Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mother Of Alleged Rapist Charged With Witness Intimidation

From The Olympian:

Theresa Graber has been charged with a felony count of witness intimidation in connection with the rape charges against her 23-year-old son. [...]

Police say she called and left threatening messages on a cell phone that belonged to her son's ex-wife, a potential witness in the rape case.

Having responded during my time as a victims advocate to a rape victim who was the target of witness intimidation, I'm thrilled that this Idaho woman is being charged with a felony. These type of actions are serious crimes and need to be treated as such every time.

To ignore witness intimidation is to let justice be held hostage by bullies.

Whenever law enforcement and prosecutors ignore witness intimidation they contribute to witnesses and victims getting scared away from testifying. Unfortunately, these professionals who fail victims and witnesses have a need to view intimidated witnesses and victims as the only ones who failed. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to continue ignoring this destructive behavior.

The other impact these prosecutions have is on those who are tempted to "help" an accused friend or relative who claims to be wrongfully accused by some horrible, spiteful person. Just as many rapists can fool their prospective victims into seeing them as safe people until the rape is in progress or complete, many rapists can fool others into believing the same thing.

Often after rape, the rapist can be calm and seemingly reasonable while the rape victim looks irrationally angry or bitter. For those who don't understand why this happens when the allegations are true the contrast can be twisted into "she's getting revenge because he didn't call her after sex." That can lead those considering witness intimidation to see themselves as working on the side of justice in an unjust world when they are really aiding and abetting rapists.

It may take the fear of criminal prosecution to prevent people who consider themselves to always be on the side of justice to stop them from perpetrating an injustice.

Just as all those considering raping someone need to view their planned rape as a serious crime no matter their opinion of the potential victim's character, all those who consider intimidating witnesses need to view their actions as a serious crime no matter what they believe the alleged victim or witness did wrong or will do wrong if not stopped.

The seriousness of witness intimidation doesn't go away just because the intimidator believes the person or people they are intimidating are liars. It doesn't go away even if the rape case goes nowhere or if the victim recants.

Any witness intimidation by those who support the accused -- even that which doesn't cross the line into being a felony -- taints any positive outcome for the suspect or defendant.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:46 AM   0 comments links to this post


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