Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Solid Evidence Important In Rape and False Rape Cases

The article in the News Leader out of Springfield, Missouri about criminal charges made against Karla Forest, who reported being raped by a stranger in her back yard, buries the most important forensic evidence which is what clearly implicates her in the charge of filing a false report.

Too often the strongest evidence cited in stories about these types of cases is a lack of evidence. Whether this is actually the strongest evidence is often left to guesswork.

Maybe that's why there is such emphasis in this case that the report of rape was taken seriously and was investigated fully and professionally.

Here's the 2nd half of the 14th paragraph of the story which finally gets to the key forensic evidence.

What wounds she did have were consistent with self-inflicted wounds, the statement says. A lab analysis of scrapings from Forest's fingernails revealed the presence of her own blood.

Other details which were mentioned earlier in the story don't contradict the evidence which indicates the staging of an attack, but those other elements such as lack of foreign DNA are not by themselves proof that no rape happened.

Not surprisingly, some of the commenters on this story show a disregard for evidence and for thorough investigations and do so in the name of justice. Bornandraisedhere wrote:

A high percentage of reported rapes turn out to be false. [...] One officer told me its common not to ask "was it very bad" but instead ask "did it really happen or not".

This man shows a high regard for sloppy investigations and sloppy investigators. Unfortunately, these attitudes protect most men who rape in the name of protecting all men who don't rape.

Investigators who begin their investigations by treating rape victims like criminals without a shred of solid evidence become role models -- as long as the crime is rape.

Yet all types of violent crimes have been falsely reported.

If the approach of assuming that the alleged victim is a liar is a valid one then this investigative approach needs to be applied to all non-sexual acts of violence.

That investigative model would lead to results which would support the claims that a high percentage of all types of violent crime reports turn out to be false. Just imagine what would happen if every man discovered bound and hurt were assumed to have faked the crime.

The man found bound hand and foot says he was punched hard enough to knock him off his feet but he has no bruises so under this model of investigation his report has been proven to be a false one.

A wide range of violent criminals would be happy indeed.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:07 AM   2 comments links to this post


At July 23, 2008 6:11 PM, Blogger Archivist said...

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.

At July 24, 2008 10:19 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Archivist, I have responded to the flaws in your position in a separate post which highlight why this is an unjust model for rape investigations.


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