Thursday, July 31, 2008

Defining False Rape Reports By Whether Rape Was Legal

In a comment on one of my Feministe posts the false reporting of rape was defined as not only those who intentionally file a false police report, it was defined as including all those who report any rape which is deemed by investigators to be legal.

The variance in the TYPE of “false” reports are going to be different between mugging and rape. If you only look at one subset of false reports–as you seem to be doing–then you will reach the wrong conclusion. The variance can probably explain much (though probably not all) of the difference in reactions to the accusations. [...]

It seems obvious that mugging reports will tend to match more accurately to the legal ability to convict the mugger. Why? Well, because mugging is fairly simple: you threaten someone or beat them up, and you take their money. [...]

Rape is different. Why? Because society’s expectation of what “rape” means is a BAD MATCH for the law. There are many, many, situations in which someone says (and feels) “I was raped” and the law does not agree. This in fact is one of the larger issues in rape prosecutions. [...]

So even though pretty much everyone who says “John raped me” will, in their heart, believe that this is true (just like everyone who says “John mugged me,”) for the rape victims this is less likely to be accurate.

This definition puts all the relevant criminal statutes first and any logical identification of the violation someone experienced second. It deliberately and selectively divorces the criminal justice system from the harm people experience at the hands of someone else.

This comparison ignores how often muggers don't need to threaten someone or to beat them up which places many muggers outside of the simple definition of mugging given in this comment. Mugging is viewed as simple because we choose not to needlessly complicate it.

If you are walking alone and two hulking men who look to be armed and dangerous ask you if you'd like to hand over your wallet, you are likely to take out your wallet and toss it in those men's direction.

Even though the muggers didn't actually take your money from you and instead picked your wallet up off the sidewalk, nobody is likely to view your positive response to a "question" as nullifying the possibility that a crime was committed.

When you report that you were mugged this report is not dismissed as a false one where your perceptions are deemed meaningless.

But if you are walking alone and those same two men ask you if you'd like to have sex and you fear that they will shoot you if you don't comply, the chances go way up that if you report having been raped that your report will be dismissed as a false one. Because, you know, rape is more complicated than mugging.

There is nothing objective about this difference in perception between mugging cases and rape cases. A mugger who asks if you'd like to hand over your wallet isn't described as exploiting a legal loophole. When this happens in rape cases society’s expectation of what “rape” means is not a BAD MATCH for the law as implemented. It is a perfect match.

If it were a bad match, the uproar would be immediate and non-ending until the law was changed or until the law was properly enforced.

Under this definition if there is a mismatch between the experience of being raped and the interpretation of the law, the interpretation of the law is always right. Yet our laws are designed by people who create and amend laws based on their judgments about who should be punished and how severely. They are also based on lawmakers assumptions about how different crimes are committed.

If lawmakers only say, "rapists use undeniable physical force or overt threats of physical violence" their laws will ignore all other rapists. Since most rapists are motivated not to go to prison for a very long time but worry that they will be reported, many of them will choose how and who they rape so that their crime won't instantly fit the lawmakers expectations if they are reported.

The easiest way to do this is to rape someone you know or someone you meet in a situation where consensual sex is seen as a possibility so that rape victims can be labeled as vindictive, delusional or unreliable. Sometimes this discrediting isn't even needed since rape laws can contain clear definitions of when rape is legal.

If rape laws and rape law enforcement are centered on the concept of the stranger rapist who immediately grabs the victim then investigators and others can refuse to acknowledge when a non-stranger rape allegation or even a stranger rape allegation meets all the legal standards for rape.

They can do this by summarizing the detailed account given by the rape victim in a way which wipes out all indicators that the reported actions meets the legal standards for rape. Physical force can be transformed in the summary into an embrace which could have been broken if the alleged victim really didn't want to have sex or it can be erased entirely. That whitewashed summary is then compared to the law. When it predictably falls short, a true report gets classified as false.

But not maliciously false.

Rather than being a generous classification, "not maliciously false" protects the person making the accusation against someone who reported being raped. They make these accusations, but never have to prove them or risk having these accusations proven to be factually false.

Unfortunately, when it comes to rape law the history of these laws has more to do with viewing certain rapes as not worthy of any punishment than it has to do with ignorance of the full scope of certain types of crimes. Hence, rape laws which specifically make it legal for people to rape their spouses. That can give us law-abiding sexual psychopaths -- as long as these people never do to strangers what they do to their spouses.

Not surprisingly, this approach lets many sexual predators continue their predation with the full support of the law and society when their intent and aim are identical to sexual predators who are subject to long prison sentences.

If a bunch of rape victims describe rape which happens in a way which isn't covered by the rape statutes (beginning sex with unconscious/sleeping person, for example) or which isn't designated as full rape in a particular jurisdiction the problem under this definition is with these "rape" victims. They are reporting when they have no right to report or they are reporting a more severe crime when they were actually the victim of a less severe crime.

This loophole in the Oklahoma rape law was closed only a couple of months ago. Before that a rapist couldn't be guilty of 1st degree rape if he raped someone who was unconscious or too intoxicated to consent. Raping someone through intoxication wasn't viewed as being as serious of a crime as raping someone through physical force.

The case which led to this change in law was a rape committed by a nurse against a drugged hospital patient. This rapist's criminal actions and intent are the same as rapists who go after those who become unconscious after drinking. But when the rape victim is a drugged hospital patient society suddenly understands that this rape was caused by the rapist's actions and choices, not the rape victim's.

This contrasting view of rape victims becomes clear when we look at how police and others talk about rape victims who have consumed alcohol. I can't imagine ever reading a headline which says, "Rape linked to woman being hospitalized," yet headlines such as, "More rapes linked to young women on drinking binges," are so common that people don't realize that this headline implies that women on drinking binges are committing rape.

These are apparently self-inflicted rapes. An increase in the number of these rapes must be caused by a change in the behavior of women and not an increase in the number of rapists who target women who have been drinking or an increase in the frequency of rape attempts by these rapists.

Once investigators view real rape victims as causing their rapes it's a small step to having these investigators decide on an individual basis that these rape victims are not victims of any crime. Hence, declaring their reports to be factually false.

This gives us a tidy feedback loop. 1) Blame rape victims for their rapes. 2) Deny these rapes on an individual basis seeking evidence that the victim could have prevented it if she/he really wanted to. 3) Blame these non-victims for any dismissive or hostile treatment non-blamed rape victims get from law enforcement since these non-victims are clogging up the system. 4) Repeat.

This definition of false report means that before anyone reports any crime they need to read their local statutes to make sure that there is a legal statute which covers this crime with no exceptions or loopholes. If what they report is deemed to be "no crime" they are false reporters and preventing investigators from taking those who report real crimes seriously.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:38 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Woman Convicted In Coverup Of Alleged Rape

This criminal case highlights why absence of detectable forensic evidence at an alleged crime scene is not proof of innocence.

A jury believed that Shushawna Barracks tried to help her live-in boyfriend cover up a rape he is accused of committing, and yesterday found her guilty of evidence tampering. [...]

During the three-day trial, police testified that, on Jan. 9, Barracks locked herself inside her Nissan Murano in the parking lot of The Journal News in Harrison, where she worked as a part-time telemarketer. She then dumped laundry detergent all over the seats and yelled into her cell phone, "I'm doing it now! I'm getting everything!"

I hope that this tampering conviction is admissible evidence in the rape trial of her boyfriend, Tyrone Haywood, so that jurors in his trial don't wrongly assume that the absence of DNA evidence in that car supports the defense's story of what did or did not happen.

In more rape cases rapists who are aware of the power of DNA evidence don't wait until after the crime to work to obscure forensic evidence.

Some of the most horrific parts of the 19 hour rape ordeal a grad student endured were done with the intent to destroy DNA evidence or to destroy this rape victim's eyesight so she could not identify him. He didn't succeed in destroying all the DNA evidence despite attempting to murder his victim and setting fire to his victim's apartment, but if he had the idea that his efforts would be rewarded with an acquittal should bother everyone.

Those who dismiss victim testimony even when it is credible as being insufficient to get a rape conviction lead rapists to believe that they can get an acquittal if they destroy enough physical evidence. For some of these rapists that means murdering their victims and destroying their victim's bodies.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:07 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Carnival Deadline Tonight

Tonight at 11 pm is the next deadline for the Carnival Against Sexual Violence so please take a few minutes and nominate a post you've written or a post you've read.

A few people have had trouble with the official nomination form, if this happens to you, please let me know by email (my address is in my profile) with a subject line of carnival nomination or leave a comment with a link to the nominated post as soon as possible.

Together we can help reduce the acceptance of rape and the myths related to sexual violence which support rape and injustice against rape victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:07 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rapist's Lack Of Remorse And A Mother's Upset Over Victim's Actions

One of the rapists who pleaded guilty in the Washington state gang rape case where MySpace was subject to a search warrant has made the news again.

The unnamed juvenile's lack of remorse has caused the judge to sentence him to jail until he reaches the age of 21.

King County Juvenile Court Judge Michael Hayden sentenced the 17-year-old from Federal Way to more than three years for his "utter lack of remorse." [...]

"He is very upset about what happened," the mother said. "He would never do this against anyone's will forcefully."

The mother said the family agreed to have the boy marry the girl and raise the child, adding that her son was angry at the girl because abortion goes against his religion.

"And rape doesn't?" the judge asked, getting no response.

Good for this judge.

As for her son's support for the sanctity of life, there's no evidence he has any.

According to investigators, the four teenagers got the girl drunk, took turns raping her in the back of a car, then later talked about killing the girl to prevent her from testifying against them.

This boy could have prevented this rape victim from geting this abortion. He and his friends could have made the choice not to rape her. If there is a violation of religion over this abortion, it belongs solely to this boy and to his fellow rapists.

Not surprisingly, this boy who earlier showed no concern for his victim responded with instant remorse. Thankfully, the judge remained unmoved by this display.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:09 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Implying Consent Through Summarization

I wrote the following comment on Feministe which highlights a habit I see often from those who defend lack of prosecution on acquaintance rape cases.

This statement by Sailorman (39) has a basic but critical flaw:
Acquaintance nonviolent rapes are much harder to win. Think about it: All of the physical evidence, and much of the circumstantial evidence, supports BOTH the victim’s story AND the accused’s story. yes, she came over; yes, we had drinks; yes we had sex; yes, it was that bed; and so on.
This is how a person accused of rape is likely to describe what happened if the defense is “she consented.” However, this description is not a list of what happened from the perspective of the person who reported rape if a rape really happened.

While a rapist would say, “we had sex” the rape victim might say, “I felt dizzy after the first drink, things went blank and when I woke up, I was naked in his bed and when I screamed telling him to stop he just kept raping me and telling me to loosen up because he knew I wanted it.”

These 2 descriptions are in no way parallel or easily interchangable. Yet Sailorman’s summarization of acquaintance rapes negates this reality. By doing so he creates a false picture. Consent gets implied in the single description of what happened ( “yes we had sex”) as if it has been proven.

That explains why Sailorman views fraud as the better analogy. And of course when people think about acquaintance rape in these terms the charges will seem doubtful at best and any conviction will seem to be a likely miscarriage of justice.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:39 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Support Cara Today On Day of Blogs To Support RAINN

Cara (from The Curvature) has posts which are going up at where she will post every half hour for 24 hours straight.

For background information on what she is doing and how to contribute to RAINN , check out her announcement post.

I did a similar effort last year for Stop It Now! and I now how much it helps to get supportive comments.

Update: I just made my donation to help support Cara's fundraising. I encourage everyone who can to make whatever size donation they can.

For those who aren't familiar with RAINN they have a toll-free hotline and a new online hotline and they do advocacy work in the field of sexual violence.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:09 PM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, July 25, 2008

Oklahoma Law And Nursing Home Sex Predators

This story about sex offenders living in nursing homes where other patients are unaware that serial criminals are housed near them is a reminder that rapists don't stop being dangerous at a certain age or level of frailty.

State Rep. Kris Steele of Shawnee and Wes Bledsoe, an advocate for laws to keep predators out of nursing homes, testified before a House subcommittee Tuesday about a bill passed by the Oklahoma Legislature aimed at segregating those who may be dangerous to others.

Oklahoma's bill was the first of its kind in the nation dealing with a problem that is starting to get national attention. [...]

Banning had moved her mother into a nursing home, she said, because she was afraid that she would be assaulted because she was prone to go out walking at night. She said her mother dismissed her fears, asking, "Who would rape an old woman?”

The 83-year-old who did, Banning said, had 59 prior arrests, including convictions for child molestation and rape, and had been sent to the nursing home by a court.

This rape of woman in a place we think of as safe is a reminder that much of the fear-based rape prevention advice does not match the reality of rape. Rapists find their victims in a variety of places and commit their crimes in a variety of ways.

Their behavior and rationalizations are the cause of rape, not raging hormones. When the public forgets that, rapists benefit.

Rape protection must begin at a systemic level which looks at the entire system including unwanted side effects of efforts meant to make us safer.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:29 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, July 24, 2008

False Rape Investigation Model: Between Belief And Disbelief

The following comment might seem to some people to be advocating for genuine fairness because of the tone of the comment, but even before I found out that the author of this comment posts at a blog called The False Rape Society, I knew it came from a rape denialist.

Archivist has left a new comment on your post "Solid Evidence Important In Rape and False Rape Ca...":

It is infuriating that some law enforcement officials bring preconceived biases to investigations of claims of sexual assault. Each case needs to be treated seriously, and objectively. It is not up to a police officer to "believe" or "disbelieve." He or she is supposed to gather facts and use his or her training to come to objectively verifiable conclusions.

Both the macho, instinctive disbelief of rape claimants exhibitted by less sophisticated police forces, and the knee-jerk uncritical acceptance of every word a rape claimant utters, as I see in my practice on college campus, are wrong and counter-productive. If we can get to the point where the only thing that matters is the truth and not someone's attempt to twist and pound every case to fit a political agenda, everybody - rape victims and the falsely accused would be much better off.

What he finds infuriating isn't preconceived biases as he claims, but preconceived biases which are in conflict with his preconceived biases or which give his preconceived biases a bad name. He ends with an attack on political agendas, but he clearly has a political agenda which is predicated on not believing those who report rape until they have proven themselves to be true crime victims and until they have disproven the possibility that they have committed a crime by reporting rape.

His proposed objective methodology is indeed sophisticated, but sophistication doesn't automatically make something right or effective. His demand for objectivity is a false one.

Unspoken but clear from his comment is that rapists are assumed innocent under this model. However, just as clear, rape victims are not assumed innocent, they are assumed to be likely false reporters until they are proven to be genuine rape victims. This is an intentionally imbalanced way of thinking about rape reports which "objectively" taints all rape victims who have not had their rapes proven in court.

Under his model the police must avoid treating rape victims as genuine crime victims until the crime has been proven. Not surprisingly this model is predicated on seeing us as a false rape society where all rape reports must be instantly doubted and the chances that someone was really raped is about 50-50.

If this model were a valid investigative model then it would be standard operating procedures for all crimes. When you call the police to report that you've been mugged, the investigating officer should neither believe you nor disbelieve you.

When you describe your mugger's tattoo which includes his first name, the officer should not assume you are describing a genuine mugger or even a stranger. Rather than being observant about the details of the tattoo, which smart muggers would hide, you might be able to describe it so well because you've seen it many times before.

The investigator must keep an open mind and not believe anything you say without proof of that statement.

If this mugger is found with your wallet, the mugger shouldn't be assumed to have stolen your wallet. The mugger should be approached in a non-judgmental way in case you were stupid and gave this man your wallet of your own free will and called the cops because you later regretted your actions.

If the mugger has drugs on him or in him, you must be viewed as someone who might have exchanged drugs with him. Instead of a mugging this might be a drug deal gone bad in which case this is really a breach of promise case, not a mugging. Remember, you are not yet believed.

This model says that you are simply being treated in a neutral manner, but that neutrality always injects doubt, even where there is zero evidence which indicates that your report of a mugging is in any way doubtful.

Rather than resulting in the truth which Archivist says is the only thing that matters, this model uses supposed objectivity to give criminals multiple opportunities to make baseless claims against you. Since you are not assumed to be a real crime victim these baseless claims leave you in limbo unless or until you can prove them all to be false.

This model is deliberately unfair and biased in the guise of being fair and unbiased.

Crime victims are far worse off under this model which directly contradicts Archivist's claim, but the rightfully accused are definitely better off. Because so many rightfully accused would be able to get away with calling themselves wrongfully accused this model doesn't make the genuinely wrongly accused any better off than they are when investigator begin with the belief in the report made against them.

If the truth of what happened is all that matters then all investigators need to believe all claims of rape until there is solid evidence that the claim is false.

If and when there is enough supporting evidence to bring charges, the suspect should be charged. If and when there is enough contradictory evidence showing that the crime never happened, the person who claimed to be a crime victim should be charged.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:15 AM   8 comments links to this post

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Complete Investigations Used As Justification To Not Have Complete Investigations

Yesterday I blogged about a rape case where the woman who was originally viewed as the victim was charged after forensic evidence indicated self-inflicted wounds rather than a stranger assault as she claimed. Today I read about a new case where another woman who reported rape faces similar charges as reported by the Pocono Record. This charge resulted from another type of contradictory evidence. A verified alibi.

Police arrested a Pocono Pines woman after they say she admitted lying to investigators when she accused her ex-boyfriend of assault and rape. Elissa Easterling, 27, is accused of lying to Pocono Mountain Regional Police, and falsely accusing a man of beating and raping her. [...]

During the course of a month-long investigation after she told police she had been assaulted, police corroborated the man's alibi and determined that Easterling had fabricated her reports.

Not surprisingly, this case has already been highlighted by several anti-feminists who see the case as supporting their pet theory about lying women.

What these anti-feminists don't want to acknowledge is that the collection of evidence which cleared the accused man in this case is a direct result of the very thing these people are attacking. The full and competent investigation of all rape reports.

But full and competent investigations take time which many anti-feminists view as an injustice even if the investigation exonerates the suspect. Rape victims might have to wait months or years to have their rape kits processed, but rape suspects shouldn't have to wait even a single month.

A frequent source for this view is False Rape Allegations by Eugine J. Kanin, 1994. A key flaw in this study is revealed on page 2 under method.

First, its police agency is not inundated with serious felony cases and, therefore, has the freedom and the motivation to record and thoroughly pursue all rape complaints. In fact, agency policy forbids police officers to use their discretion in deciding whether to officially acknowledge a rape complaint, regardless how suspect that complaint may be.

Second, the declaration of a false allegation follows a highly institutionalized procedure. The investigation of all rape complaints always involves a serious offer to polygraph the complainants and the suspects. Additionally, for a declaration of false charge to be made, the complainant must admit that no rape had occurred. She is
the sole agent who can say that the rape charge is false.

The police department will not declare a rape charge as false when the complainant, for whatever reason, fails to pursue the charge or cooperate on the case, regardless
how much doubt the police may have regarding the validity of the charge. In short, these cases are declared false only because the complainant admitted they are false.

Notice that all full investigations of rape included in this study involved either the use or suggestion of polygraph tests. This indicates to me that investigators in that city lacked the skill or the will to do rape investigations without the unreliable crutch of the polygraph which current murder suspect Gerald Pabst passed twice before his testimony helped convict another man. Recent DNA testing contradicted Pabst's polygraph results.

Since investigators were not given the power to use their discretion about whether or not to investigate a rape case, investigators who didn't want to investigate had a clear motive for pushing those women they didn't believe into recanting ASAP. The polygraph would have been a handy lever in achieving this goal.

In the rape cases over 9 years of the study investigators succeeded at getting 41% of those who reported rape to recant. That rate as a measure of verified false reports is invalid for 2 reasons. 1) Polygraphs are often used to induce confessions which turn out to be false and all rape investigations included the use or mention of polygraphs as standard procedure. 2) This methodology of investigation would likely intimidate many genuine rape victims away from reporting in the first place.

Not one of the allegedly false rape reports in Kanin's 9-year study resulted from investigations and evidence which independently proved these women's reports to be false. That is highly significant, but this fact is ignored as if it were insignificant.

Rather than showing a verified rate of false reports at 41%, Kanin's study shows a verified rate of false reports at 0%.

With the permanent taint which lack of competent and reliable investigations leave behind, the only practical reason for people to oppose full and competent investigations of all rape reports is to protect the guilty not the innocent.

When it comes to false reports and gender, I'll quote Kanin:

If rape were a commonplace victimization experience of men, if men could experience the anxiety of possible pregnancy from illicit affairs, if men had a cultural base that would support their confidence in using rape accusations punitively, and if men could feel secure that victimization could elicit attention and sympathy, then men also would be making false rape accusations.

So what do these punitive men currently do to women instead of filing false rape reports against them?

At least one of them, Clinton Lewis, kidnapped his estranged wife, a Fort Bliss soldier, and allegedly raped her, leaving a nasty crime scene behind which made her family fear that she had been murdered. In these types of punitive actions a great outcome is the survival of the woman targeted.

Too many people make what happened to Easterling's ex (false claim of rape) equivalent to what happened to Lewis's estranged wife (assault, kidnapping, rape).

I don't agree -- which results in my being labeled by some people as irrational or hateful.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:52 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Solid Evidence Important In Rape and False Rape Cases

The article in the News Leader out of Springfield, Missouri about criminal charges made against Karla Forest, who reported being raped by a stranger in her back yard, buries the most important forensic evidence which is what clearly implicates her in the charge of filing a false report.

Too often the strongest evidence cited in stories about these types of cases is a lack of evidence. Whether this is actually the strongest evidence is often left to guesswork.

Maybe that's why there is such emphasis in this case that the report of rape was taken seriously and was investigated fully and professionally.

Here's the 2nd half of the 14th paragraph of the story which finally gets to the key forensic evidence.

What wounds she did have were consistent with self-inflicted wounds, the statement says. A lab analysis of scrapings from Forest's fingernails revealed the presence of her own blood.

Other details which were mentioned earlier in the story don't contradict the evidence which indicates the staging of an attack, but those other elements such as lack of foreign DNA are not by themselves proof that no rape happened.

Not surprisingly, some of the commenters on this story show a disregard for evidence and for thorough investigations and do so in the name of justice. Bornandraisedhere wrote:

A high percentage of reported rapes turn out to be false. [...] One officer told me its common not to ask "was it very bad" but instead ask "did it really happen or not".

This man shows a high regard for sloppy investigations and sloppy investigators. Unfortunately, these attitudes protect most men who rape in the name of protecting all men who don't rape.

Investigators who begin their investigations by treating rape victims like criminals without a shred of solid evidence become role models -- as long as the crime is rape.

Yet all types of violent crimes have been falsely reported.

If the approach of assuming that the alleged victim is a liar is a valid one then this investigative approach needs to be applied to all non-sexual acts of violence.

That investigative model would lead to results which would support the claims that a high percentage of all types of violent crime reports turn out to be false. Just imagine what would happen if every man discovered bound and hurt were assumed to have faked the crime.

The man found bound hand and foot says he was punched hard enough to knock him off his feet but he has no bruises so under this model of investigation his report has been proven to be a false one.

A wide range of violent criminals would be happy indeed.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:07 AM   2 comments links to this post

Monday, July 21, 2008

Man Arraigned In Rape Case Where DNA Cleared Another Man


The DNA that had cleared Anthony Powell, 38, of Boston of rape eventually led prosecutors to Jerry Dixon, 35, who was arraigned yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court in the same rape case, along with one other. [...]

In 2004, investigators searched an FBI database that linked four unsolved Boston rape cases but did not reveal a perpetrator. Based on the forensic findings, a Suffolk grand jury indicted an unknown subject, listed as John Doe, for three rapes that occurred in September 1989, March 1991, and July 1991. [...]

Authorities said Dixon was matched this summer to each of the four cases when he submitted to mandatory DNA testing before being released from the Suffolk House of Correction.

This case brings up many important issues about general procedures which get talked about and studied by groups which are dedicated to the wrongly convicted and by so-called pro-men groups which love to slander girls and women who report being raped. However, issues like statutes of limitations for rape -- the reason 3 cases were charged to John Doe -- are often neglected because those limits benefit defendants. Or at least they seem to.

If older rape cases which were committed before rapists realized they were leaving important evidence behind are filed away because the statute of limitations has expired -- even though a match was later found as in these cases -- then those rapists are likely to remain free to commit crimes where an innocent man may be placed under suspicion or even charged.

If a stranger rapist, who benefited from the statute of limitation, rapes and then kills an innocent man's girlfriend without leaving detected DNA that man who just had someone he cared about raped and murdered will suffer even if he is never formally charged or named as a suspect.

He's innocent and many people are focused on his needs but his girlfriend was raped and murdered by someone who should have been in prison. To me that doesn't seem like an outcome which benefits him in any way. It certainly doesn't seem like an outcome which supports justice.

This outcome doesn't seem to be a good outcome for any innocent man. Yet many people fight those like me who want to eliminate the statute of limitations for rape because they claim that removal would be bad for innocent men.

I blogged late last year about the Kansas Supreme court hearing an appeal which sought to reinstate charges against a man on death row who was originally charged as John Doe in multiple cases because of the statute of limitations in that state. But the court ruled that those indictments were not specific enough while upholding the general legality of John Doe indictments. So if Douglas Belt has his current murder conviction overturned for any reason, including procedural errors, the 7 rapes associated with him will be meaningless.

Dixon was previously charged with rape in a 1996 case in Newton but was found not guilty, prosecutors said. He also faced similar charges in Roxbury District Court in 1999, prosecutors said, but those were dismissed.

These charges against Dixon which did not result in convictions raise more questions which are often overlooked by those who focus only on the criminal justice system from the defendant's perspective. The key one is that rapists who get away with rape will likely continue to commit crimes and their real crime victims who did report them will face the wrongful suspicion that they filed false police reports.

This is a taint which many of those who focus on innocent men in rape cases actively contribute to because the outcome seems to support common claims about all those women who lie about rape.

If the supposedly innocent man is later proven to be a serial rapist, most of these people will not apologize to the innocent women they attacked and they certainly won't apologize to those who became crime victims because a guilty man wasn't convicted.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:59 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rapist's One Mistake Was Drinking?

Many people blogged about Saint Paul rape case last August because the assault happened in an apartment building hallway and it was largely ignored until someone called the police about a fight and the police interrupted the assault in progress. Because someone did call the police, I thought the comparison to the Kitty Genovese murder was incorrect or at least premature.

The man caught in the act by the police has been sentenced. Here's information from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

A St. Paul man convicted of raping a woman in an apartment hallway last summer -- while onlookers peered out doors but didn't stop him -- was sentenced today to 12 years in prison.

Rage Ibrahim, 26, has lived a tragic life, said Ramsey County District Judge Michael Fetsch, having reportedly witnessed the murders of his father and two brothers while growing up in Somalia. But, he said, "the present facts are another tragedy."

Witnessing family members being murdered is a tragedy, being sentenced for raping a woman is NOT another tragedy, it is accountability. His sentence followed state sentencing guidelines while the defense wanted Ibrahim to have probation and counseling only because his productive life was derailed by alcohol abuse and a prison sentence would further derail his life.

What this explanation does is communicate that this man felt justified in taking his frustrations out on a woman and that the criminal justice should support that action by letting him off as if he were charged with a crime no more serious than public drunkenness.

Ibrahim, sobbing, told the judge: "One wrong choice to consume alcohol has cost me." He added that he was haunted by what had happened in the hallway, and that he hoped one day to ask the victim in person to forgive him.

The choice he made which resulted in this conviction is not the choice to consume alcohol. If this man had any openness to taking accountability for his actions, he would be haunted by what he did in that hallway.

The victim was not in the courtroom, and did not offer a written statement. [Prosecutor] Gerber said the woman was being shunned by the Somali community.

While the onlookers who claimed to not know that a sexual assault was in progress can claim ignorance, shunning a victim communicates a position where the only ignorance is a willful ignorance.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:59 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bush Administration Promotes Discriminatory Practices Related To Birth Control

From the New York Times:

The Bush administration wants to require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control. [...]

The proposal, which circulated in the department on Monday, says the new requirement is needed to ensure that federal money does not “support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law.” The administration said Congress had passed a number of laws to ensure that doctors, hospitals and health plans would not be forced to perform abortions.

This reference to not supporting coercive or discriminatory practices is interesting since the proposed change would explicitly allow medical providers to morally coerce patients and to discriminate against girls and women who want or need a service or a prescription which they are allowed to have by law.

I don't believe the Bush administration truly believes in their rationale for this proposed change. If they did then employment rules would apply to all areas where people don't want to perform certain tasks for moral reasons.

Think about the government contractors who have faced allegations of taking actions which show no respect for human life.

Blackwater guards have been accused of shooting innocent bystanders in a systematic pattern of overly aggressive response to threats -- real or imagined. KBR has faced accusations related to rape committed by their employees and they have been accused of performing faulty work which resulted in 13 soldiers being electrocuted while showering because of ungrounded wiring.

If their employees are asked to perform a task they see as immoral they should be able to refuse to do that task with the federal government's full and explicit protection.

Despite congressional hearings about the conduct of various defense contractors I have not seen any proposal by the Bush administration designed to ensure that federal money does not “support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law.”

Apparently the only morals which the Bush administration recognizes is the one which opposes abortion and birth control. Otherwise, those who work for an organization which gets federal money have no right to bring their morals to their jobs.

This proposal's hiring section seems designed specifically to allow people to apply for jobs they don't want to do per the job description, but which they don't want others to do either. The goal then of this proposal is to help people and organizations deny patients their legal rights.

The proposal defines abortion as follows: “any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.” [...]

Indeed, among other things the proposal expresses concern about state laws that require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims who request it.

How dare states ensure rape victims are given their legal rights! Don't those states know that pregnancy through rape is a gift from God?

This concern about state laws reveals that while the Bush administration supports states rights to restrict abortions, they do not support states rights to permit abortions or even birth control. States either have the right to pass laws and constitutional amendments on a particular matter or they don't.

This proposal is therefore based on nothing more than the desire to deny people their legal rights -- even rape victims. Any framing which makes this proposal one that does nothing except protect people's rights is a lie.

Unfortunately, this deceptive packaging too often works on people who see the PR which focuses on values and who have learned to dismiss critics as being radicals who don't care about other people's rights.

This value message is contradicted by the decreased value of life used by the EPA.

When drawing up regulations, government agencies put a value on human life and then weigh the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. The less a life is worth to the government, the less the need for a regulation, such as tighter restrictions on pollution.

Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths. At $7.8 million per person (the old figure), the lifesaving benefits outweigh the costs. But at $6.9 million per person, the rule costs more than the lives it saves, so it may not be adopted. [...]

The EPA made the changes in two steps. First, in 2004, the agency cut the estimated value of a life by 8 percent. Then, in a rule governing train and boat air pollution this May, the agency took away the normal adjustment for one year's inflation. Between the two changes, the value of a life fell 11 percent, based on today's dollar.

So the adminstration which markets itself as pro-life has discounted the value of all American lives. If it the effects of pollution rather than birth control which prevents a woman from carrying to term that's not a problem.

Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Patty Murray jointly issued a press release on Wednesday expressing their opposition to this proposal.

Hat tip: Safer

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:52 AM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, July 18, 2008

Security Staff Cuts Planned For Hospital Housing Sex Offenders

From Star Tribune:

ST. PETER, Minn. - More than 50 security jobs at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter are expected to be cut due to a budget crunch.

That has some lawmakers worried, because the hospital houses the mentally ill and sex offenders and it's near the Gustavus Adolphus College campus.

I don't have much to say about this story other than to hope that the state legislature reviews this plan to make sure that civilly committed sex offenders won't find it easy to walk away from the hospital.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:51 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Victims Partly To Blame For Nurse's 20 Year Pattern Of Sexual Abuse?

From the BBC:

David Britten, 54, a former manager at the Peter Dally Clinic in Pimlico, central London, preyed on patients over a 20-year period.

Claims by patients of sexual misconduct emerged after his dismissal from the clinic in 2002 over unrelated issues.

The NHS launched an inquiry in 2006 into how he escaped detection.[...]

The investigators blamed poor management, missed opportunities and the reluctance of his victims to come forward as the reasons for Mr Britten "grooming vulnerable patients".

The report described Mr Britten as a "manipulative predator who represented a clear danger to women".

Alison McKenna, who led the inquiry, said: "The effect of David Britten's abuse of these vulnerable women cannot be overestimated.

What I find striking is the contradiction between the idea that the effect of this man's abuse cannot be overestimated and how the blame for this man's serial abuses included the reluctance of his patients to come forward.

Britten was an eating disorder specialist and there are no criminal charges pending due to insufficient evidence in this case which involves 23 patients. Some jurisdictions have criminal statutes which specifically address this type of violation by health professionals so that consent cannot be used as a defense, but I don't know if England has any such laws.

Since the first official complaint came after Britten was dismissed for other reasons, it looks like there was a pervasive sense that until that happened these complaints would not have been taken seriously or complaints would put the complainant's health at risk because that health center would likely become hostile territory.

This blaming of victims wrongly makes victims equally responsible for what was done to all subsequent patients. This habit of making victims scapegoats when they don't report immediately helps mask or excuse systemic problems. The most obvious systemic problem is having other employees fail to take note of any behavior which crossed or neared an ethical line. If abused patients had the sense that the clinic accepted Britten's sexualization of them why would they believe that their complaints would be welcome?

These systemic problems unfortunately create a predator-friendly environment where abuse can easily flourish and patients are protected by luck alone.

I can't imagine an inquiry into a serial practitioner of a blatantly unsafe medical practice -- which was done in front of the patients harmed -- which would list those patients failure to report that unsafe practice as one of the factors to blame for the continuation of that unsafe medical practice.

It's definitely worth noting that patients didn't speak up, but that notation shouldn't be under the category of blame.

This silence on the part of patients only shows that patient outreach is important to give patients tools which they can use before, during or after something happened which harmed them. Any outreach program would be putting patients in danger the minute the medical facility started depending on patient reports to keep the staff from committing unsafe medical practices.

Most members of the public would be outraged at the idea that they could be blamed after a family member died because of an intentional lethal drug injection administered in their presence. A nurse who was a master manipulator would work to convince the family member that the lethal action was appropriate. If the medical system didn't recognize the true cause of death that family member might naturally say nothing until they learned that nurse was fired.

We need to see inquiries into sexual misconduct which blame the victims with this same outrage.

A family member's silence is not complicity with the crime and it does not prove that no crime occurred. The same is true of victims of sexual abuse within medical settings.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:04 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

If You Are Killed After Testimony Will Your Voice Be Heard?

With all of the uproar after the US Supreme Court's ruling on the death penalty for child rape, another important ruling was largely ignored.

The case is Giles v. California, where the defendant, Dwayne Giles, admitted shooting his ex-girlfriend, Brenda Avie, but claimed he shot her in self-defense. She was shot 6 times and before the last shot was fired into her analysis of the crime scene indicated that she was on the ground. Allegedly he had his eyes closed the whole time.

Three weeks before Avie was shot to death, she told a cop investigating a domestic violence report that after Giles choked her, he threatened to stab her. These statements are what was at the center of the ruling. They were admitted into the murder trial even though the defendant's attorney was denied the right to cross-examine her.

Yes, you read that right. The defendant was denied the right to cross-examine the women he himself killed.

Here's more information on this case from the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court yesterday threw out the conviction of a man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend because the defendant could not challenge an incriminating account she gave the police weeks before her death. [...]

The case revolved around the Sixth Amendment, which affords people the bedrock right to confront and cross-examine witnesses who give testimony against them. At issue is whether defendants forfeit their confrontation rights by doing harm to people whose statements are introduced in judicial proceedings.

Typically, courts have carved out few Sixth Amendment exceptions, giving leeway only to deathbed statements and to accounts by witnesses who are kept away from the courthouse by defendants seeking to thwart the judicial process.

For me the question is who really denied him those rights. His defense team admitted that it was him. For that reason I absolutely disagree with this court ruling. It wasn't the court who denied him the right or the ability to cross-examine the victim in his murder trial.

Since Giles admitted to shooting the woman whose testimony was thrown out, he will most likely be retried. Unfortunately, this Supreme Court ruling will inspire other criminals and put more lives in danger.

Hat tip: Feministing

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:41 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 51

Welcome to the July 15, 2008 edition of the carnival against sexual violence.

Thank you to everyone who nominated a post or who wrote a post against sexual violence whether it was nominated/selected or not. Nominations that came in after the nomination deadline will be considered for the next edition of the carnival.

If you support the purpose of the carnival, you can help get the word out about it and all of the posts included in the carnival.

Here are the selections for this edition of the carnival against sexual violence:


In Getting Coffee, Getting Stereotypes posted at Feminist Law Professors, we get a discussion of an opinion in the Eastern District of PA where the judge dismissed the plaintiff’s sexual harassment claim by noting that serving coffee "is not, by itself, a gender specific act."

In Just Because They are WOMEN posted at BARBARA'S TCHATZKAHS, we get a discussion about how often women are treated as things and how men who do this rationalize the situation until they are better people than the women they use.


In Kyle Payne and Screening For Sexual Assault Advocates posted at Change Happens: the SAFER blog, we get a discussion about how lack of funding for college sexual assault programs can allow dangerous students to volunteer to work with rape victims.

In "Advocate" Turns Abuser posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of anti-violence blogger, Kyle Payne, who was arrested and charged with assaulting an unconscious woman and who recently pleaded guilty to attempted burglary and “invasion of privacy.”

In Stuck in Legal Limbo posted at Sex Crimes, we get a discussion of a sex offender who can't go home from the hospital because he can't find housing that doesn't violate local law that also has handicap accessibility.

In The Death Penalty as Punishment for the Rape of Children posted at elle, phd, we get a discussion of the recent US Supreme Court opinion and the notion that victims of child rape are "destined" to be miserable.

In This is Not the Right Type of Equality posted at Shakespeare's Sister, we get a discussion of a case where a 13-year-old boy was raped by a 26-year-old women and the negative comments made by the defendant and her defense team about the victim.

In Abusive Stalking Using the Courts posted at SANCTUARY FOR THE ABUSED, we get a discussion about how ex-partners who have restraining orders against them which forbids them from seeing their victim, sending them a letter or calling them can file numerous claims as a way to stalk victims of domestic abuse.

In Effective Backlash Against Rep James Fagan's Treatment Of Child Rape Victims posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the reactions to a defense attorney who said that minimum sentences for child rape would cause him to go to trial and to try to destroy the victim on the stand.

media watch

In Is "pregnancy pact" the new MSM code for child rape? posted at Hoyden About Town, we get a discussion of news coverage of a case which was initially made out to sound like a bizarre and exploitative, but mutually agreed upon surrogacy arrangement between mother, stepfather, and 15 year old daughter.

In "Very Young Girls" posted at Feminist Law Professors, we get a discussion of a documentary film that chronicles the journey of young women through the underground world of sexual exploitation in New York City.

In Sports Rape Culture Keeps On Thriving posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion sparked by an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald which looks at the history of rape cases involving sports teams.

In Keeping Watch posted at ~Enola~, we get a discussion of a novel by Laurie R. King about a Vietnam Vet who, after the war, kidnaps children (and sometimes women too) who are abuse victims, gets them safely away with other family members, adopted families or into a safe house.

In Revictimization As Dangerous Game Of Chicken posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the use of anonymous sources and speculation in stories about the allegation of rape against 4 English rugby players and contrast that against a story which goes into more details about the allegations.

personal stories

In Admitting It: When a Woman is the Rapist posted at James Landrith is...Taking The Gloves Off, we get a discussion of one man's experience of being raped while unable to consent and then being raped again out of fear of what would happen if he resisted.

In Anniversary posted at Mortality's Thoughts, we get a discussion about the anger felt at the 2nd anniversary of rape and the wish to be able to let go.

In Looking over your shoulder?. posted at Holy Buck, Fatman!, we get a discussion sparked by reactions to the murder of Domestic Violence advocate Jana Mackey by an ex-boyfriend.

raising awareness

In Rape Stats. posted at An Open Letter by a Feminist, we get a discussion of the historical change in rape statistics.

In Embedded on My Body posted at rmott62, we get a discussion of the feeling of being a sex object where there was no separation between rape and the creation of porn.

In Sexual Violence Among NYC Teens posted at Change Happens: the SAFER blog, we get a discussion of a preliminary report by the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault about sexual and physical violence experienced by NYC high school students.

In It's not about "sexual temptation" posted at Stop Baptist Predators, we get a discussion about how churches think about clergy sexual abuse.

In Why I Hate the Word “Incest” posted at Blooming Lotus, we get a discussion about how child rape is softened by calling what happened incest.

In Who's to Blame? posted at The Nerd, we get an allegorical story which highlights how our courts and our citizens have the habit of not taking cases of sexual assault seriously when the perpetrator is known to the victim or the victim is described as enticing.


In PTSD Hurts So Damned Much posted at rmott62, we get a discussion of how living with PTSD means living with the ghosts of those who committed violence.

In AFTER ABUSE posted at HELP FOR ABUSE - STOP DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, we get a discussion about how to deal with the long term effects of domestic violence during the journey to return order to the survivor's life.

That concludes this edition of the carnival against sexual violence. Thank you for taking the time to visit this carnival and thank you to the authors of all the posts included in this edition.

The next submission deadline is Jul. 29 at 11 pm and the next edition will be out on Aug. 1.

To nominate a post (your own or someone else's) to the next edition of carnival against sexual violence, use the carnival submission form. If you have any problem with the form, please let me know so your submission can be considered for the next edition.

Links to everything related to the carnival can be found on the blog dedicated to this carnival,

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, July 14, 2008

Linguistics And Meaning Of "Why Did She Stay?"

In response to Feministe: Why did she stay? which I commented on here there is a post Rambling On: Feminist language, where Lottie writes:

My perspective, is that feminists typically blacklist questions that they don’t have answers to. Why do victims of domestic violence stay? There isn’t a nice, neat, blanket response to that. Domestic violence crosses every border imaginable. It is not restricted to race, age, economic status, social status, level of education, (dis)ability, religion, sexual orientation, gender, genetics, blood type, name, rank or serial number. Domestic violence is an equal opportunity social problem. This being the case, how can we possibly answer the question of why? There doesn’t seem to be an answer at the moment.

Feminists can’t fix it, and so they quell the question.

Language control is directly related to thought control. If feminists (or anyone else) can control our language, they can control how our thoughts are perceived by others. This also allows them to control the dialogue which, in turn, helps create the illusion that they have all the answers, simply by eliminating some of the questions. They stifle the flow of discussion and exchange of ideas, under the guise of supporting women and minorities, and more specifically to this topic, victims of domestic violence.

Lottie is right in saying that there is no dominant answer to, "Why did she stay?" but I see that lack of a common answer as being meaningful and educational. This lack of a dominant answer contradicts much of the mythology about domestic violence.

There is much more commonality and meaning in the answer to, "Why did he (or she) abuse or murder someone that person had a relationship with?"

Therefore the only general meaning which can be derived by looking at why victims stay is to examine failed prevention steps and to look at the barriers which prevent domestic violence victims from leaving safely and the barriers to their safety if they don't leave for whatever reason.

With that in mind the better questions would be, "How do we more effectively help victims and potential victims of domestic violence remain safe?" and "How can we more effectively reduce the harm done by abusers?" These questions both involve commitment on the part of the questioner.

It makes sense to begin by getting a broad grasp of the problem. A CDC study found that 23.6 percent of women and 11.5 percent of men have experienced intimate partner violence.


In 2001, intimate partner violence made up 20 percent of violent crime against women. The same year, intimate partners committed three percent of all violent crime against men.

Since the problem of domestic violence is systemic -- and more so against women than men --then much of the solution needs to be systemic as well.

Hennepin County, Minnesota put together a Fatality Review Report "to provide in-depth case reviews of the events and circumstances surrounding domestic homicides to identify responses and strategies to prevent similar tragedies in the future."

Another systemic approach which focuses on child victims of domestic abuse is the National child protection training center in Winona, Minnesota. The idea is simple. Have professionals make mistakes in training rather than on the job. This will help identify abuse sooner and then result in a more effective response.

As Lottie said, language reflects thought. Otherwise requests to reframe our language couldn't be a form of thought control. That means those who hear about murdered anti-violence advocate, Jana Mackey and react by focusing on her decisions are communicating how they think about crimes such as this by their choice of words.

Here is one of the comments which people reacted to as falling into the "Why did she stay?" trap, this one written by Jane:

I don’t understand how someone so involved in the fight against domestic violence ended up in such a dangerous situation herself. I’m sure it’s an extremely complicated answer.

What an extraordinary woman. I just wish I could understand why people–and I think most people do this at some point–afford others the kindness they can’t or won’t extend to themselves.

This comment definitely takes a strictly individual view as it passes judgment on the murdered woman. It isn't my interpretation or oversensitivity which makes me see this.

Here's the claim: A murdered woman couldn't or wouldn't extend kindness to herself by avoiding a dangerous situation.

It's important to note that this comment does not actually ask any questions despite 2 declarations of not understanding the behavior of victims of domestic abuse.

What is a dangerous situation for women? Dating? Marriage? Breaking off a relationship? How wide of a net do we throw when judging the decisions of those who become victims of domestic violence? And what of those who make these same decisions but who never get abused?

If someone has made a bad decision prior to becoming a victim of domestic violence shouldn't we judge all those who make the same bad decisions equally whether or not they are subsequently abused or murdered?

If we don't put the violent at the center of our talk about "Why?" that says that the only thing which can be done is to change the behavior of the abused. But this isn't true. In the Hennepin County study I mentioned earlier in this post they referenced a 2005 change in Minnesota law so that strangulation during domestic abuse became a felony.

Here is a section of a story about Mackey's ex-boyfriend who committed suicide while in police custody because of her murder:

It wasn’t until after [Sally] Piller [owner of a Lawrence gallery where Garcia-Nunez exhibited his paintings] agreed to have a show for Garcia-Nunez’s work earlier this year that she learned about his criminal past. He was sentenced in 2005 on assault and burglary charges, was incarcerated and released on parole in August 2006.

The Lawrence Journal-World reported that prosecutors charged Garcia-Nunez after he assaulted a 29-year-old former girlfriend in her home in 2004. The police report stated he choked and beat her, and then cut her arm with a knife before she was able to flee.

With this history of violence shouldn't those who want to know "Why?" focus on how a man who was sentenced for assault and burglary against an ex-girlfriend could be released the very next year. If the criminal justice system treated his 2004 crime this lightly why should we expect private citizens to view this person as a potential murderer?

From the description of the violence in 2004 that previous victim may have avoided being a murder victim by only a small margin. If the original sentence were in line with the seriousness of the crime he committed in 2004, Garcia-Nunez would still be imprisoned today and Mackey would still be alive.

Where was the criminal justice system's kindness to victims of domestic violence in the handling of Garcia-Nunez's 2004 crime?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:48 AM   4 comments links to this post

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Guest Blogging At Feministe July 13 - 26

Jill at Feministe invited me to guest blog over there for the next 2 weeks. My introductory post went up this morning, check it out.

I'll keep up my blogging here during my stint as a guest blogger, but like the introductory post not everything I write there will be posted here.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:47 PM   1 comments links to this post

Professor And Pastor Explains Why Men Abuse And Why Jesus Was A Girly Man

I am going to modify one detail in my quoting of the beginning of a story in Ethics Daily to help illustrate the deep and obvious flaw in a scholar's teachings.

One reason that men abuse their children is because children rebel against their father's God-given authority, a Southern Baptist scholar said Sunday in a Texas church.

Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said children desire to have their own way instead of submitting to their fathers because of sin.

"And fathers on their parts, because they're sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is of course one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged--or, more commonly, to become passive, acquiescent, and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and in churches," Ware said from the pulpit of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas.

Can anyone imagine many Christians openly accepting that Christian fathers will either abuse their children or opt out of their role as a member of the family the moment their children rebel? Can anyone imagine the premise that some or all abusive fathers wouldn't abuse if only their children were free of sin?


It's harder to get away with blaming the victims of abuse when those victims are children than it is when those victims are wives.

It's no surprise to me that I could easily substitute "children" every time Ware writes "wives" and substitute "fathers" for "husbands" in this quote since in Ware's worldview both wives and children are or should be ruled by men. If a man rules by an iron fist and terrorism, according to Ware he's likely doing so because his wife and/or children drove him to it. Likewise, if a man largely checks out as a husband or father that too is likely caused by his wife and/or children.

This means that under this model of thinking the only way for men to be successful husbands and fathers is for them to have wives and children who are aware of the danger of questioning or challenging Christian men in any way. This positions Christian men not as leaders but as fragile, puppet leaders who need to be supported with the illusion that they are genuine and compassionate leaders.

What he is describing isn't based on people's sinful natures it is based on a combination of lack of skill and the feeling that the unacceptable (abuse) becomes acceptable when the person abused is viewed by the abuser and others as being disruptive or bad. That's a selfish and lazy rationalization.

Those who view Ware's position as evidence against Christianity are making the same mistake that Ware makes. The first time this mistake clicked for me was when a pastor said that rather than accepting that we are created in God's image, many people want to accept that God is created in our image. That helps people justify what cannot be justified any other way.

This habit is seen in Christians and it is seen in people who follow other religions. It is also seen in those who seem to reject all religions and who justify what cannot be justified by talking about evolutionary biology.

Ware wants to minimize and justify Christian husbands abusing their wives when these abusers start being treated by the criminal justice system as criminals so he looks for Biblical justification.

Ware reads Genesis and sees that Eve made Adam fall, I read Genesis and see that humans have a long history of trying to pass the buck. There is no substantial difference between, "the snake made me eat the apple" and "Eve made me eat the apple" so those who use scripture to position women as inherently more sinful than men demonstrate that they are reading their sexism into the Bible.

Ware said gender is not theologically the most important issue facing the church, but it is one where Christians are most likely to compromise, because of pressure from the culture.

The problem with this premise is that Ware assumes this has not been true since the day Rome became a Christian empire. The Romans didn't change their view of gender when Rome became a Christian empire. The non-Christian Roman view of women became the Christian view. Those Christians who didn't hold this view were likely ignored or viewed as heratics.

The pre-Christian Romans owned slaves so the ownership of slaves became an acceptable Christian position. Ware's desire to go back to purer Christian roots would mean going back to slaveholding. After all, it was only pressure from the culture which caused many Christian slaveholders to stop owning slaves. Rome fell. The US southern states lost the civil war.

It's too bad that so many Christians did not give up slave holding without the need for external pressure. Yet by Ware's logic any pressure from the culture is bad and is never good. That means he doesn't have to bother looking into his heart to see where he has been clinging to sin because that sin provides him with a nice payoff. If he grew up with a preacher saying something was acceptable because he was a man then that something is by his definition Christian.

This is the jaw dropper:

Ware also said male/female relationships are modeled in the Trinity, where in the Godhead the Son "eternally submits" to the Father.

Ware and others have amazingly turned Jesus into the woman in the holy Trinity. So men are like the part of the Trinity which smote people dead and women are like the part of the Trinity which walked the Earth, performed miracles and preached to all who would listen.

The Holy Spirit gets left completely out of this model which is supposedly modeled in the Trinity, but hey who's counting.

Using this model presented by Ware it goes against God's order to ban women from the pulpit since Jesus preached. If Ware is opposed to women preachers, he does so by viewing himself and other Christian men as demigods free to make up their own rules.

Rather than playing a game of Simon Says, he's playing a game of Christian Man Says.

If he's in the wrong when it comes to how Jesus viewed gender, he doesn't want to be right. And that is supposedly the Christian way?

Hat tip: Feministing

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:08 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Why Gendered Warnings About Safety Hurt Men

I've lost count of the number of times that I've seen or read men calling women who are abducted after accepting rides "stupid" or "asking for it." I've seen the same labels applied to women who are sexually assaulted after going out drinking.

These comments almost always come with a feeling of smugness from the man making this judgment. This man might drink or even get drunk, but he and other men like him aren't putting their safety or their lives at risk. They are never "stupid" or "asking for it" like these women who identify themselves as "innocent victims" do.

Sometimes a woman who did something which gets described as "stupid" or "asking for it" is judged harshly enough for the man to decide that no charges should be filed despite undeniable evidence. To these men it was the woman who caused what she describes as a crime. If she hadn't been "stupid" or "asking for it" no crime would have occurred.

By getting into a car with a man or by drinking she has consented to whatever was done to her. If she didn't want to be hurt, she wouldn't have taken the action which got her labeled as "stupid" or "asking for it." This response directly feeds the rationalization of rapists. It allows the sexually violent to tell themselves and others that they were not the true instigators of the sex crime they are accused of.

Because of negative judgments against women who are alleged or proven victims, whatever story the alleged rapist comes up is given more credibility than it deserves by those who harshly judge women.

These judgmental men listen to the stories provided by accused men and their lawyers with sympathy and a desire to see this person as wrongfully accused. Most of these men will be quick to remind people, "women lie about rape," and, "innocent until proven guilty."

If a defendant claims that the alleged victim's undeniable injuries happened not because there was a violent assault but because the alleged victim consented to a rough sex game those who rush to judge women will consider the story plausible or at least cause for reasonable doubt.

After all, since there were no other witnesses, it's a "he said, she said" situation so we can never know what really happened. This excuse can get used even when there are multiple victims. This occurance often serves to do nothing for these judgers except to allow them to complain about man-hating conspirators.

If this sort of victim-blaming comment came only from men who have no relationship to the criminal justice system it would be bad enough, but this sort of comment can come from a judge about the victim in a case he is overseeing. These types of comments can also come from women -- even women who claim to be feminists.

Implied in all of these types of comments I've encountered is that men who drink and men who accept rides are not stupid because those actions are not making them vulnerable to violent criminals. Sometimes this idea isn't implied and is stated boldly.

However, once this premise can be disproven then all of the judgments made against so-called "stupid" or "asking for it" women who report being crime victims must be made against men who report being crime victims after taking similar actions.

If the double standard remains then this double standard has been shown to be illogical and it exists for no reason other than to excuse men who are violent toward women.

Here's a case from the AP which disproves the gendered premise:

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (AP) -- Authorities in central Wisconsin are re-examining unsolved missing-persons cases to see if any are connected to a man accused of kidnapping two young men and sexually assaulting them.

Wood County Sheriff Thomas Reichert said his agency will dig into Edward Lanphear's past and cross-reference him with other missing-persons cases. Other law enforcement agencies likely will do the same, he said.

Lanphear, 46, of Saratoga, is being held on $1 million bond after police said he held two men in his house, stripped them, beat them and sexually assaulted them several times. Police say that after one of the men managed to escape, officers found the other in Lanphear's basement.

Either these 2 men were "stupid" for getting in Lanphear's vehicle -- one was then allegedly hit in the head and the other soon allegedly passed out -- as the victim blamers call many women who are abducted in similar ways or people need to acknowledge that there are dangerous people out there who will use any opening they can in order to commit acts of sexual violence.

The decision to search missing person records is interesting because I have not seen announcements of similar actions being taken when the victim who escaped and/or rescued from a similar abductor and rapist was a woman.

The gender of these 2 victims seems to have given their account of what happened more initial credibility with police. The negative stereotypes about women who drink and get into a man's car aren't there to distract investigators.

That in turn causes the police to view Lanphear as more dangerous than other police forces have when the victims were 2 women. Too often the police see their assessment as being based on unbiased credibility and don't see how gender stereotypes can influence their assessment. From there the police can under respond to similar abductions of women or they can assume that the report is a hoax when it is not.

Men who take the same actions as "stupid" women are safer only because they are targeted in this way at a lower rate by sexual predators than women and because of attitudes about these predators which can help get certain criminals caught and prosecuted.

Make no mistake, men can be wrongly assumed to be non-credible if their reports are assessed based on stereotypes about them.

All reports should be taken seriously and investigated fully so that no predators are provided with external reasons to view themselves as having done nothing wrong.

The problem is with the predator not the prey. But every time someone focuses on characterizing or judging victims they deny this reality.

Those who describe certain women as "asking for it" directly support the rationalizations and projections of predators who want to view themselves as people who are doing nothing really wrong.

Update: Lanphear has been charged with 12 felonies.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:59 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, July 11, 2008

Man Who Advocated Against Sexual Violence Pleads Guilty

From the Iowa Independent:

An Iowa blogger who claimed to use activism and education to promote “a more just and life-affirming culture of sexuality” for women, especially those women who have been victims of sexual violence, has pleaded guilty to photographing and filming a college student's breasts without her consent.

Kyle D. Payne, 22 of Ida Grove, presented his guilty plea Monday in Iowa District Court for Buena Vista County. He agreed he was guilty of felony attempted burglary in the second degree and two counts of invasion of privacy, a serious misdemeanor.

This contrast between what a man says and what he does related to sexual violence hasn't been a surprise for me since the day I was raped by my boyfriend who I never imagined could be a rapist. I learned the hard way that what a person professes can be the opposite of what they will do.

I also learned that those who want or demand extra trust or vulnerability because of their statements of character or ethics should be viewed with caution.

Most of these people find ways to rationalize their actions so that they view themselves as having nothing in common with real sex criminals.

I'm sure some people will try to use this guilty plea in order to attack the feminists who accepted this guy at face value either in person or online, but that's a cheap shot. The only criticism I could have of those who interacted with him is if they made excuses for him after he was accused or participated in victim blaming or victim denial.

According to the story, Payne attended at least one training for feminist anti-pornography activists and the obvious hypocrisy between that and the crime he committed will cause some people to try to use this one man's crime as a way to attack all those who attended that anti-pornography training. That would be a mistake.

What isn't a mistake is the acceptance that some people who speak out against something will do that something -- and sometimes they will get caught. This is true of people who speak out against sexual violence and it is true of those who speak out against drunk driving or illegal drug use.

It's also true of those who defend porn as being unconnected to real sexual violence -- either through the production process or the influence porn can have on what is considered acceptable. Just because they say that their actions are never sexually abusive doesn't mean their statements are truthful.

Anyone willing to dish out guilt by association must be willing to accept that same guilt by association if they are ever associated with someone who turns out to be guilty.

Hat tip: Shakespeares Sister

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:30 AM   0 comments links to this post