Friday, May 09, 2008

Defining Rape And The Failure To Investigate Competently

Earlier in my series about Defining rape I talked about how the resistance to calling those who rape "rapists" impacts the investigations -- or lack thereof -- to reports of rape. This problem isn't just a matter of personal opinion by individuals such as myself.

Most botched or stillborn investigations are never reviewed, but a few are investigated and the results don't inspire confidence that most of those who are charged with investigating sex crimes are both competent and interested in determining the truth.

Details of the first review comes from the Lower Hudson Journal News:

Allegations that a former Putnam Valley teacher drugged and raped a 12-year-old girl in his classroom were handled improperly by school officials, police and prosecutors, according to the [New York] state Commission of Investigation.

In a report made public yesterday, the commission lists several "significant failures" that negatively influenced the investigation surrounding the teacher, who was not named but is identified in court papers as Dennis Tave.

"The handling of this case was completely unacceptable, and, as a result, we may never know what occurred in the classroom that day," said Alfred D. Lerner, chairman of the Commission of Investigation. "There are established protocols for how cases like this are supposed to be handled, and they were not followed in this instance."

For many people, including those who rape and those who blame victims, the handling of this case likely seems perfect. The excuse for this incompetence is often, "he said, she said."

I recommend reading the entire NY state final report (pdf). Anyone who cares will be appalled.

Hat tip: Hall Monitor

The second review which is underway comes from the BBC about an investigation into allegations by a girl who reported a series of rapes by her stepfather.
A fresh police investigation has been launched into the case of a woman who says she was raped by her stepfather while growing up in the Swansea Valley.

South Wales Police will look at claims she was abused for a 10-year period. Meanwhile the Independent Police Complaints Commission ( IPCC) will investigate the way police originally responded to her allegations.

A national newspaper has covered the woman's story and last month the CPS called for a new investigation

In both of these reviews it was an outsider or outsiders whose refusal to let the original lack of investigations go unchallenged. These failures impact more than these 2 victims, they impact the decision making process of would-be rapists about whether they can get away with rape and they impact the rationalizations of rapists who insist that what they do isn't real rape.

When rape victims' reports are repelled or effectively submarined then those who are responsible might as well give high fives to all rapists who commit those types of rapes.

It isn't enough for investigators to say they are against rape, their actions need to prove that they are against all rapes and not just the ones that have people calling for the death penalty.

For those who say it is right to treat only horrific rapes -- from the jaded observer's perspective -- as real crimes then it must be right to treat only horrific non-sex crimes as real crimes.

Investigators need to be held accountable when they fail rape victims and if the problem is systemic then the agencies or administrators need to be held accountable. If that means civil lawsuits, so be it.

If investigators won't do their jobs competently for the sake of rape victims, then maybe they need to learn to do their jobs competently for the sake of not costing their employer thousands or millions in a civil suit.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:23 PM   1 comments links to this post


At May 09, 2008 11:04 PM, Anonymous anonymous_poster said...

All cases start out as "[person #1] claims/[person #2] claims".

It is law enforcement's duty to investigate claims of a crime.


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