Friday, August 15, 2008

Believing Rape Victims As Dangerous As Reviving The Spanish Inquisition

An Anonymous man who left a comment on my post "False Rape Investigation Model: Between Belief And..." wrote:

Marcella no police officer takes any side when a defendant denies his crime. It's pretty much standard for every crim [sic] 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 [sic] 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" [sic] 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).

Here's my responding comment (cleaned up slightly):

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 Inquisition is absurd.

That's the end of my comment, but I need to note that while guys like this one come out against Guilty Until Proven Innocent, they usually demand that people respond to acquittals, dropped charges or a lack of charges in rape cases as if the criminal justice system we have does in fact operate under the premise of Guilty Until Proven Innocent.

No wonder they spend so much time trying to equate investigators believing rape reports as evidence that the criminal justice system operates under a system of Guilty Until Proven Innocent. They need this distortion in order to make their claims that someone has been proven innocent when that's not what happened.

If a man is potentially coerced into confessing to rape and murder then anonymous would most likely support throwing out that confession and viewing all confessions by alleged rapists as suspect, but when a woman who was raped is coerced into recanting her valid rape report Anonymous and his ilk don't highlight this injustice.

Anonymous and others like him are predictable flip-floppers.

If a woman accuses a man of rape, the statement is, by definition, assumed to be false. [...]

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.

So according to Anonymous those who report rape must be assumed to be guilty of filing a false police report, but any system where people are assumed guilty is a dangerous one that opposes freedom.

That means freedom is for rapists but not for rape victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:22 AM   2 comments links to this post


At August 15, 2008 1:13 PM, Anonymous Ben said...

I agree that Anonymous is wrong, but your logic is as faulty as his.

Let's start with the premise of:

"An Accuser (A) of a crime is assumed to false since the Accused (B) is presumed innocent."

It does not matter if it is rape or any other crime. This does not assume that A is guilty of anything. When the investigation swings to A's alleged false police report, A is assumed innocent until proven guilt as well. These two ideas are not dispositive.

The idea is the focus has to be on the alleged criminal. The the example above, B must be presumed innocent. This bears no weight on A's culpability. Without any other evidence, it would be an injustice to assume B has committed a crime. For example, if I walk into a police station and say "Fred stole my watch," the police should not arrest Fred without first finding additional evidence. They have assumed Fred's innocence and must assume that I am lying, otherwise I cannot receive a fair investigation. They have not, however, assumed my guilt in filing a police report, they just don't trust me without corroboration. Anonymous suggests that B be given the same benefit of the doubt. This is often not the case.
Back to my accusation of Fred. If the cops determine that they cannot determine whether or not Fred stole my watch, their reaction will not be to arrest me. They will send me away and say that their is not enough evidence to move forward.

So as you can see, it is not dispositive to suggest that a rape victim be assumed be lying as far as the investigation of the alleged perpetrator is concerned.

The failure of Anonymous' logic is that rape is a crime that rarely has corroboration. Rape is prevalent enough that a rigorous investigation must move forward despite this fact. It cannot be likened to a guilty until proven innocent system since the trial and not the investigation determine the innocence of the accused.

At August 15, 2008 2:56 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Ben, your analysis is faulty at a basic level and your example of your accusation against Fred in no way matches the reality of what happens to rape victims when their claims are assumed to be false. Your example also doesn't match what happens when investigators assume a rape report to be true.

Demanding that the focus exclude the alleged crime victim means deliberately overlooking law enforcement practices which harm rape victims and which violate their legal rights or which predictably lead to unjust results. That doesn't reflect well on you.

The needed assumption by an investigator that a rape report is valid -- unless or until it has been proven to be false -- doesn't take the alleged rapist directly to a legal status of guilty or even to the filing of charges.

What the assumption that all reports are true does is lead the investigator to actually investigate each report without allowing meaningless details to stop the investigation.

The assumption that all rape reports are false leads many investigators to turn on the person who reported being raped and try to coerce that person into recanting. If they succeed they call their unethical practice and the unreliable result to be the proof they needed to close the case.

Your methodology protects rapists and leaves a taint on those who were genuinely falsely accused of rape.

Rape often has corroboration but many people don't see it because they stop thinking once a rapist says, "It was consensual."


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