. Because the boundaries are unclear there is no process of response until the situation blows up. So teachers who sense something inappropriate may choose to cope by keeping their concerns to themselves. Students who have never been taught anything about sexual exploitation may start rumors disparaging the student target instead of reporting the teacher.

A systematic response that does not work is demanding that teachers be cold and unfriendly to students in the name of professionalism. This response is basically a raising of the white flag against sex crimes by teachers, other school employees and the public. We must understand that there is a clear difference between healthy mentoring and grooming of potential victims.

Any effective systematic response needs to be as transparent as possible under privacy rules. Without transparency an administrator who doesn't respect boundaries could choose to ignore the reporting of teachers who also don't respect boundaries without being held accountable for doing so. Too many people have the attitude that if the victim wasn't physically restrained or threatened with death that the student is equally responsible and cannot be considered a true victim.

The public needs to accept that a school with a higher number of reported incidents may not be less safe than a school with no reported incidents. If there is a backlash every time a school or school district tries to address the problem, that creates incentive for school officials to revert to denial.

So in any proposed or implimented solution, all of us either contribute to that solution or hinder it by our responses.

For any systematic approach to work at turning schools into sex-crime free zones, it can't only focus on educator criminality, it must also focus on student and volunteer criminality. The entire atmosphere needs to support respecting other people's boundaries.

Effectiveness and panic cannot coexist. Neither can effectiveness and paranoia.

I don't support laws which specifically targets teachers since that can lead to extreme but ineffective laws while ignoring the sexual predators in other positions of trust. Doctors, pastors, therapists to just name a few who can misuse their inherently unequal relationships.

For me a key to protecting innocent teachers and students is a systematic and professional approach to handling all reports of sexual wrongdoing. Sloppy responses, botched investigations and secrecy protect abusive teachers and leave innocent teachers unfairly tainted. There can be no instant judgment where a complaint is deemed "without merit" based on an assessment of the student's character or the popularity of the teacher.

For another take on this story, read Melissa McEwan's post, The So-Called Public School Plague.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:08 AM   3 comments links to this post

Monday, October 22, 2007

Is Recanting Of Rape Allegation Always True?

The Union Leader is making the assumption that the answer is yes.

By now you've probably heard the story. An angry dad rushed down to John Stark Regional High School last month and beat his daughter's boyfriend after learning the young couple had had sex earlier that day. Alas, there is more to the tale. The 15-year-old girl had told her parents she'd been forced to have sex. The father believed he was taking justice to a rapist, not merely the Romeo who'd bedded his underage daughter.

That changes the whole story.

Some are demanding that the girl be charged with filing a false police report. But she told her mother the lie, and mom called the police. If she directly told the police the same lie, she should face the music.

The problem here is that without a full investigation of everything that happened, through to the end of the recantation, there is no way of knowing whether the claim of rape (or claim of forced sex which might not meet the statutory standards for forcible rape) was indeed false.

For all those who complain about jumping the gun when a boy or man is accused of rape, the same danger exists when a girl or woman is accused of falsely reporting rape. Notice that this isn't called an alleged lie. She hasn't been charged, but she's being treated as if she were already convicted.

Because of her father's public attack on the boyfriend, there would be extreme pressure for the girl, if truly raped, to recant because if she doesn't recant and has to testify about the details of a rape, everyone in town will know who the unnamed victim would be. That's a huge amount of pressure from all directions.

Recanting can make that intense pressure evaporate.

Add onto that the fact that some investigators will directly push for a recantation to the point of coercion. Too many investigators immediately "know" what really happened and try to push the testimony toward their assumption. If the assumption in this case were the stereotypical "girl lying to protect her reputation" and if that investigator offered her a figurative carrot for recanting, her recantation would be totally meaningless.

The investigation would also be hopelessly tainted. Frankly, if the interview switched from one of a potential crime victim to a potential criminal, that alleged victim needs to be informed that they are now a criminal suspect.

I don't know if the retraction was factual or false. Neither does this reporter.

What I do know for sure is that leading and pushing witnesses in a desired direction is a recipe for disaster. Too often it is called effective policing when it is no such thing. None of the coverage I've seen on this case offers any insight into how the retraction was obtained. All the stories just assume the recanting was obtained because no rape happened.

This girl might face scorn at school as a liar but she also faces greater risk of rape because she has been clearly labeled as a non-credible witness in any future rape cases. Defense attorneys would jump to call her a pathological liar and too many people would ignore solid evidence in favor of character assassination.

I can't agree that this father was doing anything heroic by playing vigilante. I can understand his anger, but his expression of anger backfired -- predictably -- on him and on his daughter. If he believed his daughter was truly raped then he should have supported her as she faced the prospect of reporting to the police.

False rape reports are a serious and common abuse of the justice system. FBI data show that around 8 percent of rape claims are untrue. Some reports indicate much higher percentages, 25 percent or more.

This is guilt by association and questionable association at that. The FBI data is for the number of unfounded cases which is different from untrue cases -- a critical distinction. The reports which claim higher percentages of false reports are all questionable at best when it comes to determining how many who report rape are making false reports. They do measure something, but I believe they more closely measure the perception of those doing the labeling.

Assuming the FBI data is accurate about the number of unfounded rape reports, the perception gap would then be 17 percentage points or more. Since not all unfounded reports are false reports (IE. what was described really happened but it doesn't constitute a crime), the real perception gap has to be even wider. For those who claim that 50% of rape reports are false, that means their perception gap would be 42 percentage points or more.

Those are some serious numbers which explains why girls like this one don't get referred to as alleged liars.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:16 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Florida Law Makes Getting Rape Kit Less Traumatic

From the Tallahassee Democrat:

Five women in Tallahassee have taken advantage of a new state law that allows women who have been raped to get a forensic exam at no cost without reporting the crime to police. [...]

Five trained nurses employed by Refuge House perform the exams at the hospital. The nurses give the evidence to the Tallahassee Police Department, which stores the sexual-assault kits and labels them with a number if the woman does not want
to release her name. The kits stay there in case the woman decides she wants to file a report.

Rick Courtemanche, the Police Department's legal adviser, said when a report is filed, it is cross-referenced with the kit's serial number. The kit is then sent to the crime lab for DNA testing.

This change in law is an important one since it doesn't pressure rape victims into reporting before getting a forensic exam and it doesn't discourage rape victims who can't afford to pay for the exam but who aren't sure if they will file a police report.

The unfortunate reality is that not all police officers are informed allies to all those who have been raped. Even when everyone in the police department is respectful, the process of reporting and working to see justice done can be traumatic and disruptive to the victim's life. Victims deserve the right to delay reporting or to decline reporting.

The other benefit of this law change is that it will make rapists uneasy even when they are not being actively investigated in the days immediately following the rape. Many rapists depend on their victims not reporting in time for DNA evidence to be collected.

States and other jurisdictions that don't already have a law like Florida's need to change their laws.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:07 AM   4 comments links to this post

Carnival Updates

Here's a round up of recent carnival editions where one of my posts has been selected for inclusion.

Carnival of Feminists over at Reproductive Rights Blog

Happiness Carnival over at Think Happy Thoughts

Carnival of Injustice over at Bucket O Bulletz

Carnival of Healing over at Debra Moorhead

Feminism At Its Finest over at Menstrual Poetry

Please go check them all out.

An upcoming carnival that my readers may want to submit posts to is the next Carnival Against Child Abuse. For more info read this call for nominations at Survivors Can Thrive.

The next deadline for the Carnival Against Sexual Violence is Oct. 29th at 11 pm. Even though the deadline is over a week away, please feel free to send in nominations now.


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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Another Smear Campaign Against Alleged Rape Victim

On a Penn State forum someone felt the need to write the following about Running Back Austin Scott's alleged rape victim:

Seems this is the second such accusation in 4 with this information what you wish.

This information is meaningless as credible evidence in this case, but it is meaningful as character assassination. Because it is phrased as "information" whoever wrote this would likely claim that it is not intended as a premeditated attack meant to imply criminality on the part of the alleged rape victim.

That person would be a liar.

The situation of raping someone after they've been drinking is a common one that usually results in the rape victim being denied justice. If reporting rape and being denied justice means no later rapist will be convicted of rape, that is a result that has rapists everywhere cheering.

Scott's attorney, John P. Karoly Jr. of South Whitehall, said today the earlier case shows the woman is "pathological" and has a history of falsely accusing men of rape.

Mr. Karoly knows full well that the earlier case shows no such thing. He knows that an acquittal is not proof of a false report of rape. Yet someone who likely repeats "innocent until proven guilty" to shield his client has no qualms about violating this principle against someone never charged with any crime.

Defense by hook or by crook.

Talk about not being credible. Yet many people will accept his statement as fact or at least accept it as reasonable doubt. Most of these people accept this defense attorney's statements because he is reinforcing their bigotry.

The reality is that only if this woman had been convicted of filing a false rape report would it be credible evidence. If that were the case, that fact would be stated clearly.

A pattern of the same person reporting 2 separate rapes under similar conditions speaks more to our pathology as a society than it speaks to anything meaningful about the honesty of the alleged victim.

Update (10/22): The judge issued a gag order that bans prosecutors, the defense and the alleged victim from talking to the news media. Considering this defense attorney's tactics, this was a necessary move.

EvidenceProf blog talks about the likelihood for admissibility of details from that previous case.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:44 AM   2 comments links to this post

Friday, October 19, 2007

Feminists Do It Humanely And Demand The Same In Return

So often when people refer to "being good at sex" they really mean "being good at getting the sexual contact they want" and who is better at this than a sexual predator who doesn't let the law or someone else's boundaries get in the way. It should be no surprise however that predators get negative or lackluster responses when they aren't actively manipulating someone. Nowhere on their success metric is the opinion of the person they targetted.

Whenever I see a man ask, "Do feminists still believe that all sex equals rape?" I wonder if he asks that question because all the sex he's had is predatory. When predators compare their sexual activity to what feminists view as disrespectful, immoral, abusive or criminal there would likely be a complete match.

When this happens, the problem of course must be with the feminists.

When their victims report them to the police and are deemed credible, these people's supporters are quick to claim that the sexual contact was regrettable or that the alleged rapist is clearly a jerk. They will even say that girls and women confuse bad sex with rape. By their defense of those who are accused of rape it is clear that deliberate "bad sex" is normal sex -- something that feminism rejects.

Feminists on the whole have a very low tolerance for disrespectfulness from men. Men who get rejected or called on their disrespectfulness often -- shock -- hurl insults or labels they consider negative at feminists in revenge for this treatment. Some of these men will even call feminists irrational while blowing an emotional gasket.

With all of that, the findings of a study done by Laurie Rudman and Julie Phelan from Rutgers University weren't a surprise. To me, at least. In their sample they found that feminism is generally related positively to the quality of heterosexual relationships and that the common revenge statements made about feminists don't hold up.

That slurs mouthed by bitter men could be seen as common wisdom is what amazes me. "You reject me and my beliefs. You must be a lesbian." has nothing to do with logic or reason and everything to do with fragile egos and arrogance.

hat tip: Feministe

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:49 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Update On Daryl Alt Scheduled To Be Released On Halloween

I posted back in July about the efforts in Minnesota to have repeat sex offender, and convicted murderer, Daryl Alt civilly committed and to block his release from prison.

For information on the reasons Olmsted County Prosecutor Mark Ostrem believes Daryl Alt should be committed, read the official press release. This request has not yet been approved and the number of days left before his scheduled release on October 31 is diminishing.

Frankly, civil commitment is being requested because the criminal justice system failed. At 17, he murdered his father and stepmother. He made a plea deal so he was only sent to prison for 6 years for his father's murder. According to reports, after his release he tried unsuccessfully to kidnap several girls and then raped a 14-year-old girl and was sent back to prison. After his next release, in 1990 he raped a 15-year-old and left her in a cornfield for dead. His sentence for that crime is about to end.

From the latest story about this effort to block Daryl Alt's release:

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked [Prosecutor] Ostrem if he had any doubt that Alt would commit another heinous crime.

"The reality is, and our hope is, if we are successful in the commitment that he will never get out, because I don't think this guy will ever not be a danger to the public," Ostrem said.

Alt’s pattern of violence is similar to that of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. who sits on death row after kidnapping and killing Dru Sjodin.

Those who say civil commitment is something that shouldn't be done because it is the wrong solution or because it violates offenders' civil rights, need to do more than oppose this wrong solution, they need to help find and support the right solution for this very real threat to public safety.

Unfortunately, California's 3 strikes law as it is being applied doesn't seem to distinguish between offenders as dangerous as Daryl Alt and serial criminals who pose no physical threat to the public.

One area where we absolutely need to do better is prevention that focuses on those at high risk of following in Darryl Alt's footsteps.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:18 AM   0 comments links to this post

Lawsuit Over Refusal To Do Rape Kit

From George Washington Hatchet:

Immediately after the alleged assault, she sought medical assistance at Howard University Hospital, accompanied by two witnesses, according to the complaint.

Court documents also add that she appeared intoxicated and was therefore denied a rape kit and sent home. It also states she was drifting in and out of consciousness and vomiting.

The plaintiff returned to Howard University Hospital the next morning and was again denied a rape kit - at which point the Metropolitan Police Department was notified, according to the complaint. They also said they felt a rape kit was unnecessary, according to court documents.

This lack of treatment is inexcusable and to me screams of stereotyping what "real" rape victims look or act like. When the police were finally called, it seems like this woman was seen as the real problem -- something that wanted to go away.

If she was drugged, or given a drink (or drinks) with far more alcohol than she was aware of, then sending home a woman who vomited while going in and out of consciousness could have resulted in her death.

Maybe that never occurred to the staff at Howard University Hospital and if so they are definitely negligent.

For professionals to dismiss her as if she were just a whiny drunk coed is to effectively be on the side of rapists. I wonder how much of this response is due to the belief that even if this woman was raped that a rape kit would be a waste of time and money since the owner of any DNA found would say, "It was consensual" and since the impact of her impairment would likely turn her into a non-credible witness.

So often sloppy practices which lead to injustice (never or rarely getting convictions for certain types of sexual assaults) justify more sloppy practices which in turn lead to more injustice.

Unfortunately, in certain cases it will take lawsuits to force organizations to respond properly to all rape victims. That takes funding and unfortunately many legislators don't back of their support for fighting crime with the money to effectively get that done.

hat tip: Feministing

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Troubling Police Interview With Alleged Rape Victim

This Atlanta case is deeply troubling.

The woman said in a written statement to the press that she did not report it for a few days because of her "youth, mental anguish and disgust." She said she went to MARTA police on Oct. 8. They questioned her for hours, and she said she felt as if she were the suspect, which she said left her so "steaming" that she recanted.

This scenario unfortunately doesn't surprise me and is a remnant of the era when police were routinely trained to try to break down those who reported rape because they were told that most women who reported rape were lying.

The problem is that breaking someone down is not the same thing as doing a competent investigation and getting to the truth. When dealing with someone who has recently been raped this breaking of the alleged victim can be pathetically easy. The woman's claim that recanting was the price she'd have to pay to leave an obviously hostile environment is unfortunately plausible. Hopefully, this treatment comes from lack of training and is not an official tactic that new officers are trained to perform.

The same strategy which can be used to get false retractions can also get false confessions. Sloppy policing all around yet there is far more outrage when there is an allegation of a false confession to committing a violent crime.

Getting the answer: "She recanted" is not the same thing as getting a true and verifiable answer. A documentary in the UK several decades ago (can't remember the name) captured one of these interrogations and the public outrage over the blatant disrespect and verbal abuse sparked major changes in how those who reported being raped were treated.

MARTA spokeswoman Joselyn Baker said that in addition to the woman recanting her statement, "there is video evidence that contradicts" her report of the incident. Baker said she could not provide details because of the ongoing investigation.

The alleged victim said in an interview Monday that the night she reported the incident, by the end of the police questioning she wanted to leave, but MARTA police said she couldn't. "They said you can't go because we want to get it when it's still fresh in your mind and it won't take long," she said.

This contradiction between the woman's testimony and video needs to be dealt with professionally and not through disrespectful treatment of someone who reports being raped.

I've seen too many cases where the alleged victim is asked about exact times as if every one of us knows the time of every action we take down to the minute (and that time is magically synchronized to the clocks used to try to discredit the alleged victim).

If they have proof that she made a false report then the statement that there is an ongoing investigation is a lie. There would also be no need for a long interrogation since they supposedly already have the proof they need to prove the charges against this woman.

Too often not having irrefutable proof that a rape happened gets twisted into the claim that there is irrefutable proof that no rape happened. These 2 are NOT interchangeable. Any cop who doesn't know this needs to go back to school or needs to leave the force.

No matter what really happened in this alleged rape case, there needs to be a serious review of the MARTA police policies and personnel. Subjecting those who report a crime to an interrogation should be a firing offense since they effectively pollute the alleged victim's testimony, making it worthless. They also actively drive away rape victims who can't or won't risk being thrown in jail for telling the truth.

Too often it seems like the police who use these tactics are hostile to those who report rape because they want to protect the image that their jurisdiction is safe more than they want to protect those within their jurisdiction.

I've heard people say that it is possible to judge whether an alleged rape victim is lying by that person's manner, but this is guesswork and a bad substitute for competent investigations. Show me a cop who can take one look at a woman reporting rape and know whether she is lying and I'll show you a cop who operates on stereotypes and bigotry.

Many times this bigotry is based on who the cops have previously broken to the point of recanting or who they can quickly scare off. So one injustice ends up being the justification for the next injustice. If complete investigations which result in credible evidence of a rape only happen for those who are instantly seen as honest that will again feed into the next injustice.

There have been many developments in training those who do rape investigations so there is no viable excuse for those who use practices which have been discredited.

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No Rapes At Arizona State University?

Apparently there have been no rape convictions in the last 7 years if at all. Which is the same thing, right? One of the fraternaties seems to think so for obviously self-serving reasons.

This story by Anne Yeager gets to the heart of the problem with the ASU police investigations.

A woman claims on September 14 she was raped inside the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity house. Four days later, another woman claims she was sexually assaulted inside the Sigma Nu house. [...] "Besides video and witnesses, there is little you can do," said [ASU police spokesperson Jim] Hardina.

Right. If a rapist can get you alone and he rapes you without videotaping it, there is nothing the campus police can do unless someone who aided the rape by watching it without interfering decides to testify.

There is a lot that can be done without witnesses or video, but it doesn't sound like this campus police force is motivated to learn what those things are. If they did learn more, the official number of rapes on campus would go up which is likely a bad thing for the school's image.

This attitude by campus police makes those who put out this statement look stupid.

Delta Sigma Phi released a statement, that they feel vindicated and maintained their innocence all along.

There can be no vindication when the police in effect shrug and say, "Who knows what happened? Not us. We're clueless."

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:44 AM   0 comments links to this post

Fallout From Attitudes About Women Who Drink Before Being Raped

From In The News UK:

Incorrectly believing her to be drunk on account of her unsteadiness on her feet, Mitchell and McDermott forced the woman into an alleyway as she left a shop after buying cigarettes and proceeded to rape her, while Clinton kept lookout.

This assumption by 3 teens (Ashley Mitchell, 19, Curtis Clinton, 16, and Kersley McDermott, 18) that their actions would have been acceptable -- or at least plausibly deniable -- if their 32-year-old victim had been drunk and not suffering from multiple sclerosis is unfortunately supported by the outcome of too many rape cases and too many opinions of people who claim to know what they are talking about.

If she had been drunk, it's likely that they would not have been convicted or if they had been convicted they likely would have had much more support from people who would blame their victim or who would call the assault a misunderstanding that shouldn't ruin the lives of three boys.

Many of us are in reality as vulnerable to rape as the drunk and as this woman, but we aren't generally viewed as someone who might as well be wearing a sign that says, "Rape me. Get away with it." That difference in perception often protects us. When it doesn't, those who excuse the raping of the drunk suddenly turn into people who are fervently anti-rape.

They start yelling, "Monster! Get him! Lock him up forever!" Yet in the next breath they will make excuses for those who commit the same acts under different circumstances or to different victims.

Sometimes they feel like being anti-rape, sometimes they don't.

These judgments which have nothing to do with the evidence of the alleged crime aren't limited to what girls and women do before being raped, they extend to women's actions after rape.

Jill at Feministe in a post about rape and power writes:

Sexual assault survivors are supposed to be Lifetime Movie victims. They should be crying, in pain, desperate to go to the hospital or to the police. When their reactions don’t match that model — when they do the exact opposite of what we expect a rape victim to do — their credibility is damaged. Even when what they do is totally normal for people in their situation

The irony here is that when many sexual assault victims are doing the opposite of what we expect "real rape victims" to do (and by "real rape victims" they usually mean those who were attacked by strangers who not only raped them but nearly killed them), they are reacting to pervasive messages that come from the very people who don't understand the impact of their words and attitudes.

People say, "Women have to stop being victims" yet when women who are raped try to do just that, they are called crazy or non-credible when they stop living in denial.

People say, "Women have to take responsibility for their sexual interactions" yet when women who are raped try to do that, they are called liars when they stop taking the fall for a rapist's actions.

Listen to those who talk about what girls and women need to do and then compare that list to their standard for what boys and men need to do. You'll find the different standards enlightening. For those who don't understand what I'm talking about, I suggest writing down everything you say about sex, rape and consent to get a glimpse of what gendered beliefs you've internalized without thinking through the ramifications of those beliefs.

My post-rape feeling of being crazy was a direct response to the messages I received about sex, consent and rape. These messages came from general comments I heard and from specific comments made to me.

When I was first raped, I couldn't imagine that this guy I loved took deliberate premeditated actions against me, but when he raped me again I knew his decision to rape was no fluke or misunderstanding. Two decades later when I finally decided that I had to go back and examine that whole relationship, I discovered numerous occasions where he set me up to take the fall for his actions and his choices. Of course, being in love with me, he was powerless to resist me and therefore not guilty of doing anything wrong.

From a City Room post about yesterday's panel sponsored by Cosmo:

“Rape is still rape,” said Neil Irvin, director of community education at Men Can Stop Rape, saying it almost “seems cliché” at this point to have to remind people that no means no.

Ms. [Ashleigh] Banfield [CourtTV anchor] pressed the issue. “Is it possible that you could acquiesce at the beginning of the evening and by the time you’re too drunk to be heard or understood, it would be unfair for men to try to decipher when the no ends up actually arriving?” she asked.

This question, a blatantly leading one, again reinforces the idea that standing up against all non-consensual sex is somehow unfair to men.

Poor babies.

"Acquiesce at the beginning of the evening" implies that girls and women who are in romantic situations like a date have given an implicit consent for sex. Kiss or make out with your boyfriend and that is acquiescing to sex. Say no to more and you are trying to revoke consent. Rather than listening for a no, these men need to decipher when the yes ends up actually arriving.

Not only would this reduce the number of rapes, it would make these men approach being competent lovers. Rather than focusing on what they can get away with, they would be focusing on doing what is enjoyed and welcome.

To see how unrealistic Ms. Banfield's excuse for rape is, you only need to listen to the number of girls and women who can describe carefully communicating the acceptable parameters of their interactions so there would be no misunderstanding. Many times they even received a verbal response which made it absolutely clear that the boy or man understood the limits and agreed to them. These rapists began by acting respectfully -- and like my rapist -- promised to remain respectful of clearly communicated limits. Then when they had a chance to attack successfully, they tossed their promises aside so fast their victims didn't know what hit them.

Hey, guys, here's a clue. If you are unable to decipher another person's consent or lack of consent, you have no business trying to have sexual contact with anybody except yourself.

Abstinence until intelligence.

If you can't tell, the answer is no. If you can tell, and proceed because you believe you can get away with it, you are a rapist even if your victim decides that denial is the best way to cope. You are a rapist even if a jury buys your excuses.

Mr. Laurino [county prosecutor] said that Dr. Lisak’s research showed that even the “nice guy next door” will use alcohol strategically. “The predator uses alcohol because they know it’s going it impair the credibility of the victim, which is extremely important,” he said. (emphasis mine)

This strategy means premeditation. Note that it isn't the rape victim who is being impaired by the use of alcohol, it is the public and the potential jury.

We have to stop making and accepting excuses for the inexcusable. If you don't find certain rapes inexcusable then don't complain when you are rightfully called a rape apologist.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 33

Welcome to the Oct. 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.

Before I get started with the carnival itself, I wanted to put out this invitation. Seeking Co-Bloggers For Remodel4life: Posts can be cross posts or they can be original. Also there is no long term commitment required. Follow the link for more information.

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


In Reporting rape...... painful for victims, but necessary posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get information about a city's blind reporting system created in response to the valid reasons rape victims have for not reporting rape or refusing to cooperate with a criminal investigation.

In Six seconds too late? posted at Tinkerty Tonk, we get a discussion of the appeal of the Maryland ruling that said it isn't rape if you ignore the other person's demand to stop.

In Grant Gives Old Rape Cases New Life Possible Resolution posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a federal grant given to Kansas City, Missouri so evidence from cold cases can be examined for unprocessed DNA samples.

In Interpol faces up to community to help find distorted child sex predator posted at Imaginif..., we get information about the search for a man who blurred his face in pictures of him abusing children and who, thanks to technology, no longer has the images of his face distorted.

In No Say Rape Judge Clarifies His Ruling posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss Judge Cheuvront's comments that he continues to block the word rape from Tory Bowen's testimony because of the nature of this particular case.

In Compounding the injustice posted at Crisis Worker Diary, we get a discussion of the case of the US prosecutor who was arrested in an airport as he traveled to have sex with a 5 year old child.

In GPS Tracks Locations not Activities posted at Sex Crimes, we get a discussion of what GPS tracking systems can do and what they can't do.

In Nevada Child Rape Case Shows That Assaults Can Easily Go Undetected posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the case involving fugitive Chester Stiles where authorities searched for and found one of his young victims.

media watch

In Because Raping Models Doesn't Rise To the Level of Real News. posted at I'm sick of your insane demands., we get a discussion of the focus of a MSNBC story about accused serial rapist Anand Jon Alexander.

In “I'll Make You Love Me... Bitch.” posted at Group News Blog, we get a frank discussion about why a K-Mart T-shirt that says, "Some call it stalking, I call it love" sends a very dangerous message to those who are tempted to stalk,

In Dr. Helen: Women are teh Suxor posted at Blog of the Moderate Left, we get a discussion of the claim that men cannot find justice in the legal system.

In A Tale of Two Newspapers posted at Shakespeare's Sister, we get a discussion of contrasting views of accountability for content in school newspapers.

In Did you hear the one about the immigrant whore? posted at Feministe, we get a discussion of an article which bemoans the shutting down of a brothel which targeted underage boys as their clients.

In Shawn Hornbeck Saved Himself From Murder Attempt posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss statements from Michael Devlin after he pleaded guilty which show that Bill O'Reilly's dismissive comments early this year were dead wrong and dangerous.

In Unveiling the Silence: NO! The Rape Documentary Study Guide posted at Women of Color Blog, we get information about a guide created by Salamishah Tillet, Ph.D. and Rachel Afi Quinn with assistance from the documentary producer, Aishah Shahidah Simmons.

In Who knew that you could make sexual asasult worse? posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion about the fallout from a story about the sexual assault of a Muslim woman.

personal stories

In Relationships posted at life after rape, we get a short but powerful post about how rape impacts future relationships.

raising awareness

In Save the Children: The difference between sympathy and empathy. posted at Imaginif..., we get a discussion about how sympathy is often unable to see beyond our own pain to feel the pain of others in an objective way and we see how this impacts our ability to help those we have sympathy for.

In Abuse posted at The Thriver's Toolbox, we get a discussion on how various people react to someone who takes a stand against abuse and refuses to minimize what happened.

In Rape on Cruise Ships Twice as Common as on Land posted at Feminist Fire, we get a discussion of a report about the rate of sexual violence on cruise ships and some thoughts about why this problem is so concentrated.

In On Degradation, Violence and Porn posted at The Curvature, we get information on the book, Getting Off (Pornography and the End of Masculinity) by Robert Jensen and we get information about other troubling trends in porn.

In World Conference on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery posted at IntLawGrrls, we get information about an upcoming conference and some of the issues which will be covered in the conference.

In Women Activists Beaten, Tortured in Zimbabwe posted at Feminists To The Rescue, we get a discussion of the violence which was inflicted on women by the police.

In War on Women Continues in the Congo posted at Our Bodies Our Blog, we get information about the sustained physical and sexual violence directed at women in the Congo.

In Rape in Congo – A Weapon of War Becomes a Way of Life posted at Woman Tribune, we get a discussion about the changing trend in the use of sexual violence.

In An Illustration of Megan's Law Database, Part II posted at Kosher Wisdom, we get to see the number of registered sex offenders in San Francisco and the greater bay area through maps from the Megan's Law database.


In New issues: Violence Against Women posted at Psychology and Crime News, we get information about a variety of studies including: "An Evaluation of the Coping Patterns of Rape Victims: Integration With a Schema-Based Information-Processing Model" by Heather Littleton.


In Drinking while in the possession of a vagina posted at Hoyden About Town, we get a discussion about why those who focus on women's binge drinking as a cause of rape have the wrong solution and are scolding the wrong people.

In Sexual Harassment — What Should You Do? posted at Womenstake, we get useful information from Robin Reed, Online Outreach Manager for National Women’s Law Center.

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 Oct. 29 at 11 pm and the next edition will be out on Nov. 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,

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   3 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Troubling Insanity Defense In Murder Case

I understand that defense attorneys want to get the best outcome for their clients, but in this case the defense seems to be turning teenage sexual abuse into the root cause of a woman killing a young pregnant woman and cutting the baby out of her belly. This woman may be criminally insane or she might not be, but proving a history of sexual abuse does not prove insanity.

Lisa Montgomery has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping resulting in the death of Bobbie Joe Stinnett, 23. Her defense team admits she killed Stinnett and took the baby but says it will show Montgomery suffered from mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by abuse from her stepfather when she was a teenager.

Several of Montgomery's siblings and step-siblings testified that Montgomery's stepfather abused all of them. Shaughnessy testified about the sexual abuse but acknowledged she never filed a formal police complaint, in part because she said Kleiner had threatened her and the children.

If this defendant is criminally insane, there needs to be evidence that runs much deeper than proving sexual abuse. Sane people can and do commit horrific crimes that most of us find unimaginable.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:19 PM   0 comments links to this post

Christian Clown's Alter Ego Busted: Vacation Video Was Child Porn

For some people this case might confirm negative stereotypes of Christian's but for me it doesn't do this. What it does is bust the myth that everything and everyone labeled Christian is better than everything and everyone not labeled Christian. That attitude that one belief system makes all those who hold that belief morally superior is arrogant and is contradicted in the story of the Good Samaritan.

A former minister and cop who entertains kids as a "Christian clown" called Klutzo is under arrest on charges of traveling to the Philippines to have sex with kids and bringing back a camera full of child porn.

Cops busted Paul Carlock, 57, at his Springfield, Ill., home Tuesday after a four-month investigation sparked by immigration and homeland security officers.

Christianity certainly doesn't have a monopoly on the contrast between members' public image/beliefs and their private images/beliefs. Many dangerous people find facades useful and comforting and some of those people misuse the idea of Christian forgiveness in order to give themselves an emotional pardon after each crime.

In one study of convicted sex offenders, the researchers found that those who maintained religious involvement from childhood to adulthood had more sexual offense convictions, more victims, and younger victims, than other groups.

Some of this difference may be that many of the lower level sex offenders who maintained religious involvement either were never charged or beat the charges through a character defense which glorified the defendant while smearing the victim.

What the study results show clearly is that religious involvement can coexist with the committing of horrific crimes. We forget this at great risk.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:11 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Youth Facilities And Rape Responsibility

A lawsuit was filed against a Des Moines, Iowa youth shelter by the parents of an 11-year-old girl. The girl was raped by a 17-year-old boy who was a resident of the shelter which raises questions about what precautions agencies need to take to protect children who may be angry and rebellious from other children who will exploit those emotions by acting like a trustable ally until an especially vulnerable moment.

One of the issues seems to be the mixing of troubled children who are nearly adults with much younger children. When the rapist is reported to have a history of sexual abuse that mix in ages becomes a much more dangerous mix.

On her first day at the shelter, the girl left with the boy who would later rape her and another 17-year-old boy which I believe should have led to an Amber alert. It doesn't matter if the girl left eagerly or if she left reluctantly, she was still an 11-year-old child.

What seems to happen many times with children who are troubled is these children get labeled as trouble. This label contains the incorrect assumption that these children are not vulnerable when they are often at their most vulnerable.

Even 17-year-old boys have their vulnerabilities. We need to find compassionate and respectful ways to deal with those while requiring a high standard of responsible behavior.

We also need to support environments where it is easier and more attractive for these children to make the right choices and harder for them to make the wrong ones. In many cases this means that the organizations need more money for training, staff and facilities. Being stretched thin in human resources and financial resources can lead to huge problems in otherwise great organizations.

If the exploiters can learn how get a child's cooperation then those who truly want what is best for children need to learn how to use many of these same skills while retaining proper boundaries and respect for all involved.

Those of us who don't work directly with children can support what works in many ways. Too often we forget to be vocal when we want an effort or agency to continue or expand.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:01 AM   2 comments links to this post

Friday, October 12, 2007

Love Means Never Threatening Murder

This case may be seen by some as something joke worthy, but this is no joke.

A Kentucky man faces federal charges for sending letters to his former high school sweetheart that professed his love to her, but also threatened to kill her husband. Authorities had little trouble tracking down Gerald K. Warobi, of Louisville: He allegedly signed the letters and wrote his return address on the envelopes.

Fortunately, federal law makes it a crime to mail a letter that includes threats to kidnap or injure someone. Most of these illegal threats are sent anonymously or the threats are indirect enough that the sender can claim that there was no genuine threat.

I'm sure there will be some who say that this shouldn't be a crime because no actual violence was done, but many times murder is preceeded by the threat of murder. Law enforcement needs to have power to deal with those who threaten to harm others.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:55 PM   0 comments links to this post

Fred Thompson And The Message That Premarital Sex Ruins Your Life

This abstinence PSA (embedded below) that asks parents to tell their children to wait until marriage to have sex might have had a different impact if I hadn't watched ABC News last night. One of the segments was highlights from an interview Charles Gibson did with Fred Thompson where he credited getting married at 17 with turning him from an aimless youth only interested in sports and girls to a man intent on becoming a lawyer.

Out of context that sounds like it reinforces the message of the abstinence PSA. But here is some of the context:

Gibson: "You not only married your high school sweetheart. You married her two weeks after you turned 17. You were young."

Thompson: "Barely Seventeen."

Gibson: "Too young?"

Thompson: "Uh, no, under the circumstances, I [...] It was the best thing [...] It required me to grow up [...]"

Although shotgun wedding wasn't mentioned, the implication of "under the circumstances" is clear. According to Wkipedia this marriage took place in Sept. 1959 and their first son was born in April 1960. Now of course this will cause people to repeat a saying I heard as a child, "First babies often come much earlier than their younger siblings." Of course I was too young to wonder why at birth these first babies I heard about weren't smaller than their siblings.

The message I got from listening to Fred Thompson was that premarital sex (and advice from his new in-laws) made the man. And he's a Republican. Oh, my. Parents, if you want your children to believe that having sex before marriage can only destroy their lives, you'd better not let them watch and listen to this interview with Senator Fred Thompson.

This contrast is one of the reasons that messages like the one in this PSA can leave kids rolling their eyes at those giving them this message and can leave them feeling that there is no substance to the message only prudery. The "wait until you are married" message from parents is often a bad substitute for real, and sometimes uncomfortable, dialogue about sexual ethics, violence, temptations and consequences. It also creates a false binary which adds extra trauma when a child is the victim of sexual abuse or rape.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:28 AM   3 comments links to this post