Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Danger In Criminal Profiling Alleged Rape Victims

I received an email from Women Against Rape about victim denial in the textbook Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis, Third Edition by Brent Turvey, MS.

Turvey uncritically referenced Eugene Kanin's work of trying to measure false rape reports by measuring the rate at which certain investigators could get 41% to 50% of those who reported rape to recant, but failed to address the possibility that those investigators studied by Kanin reached that high rate through coercing false confessions.

Turvey references problems in the Duke lacrosse rape case but fails to mention problems in the Madison, Wisconsin case which was the subject of the book Cry Rape by Bill Lueders where a rape victim was falsely charged by police after being coerced into a false recantation. This woman had to fight the police to get her forensic evidence processed but once it was processed, that evidence supported her claim and through her efforts her real rapist was eventually charged and convicted. She only got an apology and an offer of financial compensation for the injustice done to her from the city of Madison on the eve of the book's release.

For someone who makes broad negative claims against those who report rape this failure to reference false criminal charges against rape victims must be seen as a deliberate value judgment. He either doesn't care that they happen or he simply doesn't care to research this area injustice to ensure that his methodology doesn't inject injustice against rape victims.

From pg. 401:

Second, if there are doubts and these doubts are supported by physical evidence, the investigator must explain to the alleged victim that he or she knows that the alleged victim is not telling the truth. This is where interviewing skills come into play. There are many ways to let someone know you are aware that the person is lying. And it is possible to be nonjudgmental, supportive and sympathetic at this point to the interview. The investigator does not have to blurt out, "I know you are lying!" He or she may use other, more gentle tactics. In fact, these are the same tactics an investigator might use when interviewing a suspect in a rape case.

This paragraph is giving investigators in training dangerous advice since:

1) This advice is based on "doubts" rather than proof. An investigator's doubts can have zero correlation to the truth of the alleged victim's claim. If an investigator wrongly assumes that certain elements must be present, or absent, in all real rape cases then an investigator with the fiduciary duty of upholding the law can easily become a serial agent of injustice.

These doubts can be caused by other systemic problems such as a belief that a significant percentage of rape reports are false through systematic undermining of victim testimony, recantations or the unfounding of genuine rape cases. They can also be caused by other investigative weaknesses such as a forensic exam report which misses injuries.

2) For victims who aren't lost in their trauma and who are able to read between the lines the proposed interviewing tactics make it clear that the investigation is over. For victims who aren't aware that they are now the only suspect, the betrayal may come from someone who will try to get a rape victim to believe that what happened to her couldn't have happened which matches one of the motives listed for fraudulent rape report of "mental derangement."

This motive is a handy one for an investigator who can't get an alleged false reporter to recant. Instead of questioning the investigator's own assumptions and continuing the investigation with an open mind, the alleged victim is simply assumed to be delusional.

3) This strategy can be used to coerce a rape victim into falsely recanting thereby preventing an investigation which could prove the allegations to be true.

If this strategy is successful at getting a false confession or getting someone to respond in a way that's expected from someone who is assumed to be a liar then baseless doubts become cemented as proof of the victim's guilt which can lead to quicker unfounded doubts against subsequent real rape victims. This in turn reinforces wrongful assumptions about the rate of false rape reports.

Using this strategy, Turvey may very well have been able to replicate Kanin's study results which for him would provide faulty validation that his assumptions and his methodology are correct.

Investigator errors which lead to wrongful charges against real rape victims in one area begets more injustice in that area which begets more entrenched injustice. And if that investigator is viewed as an authority on the subject of rape investigations then the injustice can spread like a virus through the criminal justice system.

Not surprisingly, in the chapter titled, False Reports, Turvey dismisses any investigator who doesn't see inconsistencies as proof of a false report. He is capable of viewing other people as biased in favor of alleged rape victims but seems incapable of considering that he himself is biased against rape victims and is too trigger happy when it comes to believing that any puzzling detail is proof of a lie on the part of the alleged rape victim. His bias keeps him from seeing that an investigator's doubt can be an indicator that the investigator is dealing with a case which goes beyond that investigator's knowledge base.

Turvey advocates for a frame-by-frame analysis of the rape report which sounds good. However, the logic seems to be if the investigator cannot make sense of every single detail of the report then the report must be false.

This is dangerous logic and can lead investigators to disbelieve rape victims whose rapists behaved in ways that investigators assume never happens. Rapists who kidnap victims off the street and who hold their victims prisoner for weeks could be wrongly assumed by investigators to always kill their victims or to never choose to set that kidnap victim free. So if a kidnapping/rape victim reports that her rapist simply decided one day to drive her home, the investigator may view that truthful detail as contradictory and therefore proof of a false report.

This exact scenario happened and only when police were investigating another woman's abduction did they discover a location that exactly matched the disbelieved woman's description of where she was held. That rape victim didn't get an apology until Oprah prompted the investigator to apologize for assuming the woman's report was false.

Unfortunately, most disbelieved rape victims won't be able to have their initial truthful reports verified in this way. The injustices done against them will never be proven.

A frame-by-frame analysis also dismisses the effects of trauma or incapacitation. Turvey advocates assuming that the alleged victim is a liar during the frame by frame portion of the rape report which goes directly against an evidence-based approach.

This quick turning on alleged rape victims may seem to be effective because it is quick, but that is as dangerous as investigators who are quick to go after confessions from those suspected of committing violent crimes such as the murder of a family member because that person isn't reacting to the murder in the way the investigator believes an innocent family member would react.

Because rapists are not traumatized by the rapes they commit in the way that rape victims are, rapists who are bold-faced liars can sound more reasonable and more logical than their victims. This difference can be even more pronounced in acquaintance rape cases where the rapist uses deception both to get the victim's trust and to get the investigator's trust.

Turvey gives this suggested script to respond to any perceived contradiction in the alleged victim's report (pg. 403):

I have been investigating sex crimes for X amount of years and have interviewed many girls/guys who have for one reason or another not told the truth. I know you're not telling me the whole truth but I also know you seem like a good person. I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason why you are not telling the truth. Without the truth I can't help you with your problem. I know you have a problem or you wouldn't be here today. The problem with not telling the whole truth is that it starts off like a small snowball rolling downhill and as it picks up speed it gets bigger and bigger. In the end it can crush you. Let's stop the snowball before it gets too big because right now it is out of control.

This type of statement when made by an investigator to someone who was raped and who didn't lie communicates both incompetence and untrustworthiness on the part of the investigator. Seeing a contradiction is absolutely not knowing that someone is lying.

Turvey shows his dangerous incompetence by describing a response of crying on the part of the alleged rape victim as an indicator that the investigator is right and the alleged victim wasn't raped.

If I had tried to report my rape and was given this spiel about being a liar, I would have cried too -- but from the unjust accusation just leveled at me and at the knowledge that justice was AWOL for me and a worse injustice was in progress because I did what all rape victims are told to do -- report.

Turvey suggests responding to tears by going in for the confession, not knowing or caring how vulnerable an unjust accusation can make a real rape victim. Further breaking down someone who was raped, called a liar, and who is now in tears will be easy.

But it won't be reliably accurate and it won't be just.

This verifiable wrong assumption about the meaning of crying after being accused of being a liar proves that Turvey is an unreliable narrator about the truth of false rape reports. Those who faithfully follow his model will never know how many false criminal accusations they will make against genuine crime victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:36 AM   5 comments links to this post


At December 04, 2008 5:25 PM, Blogger Rj said...

This post is excellent and by far the most superior thing I've read on a blog until this point. Your explanations of what is occurring remind me of the horrors that d.v. victims face in the name of PAS--a "syndrome" created to negate claims of abuse.

At December 04, 2008 11:56 PM, Blogger Women Against Rape said...

Hi Marcella,
This is really thoughtful and an insightful analysis. It is really difficult to fathom the kind of misognystic thought going on in this How to Pursecute Women who were raped trainer's manual. Pure mysognystic, unbelievable. Thank you for your courage and intelligent kindhearted support for all raped women reporters. It's like in the military, where the women are raped and killed but 1/2 of the men didn't seem to care what so ever and the other 1/2 did the deed, too.

At December 05, 2008 11:10 AM, Anonymous Women Against Rape said...

Well, Maybe not 1/2... but this horrible brutal apparent killing (looks like from what I've read, too) of LaVena Johnson and "acid" on her genital area... not possibly even to have been suicide from her family's account or the news reports.

At December 05, 2008 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the link to Democracy Nows Video conversation with LaVena's parents. Her poor mother could not even open her eyes to look at the horrors of the world's turned back. In light of this above horrid "victim support" Men's training piece of @#!@, had she lived, and survived those rapist(s) she might just as easily have been accused of Fabricating her Rape as well.

At December 05, 2008 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mean to spew things you need to probably not print on your site...


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