Monday, September 29, 2008

Grand Jury Adds Attempted Murder Charge Against Man Who Claimed Choking Was Consensual

From The Daily Journal:

BRIDGETON -- A lawyer for a Fairfield man charged with severely choking and sexually assaulting a woman told a judge Friday that the defendant and victim had enjoyed rough sex in the past. Defendant Alexis Rivera, 27, of Ramah Road was in Cumberland County Superior Court for a bail hearing. [...]

The woman was "spitting blood" when she was taken to a hospital after the incident, Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Vogelsong said.

This defense strategy of saying the alleged rape was no different from past consensual sexual activities is a familiar one. This case highlights the ugly reality behind that strategy when it is used against rape victims who don't spit blood or show other non-sexual injuries.

The evidence provided to the grand jury in this case caused them to add the charge of first-degree attempted murder to the other charges which were sought by the prosecutor which had aggravated sexual assault as the most severe charge.

This case highlights what harm can be dismissed by rapists and those who align themselves with rapists in the name of protecting the innocent.

If a rapist lies about the rape victim or a defense attorney lies on the rapist's behalf, their hope is that baseless claims will be accepted as proof of innocence or at least as proof of reasonable doubt when they are neither.

To help make this lie seem credible rapists need people to believe that a high percentage of reported rapes never happened. They begin this process by claiming any physical evidence of rape is meaningless and any lack of physical evidence is meaningful in the rapist's favor. Not surprisingly, their standard of proof for the claim of false allegation in no way matches their standard of proof for the original claim of rape.

If a prosecutor says that a man committed rape that statement is presented as proof of nothing. If the charges are dropped that indicates he is innocent or should be treated as if he is innocent even if he is guilty. If he is subsequently charged with another rape, that first charge shouldn't taint his credibility.

If a prosecutor says that a woman who reported rape filed a false police report that statement is presented as proof of her guilt. If the charges are dropped that allegedly indicates that the justice system coddles women and this woman should be treated as if she is guilty. If she is raped again and reports that rape, that first dropped rape charge should taint her credibility.

This contrast proves that letting most rapists escape justice in the name of protecting the innocent is a sham.

Those who want "it was consensual" to result in no charges or no conviction are seeking to systematically protect certain types of rapists because they want to protect those rapists and they are basely slandering certain types of rape victims because they have little or no interest in protecting the innocent when they are victims of certain types of rapists.

Those who advocate not prosecuting or not convicting those rapists who claim "it was consensual" in the name of protecting the innocent are harming the very men they are claiming to protect. Once real rapists and those who are genuinely innocent of the charge of rape are painted as indistinguishable, the genuinely innocent are forever linked with all the rapists who escaped justice.

If Rivera behaved as violently toward this woman in the past as he claims, where choking her was a regular part of their relationship, instead of proving his innocence, this defense strategy proves that he is guilty of this charge and it proves that he is guilty of additional uncharged crimes. The only difference becomes that this time he choked her to the point of her spitting up blood and had her running for help.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:22 AM   1 comments links to this post


At September 30, 2008 3:36 AM, Blogger Jenny said...

Some time ago in Sweden, there was a lot of media discussions about a rape case. The victim had previously had consensual BDSM sex with the men, but on this occasion she'd said no - and so she reported them the next day.

I remember talking to a friend of mine about it. She said that maybe the men hadn't understood that the woman didn't consent. I told her that in my opinion that was irrelevant - what we should ask isn't "did she make it clear that she didn't consent this time", but "what reason had they to believe she consented to this act at this moment". In other words, the question isn't whether the woman said no, it's whether she said yes - and she didn't.

To my great surprise the men were actually convicted of rape. The fact that she'd previously had consensual sex with the men didn't matter to the court. That's the sort of thing that gives me hope for a better future...

(Anyone who understands Swedish can google for "Stureplansvåldtäkt" if you don't remember the case.)


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