Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Defense Attorney If You Ever Smile And That's Shown On Facebook You Weren't Raped

From the Daily Mail UK:

A barrister has caused outrage by suggesting a rape victim could not have been upset by her ordeal because there were photos of her on Facebook looking happy.
The woman was attacked in 2001 when she was 19 and has since tried to kill herself.

Her attacker, Anthony Francis, was caught seven years later as a result of a DNA sample. His barrister tried to persuade a judge to be lenient by showing pictures posted on the social networking site of the woman laughing and smiling at a fancy dress party in the years since the rape.

This pre-sentencing defense given by Colin McCarraher is likely seen as bogus because of the victim's suicide attempt. But even if the rape victim recovered quickly from this rape and went on to be completely happy this defense remains bogus.

This defense strategy reflects a common attitude inside and outside of the courtroom that is quick to find excuses to dismiss the severity of the crime of rape. In this case the defense attorney wants the judge to assess the crime of rape not by judging the crime itself but by making snap judgments about the rape victim.

I can't imagine a defense attorney thinking he could get away with this in an attempted murder case. "But look at the Facebook page of the victim. Look at that picture where he's smiling. He doesn't look like someone who was almost murdered now, does he?"

If you try to kill someone or you rape someone, and the system keeps justice in mind, then your verdict and your sentence will be based on the severity of your criminal actions not on evidence that the crime victim hasn't been totally destroyed and still has the ability to smile at times.

Not surprisingly, this defense attorney would resist having a rape survivor's suicide reflect negatively on his client's sentencing. In that situation, details about the victim's behavior after the crime would be described by the defense attorney as irrelevant.

Francis was sentenced by the judge to 5 and a half years. The story doesn't say if that is the maximum sentence he could have received.

This defense strategy is unethical and it should be treated by the British bar as such.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:25 AM   1 comments links to this post


At October 14, 2008 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I had the words to express how horrified this defense attorney's morally bankrupt argument makes me feel. Hasn't it occurred to him that people trying to survive the kind of psychological devastation that leads to suicide attempts can become so disconnected from their own feelings that they can look and act quite normal? It's called depersonalization disorder, Mr. Idiot Defense Attorney, and it's how a lot of us cope with trauma.

And if that is not the case here, it is still wildly offensive to suggest that rape is only bad if it effectively murders the person's psyche, such that the person victimized spends the rest of her life crying in a corner. I am shaking with rage that such an evil, contempt-worthy, failed individual would ever be allowed to practice law.


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