Thursday, July 24, 2008

False Rape Investigation Model: Between Belief And Disbelief

The following comment might seem to some people to be advocating for genuine fairness because of the tone of the comment, but even before I found out that the author of this comment posts at a blog called The False Rape Society, I knew it came from a rape denialist.

Archivist has left a new comment on your post "Solid Evidence Important In Rape and False Rape Ca...":

It is infuriating that some law enforcement officials bring preconceived biases to investigations of claims of sexual assault. Each case needs to be treated seriously, and objectively. It is not up to a police officer to "believe" or "disbelieve." He or she is supposed to gather facts and use his or her training to come to objectively verifiable conclusions.

Both the macho, instinctive disbelief of rape claimants exhibitted by less sophisticated police forces, and the knee-jerk uncritical acceptance of every word a rape claimant utters, as I see in my practice on college campus, are wrong and counter-productive. If we can get to the point where the only thing that matters is the truth and not someone's attempt to twist and pound every case to fit a political agenda, everybody - rape victims and the falsely accused would be much better off.

What he finds infuriating isn't preconceived biases as he claims, but preconceived biases which are in conflict with his preconceived biases or which give his preconceived biases a bad name. He ends with an attack on political agendas, but he clearly has a political agenda which is predicated on not believing those who report rape until they have proven themselves to be true crime victims and until they have disproven the possibility that they have committed a crime by reporting rape.

His proposed objective methodology is indeed sophisticated, but sophistication doesn't automatically make something right or effective. His demand for objectivity is a false one.

Unspoken but clear from his comment is that rapists are assumed innocent under this model. However, just as clear, rape victims are not assumed innocent, they are assumed to be likely false reporters until they are proven to be genuine rape victims. This is an intentionally imbalanced way of thinking about rape reports which "objectively" taints all rape victims who have not had their rapes proven in court.

Under his model the police must avoid treating rape victims as genuine crime victims until the crime has been proven. Not surprisingly this model is predicated on seeing us as a false rape society where all rape reports must be instantly doubted and the chances that someone was really raped is about 50-50.

If this model were a valid investigative model then it would be standard operating procedures for all crimes. When you call the police to report that you've been mugged, the investigating officer should neither believe you nor disbelieve you.

When you describe your mugger's tattoo which includes his first name, the officer should not assume you are describing a genuine mugger or even a stranger. Rather than being observant about the details of the tattoo, which smart muggers would hide, you might be able to describe it so well because you've seen it many times before.

The investigator must keep an open mind and not believe anything you say without proof of that statement.

If this mugger is found with your wallet, the mugger shouldn't be assumed to have stolen your wallet. The mugger should be approached in a non-judgmental way in case you were stupid and gave this man your wallet of your own free will and called the cops because you later regretted your actions.

If the mugger has drugs on him or in him, you must be viewed as someone who might have exchanged drugs with him. Instead of a mugging this might be a drug deal gone bad in which case this is really a breach of promise case, not a mugging. Remember, you are not yet believed.

This model says that you are simply being treated in a neutral manner, but that neutrality always injects doubt, even where there is zero evidence which indicates that your report of a mugging is in any way doubtful.

Rather than resulting in the truth which Archivist says is the only thing that matters, this model uses supposed objectivity to give criminals multiple opportunities to make baseless claims against you. Since you are not assumed to be a real crime victim these baseless claims leave you in limbo unless or until you can prove them all to be false.

This model is deliberately unfair and biased in the guise of being fair and unbiased.

Crime victims are far worse off under this model which directly contradicts Archivist's claim, but the rightfully accused are definitely better off. Because so many rightfully accused would be able to get away with calling themselves wrongfully accused this model doesn't make the genuinely wrongly accused any better off than they are when investigator begin with the belief in the report made against them.

If the truth of what happened is all that matters then all investigators need to believe all claims of rape until there is solid evidence that the claim is false.

If and when there is enough supporting evidence to bring charges, the suspect should be charged. If and when there is enough contradictory evidence showing that the crime never happened, the person who claimed to be a crime victim should be charged.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:15 AM   8 comments links to this post


At July 24, 2008 7:39 PM, Blogger Fidelbogen said...

Are you muddying the real issue on purpose? I think that you are!

The real issue is the foundational principle in law known as PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE. It has taken us a long time, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to secure this principle in the jurisprudence of Western civilization, and I for one don't intend to let it slide down the pan without raising some hell about it!

The DEFENDANT (i.e. the "accused") is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The process of proving the defendant guilty, is known as a "trial". If the defendant is presumed guilty right off the bat, then there is NO NEED FOR A TRIAL AT there? What the hell, he's guilty -- just lock him up and be done with it! Right?

Do you find that scenario morally acceptable? Would you be willing to identify yourself as a "perjury apologist", or in the present case, a "false rape apologist"?

By the way, nobody is apologizing for rape IF it truly occurred.

However, it must be proven to have occurred, upon a "clear and convincing" standard of evidence, and Sir Matthew Hale's warning should be read to the jury.

At July 24, 2008 8:45 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Fidelbogen, you don't understand the legal concept of innocent until proven guilty if you can't understand how the police can begin by believing that a person who reports a crime is telling the truth without turning the system into one predicated on guilty until proven innocent.

If you think anything I wrote goes against the legal system of innocent until proven guilty you need to read my post again and then you need to look up the legal definition of innocent until proven guilty.

You clearly presume that those who report being raped should be treated as if they are guilty of filing a false police report (the police cannot believe them when rape is reported) unless and until their rapists are convicted.

This means that your belief in innocent until proven guilty flips whichever way protects rapists.

At July 25, 2008 4:06 AM, Anonymous Ruana said...

You're the one muddying the issue here, fidelbogen. The system as a whole presumes a suspect innocent, and that is as it should be. But the *investigators* can start out with the belief that a rape report is true without harming this principle. As you so rightly say, guilt or innocence is for the jury to decide, not them.

As marcella points out, reports of other crimes, such as muggings, already are treated with less suspicion than rape complaints. Is it your contention that this means the suspects in those cases are being presumed guilty and locked up without fair trials?

At July 25, 2008 8:51 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Fidelbogen, since you couldn't seem to find the legal definition of innocent until proven guilty, here's a link for you.

Here's a key section which those who misuse innocent until proven guilty purge from the legal definition:

"The reality is that no defendant would face trial unless somebody -- the crime victim, the prosecutor, a police officer -- believed that the defendant was guilty of a crime."

I suggest you also look up the definition of probable cause since that concept seems to be one you reject or don't understand when it comes to rape cases.

At July 25, 2008 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

". . . the *investigators* can start out with the belief that a rape report is true without harming" the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

Why would they, except to satisfy some feminist agenda? How would THAT help get at the truth? Why not treat every claim seriously and objectively, without being an "advocate" for the alleged victim? If it is one woman's word against one man's, without any further proof, what legitimate reason would prompt a police officer to toss away his or her objectivity and "take sides"?

At July 25, 2008 10:56 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Anonymous, if alleged rapists deny being rapists then the police officer cannot take sides?

What a load of rape-enabling bullshit.

This is in no way objectivity. It is either incompetence or negligence.

I notice that you don't insist on this "objectivity" when men are the victims of crimes committed by women.

At August 15, 2008 1:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marcella no police officer takes any side when a defendant denies his crime. It's pretty much standard for every crim to say "It wasn't me" or "I didn't do it". It's also pretty much standard that every cop assumes they're all lying. BTW, an "alleged rapist" by law, is an innocent man (or woman). He (or she) has not been proven guilty and must therefore be innocent.

If a woman accuses a man of rape, the statement is, by definition, assumed to be false. That is how presumption of innocence works: If you have to prove someone guilty then you can accomplish this by assuming every defendant innocent and the guilty ones are the ones where you proved it. The opposite has been done in human history before. France had guilty until proven innocent until quite recently. The Spanish Inquistion is another place where you were considered guilty until proven innocent. So you can plainly see the danger in any system where people are assumed's usually part of some kind of totalitarian government regime that opposes freedom. Horror stories from historical "guilty until proven innnocent" regimes are quite easy to see and it's obvious that that kind of system leads only to chaos (check out Carlyle's "The French Revolution" for a look at it in action).

At August 15, 2008 8:55 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Anonymous wrote: "Marcella no police officer takes any side when a defendant denies his crime."

This is false. My post Perverting Course of Justice Case Falls Apart shows just one of the many cases where police officers take sides as soon as the defendant denies his crime and then violate the legal rights of the person who reported rape.

To assume that when a woman accuses a man of rape that she is making a false statement is to assume her guilty of filing a false police report. That is a recipe for injustice.

But since this woman is most likely a rape victim many people -- like you have -- find that acceptable.

Like the first commenter you need to read the legal definition of innocent until proven guilty.

To equate investigators beginning with the belief in all rape reports until the evidence proves that an alleged victim has filed a false police report to the Spanish Inquition is absurd.


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