Sunday, January 13, 2008

Marine Who Reported Rape Missing Since Dec. 19 Found Dead In Accused Back Yard

From the AP:

[Lance Cpl. Maria] Lauterbach disappeared sometime after Dec. 14, not long after she met with military prosecutors to talk about her April allegation that [Marine Cpl. Cesar] Laurean raped her. Naval investigators said Saturday the rape case was progressing and Laurean was under a protective order to stay away from Lauterbach.

One of the many things that bothers me about the handling of this case is that the military authorities did not immediately respond to this woman's disappearance as a crime, either a kidnapping or a murder. Her body was found on Jan. 11 in a shallow grave in the back yard of her alleged rapist's house almost a month after she disappeared. A search warrant of his house and his yard should have been requested immediately.

If at that time nothing were found because the grave hadn't yet been dug then Laurean should have been put under surveillance 24/7. Anything less was negligent on the part of Navel investigators.

From CNN:

When asked why Laurean wasn't arrested when he was seen on Saturday night, Brown said it was because he wasn't sighted by law enforcement. "We told the folks in the general public, don't try to detain him."

Brown said police believe Laurean "could be a dangerous and violent person if he was put in a corner."

This assumption is one that is obvious now that the authorities discovered a shallow grave in this man's back yard. However, to one degree or another this should be assumed of all those who are accused of sexual violence and before the alleged victim goes missing. Too often when women like Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach report sexual violence those they report are wrongly assumed to be non-violent offenders even if they are viewed as potentially guilty.

This assumption that sexual violence isn't real violence contributed to this woman's murder before she could testify against Laurean. I saw early reports that no active effort was made to protect Lauterbach because she and her now alleged murderer were "friendly."

However, in the military there is no such thing as being able to quit to avoid a perpetrator and often the only way to endure being around someone who committed a crime against you is to try to act normal.

This coping method is too often seen as proof that either no violence occurred or that it was so minimal that the accused is no threat to anyone. This is one of the reasons that those who investigate sex crimes need to have special training so that they don't miss signs or misinterpret actions or information.

Investigators need to have a better understanding of the potential violence of the accused than even the victim has. Victims can be in mortal danger and not know it so any protection which depends on the victim asking for specific protection is going to lead to preventable deaths.

We cannot afford to have any more of those who report rape fail to get sufficient protection from those who have a vested interested in stopping their victim from testifying.

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

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