Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mother Of Alleged Rapist Charged With Witness Intimidation

From The Olympian:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

From "Palin Who?" To Sexism In Minutes

It will be fascinating to see how many Democrats who attacked Hillary Clinton on a personal level during the Democratic primaries -- while claiming that they weren't doing so because she was a woman -- will attack GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin using the same sexist approach.

If the repeat attackers self-identify as Obama supporters their methodology will taint their candidate more effectively than a hundred Swiftboat ads designed to slander Obama. Part of this is due to association, but a greater part is due to keeping the question alive about who Obama will feel the need to cater to in his first term so that he will be elected for a second term.

Actions such as what is pointed out in Feministing: Palin Sexism Watch: VPILF Edition support the idea that dehumanizing women is good sport. Any variation of, "I'd like to hit that," are supporting attitudes where another person's lack of consent is meaningless.

If these people defend their actions by saying that Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin asked for it by joining the race, they are taking the same approach used to justify most rapes.

Those who celebrate this attitude or dismiss it as harmless fun are not my allies in the fight against sexual violence since the most effective tool to fight sexual violence is preventing the rationalizations for this type of violence. Dehumanizing another person is a key element which is needed to justify rape. Most rapists tell themselves and others that they have harmed nobody.

These sexist attacks are reflections of who the attackers really are and directly undermine the attackers' stated positions about women and so-called women's issues. Likewise silence from the Obama camp is a reflection of where this candidate is willing to go backwards through his inaction and silence.

In his acceptance speech Thursday night Obama accused McCain of not getting it on important issues, but so far Obama has failed to demonstrate that he fully gets it on sexism.

Platitudes about wanting a better future for his daughters aren't enough. The question for me is whether Obama is willing to take a stand against sexism and sexism-based violence even if it costs him some votes. The answer to that question will decide my vote.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:12 PM   2 comments links to this post

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rape Acceptance Comes From Australian Judge

From Adelaide Now we get a report about a judge's decision to suspend a man's 2 year jail sentence.

In sentencing, Judge Wayne Chivell said Hean had met his now-former girlfriend in March 2007. She was 12 years old at the time, but lied and said she was 16 – Hean, who was 24, lied and said he was 20.

"When you learned she was 12, you continued to have a sexual relationship with her," Judge Chivell said. "By that time, you say you were in love with her, and somehow convinced yourself it was appropriate to continue.

"That was immature and irresponsible on your part, but I accept that you were not acting as a predator."

This acceptance by Judge Chivell is incorrect even if Jarred Hean did assume that a 12-year-old girl was 16 and not in fact half his age until the court informed him of her age and ordered him to stay away from her. A legal order he willfully disregarded 9 times.

A 24 year old man who lies about his age in order to date a minor has the responsibility of being an adult and his lie therefore has greater legal meaning than a lie told by a child who wished to be seen as a teenager.

These 2 lies do not cancel each other out.

It is much more likely that this child believed the lie from an adult than it is that this adult actually believed the lie of a child about her age.

A child's detectable but deliberately unacknowledged lie can be a motivator for someone who wants to break the law since that lie can be used to excuse inexcusable behavior.

The child's lie can be used to get a judge to do what this judge did. Pat a sex criminal on the head as if he were 4 years old and caught stealing candy because his mom took him to the store on an empty stomach. "You're an immature and irresponsible little boy so we cannot hold you fully accountable. But let this be a lesson to you. And about those additional 9 visits to the store where you repeated the original crime ... I know how you love that store so I'll pretend they never happened."

Sorry, unless this 24-year-old man has proven cognitive problems which resulted in him having the reasoning skill of a 4 year old, this characterization by Judge Chivell is nonsense.

When an adult who willfully lied to a child says to the child and/or the court that, "I was in love," with that child this should be viewed by the judge as a likely lie which allowed this man to rationalize his criminal actions.

Predators don't only come with stereotypical sadism. Many of them come as people who seem like they can be trusted completely. When the predator's actions bring chaos upon discovery, the predator is likely to falsely position himself or herself as the victim's only ally.

You and me against a world which just doesn't understand true love.

It's one thing to understand how a child can be suckered by this story, but it's inexcusable when adults who are supposed to be experts accept this story.

My rapist said repeatedly that he loved me and he used love as his justification for forcing himself on me twice. That means I know exactly how much a declaration of love means when it comes from someone who committed multiple sex crimes. It doesn't mean squat.

The actual harm done by this judge to the victim will be long lasting.

To excuse this criminal from full accountability, the judge had to nullify the reality that this girl was deliberately sexually exploited by an adult. This nullification then allows victims blamers to label this child as a lying tramp whose lie caused an innocent man to technically be a criminal.

My rapist's actions and this man's actions disprove their declarations of love. A man who genuinely loves a girl would not do what this man has done. Rape is not an act of love.

The judge said this man is unlikely to offend again, but I disagree. This crime is a reflection of this man's character and that character isn't likely to change when the severity of the crime has been so severely diminished by the court.

With the judge buying or excusing this man's lies, I have to wonder what other lies Hean told the court. The assumption that there was no force or coercion is one that is seriously in doubt. Also in doubt is whether this was Hean's first sexual "relationship" as he claimed.

From ABC Australia:

Judge Wayne Chivell said it was an unusual case because it was clear the girl was highly sexualised before the pair had met and an enthusiastic participant in the relationship.

This is not unusual, it is classic victim blaming and rape denial.

It positions the 12-year-old victim as the sexual predator who targeted a lonely adult virgin who would never willingly commit a sex crime. This judge's assessments about the defendant's acknowledged actions are so inaccurate that I cannot assume anything about this girl's behavior or history based on this description.

No matter what the truth about that girl are none of it changes the reality that this man made the choice to lie to a child and then made multiple choices to commit sex crimes.

If the man's claim of being a virgin before these crimes started was true that only shows that he was unable or unwilling to have a fully mutual sexual relationship free from all exploitation. That's not a good predictor of future legal and non-exploitative sexual behavior.

Appropriate social skills where personal and legal boundaries are understood and respected are critical to preventing reoffending. Blaming the victim for the adult's decision to disregard both of the these boundaries does nothing to help an offender understand that this was not a victimless crime.

The excuses from the offender in this case reminds me of another sex offender, Janelle Bird, who was also 24, and a virgin, when she first broke the law with her consensual "relationship" with a 15-year-old boy she met as a teacher at a Christian school and then tutored in algebra. She too described her criminal actions as motivated by love. She was sentenced to 2 years in prison.

An adult feeling no more mature than a child must never be a valid excuse or defense.

I suspect when Bird was sentenced that many people assumed that if the defendant was a male 24-year-old virgin that he would always get a harsher sentence because women sex offenders are always viewed more sympathetically by the courts. Obviously, that assumption was false.

Judges and juries can buy into victim blaming and crime nullification irregardless of the criminal's gender.

Unlike Hean, Bird's 2 year sentence given in 2006 wasn't immediately suspended. Doing a quick search I couldn't find how much prison time she actually served to date either due to time reduced for good behavior or because of an appeal.

Both of these sex offenders deserved prison time and both should be viewed as having the potential to reoffend if they get the opportunity.

Hat tip: The Curvature

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:20 AM   2 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Teens Exonerated By DNA And Confession In Central Park Jogger Filing Lawsuit Against NYC

From Newsday:

Lawyers for the five Harlem teenagers who were imprisoned and later exonerated of the 1989 rape of the Central Park jogger prepared to start a civil case against the city for millions in compensation and punitive damages.

After three hours behind closed doors, lawyers for the city and the plaintiffs met Friday with a federal judge to arrange getting evidence in the case. The key piece will be the testimony of Matias Reyes, a convicted murderer and rapist, who confessed to the rape and beating of Central Park jogger Trisha Meili.

Reyes' DNA was found at the crime scene and in 2002, Kharey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana were released from prison.

In this case the victim didn't incorrectly identify anyone because she was injured so severely that she had no memory of being raped or beaten.

An element of this civil case which caught my eye is the allegation that Reyes raped other women in Central Park and when those rapes were reported the New York police failed to investigate. Because the police allegedly didn't investigate those rapes, they failed to view Reyes as a suspect for this crime until the DNA test made the link for them.

The same techniques which can lead to false confessions by those suspected of committing violent crimes can be used to get false recantations from real crime victims. This means that bad practices hurt crime victims and those who are wrongly suspected for whatever reason.

I wonder if this alleged failure to investigate happened because the police assumed one or more of those rape victims were making false police reports.

Hat tip: The Gothamist

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:19 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Get Your Nominations In For Carnival Against Sexual Violence

Tomorrow night 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 @ 12:09 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

When A Rape Victim Didn't Do Anything She Can Be Blamed For

There is something disturbing about the way this rape case is being described in this BBC article:

Police have launched an investigation into the "horrific" rape of a 14-year-old girl at Glasgow's main bus station. The youngster was forced into an area of undergrowth at the Buchanan Street station and assaulted on Friday night.

Her attacker was accompanied by another man, who stayed with the girl's male friend while the incident took place. Det Insp Douglas Weir said: "This was a particularly horrifying ordeal for a teenage girl and it's vital we trace the individuals involved."

Strathclyde Police said the girl had been left "traumatised" by incident, which happened at about 2045 BST

What stands out to me in this case versus other rape cases against teenage girls I've read about is:

1) Her rape in particular was "horrific."

2) She was accompanied by a male friend.

3) She was raped before 9 pm.

4) She wasn't grabbed in an isolated or otherwise "dangerous" location.

5) Because an accomplice stayed with the victim's friend this was clearly a premeditated sex crime.

6) It is noted that this victim was traumatized.

These contrasts seem to highlight how other sexual assault victims aren't viewed as being blameless and their rapes are neither horrifying nor traumatic. What this does is fault the 2 men involved not for being involved in a sexual assault, but for where and how they committed this type of crime.

This goes back to the idea many people have that some sexual assault victims are not innocent victims because people can empathize with the perpetrator's rationalizations.

This gives us people who view certain rapes as a just punishment for arousing a man or boy. These people define themselves as anti-rape by denying that the sexual assault in question was real rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:54 PM   1 comments links to this post

Murderous Kidnapper Delights In Jury Seeing Video Where He Tortured Boy

From the AP:

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- A man who kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered a 9-year-old Idaho boy was deemed eligible for the death penalty by a jury on Friday, soon after the killer himself came close to thanking prosecutors for showing the panel sickening videos of him abusing the child.

The jury deliberated for two hours before issuing its unanimous ruling. When the hearing resumes next week, jurors must decide whether Joseph Edward Duncan III should be put to death for killing Dylan Groene in 2005.

Friday's verdict was not surprising after Duncan's closing argument, in which he told the jurors they didn't yet "have a clue" about the depths of his "heinousness."

While I am suspicious of the death penalty this is one man who is the best candidate for the death penalty because of how dangerous he would be if he ever escaped from prison. He expresssed that his plan was to go on a violent rampage which would end in his death. When someone doesn't care about any human life, even his own, and has proven his willingness to kill and torture that person is someone we must ensure never gets a chance to escape.

Identification is clearly not an issue. Neither is guilt.

The only questions are how many more people beyond Dylan Groene and his family members Duncan murdered and why with his history of violence he wasn't still in prison at the time this crime began.

Duncan has a long string of arrests and convictions for crimes ranging from car theft to rape and molestation. He is suspected in the slayings of two half-sisters from Seattle in 1996 and is charged with killing a young boy in Riverside County, Calif., in 1997.

In his statements Duncan seemed delighted to take credit for torturing a boy and making his sister watch even as his words blame most of his victims because of his positive words for Dylan's sister who he didn't kill.

Whether he is telling the truth about planning to release her alive is unknown, but he seems egocentric enough to want a witness to tell people about his horrific actions.

Since Duncan is acting as his own lawyer if Shasta Groene testifies Duncan will have the right to cross-examine her. Unless she feels that confronting this man will help her in some way I hope she doesn't testify.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:49 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, August 25, 2008

Offering To Sell Rape Of 5 Year Old A Fantasy Not A Crime

That's the strategy being taken by a defense attorney about allegations made by the FBI against Jennifer Richards and her boyfriend, Sean Michael Block, both of San Antonio, Texas.


Richards and Block crafted a deal that, in addition to the apartment and used car, included child care for Richards' 10-month-old daughter, whose sexual service the couple intended to sell later, Rex Miller, the FBI's lead agent on the case, testified. [...]

Authorities said both children are no longer in Richards' custody and that neither child was sold for sex.

After reviewing computers the couple used and listening to taped conversations, Miller determined Block and Richards were making further plans to abduct, rape and "carve up" a teenage runaway. [...]

Ronald Guyer, Block's lawyer, acknowledged the severity of the charges. But Guyer told the judge that there was no evidence that the behavior progressed beyond Block's fantasy.

Offering to sell a child to be raped is not a fantasy, it is an action. Plotting to abduct a runaway is participating in a criminal conspiracy. If these preparatory actions are not crimes then the laws need to change.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:55 PM   1 comments links to this post

Hinson Acquitted Of Bunker Rapes Sentenced To 25 Years On Gun Charge

In federal court Kenneth Glenn Hinson was sentenced to 25 years for illegal possession of a gun after he was ruled to be an armed career criminal because of prior convictions for rape, cocaine trafficking, and assault on a man. Without that ruling his maximum sentence would have been 10 years.

Hinson could have been sentenced from 15 years to life in prison and that longest possible sentence is what I believe he should have been sentenced to since I believe he will always be a public safety risk and is more likely to kill his rape victims next time.

He was already a convicted child rapist who served 9 years for raping an 11-year-old girl when he was unsuccessfully tried for kidnapping 2 other girls at gunpoint and then raping those teenagers in an underground bunker before they escaped. The girls believed they'd been left to die in that bunker. In that South Carolina case the acquittal on all charges came down I believe to many incorrect assumptions including how real victims can behave after escaping.

Hinson filed a motion to prevent those 2 girls from testifying at his federal sentencing. The reasoning was that they could not be considered his victims since he was acquitted of the crimes against them. His motion was denied and 4 women testified about being raped by Hinson including a niece of his who was not a victim in his conviction or his acquittal.

Hinson was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in 1991 after he molested an 11-year-old girl. That victim also appeared in court to face Hinson on Friday.

The victim told Wooten that Hinson was supposed to be driving her to school that day, but instead drove into a wooded area, pulled her into the back of his van and raped her at knifepoint. The attack happened just two days before her birthday.

“I said everything I could to get him to stop. I said, ‘I love you. You’re hurting me, please stop,’” she said. [...]

“You’re going to do what you want to do,” Hinson shouted at [U.S. District Court Judge Terry] Wooten. “ ... I’ve been made to look like a monster because a bunch of crackheads set me up! It makes no difference what the sentence is!”

This insistence that he was set up -- and therefore wrongfully convicted of the original felony which made his possession of a gun illegal -- is unfortunately typical. What shouldn't be typical is having juries suckered by the rationalizations of rapists.

I consider his acquittal on those sex crime charges -- because the jury decided there was reasonable doubt about whether the girls consented -- to be a huge miscarriage of justice. Thankfully, an undeniable fact was that Hinson, who was a fugitive at the time, was caught in possession of the gun which may have been the one the girls described in their testimony.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:41 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New Washington State Law Allows Previous Victims To Testify

The sex crimes law has been updated in Washington State where I was raped at age 15. The newest change means that despite the statute of limitations having long ago kicked in for my rape if I learn that my rapist is facing similar allegations there is a possibility that I could testify against him.

I would definitely volunteer to testify about my rape if I learned my rapist recently did to someone else what he did to me. It doesn't matter that I'd have to travel halfway across the country to do so.

From the Seattle Times:

Trembling, the woman, now 49, described dealing with confusion, fear and physical injuries after the man approached her while she was spending the night at a relative's California home and molested her.

She didn't tell anyone about the abuse, and the statute of limitations expired. Roger Alan Scherner, the man she accused of the abuse — who has since been accused by more than half a dozen relatives of rape and child molestation over several decades — was never prosecuted.

But a new state law is allowing her painful story to be heard in an effort to prosecute Scherner, 79, on child- rape and child-molestation charges involving a relative who was allegedly molested during a family vacation in Bellevue in 2002 when she was 7.

The law went into effect in June and is being used for the first time in King County by Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Julie Kays, who is prosecuting Scherner. It makes it much easier for alleged prior victims of a defendant to testify as witnesses in a current sexual-offense case.

I still want the statute of limitations for rape to be eliminated in Washington State and elsewhere and I want any limitation on how long victims can wait to report their rapes eliminated, but this new law goes a long way toward stopping serial sex criminals from assuming that any new victim will be the only victim allowed to testify to the jury about what that sex criminal has done.

As I've said before because of Washington's statute of limitations for the rape of anyone 14 or older, my rapist was legally free and clear after 1 year since I was unable to even think about reporting him in that first year.

During that first year I did reach out to 2 different professional organizations but both failed to even consider the possibility that my trauma over the loss of my virginity was due to rape not due to some nebulous morning-after regret.

If this new law sends chills down the spines of serial rapists who thought their victims from years past had been legally silenced forever, I'm thrilled. Victims who were originally seen as non-credible -- or like me didn't consider reporting until it was too late -- may be able to help stop serial rapists.

If a conviction doesn't stop these rapists then the prospect of all of their previous victims testifying against them at the next trial may cause some of these predators to decide to stop before their luck at evading justice runs out.

If this law gets used and can withstand legal challenges, I want to see this added to the criminal statutes of all jurisdictions.

Hat tip: Sex Crimes

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:21 AM   3 comments links to this post

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rape Motivated By Woman's Name In Police Report

From News on 6:

An unusual rape case has police concerned. The victim says she was held at knife point, beaten and raped after the suspect saw her name in a police report filed against him in a previous case. News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports records show Anthony Boyd just got out of jail Sunday on drug charges.

Boyd is back in jail on complaints of kidnapping, rape and assault.
Records show a search warrant was served at the house where Anthony Boyd lives. He went to court on drug charges and as is the law, his attorney was given police reports and documents about the case.

A woman, who was an acquaintance of Boyd, was listed in one of those documents, as someone police talked to. However, police say it was unnamed confidential informants who gave them the information needed to bust him for marijuana possession.

Since defense attorneys need the names of witnesses in order to properly defend their clients and they can and do tell their clients who the witnesses are, I believe the best solution is to make sure that there are additional charges which will be added when a crime is committed against a witness or potential witness.

The additional penalty for violence such as this should be an additional 10 years at the minimum with the maximum being life without parole. This crime of violence against a witness shouldn't be dependant on the suspect/defendant's conviction on the original charges.

People who will go after witnesses are clearly more dangerous than criminals who don't attempt to harm witnesses.

These statutes should also cover crimes of revenge committed by those associated with suspects, defendants or convicts.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:16 AM   2 comments links to this post

Friday, August 22, 2008

Human Trafficking In Scotland And Importance Of Not Charging Victims As If They Hadn't Been Trafficked

From the BBC:

[Amnesty International UK director, Kate Allen] said Amnesty was concerned victims of trafficking in Scotland were not being properly identified. "Without acceptance of their status, they cannot access appropriate services or help police with their inquiries," she said.

"The fight against trafficking has been very much police-led in the UK, but we know that many victims of trafficking will never disclose their situation to a police officer because they fear shame, deportation or reprisals from their traffickers."

The report called on the Scottish Government to extend the support provided to women trafficked into sexual exploitation to other forms of trafficking.

It also called on Scots ministers to work with the Crown Office to ensure that trafficking victims were not prosecuted for crimes, such as using false travel documents, committed as part of their ordeal.

All the effort which is put into stopping human traffickers is undermined when victims of those traffickers are prosecuted. If the government wants those who are trafficked to cooperate with investigations of traffickers then the government needs to demonstrate that the system is trustworthy.

If someone is freed from one enslaver only to be wrongly imprisoned or otherwise mistreated that doesn't inspire confidence. We can't afford to have those who are supposed to help seem less sympathetic and less fair than human traffickers.

Traffickers will use any misidentification or mistreatment as a weapon to keep those they trafficked in line.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:18 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Outdated Forensic Technique May Have Led To Dozens Of Wrongful Convictions

From ABC News:

Those outdated techniques once commonly used by fire investigators, Lentini and others warn, may have landed dozens of innocent people in prison for fires they did not start. Dougherty's case is one of what is expected to be a string of legal challenges to arson cases from the 1970s, '80s and early '90s. [...]

"I'd have to say 10 [percent] to 20 percent of the cases decided in the 1980s and early 1990s were probably wrong, or could have been wrong," said John DeHaan, a former arson investigator with the California Department of Justice. [...]

In training exercises for veteran fire investigators conducted by the federal government, fewer than a quarter of investigators generally were able to identify the cause of test fires, said Steve Carman, who recently retired as a senior special agent at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Daniel Dougherty is on death row for the deaths of his 2 sons and another man, Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted based at least in part on similar techniques was executed in 2004.

This is one of the reasons I am suspicious of the death penalty.

I also know that unreliable forensic evidence isn't proof of a wrongful conviction. There was testimony that Dougherty confessed his guilt to multiple people and at least one of whom has since died.

Guilty people as well as the innocent loudly proclaim their innocence.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:29 PM   1 comments links to this post

Man Confessed To Climbing Through Woman's Window Seeking Consensual Sex

The confession in this Ohio case where the defendant is accused of 4 rapes is one that by the nature of the confession wasn't something that an investigator prompted him to say.

[Prosecutor Sherri Bevan] Walsh said that in a taped interview with Akron Detective Bertina King, [defendant Christopher ] Butts admitted to crawling into the bedroom window of the 21-year-old Akron student. He claimed he asked her if she wanted to have sex and she said, ''OK.''

''If she would have said, 'No, man,' I would have left,'' Walsh said he told King.

Walsh said King didn't believe his account because ''who crawls into a window to have consensual sex?''

Walsh said several of the DNA samples linking Butts to the assaults showed this match only could occur with one in 22 quintillion people.

This confession is nothing like the confession which was suppressed in a rape/murder in Tennessee. The other evidence in this case is also much stronger than in that other case.

I only wish that when non-stranger rapists make this type of claim that prosecutors and jurors considered that these claims express the rationalization of rapists.

Because of the forensics evidence and the confession Butts was found guilty on all the sex crimes he was charged with. He was only found not guilty on 2 counts of robbery.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:21 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When A Guy Says He's Going To Rape And Murder Call The Cops

From a KOMO News story about a case out of Pierce County in Washington state:

Travis Gillihan now admits he's guilty of the crime that nearly took the girl's life. Gillihan has had 11 months to reflect on the shooting and raping of a 15-year-old acquaintance. [...]

After the attack friends of the victim said Gillihan warned them he was going to attack the girl. "Rape her and kill her and put her in a cardboard box in the ocean," said the victim's friend, Nick Brown, of what he heard Gillihan was planning to do.

Police said it might have been a different outcome had someone contacted police about the threats, but the girl's friends said that they didn't believe the threats and thought Gillihan was just acting out.

I don't care if people think statements such as this are a joke, any such statement needs to be reported both to the police and to the person who is the target of this threat. That these "friends" left this girl vulnerable through their silence contributed to this violence.

Much of the rhetoric about what makes someone a "real" rapist and the accompanying denial of most rapes when the rapist doesn't fit the "real" rapist mold contributes to these people's silence.

It's no wonder this man felt confident enough after this crime to send text messages to friends seeking an alibi. From his perspective they'd protected him when he was planning his crime so why would he think they would do any less after he did everything he planned -- except aim well enough when he shot her multiple times after raping her.

When this girl accepted a ride from this guy she thought of as a friend she was not stupid or responsible for his violence in any way. We all trust so many people in ways that most people don't even think about as being risky. We trust people when we walk into businesses. We trust people when we call a service person when a furnace goes out. We trust people when we are pulled over for speeding.

The problem in violent crimes is not trust, but the exploitation and violation of that trust.

All those who label rape victims stupid for trusting someone who turns out to be violent help men like this view their intended victims as being responsible for what the violent person does to them. This victim blaming allows rapists to tell themselves that their victim could have avoided danger if she really wanted to and is therefore not a true victim.

If this girl hadn't been able to escape through the woods despite being shot a total of 5 times and hadn't found a house where people could call 911, this might be a missing person's case where Gillihan would claim to be wrongly suspected because of his meaningless "jokes."

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:59 AM   2 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Afghan Women Jailed For Being Raped: An Antifeminist Perspective

From Antimisandry: The Afghan Women Jailed For Being Victims of Rape AKUUS wrote:

I bet there aren't any false rape allegations in Afghanistan!!!

Enough said about the priorities of men like this when it comes to justice.

From The Independent UK:

Two-thirds of the women in Lashkar Gah's medieval-looking jail have been convicted of illegal sexual relations, but most are simply rape victims – mirroring the situation nationwide. The system does not distinguish between those who have been attacked and those who have chosen to run off with a man.

Sitting among the plastic flowers around his desk, where an optimistic United Nations scales of justice poster competed for space with images of Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, Colonel Ghulam Ali, a high-ranking regional security officer, explained sternly that he supported the authorities' right to convict victims of rape. "In Afghanistan whether it is forced or not forced it is a crime because the Islamic rules say that it is," he claimed. "I think it is good. There are many diseases that can be created in today's world, such as HIV, through illegal sexual relations."

Disgusting BS.

Using STDs as an excuse is nonsense since providing rape victims with STD treatment is cheaper than imprisoning all known rape victims. This action deliberately protects rapists.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:14 AM   2 comments links to this post

What Does Mostly False Really Mean?

A statement made about this hazing case reminds me of the minimizing statements usually directed at women and girls who report being raped.

LAS VEGAS, N.M.—Six football players from Robertson High School have been suspended from the program and the coaching staff has been placed on leave while state police and the school district investigate allegations of hazing.

State police said in a statement Friday that investigators were looking into possible criminal allegations stemming from a hazing incident at a four-day preseason training camp northwest of Las Vegas.

At least one student alleged that he was pinned down and sodomized with a broomstick, but district Superintendent Rick Romero said that accusation appeared to be mostly false.

Mostly false?

Romero's statement is appalling because it is a backhanded admission that the allegations are mostly true, but he labels the actions of the hazers in a more positive light than one of the victims of this hazing has labeled them. To make any statement which paints a student who was hazed as a liar before the investigation is complete causes additional harm to that student and to all other students who were hazed during this training camp.

How does Romero know those allegations are mostly false? If he "knows" this because he has taken the hazers version of events as the truth that is very dangerous. This habit of contradicting those who report violence is what helps embolden those who participate in violent hazing.

If the alleged falseness in the student's claim came because the students who were hazed were described as not being physically injured that's a dangerous linkage. That makes violence acceptable as long as the victim doesn't need to be rushed to the hospital.

If this case is still open and under investigation, Romero should have focused on supporting that investigation rather than attempting to minimize what happened by publicly labeling a student-victim as a liar.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:33 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, August 18, 2008

Peter Hitchens: Men Who Invite Drinking Women Into Their Homes Will Rape Them

The opening from Peter Hitchens: How the Left censored blindingly obvious truth about rape sets up a dangerous link between commonality of crimes and how victims of those crimes should be viewed.

Women who get drunk are more likely to be raped than women who do not get drunk.

No, this does not excuse rape. Men who take advantage of women by raping them, drunk or sober, should be severely punished for this wicked, treacherous action, however stupid the victim may have been.

But it does mean that a rape victim who was drunk deserves less sympathy.

This conclusion is nonsensical even if Hitchens' claim weren't contradicted by a UK study of rape reports where 31% of rape victims were listed as potentially consuming alcohol prior to the rape.

Commonality in who gets targeted for violence does not equal victim causality or victim responsibility. If it does then Hitchens' assessment must be applied anytime we can find a pattern of victimization.

It's undeniable that parents who take their children to church are more likely to have their children molested by abusive priests or pastors than are children who are never allowed to go to church. By Hitchens' logic we should therefore be suspicious of all parents who take their children to church.

To see how well Hitchens logic holds up, I'm going to take part of what he has to say about drinking and rape then modify it to church attendance and rape.

Someone called Bridget Prentice, a one-time teacher who now has the banana republic title of Justice Minister, actually said last week that ‘a [parent of a] victim of rape [committed against a child by a priest or pastor] is not in any way culpable due to [church attendance]’.

This is flatly untrue and she must know it is. Of course [parents are] culpable, just as she would be culpable if she crashed a car and injured someone while [visiting shut ins], or stepped out into the traffic while [walking to church] and was run over.

[Going to church] is not something that happens to you. It is something you do.

So anything criminal that happens to children or to adults while they are in church is something they do according to Hitchens' logic.

But Hitchens isn't asking his readers to be logical. He's giving his readers an excuse to feel like good people as they heap disdain on certain rape victims. That undermines his statement that he is not excusing rape.

Simple, isn’t it? You can hate rape and want it punished, while still recognising that a woman who, say, goes back to a man’s home after several Bacardi Breezers was being a bit dim.

So every man who invites a woman with alcohol in her system into his home will rape her if that woman doesn't consent to whatever he wants to do to her.

If we must believe this as we form opinions about rape victims and we agree with Hitchens that too many rapists are getting away with their crimes then the UK should start sting operations where men are arrested for attempted rape as soon as they say to an undercover agent, "Want to go back to my place?"

I doubt those who accuse women of being dim would think this solution to be a smart one even though this solution is grounded in the exact same belief system which makes most rape victims unsympathetic to Hitchens.

Hat tip: Melissa at Shakesville.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:15 PM   2 comments links to this post

Ethical Use Of Investigative Techniques And Tracking Devices

Here is a sex crimes case where an investigative technique which doesn't require a court order or search warrant was used ethically.

Someone was attacking women in Fairfax County and Alexandria, grabbing them from behind and sometimes punching and molesting them before running away. After logging 11 cases in six months, police finally identified a suspect.

David Lee Foltz Jr., who had served 17 years in prison for rape, lived near the crime scenes. To figure out if Foltz was the assailant, police pulled out their secret weapon: They put a Global Positioning System device on Foltz's van, which allowed them to track his movements.

Police said they soon caught Foltz dragging a woman into a wooded area in Falls Church.[...]

Privacy advocates said tracking suspects electronically constitutes illegal search and seizure, violating Fourth Amendment rights of protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and is another step toward George Orwell's Big Brother society.

For me the key is how a tool or technique is used. I'm glad that the judge rejected the request by Foltz's attorney to throw the GPS evidence out of the trial. The police had reason to suspect him and they focused on behavior which fit with the MO of the criminal they were seeking.

If someone else should have been the prime suspect then the GPS data collected could have cleared him. In that case I doubt that the defense attorney would request that this data be thrown out in order to uphold the Fourth Amendment if a victim IDed him.

If the GPS device had been placed on Foltz's vehicle because an investigator was trying to find an excuse to arrest him I would have a different opinion about the ethics of the investigator who placed the GPS device or the ethics of those who set the policy.

In the serial rape case where former Illinois cop Jeffrey Pelo was sentenced to 440 years in prison showed that as a cop he used police resources that nobody would question as unethical if he were investigating crimes rather than committing them.

Jurors deliberated for parts of three days in June before finding the 17-year police veteran guilty on 35 counts, including 25 counts of aggravated sexual assault.

They convicted him without physical evidence linking him to the crimes. But prosecutors used dozens of witnesses and evidence found in Pelo's home to portray him as a man obsessed with violent pornography who paradoxically wanted his victims to like him. They also said his police computer login was used to research rape victims before the attacks.

Pelo has been jailed since his arrest outside a woman's home. Another Bloomington officer spotted him late on June 11, 2006, after the woman reported a prowler.

Pelo claimed he was shopping for a home for his mother-in-law. His wife, Rickilee Pelo, backed up that claim, saying her husband often kept strange hours after working night shifts for years.

Criminal cops like Pelo and civilians who are intent on harming others are the ones who make GPS tracking devices scary. Stalkers have been using GPS tracking devices for years.

Connie Adams found it impossible to escape her ex-boyfriend.

He would follow her as she drove to work or ran errands. He would inexplicably pull up next to her at stoplights and once tried to run her off the highway, authorities said. [...] Seidler had installed a satellite tracking device in Adams' car, according to police in Kenosha, Wis., 30 miles south of Milwaukee.

Because of abuses like these felony stalking laws need to make placing GPS tracking devices on someone else's vehicle a crime with only specific exceptions where the action can be shown to be appropriate. When law enforcement personnel use these devices or any other resource in abusive or unethical purposes, that should result in disciplinary action or termination.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:37 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Demonizing Drinking Women So Their Rapists Are More Sympathetic

This is a follow up to my posts UK Rape Victims Compensation Reduced If They Drank Before Being Raped and Does A Man Have Any Responsibility For His Words Or Actions? on the relationship between alcohol, rape and justice.

From Guardian: Sex assaults: Police accused of adopting 'Life on Mars' attitude: Former CID chief says some forces refuse to treat attack allegations as crimes for fear that unsuccessful prosecutions will spoil their clear-up statistics:

Marion Smullen, head of chambers at One Inner Temple Lane, who frequently acts as defence counsel in rape cases, said: "However much politicians want to change the attitudes to rape, juries are still fairly judgmental where alcohol is concerned. It's certainly something that helps me as defence counsel."

A typical defence would be to argue that the woman consented to sex because she was drunk and then cried rape when she regretted it in the morning, she said.

"Women drinking is still regarded as not quite right by a lot of juries. If they think maybe the woman has contributed in some way by being drunk, they will be reluctant to send someone to prison." [...]

Victims who had been drunk were seized on by defence counsel as "manna from heaven", [Dave ] Gee [the former head of Derbyshire CID] said.

This reality is why those who demand responsibility from rape victims are not credible even when they provide a disclaimer that of course they want all those who really did rape women who had been drinking to be treated as real rapists and of course they are only speaking out because they care about protecting women from rape.

These upstanding people might as well tell rapists, "Hey, buddy," points toward woman with drink in her hand, "You can rape her and I'll have your back if she reports you." Their bigotry is the biggest contributor to the confidence rapists feel when they target women who have been drinking.

Some of these rapists acknowledge that they are rapists and simply enjoy the power of being able to commit their crimes boldly. Others use talk of women's responsibility to tell themselves that they aren't real rapists since they would never attack a sober woman.

If you think being sober is a protection from rapists who target the drunk, think again. Sometimes rapists rape women who are mistaken for drunk.

This assumption by 3 teens (Ashley Mitchell, 19, Curtis Clinton, 16, and Kersley McDermott, 18) that their actions would have been acceptable -- or at least plausibly deniable -- if their 32-year-old victim had been drunk and not suffering from multiple sclerosis is unfortunately supported by the outcome of too many rape cases and too many opinions of people who claim to know what they are talking about.

This case and others like it show that all the talk about how drunk rape victims must have consented are nonsense.

Because of this bigotry many investigators do sloppy investigations, or they taint the investigation by treating rape victims like suspects, or they do no investigations at all even going as far as refusing to identify a rape report as a crime to be investigated. These problems can occur because investigators agree with the bigotry or they see the bigotry as insurmountable.

What these bad investigative practices do is feed the bigotry and the faulty beliefs behind that bigotry.

The good news is that the defense strategy which causes so many investigators to surrender is structurally weak. This defense strategy fails to prove how individual drunk rape victims consented. All this defense strategy does is put forth a generic theory that all drunk women consent (apparently they never say no or they never mean it when they do say no) and some of these evil women compound their sins by wanting to punish innocent men for these women's own decisions.

If important evidence was lost or never sought by investigators the jury won't know that it wasn't the original claim which was weaker than these generic defense claims against women who drink. It will be rape victims who will be tainted as false accusers because of the incompetence or negligence of investigators and/or prosecutors.

But a handful of convictions secured recently in cases where victims had been drinking showed that if detectives put the effort into securing the evidence and the CPS was "bold" enough, it could pay off.

"My advice to cops is: investigate. If someone gets their car nicked or their house broken into and their DVD player's gone, then you start an investigation, irrespective of the respectability of the victim.

What this means is that jurors' bigotry can be set aside when competent investigators do their jobs promptly and carefully rather than serving as surrogate defense attorneys who are looking for any excuse to let a rapist escape justice.

The defense strategies used against rape victims who consumed alcohol are fairly generic so investigators and prosecutors are not facing an unknown hurdle.

"People are still being dragged kicking and screaming to the plate. They say they're just being realistic but they're second-guessing outcomes. Around the country you still have individuals who are charged with responsibility at a senior level who are cynical at best about rape in general. People are saying, 'Is it a priority for me?'."

The reality is that the greatest barriers to justice for rape victims are those who are supposed to be ensuring that the law be upheld.

If justice for all rape victims isn't a priority for someone then that person has made the decision to side with rapists. Disclaimers and excuses are rationalizations which are disproven by these people's actions.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:18 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Does A Man Have ANY Responsibility For His Words Or Actions?

Roger Graef in a Daily Mail article: Don't blind-drunk women who cry rape bear any responsibility for what happens to them? asks: "Don't women who get plastered beyond control have any responsibility for what happens to them?"

This question is in response to the story I blogged about earlier about a reduction of victim compensation for women in the UK who were raped after they consumed alcohol.

The core problems with this question are twofold.

1) It ignores men, as perpetrators, bystanders and as crime victims. I don't agree that men who are raped while unconscious bear any responsibility for being raped or should be treated as disrespectfully as women rape victims are routinely treated. But men who are perpetrators and men who do nothing to stop those around them from raping do have a responsibility.

Men who make excuses for those who rape those who have been drinking or who minimize the reality of rape when the victim has consumed alcohol should have personal responsibility for their words and their actions.

2) It falsely summarizes a whole group of sexual assaults and it directly slanders the woman who fought the reduced compensation after having her criminal case bungled by the police.

On August 20 2004, Helen, a beauty therapist who has not worked since, had been out shopping with a friend. They had dinner, accompanied by some drinks, and followed it up with a few more in Soho. At around 4.30am Helen found herself outside a bar, with no memory of the previous few hours apart from being chased down a street by a man, and without her handbag and mobile phone.

She went to a friend's house and awoke the next morning to realise her underwear was on inside out and she was covered in bruises and blood, including around her groin.

What we have is a robbery and a violent rape. Whether the memory loss was because of drink spiking or the trauma of the sexual assault is unknown. But that memory loss is all the evidence many people need in order to demand responsibility from a rape victim who had previously consumed alcohol.

So why all the moaning about women's responsibility when someone else -- usually a man -- makes the decision to break the law and commit a sex crime?

If that rapist hadn't caught Helen, he would have kept looking for his next victim until he found another one. Since this rapist benefited from the police's slow response and loss of evidence, he has likely found more victims -- because his crime was about his behavior and his thinking, not the behavior of all of his potential victims.

Every time someone demands personal responsibility from rape victim, a rapist smiles.

This victim-centric demand for responsibility goes back to the mythology that most of those accused of rape were only reacting to bad decisions on the part of their victims.

Pavlov's rapists who wouldn't rape if women would just stop ringing their bells.

Graef points out that one of his documentaries highlighted abusive police interviews with women who reported rape, but his article supports the reason that:

Police in those days [1982] were taught that '60 per cent of all rape claims are false', and trained to give women the kind of hard time they could expect in court.

Since 60% of rape claims are not false, what those police responded to were the 60% of the rape claims where police assumed that the alleged rapist did nothing worth calling "real rape." The hostile interrogations were then designed primarily to weed out the rape victims who didn't deserve to be treated like real crime victims. The harm done to the 40% of rape victims who they accepted as real rape victims was simply collateral damage.

This has changed, but not enough.

If this risk from women's decision to consume alcohol -- as illustrated by photos of women passed out on a sidewalk -- matched the reality of rape then most rapists of those who have consumed alcohol would be strangers. Yet the example Graef uses doesn't match this image.

Last year, a Welsh university student said she was raped by a campus guard asked to escort her to her dormitory because she was too inebriated to get home safely.
Two days later, she reported he'd had sex with her in the corridor outside her door.
He said it was consensual.
She said it wasn't.
The police believed her, and so did the prosecutor. So they went to trial.
But when the defence barrister challenged her to be specific, she simply couldn't remember.
The judge ordered the jury to acquit the defendant.
One observer noted: 'Drunken consent is still consent.'
But how do you decide what is consent?

This question is one that makes me sit back in shock even though I should be used to this nonsense. The case referred to by Graef is in no way confusing. This judge wasn't responding to confusion, but to certainty which justifies the rape of the drunk and the unconscious and which opposes the conviction of those who commit these rapes in this way.

If a woman is so impaired that she cannot get home without assistance she is unquestionably incapable of giving legal consent. Period.

Someone who uses their position of trust to exploit a person they have been assigned to protect has knowingly chosen to cross a moral and legal boundary with the expectation that this rape will go unpunished.

In most cases, unfortunately, this expectation of rape without conviction of the rapist is fulfilled. When it's not then there is often a great amount of whining from the rapist and those who sympathise with this type of rapist.

What this cited case shows is that women's impairment or unconsciousness becomes something which allows rapists to rape with little fear of conviction. Not because of a lack of evidence as is frequently claimed, but despite the presence of evidence that legal consent was impossible or not present.

If these rapists are prosecuted they claim to be falsely accused and have many people believing their lies because it fits into those people beliefs.

When I was a young man, flirtatious women often said no, while sending strong physical signals to the contrary.
It was very confusing even when sober.
One had to tread very carefully to be certain what was going on.

If you cannot decide whether something is consent then that something is unequivocally not consent. There is no such thing as assumed consent. Mixed signals means no consent.

As ladette culture has spread across UK towns and cities and abroad, more and more women have gone out on the town - drinking to excess and behaving ever more raucously, sending blunt signals to young men also on the prowl.

Raucous behavior on the part of women means no consent. Equating the raucous behavior of women with consent means directing men to not bother getting and confirming genuine and legal consent to specific acts with a specific person.

Graef brings up analysis of drug tests done on rape victims and repeats faulty conclusions about what it means when no date rape drugs are found or when a rape victim's level of intoxication is greater than expected.

Having a drink with someone means no consent. That Graef brings up a defense attorney who used surveillance video of a rape victim drinking with her rapist as evidence of consent only shows what that rapist used as a substitute for genuine consent. Instead of supporting the defense's claim of consent this evidence supports the prosecution's claim of rape.

What is scary is how many people refuse to see this. To them girls and women are reduced to traffic lights. If girls and women aren't sending out obvious and constant stop signals then men can't be blamed when they decide to rape those girls and women.

And we know what many drivers do when the power goes out on a traffic light and it seems like there are no witnesses and no consequences.

This desire for a generic form of consent is dehumanizing. There is no, "we decided to have sex," only, "I want sex and I want to know when I can stop worrying about what that other person wants or doesn't want or hasn't agreed to."

If a man buys a woman a drink all that means is that a man bought a woman a drink. If a girl or woman drank alcohol all that means is that a girl or woman drank alcohol. If a girl or woman who has been drinking flirts all that means is that a girl or woman is flirting. If it's the third date all that means is it's the third date. If a girl or woman consented to kissing all that means is she consented to kissing. If a girl or woman goes to a guy's place all that means is she went to his place.

When any of these items are used as proof of consent that only shows how a rapist rationalized rape. And when any of these items are accepted as proof of consent that only show how so many rapists get away with rape and where they get support for their dangerous rationalizations.

It is these pervasive rationalizations which pose the greatest danger not women drinking.

It's simple. What's complicated is keeping up with all the ways rapists are excused or encouraged.

Finding excuses to proceed without genuine and legal consent is nothing new and neither is blaming women for the actions of rapists.

This gives us rapists who say, "It's not like you're a virgin."

This is what gave those investigators from 1982 the belief that 60% of rape claims were false. If an investigator holds the beliefs Graef expresses, we could get an exchange like this:

Rape victim: I want to report being raped as I left a party at a local bar celebrating a friend's birthday.
Cop: Ma'am, did you consume alcohol and were you raucous during this celebration?
Rape victim: Yes. But what--
Cop: You do know that filing a false police report is a crime, don't you ma'am?

When someone says, "drunken consent is still consent," the reality behind that statement is, "drunkenness is a valid substitute for genuine consent."


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:17 AM   5 comments links to this post

Friday, August 15, 2008

Believing Rape Victims As Dangerous As Reviving The Spanish Inquisition

An Anonymous man who left a comment on my post "False Rape Investigation Model: Between Belief And..." wrote:

Marcella no police officer takes any side when a defendant denies his crime. It's pretty much standard for every crim [sic] to say "It wasn't me" or "I didn't do it". It's also pretty much standard that every cop assumes they're all lying. BTW, an "alleged rapist" by law, is an innocent man (or woman). He (or she) has not been proven guilty and must therefore be innocent.

If a woman accuses a man of rape, the statement is, by definition, assumed to be false. That is how presumption of innocence works: If you have to prove someone guilty then you can accomplish this by assuming every defendant innocent and the guilty ones are the ones where you proved it. The opposite has been done in human history before. France had guilty until proven innocent until quite recently. The Spanish Inquistion [sic] is another place where you were considered guilty until proven innocent. So you can plainly see the danger in any system where people are assumed's usually part of some kind of totalitarian government regime that opposes freedom. Horror stories from historical "guilty until proven innnocent" [sic] regimes are quite easy to see and it's obvious that that kind of system leads only to chaos (check out Carlyle's "The French Revolution" for a look at it in action).

Here's my responding comment (cleaned up slightly):

Anonymous wrote:

"Marcella no police officer takes any side when a defendant denies his crime."

This is false. My post Perverting Course of Justice Case Falls Apart shows just one of the many cases where police officers take sides as soon as the defendant denies his crime and then violate the legal rights of the person who reported rape.

To assume that when a woman accuses a man of rape that she is making a false statement is to assume her guilty of filing a false police report. That is a recipe for injustice.

But since this woman is most likely a rape victim many people -- like you have -- find that acceptable.

Like the first commenter you need to read the legal definition of innocent until proven guilty.

To equate investigators beginning with the belief in all rape reports -- until the evidence proves that an alleged victim has filed a false police report -- to the Spanish Inquisition is absurd.

That's the end of my comment, but I need to note that while guys like this one come out against Guilty Until Proven Innocent, they usually demand that people respond to acquittals, dropped charges or a lack of charges in rape cases as if the criminal justice system we have does in fact operate under the premise of Guilty Until Proven Innocent.

No wonder they spend so much time trying to equate investigators believing rape reports as evidence that the criminal justice system operates under a system of Guilty Until Proven Innocent. They need this distortion in order to make their claims that someone has been proven innocent when that's not what happened.

If a man is potentially coerced into confessing to rape and murder then anonymous would most likely support throwing out that confession and viewing all confessions by alleged rapists as suspect, but when a woman who was raped is coerced into recanting her valid rape report Anonymous and his ilk don't highlight this injustice.

Anonymous and others like him are predictable flip-floppers.

If a woman accuses a man of rape, the statement is, by definition, assumed to be false. [...]

So you can plainly see the danger in any system where people are assumed's usually part of some kind of totalitarian government regime that opposes freedom.

So according to Anonymous those who report rape must be assumed to be guilty of filing a false police report, but any system where people are assumed guilty is a dangerous one that opposes freedom.

That means freedom is for rapists but not for rape victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:22 AM   2 comments links to this post

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 53

Welcome to the Aug. 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 Update on Kyle Payne posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion sparked by an email sent by a man who presents himself as an anti-violence advocate in which he explains himself before his sentencing related to taking pictures of an unconscious college student he was supposed to be protecting.

In Kyle Payne responds, sort of posted at Bookworm, we get an analysis of the open letter published prior to a sentencing hearing in which Payne positions himself as being open and honest.

In Another Woman Dead, The Blogosphere Largely Doesn't Notice posted at Questioning Transphobia, we get a discussion of the murder of Angie Zapata in which her murderer blamed his victim for his violence because of the murderer's sexual disgust over her identity as a transwoman.

In the cover up posted at a males life after rape, we get a discussion about the cover up of rape in the military from a man who was raped while in the military including a discussion about how the VA handled his disclosure of sexual assault.

In Pressure on servicewomen not to report assault posted at hunter of justice, we get a discussion about how the reporting processes for rape victims contribute to a low rate of reporting.

In Expert Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military posted at CALCASA Public Policy, we get a discussion of an event sponsored by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, in conjunction with the California Veteran’s Affairs Committees.

In DNA overturns another bad conviction in Dallas based on faulty eyewitness testimony posted at Grits for Breakfast, we get a discussion about how a serial rapist often described as having striking blue eyes could lead investigators to suspect a man, now exonerated, with green eyes and how the ID process could support this misidentification.

In CA7: Posner discusses “substantial step,” the “psychology of intent” and intent to have sex with an internet minor posted at Appellate Law & Practice, we get a discussion of when someone arrested in a sting operation crosses the line between fantasizing about committing a crime and actually committing a crime.

In One of these laws is not like the others posted at Sex Crimes, we get a discussion of constitutional issues raised by the Federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

In Pre-Trial Diversion or Rapists Go Free posted at The Crone Speaks, we get a discussion of the case against Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray who was sentenced to a 2-years probation program at least in part because of allegations made against the girl Ray is accused of raping twice.

In "Legal epistemology is ninety per cent quantitative. The other half is qualitative." posted at PrawfsBlawg, we get a discussion of trial errors and how tradeoffs are measured between the impact on accused criminals and the impact on crime victims.

In The Handmaid's Tale: Fact or Fiction? posted at Living the Scientific Life, we get a discussion of a US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) draft document that proposes to redefine nearly all forms of birth control, especially birth control pills, as a form of abortion and allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman's access to contraception this power would include obstructing rape victims from getting emergency contraceptives.

In What Lack Of DNA Evidence Proves posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I respond to a common claim by those who are eager to declare a rape case to be proven false.

media watch

In If You Love Date Rape, You're A Mitchum Man posted at Change Happens: the SAFER blog, we get a discussion about advertising directed at men which supports dangerous attitudes.

In To Channel 13: Rape Is Not a "Sex Scandal" posted at here's the thing, we get a discussion about how a television station which has generally done a good job of covering rape allegations against 2 members of the Iowa Hawkeyes football team can mess up.

In Knobbery in Seattle posted at I Blame The Patriarchy, we get a discussion of what attitudes underlie calling a case "prostitution" where two criminals kidnapped a 14-year-old girl and forced her to “have sex with” five men by threatening to kill her family.

In The myth of the woman who craves abuse posted at the Hathor Legacy, we get a discussion of the popular gendered myth which conspicuously ignores the fact that men also stay in abusive relationships.

In U.S. Investigates GI Accused of Rape posted at Shakespeare's Sister, we get a discussion of a San Fransisco Chronicle article which describes rape using that term rather than diminishing it through weak euphemisms.


In Beyond Blood Diamonds: 5 Other Products That Are Soaked in Violence posted at Organicasm, we get a discussion about products which are linked to violence and what you can do as a consumer in response to this violence.

In Jewish Soldiers Who DON'T Rape Are Racist? posted at BARBARA'S TCHATZKAHS, we get a discussion of a Hebrew University graduate student's thesis.

raising awareness

In Sexual crimes and the Gender struggle posted at Miss-Di-Meaner, we get a discussion of how support for gender inequality contributes to attitudes which contribute to rape since inequality is implicit in sex crimes.

In Who Are They? posted at Mortality's Thoughts, we get a discussion about how often we don't know which of the people around us has survived rape or abuse.

In KBR Bans Cell Phones and Silences Rape Victims posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion about a policy change by a US contractor which follows the high profile rape accusations by an employee working in Iraq who was rescued from KBR because she borrowed a fellow KBR's employee's private cell phone.

In OVERSIGHT HEARING ON SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE MILITARY posted at BLACK WOMEN, BLOW THE TRUMPET!, we get a discussion of different types of ant--violence advocacy sparked by a hearing about military rape.

In Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse posted at What about when MOM is the abuser?, we get a discussion about sexual abuse by people who are often viewed as not being capable of sexual violence.

In HEALING IS HARD posted at Daughter of Tse Whit Zen, we get a discussion about the statistics which say that 3 out of 4 Native women have been abused as women or girls.

In Suki Falconberg: "Ms Iraq Comments on the Prostitution of Iraqi Women and Girls" posted at Women's Space, we get a discussion about how the US invasion of Iraq has displaced girls and women which has left them vulnerable to exploitation.

In Rape Myth #1: Women make false rape accusations all the time posted at Polimicks, we get a discussion about the claim that there is a high rate of false rape reports which contrasts this claim with the reality of what happens after rape is reported.

In He Just Thinks He's Been Wrongfully Accused Of Rape posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the corollary to the claim that many of those who honestly believe they were raped actually consented and are making false rape accusations if they claim to have been raped.


In What Has Been Stolen posted at rmott62, we get a discussion about mourning what was lost because of sexual violence which began in childhood and allowing yourself to feel hatred toward those who were violent.

In PTSD Symptoms from Abuse & Bullying posted at BARBARA'S TCHATZKAHS, we get a discussion of how PTSD is a psychological injury not a mental illness.


In Teen Pregnancy And Sexual Violence posted at Change Happens: the SAFER blog, we get a discussion of a report on teen pregnancy by the Center for American Progress which notes that teen pregnancy is often a reflection of the high rates of sexual violence toward young women, and that these rates of violence are much higher for young women of color.


In Moral Courage posted at Ruminations - Lutte contre l’injustice, we get a discussion about the strong response by administrators at St Paul's School for Boys after a member of their lacrosse team made a sex tape of him and a girl, without her knowledge, and later showed it to his Lacrosse team mates.

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 Aug. 28 at 11 pm and the next edition will be out on Sep. 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   7 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cold Case Squad Finds DNA Match In Nick Of Time

From Cleveland Plain Dealer:

In 1994, someone savagely beat and raped Rotunda Baker, wrapped the unconscious woman in garbage bags and left her to die on the side of a trash-lined Cleveland street. Her killer remained unknown, but prosecutors now believe they have found him 14 years later, with the help of national DNA databases.

William Scott, 44, faces a host of charges for the rape and murder of Baker, 27.

Scott was serving a 12-year prison sentence for rape in Pennsylvania and was to be released this week, said Ryan Miday, a spokesman for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason. Instead, police in Pennsylvania arrested Scott, who awaits an extradition hearing.

I just want to send out a huge thank you to the Cuyahoga County cold case squad and all those who helped make this squad's work possible. I have no doubt that this work saved someone from rape and possibly murder.

Keep up the good work.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:52 AM   0 comments links to this post

UK Rape Victims Compensation Reduced If They Drank Before Being Raped

From the Guardian:

Rape victims seeking compensation are having their payouts reduced if they had been drinking before they were attacked.

Campaigners called on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) to end the application to rape victims of a clause that says awards in all types of cases can be cut if consumption of alcohol "contributed to the circumstances that gave rise to the injury".

In the past year 14 rape victims - 1% of rape-related applications - were told they would get less money because of alcohol consumption, the CICA confirmed.

When one woman who reported rape, after suspected spiking of her drink, had her compensation reduced by a quarter, she successfully appealed the ruling which practiced victim blaming. It's good that she was able to appeal this ruling, but it is very bad that any official is making rulings which support victim blaming.

Even on non-rape cases I'm not sure that this practice doesn't fall into the trap of baselessly blaming victims. But of course, there are those who view victim blaming as the right thing to do.

From Michael White's political blog:

If I get glassed in a pub during a fight which arose when I was drunk it's not quite the same as if I took the broken bottle in my eye as I soberly walked in, is it?

This comparison is contradictory since walking into a pub -- even sober -- could be seen as deliberately putting himself in danger of being hurt by rowdy drinkers.

If I wear conspicuously expensive clothes - or accent - and a Rolex watch in a rough part of town, drunk or sober, it's a crime to mug me. But, as the old saying goes, I was "asking for it" a bit, wasn't I? [...]

You put yourself at risk, just as you do by speeding when the idiot coming the other way loses control of the car: his fault, but you were going too fast or (another common one) tail-gating. [...]

Yet I get into a lot of trouble with women friends whenever I suggest they have a responsibility to themselves to think about what they're wearing where they're wearing it. Ditto how much they drink.

If White's analogy is correct then a host of factors other than alcohol consumption must also reduce victim compensation. That none of these non-alcohol comparables are factored into compensation reveals that these comparisons are nothing more than excuses. Crime victims aren't docked for wearing Rolex's.

To show how ludicrous this so-called valid "asking for it" comparison is I've modified an email sent to Courtney at Feministing:

I read your opinions about the MTA raising awareness about [intimidation and muggings] on the subways and found it very naive and written from a very [white-upper-class]-privileged perspective.

You are correct that [men] have been dealing with this kind of stuff from [other] guys for years, but what about how [men] dress [and what they carry] in the subways?

Today (after reading your opinion) while on the subway, I saw a [man] sit near me with a very [large computer bag] and [wearing a Rolex while listening to one of the newest iPods]...[he] looked [loaded with cash]! I totally stared at [his stuff] any chance I could get...which is probably why [he carried that cool stuff] right? I also see scores of [men] with those [Italian suits on], so you see their [expensive gadgets] bobbling around under the [suit].

That sounds like blaming the victim right? Well when you leave almost nothing to the imagination, it doesn't take much for it to run wild.

This is not to say you whip your [knife] out at any moment or press your [knife] on any [rich dude] that wears a hot outfit, but were they "asking for it"? I know you are probably fuming by now, but from the looks of your picture you probably don't get [mugged] much, so maybe you are jealous of all of the [rich dudes] with the big [bank rolls] that get some action underground.

The last part of this modified letter doesn't merely view victims as being foolishly vulnerable but views them as actively inviting violation because to this letter writer being violated is clearly the goal. If you are on the subway and others can crave what you got then you want them to take it from you.

That would be a very handy rationalization for muggers to have as it would help them feel like they are doing nothing wrong when they stab first, rob later.

Don't we all just assume that the visiting businessman who got murdered in a high-crime section of a city had a death wish? Don't we demand proof that this man wasn't comitting suicide by displaying his wealth?


Then why is this same type of assumption accepted by so many people when it made about those who are the victims of sex crimes?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:42 AM   2 comments links to this post