Friday, January 18, 2008

Investigators Who Wrongly Dismiss Rape Reports Are Putting Lives In Danger

From the CNN article: Military: Lauterbach provided little to back up rape allegations:

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (CNN) — Slain Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, whose charred remains and those believed to be of her unborn fetus were found in the back yard of the man she had accused of raping her, provided military prosecutors with little reason to believe a rape took place, although officials continued to probe the allegations, the military said Tuesday. [...]

The March 26 encounter was judged to be “not criminal in nature,” or consensual, said Col. Gary Sokoloski, staff judge advocate for the II Marine Expeditionary Force. The second encounter, in April, involved no threats, no force, no violence and no blackmailing, Lauterbach told authorities. She said that during the sexual encounter, she asked Laurean to stop, and he did so, Sokoloski said.

I believe this statement from the Marines seeks to shift responsibility for Lauterbach's death from the Marine investigators failure to protect a crime victim onto the victim herself.

The explanation of why the first "encounter" was judged "not criminal in nature" ignores that threats and force can come in non-stereotypical ways and that clever sex offenders understand exactly how the system works and tailor their words and their actions so their victims have very little acceptable proof of rape or attempted rape. Offenders know that many investigators are quick to dismiss the victim's clear knowledge that what happened was in no way consensual.

This leads lousy sex-crime investigators to label real crime victims as mentally unstable. Once this happens these investigators have done a double harm by misjudging a real crime and sending a strong signal to rapists about what they can get away with and who will be punished when rape victims report their rapes.

This is where I have seen the smug instruct rape victims to escalate the violence so they will have acceptable proof that they were raped. The problem with this advice is that rapists can decide to escalate even more. This may indeed help get a rapist convicted, but the rape victim may not survive to see this "good" legal outcome.

When the Marines describe the 2 reported incidents as encounters, they have turned these 2 incidents into unquestionably mutual acts and this woman's murder becomes revenge against her criminal behavior rather than an escalation of the original violence. The rapists within the military cheer this victim blaming and use it to their criminal advantage.

This victim blaming is well-established far beyond the US Marines.

From the Guardian UK

Promiscuity among young people and the failure of police and prosecutors to put enough effort into investigating cases are two of the principal causes in the collapse in the number of rape convictions, the country's top law officers say today.

In an interview with the Guardian, the director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken MacDonald, and the solicitor general, Vera Baird, urge women to continue to report allegations of rape, while conceding that the authorities are struggling to give victims a proper service. [...]

"There is a lot of drinking and a lot of casual sex. Young people are drinking heavily and are pretty promiscuous," he said. "You have social and sexual complexity, misunderstandings, taking advantage, and ambiguity." This, he said, was making the criminal justice system "quite a blunt instrument".

First, taking advantage is rape. Second, whenever there is ambiguity it was rape. Period. With legal consent there is no ambiguity and there is no one identifying what happened as rape.

What all this talk of promiscuity does is buy the excuses of rapists and put the responsibility for failures within the system directly onto rape victims.

Of course rape investigations would be easier if women never consented to have sex with anyone and never consented to any limited sexualized contact such as hand holding or kissing. The presence of the alleged rapist's DNA would equal a conviction.

If women didn't drink then there would be no raping the drunk. And if women didn't sleep their would be no women waking up mid-rape.

Can anyone imagine a law enforcement official telling the public that a key part of the reason that most carjackers are getting away with their crimes is that drivers give people rides which is causing investigators to have trouble differentiating between the 2 when drivers report being carjacked?

It isn't promiscuity or victims who give investigators little to back up their allegations which contributes to this problem of low conviction rates, it is the pervasiveness and acceptance of dismissing the testimony and perceptions of those who report rape.

This dismissal of the rape victim's lack of consent after rape mirrors the dismissal of lack of consent that occurs during rape. And those who are dismissive wonder why their so-called reasonable concern about rape isn't appreciated by rape survivors.

Too often people who believe a woman who says, "I did not consent" make it clear that they need to get the "other side of the story" before they can accept that this woman was raped.

What they are doing isn't determining whether or not a rape occurred, they are determining whether or not they believe this rapist should be legally accountable for committing rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:56 AM   0 comments links to this post

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