Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Complete Investigations Used As Justification To Not Have Complete Investigations

Yesterday I blogged about a rape case where the woman who was originally viewed as the victim was charged after forensic evidence indicated self-inflicted wounds rather than a stranger assault as she claimed. Today I read about a new case where another woman who reported rape faces similar charges as reported by the Pocono Record. This charge resulted from another type of contradictory evidence. A verified alibi.

Police arrested a Pocono Pines woman after they say she admitted lying to investigators when she accused her ex-boyfriend of assault and rape. Elissa Easterling, 27, is accused of lying to Pocono Mountain Regional Police, and falsely accusing a man of beating and raping her. [...]

During the course of a month-long investigation after she told police she had been assaulted, police corroborated the man's alibi and determined that Easterling had fabricated her reports.

Not surprisingly, this case has already been highlighted by several anti-feminists who see the case as supporting their pet theory about lying women.

What these anti-feminists don't want to acknowledge is that the collection of evidence which cleared the accused man in this case is a direct result of the very thing these people are attacking. The full and competent investigation of all rape reports.

But full and competent investigations take time which many anti-feminists view as an injustice even if the investigation exonerates the suspect. Rape victims might have to wait months or years to have their rape kits processed, but rape suspects shouldn't have to wait even a single month.

A frequent source for this view is False Rape Allegations by Eugine J. Kanin, 1994. A key flaw in this study is revealed on page 2 under method.

First, its police agency is not inundated with serious felony cases and, therefore, has the freedom and the motivation to record and thoroughly pursue all rape complaints. In fact, agency policy forbids police officers to use their discretion in deciding whether to officially acknowledge a rape complaint, regardless how suspect that complaint may be.

Second, the declaration of a false allegation follows a highly institutionalized procedure. The investigation of all rape complaints always involves a serious offer to polygraph the complainants and the suspects. Additionally, for a declaration of false charge to be made, the complainant must admit that no rape had occurred. She is
the sole agent who can say that the rape charge is false.

The police department will not declare a rape charge as false when the complainant, for whatever reason, fails to pursue the charge or cooperate on the case, regardless
how much doubt the police may have regarding the validity of the charge. In short, these cases are declared false only because the complainant admitted they are false.

Notice that all full investigations of rape included in this study involved either the use or suggestion of polygraph tests. This indicates to me that investigators in that city lacked the skill or the will to do rape investigations without the unreliable crutch of the polygraph which current murder suspect Gerald Pabst passed twice before his testimony helped convict another man. Recent DNA testing contradicted Pabst's polygraph results.

Since investigators were not given the power to use their discretion about whether or not to investigate a rape case, investigators who didn't want to investigate had a clear motive for pushing those women they didn't believe into recanting ASAP. The polygraph would have been a handy lever in achieving this goal.

In the rape cases over 9 years of the study investigators succeeded at getting 41% of those who reported rape to recant. That rate as a measure of verified false reports is invalid for 2 reasons. 1) Polygraphs are often used to induce confessions which turn out to be false and all rape investigations included the use or mention of polygraphs as standard procedure. 2) This methodology of investigation would likely intimidate many genuine rape victims away from reporting in the first place.

Not one of the allegedly false rape reports in Kanin's 9-year study resulted from investigations and evidence which independently proved these women's reports to be false. That is highly significant, but this fact is ignored as if it were insignificant.

Rather than showing a verified rate of false reports at 41%, Kanin's study shows a verified rate of false reports at 0%.

With the permanent taint which lack of competent and reliable investigations leave behind, the only practical reason for people to oppose full and competent investigations of all rape reports is to protect the guilty not the innocent.

When it comes to false reports and gender, I'll quote Kanin:

If rape were a commonplace victimization experience of men, if men could experience the anxiety of possible pregnancy from illicit affairs, if men had a cultural base that would support their confidence in using rape accusations punitively, and if men could feel secure that victimization could elicit attention and sympathy, then men also would be making false rape accusations.

So what do these punitive men currently do to women instead of filing false rape reports against them?

At least one of them, Clinton Lewis, kidnapped his estranged wife, a Fort Bliss soldier, and allegedly raped her, leaving a nasty crime scene behind which made her family fear that she had been murdered. In these types of punitive actions a great outcome is the survival of the woman targeted.

Too many people make what happened to Easterling's ex (false claim of rape) equivalent to what happened to Lewis's estranged wife (assault, kidnapping, rape).

I don't agree -- which results in my being labeled by some people as irrational or hateful.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:52 AM   1 comments links to this post


At July 23, 2008 2:53 PM, Blogger Holly/Admin said...

Excellent post Marcella! Thank you for bringing this topic to my attention. Take care Holly


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