Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Man's Statement Shows How Date Rapists Can Rationalize Lowering Their Standards Of Behavior

From the WSJ: Lipstick Jungle by Ashley Samelson:

A few weeks ago, I helped my 18-year-old sister move into her freshman dorm at Hillsdale College in Michigan. I was anxious for her -- I worried that the female culture at her school would be similar to that at my own alma mater, Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

As a reserved evangelical from Colorado Springs, Colo., I was shocked by a lot of things at Tufts when I entered in the fall of 2003. What shocked me more than anything, however, was the way women treated other women. [...]

Meanwhile, college men are watching and taking notes. A male friend who attended the University of Michigan wrote to me in an email last month: "I, perhaps unconsciously, observe women to try and determine how they want to be treated. When I see girls at a party who seemingly have no self-control, I'll admit that it's really tough to visualize them as 'ladies.' It's as if they, solely through their own actions, have lowered my expectations, lowered my standards of behavior." (emphasis mine)

This man's email to Samelson, director of development at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, contains a telling and disturbing admission -- which Samelson only misses because of her eager acceptance of women bashing.

Her women bashing is all the more notable due to her stated disdain for the way women treat women. She does the very thing she disdains, but in a different way which seemingly makes the very thing she hates into something we are all supposed to admire as a positive example of womanly decorum. She tells glowingly of a pact by women at a conservative college to not gossip about other college women but her article has no substance outside of gossip which negatively stereotypes most other college women and which blames them for the actions of men.

Samelson proves that she is at heart exactly what she hates in other women.

I don't belief Tufts University corrupted her, I believe her disdain for most other women pre-dated her college attendance. She's a self-described Christian with zero compassion for women who don't behave exactly as she would have them behave. Not very Christlike.

Women who coerce other women into drinking should be held accountable for their actions and viewed negatively according to Samelson, but she clearly buys her University of Michigan alumn friend's rationalizations. She can find no fault with the behavior of men because all those women mistreated by men are solely responsible for the men's behavior.

This friend of Samelson's would clearly never rape a woman he views as a lady (like Samelson) but his standard of behavior erodes the moment he looks at a woman and decides she is not a lady. The flaw in his logic and in Samelson's is that his real standard of behavior cannot be accurately measured at it's highest level. The accurate measure of his behavior and the accurate measure of his ethics is his behavior at it's lowest level.

This is a, "How much can I get away with by blaming the woman for my actions?" mentality.

He wants to be seen as no more responsible for his behavior than a TV is when a woman uses a remote control device. Yet I doubt that he sat as still as a TV when women turned him on.

Since he admits that he lowers his standard of behavior based on his judgmental perception of the women around him, he can justify having no self-control toward women he instantly judges as having no self-control.

This man's admission -- a man who likely self-identifies as Christian -- allows us to understand exactly how men who think of themselves as moral can justify rape. It also explains why so many people who claim to have the highest morals side with so many rapists when their rape victims aren't viewed by these people as being perfect ladies.

That Samelson holds this man up as an example of morality tells me why she can't understand what feminists are talking about when they discuss the dangerous and disrespectful way so many men treat women on college campuses.

Her friend's view of sexual standards gives us nice Christian rapists and her view of his standards gives us nice Christian rape denialists.

What's as dangerous as this disdain for women at most colleges is Samelson's referral to Christian colleges as safe places for women. The percentage of college men who agree with Samelson's friend is likely to be much higher at colleges which uphold traditional marriage and family roles.

Who knows what certain Christian men will perceive as proving that a particular college woman isn't a lady which therefore makes her solely responsible for his actions?

If a Christian college woman is raped by a Christian college man, an official at her Christian college may very well pass judgment on the rape victim's morals despite a lack of evidence that the report of rape was false. Thanks to Samelson, I now understand why for some officials a rape report is seen as an admission of pre-marital sex. And it explains why so many people see rape investigations as a waste of time. From the report itself those people have found the rape victim guilty even if forcible rape occurred.

This explains why in Northern Ireland almost half of the students surveyed blamed the rape victim if she flirted prior to being raped.

It also explains why so many people claim that statistics based on surveys of girls and women are bogus. If all the rapes where these people can find a way to make the victim solely responsible for the actions of the rapist are tossed out, the number of rapist caused rapes becomes rare.

Hat tip: SAFER

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:05 AM   4 comments links to this post

Monday, September 29, 2008

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

From The Daily Journal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Attacks Against Hounddog Take A Disturbing Turn

From the Baptist News:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Pro-family advocates were pleased when "Hounddog," a film that depicts the rape of a 9-year-old girl, did not enjoy the widespread exposure its director had wanted. It opened in only 11 theaters nationwide Sept. 19 and earned a dismal $13,744 at the box office during the first weekend. [...]

"These despicable movies promote pedophilia, whether intentionally or unintentionally," Baehr, founder of Movieguide, said. "There should be a massive public outcry against them. The inclusion of children in sexually explicit films is inappropriate. There also is no excuse for the authorities to allow such material to be shown publicly." [...]

Fanning, who also starred in "Charlotte's Web" and "War of the Worlds," plays Lewellen, a sexually promiscuous young girl who lives in a broken home in the rural South during the 1950s. Though several scenes involving Fanning are overtly sexual, the most brutal is when she is raped by a teenage boy who tempts her with tickets to an Elvis concert.

This latest, more judgmental description of Dakota Fanning's character is telling since it is not only false, but it matches the rationalization of rapists who need to find a reason to make their rape victims responsible for their actions.

Those who follow my blog know that self-proclaimed "innocent" sex criminals have succeeded at selling their lies to judges. They also know that a Baptist pastor recently called sex crimes against a minor "a mistake" and failed to offer support for the known victim of this man and failed to offer support to any unknown victims of this man.

This press release description helps every rapist who defends his actions by saying, "She's just a sexually promiscuous young girl."

If someone watches Hounddog and feels encouraged to rape children, the problem is not with the movie. The problem is with how and when that person rationalizes raping children. Going into the movie with the belief that the main character isn't an innocent child because moral people called a 9 year old girl sexually promiscuous helps to enable those who want an excuse the rape of children.

This attitude is echoed every time someone demands that women take personal responsibility for being raped. It is echoed every time someone demands that those who speak out against rape stop playing the victim.

If rape victims, even those only 9 years old, don't have the right to be considered crime victims then rapists cannot be considered criminals.

This gives us rapists who would never rape good children, but who would rape a child who has done something that good people have told their children not to do. In this worldview if a child falls into a predator's trap and is raped, that child is promiscuous.

But in my worldview being raped -- through force, coercion or threat -- is NOT being promiscuous. Yet many people describe children who have been raped, sometimes repeatedly in just this way. Children who are curious about their bodies and the bodies of other children are not promiscuous.

Anyone who dismisses a child who has been raped as promiscuous is someone who should never again be trusted with children.

Those who make or repeat without question a false statement about the character, Lewellen, are themselves reinforcing the very crimes they claim to be against.

The Catholic church has paid a high price financially and morally for their silencing of victims and for their history of complicity with rapists and sexual abusers in their ranks.

This article tells readers to: "take a stand for family values and the protection of children". So what is the Southern Baptist Convention, which sponsors Baptist News, doing to protect children and family values when it comes to rape and other sex crimes committed by those in their midst?

Well, according to the USA Today (June 10, 2008):

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Under pressure to fight child sex abuse, the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee said Tuesday that the denomination should not create its own database to help churches identity predators or establish an office to field abuse claims.

The report decried sexual abuse as reprehensible and a sin. But the Southern Baptist principle of local church autonomy means it's up to individual churches — and not the convention — to screen employees and take action against offenders, the committee said. [...]

The database idea also is undermined by the fact that the convention cannot require churches to report instances of sexual abuse to local, state or national conventions, the report said.

Local church autonomy rules out creating a centralized investigative body to determine who has been credibly accused of sexual abuse or anything else, it said, and the convention has no authority to bar known perpetrators from ministry or start an office to field abuse claims.

This means that while a movie which highlights a pervasive crime must be stopped, there are more important things than identifying and stopping Southern Baptist sexual predators or to bar them from having access to new victims.

Here's a snippet of a Findlaw article which rebuts the SBC's justifications for their lack of action by Marci Hamilton:

In short, there is a basic procedural answer to what the SBC has portrayed as an insuperable barrier – agree among all independent entities to coordinate. If Baptist churches cannot coordinate on a shared, national strategy in favor of children at risk, they rightly lose a great deal of moral capital.

Thus, the autonomy excuse is nothing more than just that: an excuse. If the members and churches of the SBC were truly interested in protecting children from predators within the organization, then they would create mutual obligations among their individual churches to report all reports of abuse to the police (not only the ones the churches’ themselves unilaterally find “credible”) and make public the names of those about whom they have received reports already.

A straightforward “report any complaint” policy combats the natural human tendency to protect friends and coworkers and creates a simple bright-line rule. No one likes to believe he or she is working alongside a monster, especially if that monster is engaging in other “good works,” but with clergy child abuse, that is too often the case.

Why should it take pressure from sex abuse survivors, lawyers or insurance companies for moral people to protect fellow Southern Baptists from sexual predators who use their position as church leaders or employees or respected church members to gain access to victims who likely assume they are in a safe place with safe people?

The answer seems to be that their blanket opposition to child rape -- even the rapes committed by so-called moral people -- is as fictional as the movie Hounddog.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:04 AM   2 comments links to this post

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Get Your Nominations In By Tomorrow Night

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 @ 2:46 PM   0 comments links to this post

Detroit Crime Lab Shut Down

From the AP:

DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit police crime lab was shut down by the city's new mayor and police chief after an outside audit found errors in some evidence used to prosecute cases involving murder and other crimes, officials said Thursday.

Wrongful convictions are a possibility, according to the audit, conducted by the Michigan State Police. Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy also noted that some criminals may have gone uncharged because of the lab's shortcomings.

"We have no idea how many people are walking around that have committed crimes that we don't know about," said Worthy, who blamed the problems on human error, as well as a lack of funding, resources and training.

The audit found erroneous or false findings in 10 percent of 200 random cases and subpar quality control compliance at the lab, Worthy said.

I'm glad this action was taken since the problem in this lab will have impacted all those who are innocent, be they crime victims or defendants. With this level of error it's likely that some crime victims were falsely considered to have filed false police reports because the lab results contradicted the victims testimony.

Any corrective measure needs to look at all the ways these errors could impact criminal cases and should seek to undo all these wrongs. If people were acquitted because of lab errors that needs to be noted and the victims who were denied justice should be compensated for this error.

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

Friday, September 26, 2008

Minnesota Sex Trafficking Assessment Report

From Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Working as a prostitute in Chicago decades ago, Beth Jacobs said she frequently got arrested, caught by both undercover stings and uniformed police officers.
It wasn't the same for her customers or her pimp.

"My pimp never went to jail and I went all the time, because I was the one that was out there," said Jacobs, who now works as public policy coordinator for Breaking Free, an organization in St. Paul aimed at helping women out of prostitution.

It's a pattern that is often true in Minnesota, according to a Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment report released Monday at the state Capitol. Changing that pattern to place pimps and customers in greater jeopardy is one of more than two dozen recommendations in the report.

While this report found problems in a variety of areas, it is a positive sign that Minnesota is evaluating this serious issue, and their response to it, while looking for ways to make positive changes.

What is happening in sex trafficking has a strong relationship to both official and unofficial actions related to trafficking.

Those who want to deny or minimize the harm done to the trafficked often want to dodge responsibility for that harm by calling any harm self-inflicted or by saying that legalization will instantly reduce that harm.

If someone is trapped, whether the trap is physical by being in a brothel which is more secure than most banks, or psychological by threats, addictions or something deeper, that trap won't come undone when the trap is made legal.

I don't believe in the strategy of harm reduction. Those who are trafficked need harm elimination, not simply a reduction of harm.

Part of harm elimination needs to be providing practical and effective help for those who have been trafficked. Another part relates to the prosecution of customers which should include a diversionary program so that those customers who are in denial about the full reality of trafficking cannot claim ignorance if they are busted a second time. And that second conviction should have a sentence reflecting the seriousness of the harm done through sex trafficking.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:24 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Last Chance To Take Action: Reproductive Healthcare Regulation Which Would Put Patient Rights Last

This proposed HHS regulation titled Ensuring that Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices In Violation of Federal Law is being sold as protecting healthcare worker rights when it really allows healthcare workers to deny patients and customers (in the case of pharmacies) their legal rights to services and their legal right to have all the relevant information they need to make informed decisions. The result is that healthcare workers will be given the green light to discriminate, but they can't be held responsible for their discriminatory practices.

This regulation is discrimination which is being packaged as anti-discrimination. Abortion isn't defined which means that if an ER doctor feels that emergency contraceptives are abortions that person could deny those who have been raped a prescription and even refuse to inform a rape victim that there are ECs which could help prevent pregancy.

I suspect that many of those who would deny information or services to women will be asking invasive questions in order to decide whether a particular woman deserves those services. If a woman who was raped goes to a pharmacy for an EC that woman shouldn't have to disclose her rape or worse describe it in detail so that the pharmicist can decide whether this woman is a real rape victim who is deemed worthy of being given ECs under his or her belief system.

Public comments close tonight so please, if you live in the US, click on the link ASAP and leave a comment.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:07 PM   1 comments links to this post

DNA Testing Confirms Conviction For 1984 Dallas Rape

From the Dallas Morning News:

District Attorney Craig Watkins says DNA testing "works both ways" in Dallas County, as shown by a rape conviction affirmed Monday.

Post-conviction DNA tests requested by Hilton Lee Wheeler have proved he committed a 1984 Dallas rape for which he's already serving life in prison.

Because many people assume that someone rightfully convicted would never request to have the DNA evidence in their case reviewed it is important that this DNA test result be as well publicized as it would be if this analysis led to an exoneration.

This isn't the first such result where newly processed DNA evidence confirmed a convict's guilt and disproved that convict's claim of wrongful conviction.

But the number of these confirmed convictions wasn't mentioned in the article on this case. I haven't seen that number mentioned in any article I've read about inmates claims of innocence. However, when I read an article on exonerations I almost always get an exact list of the number of DNA exonerations.

The organizations which speak up whenever a DNA test exonerates someone tend to be quiet when the same type of test confirms guilt. I can understand why those focused on innocence don't spend much time talking about the guilt of someone who claimed that DNA would prove his innocence. While I understand this silence, I think it contributes to dangerous assumptions about the guilt or innocence of those convicted of violent crimes.

If that organization passionately championed that guilty person and predicted that the DNA evidence would prove innocence because the non-DNA evidence couldn't be right, it could be embarrassing for an organization to admit that it had been fooled by a violent criminal. So instead of saying the organization was wrong it is easier to act like the DNA testing never happened.

Having taken many statistics classes on my way to getting a math minor, I understand the danger of excluding data because someone doesn't think it is relevant.

The 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion due to O-ring failure is an example of the danger of looking at risk using a restricted data set. The danger of cold weather lauches would have been obvious if the data from the launches where there were zero O-ring failures hadn't been omitted.

If when we look at wrongful convictions we omit all the data on known rightful convictions or questionable exonerations (DNA at murder scene might not be from real murderer or the DNA might be from an accomplice), the resulting actions can be deadly. A murderer who masterfully plays the part of someone wrongfully convicted can be freed (through overturned conviction , pardon or commuted sentence) which allows that murderer to strike again.

The goal should be to find whatever identifying information forensics can provide, assess that information properly in relation to other evidence, and highlight that resulting evidence no matter what it turns out to be.

If the goal is determining the truth of old cases, then we must also look at cold cases seeking the truth behind those cases. Since Dallas preserved their physical evidence, analysis of unsolved cases has identified men who cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations for rape in Texas was only 5 years until 1996 when it was eliminated.

Many people who resist eliminating the statute of limitations for rape in other states do so in the name of protecting the rights of the innocent while forgetting that rape victims are innocent and that future victims who could have been protected if it weren't for the statute of limitations are also innocent.

When this goal of putting all of the truth out there about old cases isn't met, many people could make the faulty assumption that if a convict asks for a review of DNA evidence, but none can subsequently be found, that the convict was wrongfully convicted and only lacks the evidence to prove it.

Wrongful charges in non-murder cases aren't limited to rape cases, they can also happen when the crime is robbery. And wrongful charges can be made against rape victims who are coerced into recanting.

This second type of wrongful charge against crime victims is why I have a problem with innocence reforms that only look at the problems from one perspective. Some innocence reforms may do nothing to protect those wrongly accused of violent crime while doing plenty to provide cover to those who are rightfully accused and those who treat some crime victims with less respect than they give the most violent criminal prior to conviction because they incorrectly view those crime victims as agents of injustice.

Among those seeking DNA analysis is Ohio death row inmate Richard Cooey who is scheduled to be executed next month.

Richard Cooey said an accomplice killed the University of Akron students 22 years ago. ''Yeah, I did kidnappings, robberies and other stuff [rapes] in my case,'' Cooey said this week in a death-row interview given to the state legislative reporters' association. ''I didn't do no murders in my case. And they know I didn't do the murders in my case.'' [...]

He also said he never confessed to an unrelated killing, but was misunderstood by a prison guard.

Cooey's admissions of what he is undeniably guilty of are a stark contrast to the image those claiming to be wrongfully convicted are trying to put forth. From the description of the elements of the crime he admits, Cooey was no innocent bystander to this double murder even if he didn't land the killing blows.

If the blood found on Cooey's shoe and the blood found in his car don't match the 2 murder victims, that likely means that blood belongs to another murder victim. So while he might be able to cast doubt on some of the evidence used to convict him, he is in no way innocent.

And of course when an undeniable DNA match is found, the person convicted can claim that match is meaningless as demonstrated by the appeal on behalf of Jeffrey Lynn Smith in Wyoming.

Lawyer Michael H. Reese, representing Smith, argued Thursday that trial judge Keith G. Kautz of Natrona County violated Smith's rights when he limited Smith's original defense lawyer from presenting information about other people police had suspected in the case."

This is literally a cold case that took 20 years to develop," Reese told the court. Reese said Smith has never confessed in the Dively case and always maintained his innocence.

Reese said the DNA evidence proves only that Smith and Dively had sex, not that he killed her. He argued it violated Smith's constitutional rights for a prosecutor to tell the jury that he had refused to take a DNA test. [...]

Graham Smith told the justices that defendant Smith had repeatedly denied to investigators that he had known Dively."Despite his repeated denials of ever having known Ms. Dively, the sperm that was in her body was a positive match to the appellant's," Graham Smith said.

Not confessing and always maintaining his innocence even after conviction are proof of nothing as the DNA match for Hilton Lee Wheeler shows. But those who are only aware of successful exonerations may not know this.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:43 AM   3 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Documentary Boyhood Shadows

From Monterey County Weekly:

Glenn Kulik met his best friend, Scott, on a summer swim team when they were 10 years old and lived in New Jersey. Kulik played at Scott’s house every day after school, along with a third friend, John. Scott’s uncle gradually went from taking the boys to the movies, to giving them porn magazines, to asking them to take off their shirts. Soon, it went further– much further– than the boys wanted, but it was too late.

“When there was an effort to stop it, there were threats,” Kulik recalled. One day the uncle took the boys to a park, where they watched him kill a duck. “That’s what will happen to you if you tell,” the man said.

Kulik’s story is the central portrait depicted in Boyhood Shadows, an intriguing, locally produced new documentary that illuminates just how common and commonly hidden from view its painful subject is: male childhood sexual abuse.

Read the whole article and check out the home page of the documentary Boyhood Shadows which according to the story about this documentary is not difficult to watch.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:10 PM   0 comments links to this post

Police Arrest 2 In Kidnapping, Rape Case While Similar Case Remains Open

From the Republican Eagle:

Red Wing [Minnesota] police have arrested two suspects in connection with the alleged kidnap and sexual assault of a local 17 year-old female. [...]

The abduction allegedly occurred Sept. 4 around sunset as the girl was walking down a sidewalk on South Park Street. The alleged victim said she was forced into a white van and taken to a residence where she was sexually assaulted.

Police said initial details were incomplete, but in a follow-up interview, the girl provided the identities of the suspects and the location of the alleged assault.

The girl said she hesitated to provide the information earlier for fear of retaliation. She said the suspects told her they would kill her if she told what happened.

If this rape weren't followed by a similar kidnapping in Red Wing of a woman who managed to break free before she was raped I'm not sure if these arrests would have been made. First there might not have been a second interview and if there were a second interview the girl might not have seen a viable reason to provide additional information which could result in a violent retaliation against her.

In this type of situation a bigoted investigator might sense that this girl was withholding information during the first interview, but would immediately jump to the incorrect conclusion that this girl hadn't been raped after all and was just crying rape.

With the disrespectful way so many people want rape allegations treated when they are made against men who are known to the victim -- usually in the name of protecting the innocent -- this girl's fear was justified.

If you believe that your rapists are likely to face no charges once they falsely claim "it was consensual" and you believe that those rapists don't issue empty threats you will have no reason to trust the police with your life.

Yet for those who rant on and on against those of us who want a fair shot at justice for rape victims -- because we allegedly have a disregard for the innocent -- rape victims never seem to qualify in their eyes as innocent.

At least until rape victims are murdered.

Then the prosecution has real physical evidence and no unreliable victim testimony to muddle up the case. Justice the way it was meant to be. At least in the eyes of those who don't want any man to be convicted of rape based on the testimony of alleged rape victims.

But justice shouldn't be abandoned until rape victims are maimed or murdered.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:37 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jurors Not Swayed By Defense Expert

From the Mitchell Republic:

Among Friday’s witnesses was Rich Kaplan, founder of Child’s Voice in Sioux Falls [South Dakota] and a specialist in child abuse cases. Kaplan gave opposing testimony to the state’s medical expert, Nancy Free, regarding the physical exam of the 13-year-old victim.

Upon Kaplan’s review of the videotape of the physical exam, he said he found no indication that sexual abuse occurred. “I have done over 1,000 exams and I don’t know what Dr. Free means by (the girls’ vaginal area) feeling differently,” Kaplan said. “I feel the jurors’ decision should be made on the best possible science.”

When cross-examined by Assistant Attorney General Brent Kempema, Kaplan admitted he could not make a factual diagnosis of abuse since he has not reviewed the oral history of the victim.[...]

[Kempema] said the victim has no reason to lie and that this was the toughest decision she will make in her life. He said Fisher has every reason to lie and nothing to lose. [...]

[Defense atttorney Chris] Nipe told jurors the state did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The jurors disagreed with the defense attorney who likely hoped that the victim's testimony would be disregarded out of unfounded fear that this was a false accusation. They found Ernest Fisher guilty on all 8 counts including one count of first degree rape.

I'm glad that this defense expert admitted that he could not make a factual diagnosis of abuse in his review of the physical exam of this victim and more glad that the prosecutor didn't forget to ask this question. Many times any questioning of the physical exam is wrongly assumed to be reasonable doubt.

Those who want to baselessly dismiss victim testimony in rape and sex crime cases likely view this verdict as a miscarriage of justice since they would demand that the physical exam in cases which go to trial find injuries which every expert reviewer would agree could only come from rape. For this to happen the victim would likely need to be maimed or require emergency surgery.

That gives rapists -- including child rapists -- clear parameters for when they expect to get away with sexual violence.

As one commenter who arrived at my blog with "false rape" as part of his Google search wrote recently:

the legal system is so screwed up when a man is accused of a crime against a woman or child. It has nothing to do with evidence when a woman accuses a man.

What this commenter doesn't acknowledge is that testimony is evidence.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:44 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oprah Goes After Internet Sex Predators

When I heard that the topic of last Monday's Oprah Show (Sept. 15) would be Internet predators, I was expecting a story about how sexual predators have lured victims to a meeting over the Internet.

What Oprah presented instead was the connection between the Internet and the reality that most child rapists are people known to their victims who don't need to use the Internet to gain access to their victims. Some of these predators prey on their own children or on the children of relatives and friends.

This focus is much scarier for many parents than if the subject were the Internet predator who needs to lure the child to an in-person meeting. The reason this is scarier is that parents can monitor their child's computer usage for signs that a predator is after their child. Child-centered prevention can keep these predators from gaining access. No computer access for the child equals no danger from this type of Internet sexual predators. This is the online version of stranger danger where safety comes from avoiding all strangers.

For the type of predator Oprah focused on, child-centered prevention isn't as easy as eliminating Internet access or monitoring the child's computer access.

These Internet predators don't use the Internet to contact their potential victims. They instead use the Internet as a swap meet, a learning medium and a place to meet people with the same belief system.

Highlighted on this show was the reality that one of the reasons some of these predators offend against very young children has nothing to do with pedophilia, but is instead related to the fact that the youngest victims can't disclose abuse or if they can disclose abuse the children may be considered too young to be credible witnesses or too young to withstand cross examination.

From my time as a volunteer victim advocate, young victims' testimony was a huge issue and a reason many cases of child rape ended in plea deals or dropped charges that left nobody but the defense team and defendant happy.

For these Internet sexual predators the Internet is where they do their social networking with other sexual predators. These criminals have taken the concept of community and twisted it to meet their own criminal wants and needs.

These social sexual predators use the Internet as a swap meet for the photo and video evidence of the crimes committed by these predators. Not only is this evidence of child rape exchanged, so too are helpful tips for how to get away with these crimes.

The tips which were described on this show were disgusting but they also showed clear premeditation and calculation on the part of sexual predators which goes directly against the idea that this type of crime is rooted in hormonal urges.

Many of these predators are determined, but determination is not the same thing as being out of control or suffering from an addiction.

A case highlighted on this episode involved a man who committed sex crimes against girls when his daughter was having sleepovers. He slipped drugs into the girls drinks and assaulted them when they were unconscious. He posed as a diligent adult looking out for the welfare of his daughter and her friends. His MO is completely overlooked in warnings about date rape drugs. He wasn't a date and he wasn't spiking alcoholic beverages.

Oprah asked viewers to go to www.senate.gov to get contact information for their US senators so that you can urge them to vote for US Senate Bill 1738—The PROTECT Our Children Act.

Whenever there is any bill which will catch more criminals money is an issue. And money should be an issue. But if the US can afford to invade Iraq and can afford to bail out financial institutions, money is not the barrier. Lack of priority is.

If investigators see evidence of a child being raped how important is it for the police to have the resources they need to go after that predator so that we know that rape will not be repeated and the victim will get the help she or he needs?

For many politicians sexual violence gets dismissed as a women's issue rather than being elevated as a human rights issue. Despite the commonness of rape against children most people will at least claim that children have the right not to be raped.

But are we going to do enough to make sure that this right is protected to the best of our ability? Are we going to get bogged down because some children seen in child porn cooperate and that makes the original crime be seen by some people as not one of personal violence but a mere statutory violation?

For anyone who will be contacting your US senator, also do a Google search on your state's statute of limitations for rape/sexual assault and other sex crimes. What is the statute of limitations if the victim is 5? How about 15? 19?

If investigators funded under this bill find victims willing to testify and they find visual evidence that backs up that testimony, it would be an injustice if some or all of those original crimes cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired.

There are many rationalizations for not eliminating the statute of limitations for rape. Most of those are only concerned about the defendant and ignore the victims and public safety. Whether a rape is prosecuted in days or in decades the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt remains on the prosecution.

For those concerned about how this bill will impact prison overcrowding and sex offender management, demand that federal money also be allocated for preventing rape attempts and for helping young victims recognize when what has been done to them is a crime.

Leaving prevention to parents sounds good. But many parents are unqualified prevention educators and other parents are the one's committing sex crimes against their children or stepchildren.

Life for both victims and perpetrators would be better if those crimes were not attempted in the first place. We may never be able to eliminate all sex crime attempts but we can eliminate claims of ignorance about the difference between fully consensual sex between those capable of consenting and rape.

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

Sunday, September 21, 2008

After DNA Evidence IDs Suspect More Issues Raised

From the Pocono Record:

The victim was raped by two males, one of whom since has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to state prison. She gave a description of the other suspect, whose name she did not know, and a semen sample was collected from her underwear, but no one was arrested at that time. [...]

When Pagan was arrested in a separate case prior to July 31, CODIS matched his DNA sample to the DNA in the semen sample taken from the rape victim's underwear in 2004. "That's all the Commonwealth used to charge him with the rape," defense attorney William Sayer said. "The victim never identified Mr. Pagan as one of the two who raped her. After he was arrested, she even contacted the District Attorney's Office and told them he wasn't one of the two."

Assistant District Attorney Michael Rakaczewski declined to comment on whether or not the victim ever contacted the D.A.'s Office.

"We didn't charge Mr. Pagan based on just the DNA match," Rakaczewski said. "He fit the description given by the victim of one of the two suspects. She denied recognizing him as someone she had consensual sex with.

"We're concerned that outside forces, whom I'm not going to identify, are trying to influence the case and get the victim to say Mr. Pagan is not one of the two who raped her," he said. "That's all I can say at this time."

That sounds like there may be possible witness intimidation in this case which is far too common. If anyone is trying to force this rape victim into making a statement which would endanger this case that person should be charged with witness tampering or witness intimidation even if that pressure isn't accompanied by overt threats.

Sometimes threats against rape victims or witnesses in rape trials are empty threats, but rape victims have been murdered. Witnesses in rape trials have been the subject of murder plots to keep them from testifying.

Victims who have lied in a way which makes it harder for the police to find the assailant or assailants often do so out of fear, but when these types of lies come to light many people seem to not consider that possibility and instead use that lie as proof that those who report rape are inherently untrustworthy and shouldn't be considered crime victims unless they prove themselves 100% trustworthy.

Here's case where the victim was hospitalized:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have not identified the 22-year-old woman, and say they are still searching for three men. But the woman now says she was hanging out with one of the men and was raped by two of his friends, police said.

“Based on the information obtained to this point we are continuing to investigate a sexual assault,” Deputy Chief David Graham said.

The woman reported Sept. 5 that three Hispanic men forced her into a green pickup on East Boulevard, then took her to an open area nearby and raped her. She was hospitalized with injuries but disappeared before detectives could interview her further.

Note that the woman was hospitalized with injuries which contradict any claims people are likely to make that she couldn't have been raped. The hospitalized woman gave a false name since there were outstanding warrants for her arrest.

The severity of this crime isn't diminished because the victim was afraid of fully cooperating with the police. Despite this woman needing to be hospitalized I'm sure there will be some people who want this victim -- and only this victim -- to be charged with a crime.

If that happens it will encourage rapists and will do nothing to protect men from false allegations of rape. That's an outcome that too many people find acceptable. In the comments on this story Lucky79 wrote:

She is ridiculous this story sounds like a woman who was trying to cheat on her husband but ended up getting more than what she asked for, she then had to go to the hospital for her injuries but once the police got there she knew she had warrants and needed to get out of there before being arrested. Thanks lady for making it hard for real victims out there.

What Lucky79 has described is a double rape -- since getting more than you asked for sexually is rape -- which in this case caused physical injuries, but she's not a real victim. That means that Lucky79 approves of rape under these circumstances. He's far from being alone in that situational approval of rape.

According to that standard if a man is trying to cheat on his wife and is subsequently raped by 2 men after he willingly gets in the woman's truck and goes to another location then he's not a real rape victim. If he is hospitalized due to his injuries that is irrelevant. He simply got more than he was asking for and is making it hard for men who are real crime victims.

Fortunately, the police in this case are working to determine the truth of what happened to this woman, including who attacked her, and are looking out for public safety.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

How Will Those Who Dismiss Rape Victims Respond To This Report?

From KARE 11:

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Authorities say a delegate to the Republican National Convention was robbed of jewelry and cash, worth a total somewhere between $50,000 and $150,000, after he took a woman to his Minneapolis hotel room.

29-year-old [victim] of Denver told police he met the woman in a bar, then took her to his hotel room at Hotel Ivy. Police say that once there, the woman made the man drinks and told him to get undressed.

He claims that was the last thing he remembered. Investigators think he may have been drugged. "He remembers having a back rub," said Minneapolis Police Sgt. Bill Palmer. "On the bed."

Police say that when Schwartz woke, the woman was gone, and Schwartz was missing money, jewelry and other things. The missing items included a $30,000 watch, a $20,000 ring and a $5,000 necklace.

This is a serious crime and should be treated as such.

This case provides a way to examine the type of statements which are used to justify dismissing rape cases which happen after the victim believes she was drugged.

To paraphrase from 2 of That Lawyer Dude's comments:

From a trial lawyers point of view, how can one who is [robbed] expect a jury to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged [robber] [robbed] someone who already agreed to go to a bedroom, disrobe and engage in sexual play if not intercourse? [...]

I am pointing out that unless there is some other proof, one person's word standing alone, is not going to win the day over another person's word.

[and from a separate comment]

I think it is wrong headed to promote a policy that could put someone in harms way on an assumption that the law will protect that person if that person takes unreasonable risks.

If That Lawyer Dude's logic directed at rape victims is valid then it must be directed at robbery victims as well, including this RNC delegate.

In this case there is no evidence of force. So using That Lawyer Dude's standards the jury would have the obligation to find this unknown woman not guilty if she is ever found because to do otherwise would go against our system of requiring proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anyone who disagrees can answer That Lawyer Dude's question with the genders reversed and the crime changed to robbery:

Is it better for an innocent [woman] to be accused and convicted of [robbery], or to allow a [woman] guilty of [robbery] to go free because the needed level of proof is lacking?

Those who view the original question with only 2 choices as valid must do the same when the victim is a man and the crime is robbery.

Here's a quote from a news story I blogged about in June:

Prosecutors say they believe the victim's story, but that because she was unconscious, details were not clear enough to secure a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

Original charges against Ramirez included rape of a drugged victim, sexual battery and false imprisonment.

If this is the appropriate response in a rape case then it must the appropriate response in a robbery case where the victim was unconscious. If on the other hand people declare that unconsciousness in a robbery case shouldn't prevent a conviction, then the same must be true in rape cases.

If victims statement that they know what they would not do is meaningful in one type of case such as robbery then it must be valid in rape cases as well.

The logic which dismisses date rape victims as suffering from morning after regret means that this man who was date robbed must also be dismissed as suffering from morning after regret.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:08 PM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, September 19, 2008

Concerned Women For America Mislabels Hounddog Movie As Child Porn

...... Hounddog Spoiler Warning .....

I rarely get viscerally angry despite all of the sex crimes I read about and all of the denial I see from people who defend rapists or justify allowing most rapists to deny that they are real rapists.

But an article by the Concerned Women for America calling the movie Hounddog "child porn" has me feeling angry. I would be angry even if I hadn't previewed the finished version of Hounddog which opens today.

From http://www.cwfa.org/articles/15758/FIELD/pornography/index.htm:

Donna Miller, a CWA Prayer/Action Chapter Leader for the Fayetteville area and No More Child Porn Campaign Director, will attend the 2008 Values Voter Summit, a prominent conservative voting rally in Washington, D.C. this weekend, to spread the word about Hounddog, in hopes that concerned citizens will halt the distribution of this film in the mainstream media. [...]

Hounddog features child actress Dakota Fanning, who portrays a nine-year-old that is raped by a man in his late teens, after he tricks her into dancing naked to get Elvis Presley concert tickets. Deborah Kampmeier, writer and director of Hounddog, wrote in the film's press kit, "… she [Fanning's character] is simply and innocently experiencing and relishing the aliveness of her being, the life force pulsing through her body, celebrating the power and creative force of her sexuality that is her birthright."

Donna responds, "This movie is about a nine-year-old girl, not an adult woman. She should be outside skipping rope or riding her bike, not 'celebrating the power and creative force of her sexuality.'"

This last quoted statement is what began the escalation of my anger because this smacks of victim blaming. She seems to be saying that if girls just properly restrained themselves they wouldn't get raped.

Only they still do get raped because rape is caused by the rationalizations of rapists. Rape is not caused by the behavior of rape victims immediately prior to rape. Some rapists will go after girls like the character Lewellen, others will go after those who do nothing anyone would ever criticize.

The practical outcome of telling us what 9 year old girls should be doing in this context is to give rapists another reason to shift responsibility for their crimes onto their victims. They would likely tell their fellow sexual predators if they could that if that 9 year old girl wasn't "asking for it" she'd be outside skipping rope or riding her bike. And they could cite this CWA article as evidence.

That should send shivers down Ms. Miller's spine, but I suspect she'd react with denial.

Hey, Ms. Miller, how about some lectures about proper behavior directed at boys and men?

How about telling teenage boys that it is rape when they "have sex with" a 9-year-old girl no matter what she is doing?


Then don't claim to be concerned Ms. Miller because I have no reason to believe you.

They also requested that the Assembly "provide information from the North Carolina Department of Commerce (which oversees the North Carolina Film office) as to how three movies dealing with the subject of adults having sexual encounters with minors (Hounddog, Bastard Out of Carolina, and Lolita) were filmed in North Carolina. Hounddog was so controversial that it did not receive distributorship until very recently.

This description "dealing with the subject of adults having sexual encounters with minors" is dangerously wrong. Those are 3 movies dealing with the subject of rape. To describe child rape as "sexual encounters" is to reinforce the rationalizations of rapists such as those depicted in those films. This descriptor especially helps rapists who don't use overt force to view themselves as non-rapists.

The result of Ms. Miller's fear and misperceptions is that a character who has been betrayed like I and many others were betrayed cannot be allowed to be seen in a positive light, but must instead be condemned.

Donna says, "Our concern is that this film would say to other children that this behavior is acceptable. As taxpayers here in North Carolina, we're not happy about this."

I suspect that "this behavior" Ms. Miller is referring to is not rape but is the behavior of a 9 year old immediately before she is raped. Miller unfortunately echoes the disdain of rapists.

What this film says to children -- old enough to handle a movie where a child is harmed -- is that people they know can find excuses to exploit a child's innocence. In the movie Hounddog, it is a child mimicking Elvis, in real life it might be a 9 year old swinging on the playground with no awareness of how her movements are perceived by a clean-cut sexual predator supervising his own children.

Viewers of Hounddog will learn that lecturing children on morality is no way to prevent them from being raped.

This misrepresentation of the movie Hounddog is beginning to spread like a virus.

Living His Life Abundantly: New Movie Normalizes Child Rape furthers the distortion.

A new movie to be released Sept. 19 is causing outrage among pro-family groups because it features a nine year old girl being raped, a scene which the film’s director describes as an innocent experience.

The director did not describe the rape of a child as an innocent experience. She made that statement about the actions of Dakota Fanning's character prior to her rape. The actions of a 9 year-old-child. Not the actions of a teenage rapist. Not the rape.

Rick Schatz, president and CEO of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, cited in this second article needs to get more reliable sources. Those who distort Deborah Kampmeier's words need to stop their slander or they need to take a reading comprehension refresher course.

“Once again, Hollywood is irresponsibly promoting sexual encounters with minors that not only influences our culture but actually normalizes this egregious behavior in our society.”

Mr. Schatz, Hounddog is not promoting sexual encounters with minors. The "encounter" as you put it is rape. To call it anything less is to make the fictional 9-year-old rape victim as guilty as her rapist. You are against normalizing "egregious behavior" but apparently you are for the normalizing of rape denial because that's exactly what you are doing with the wording of your statement.

Also on this bashing bandwagon is Whole Kids Project.

Rape has already been normalized as indicated by the number of sexual assaults that happen each year, which according to RAINN was 272,350 in 2006 not counting victims age 12 or younger. Fifteen percent of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12. That means that the 272,350 sexual assaults listed is only about 85% of all of the sexual assaults in 2006.

More than one quarter million sexual assaults. In 1 year. Most of these acts of violence are committed by someone the victim knows. Family, friends, teachers, preachers, etc.

The movie Hounddog isn't what makes these horrific statistics a reality. Neither is the movie Bastard Out of Carolina. The book and movie Lolita have a more mixed impact because of the number of people who view a child rapist's POV as reality and refuse to see that the character Lolita is an innocent crime victim.

Please, all those taking action against the movie Hounddog spend at least as much time and effort fighting real rape including rapes committed by so-called good Christians. Make sure your organizations and churches have sexual violence response policies in place which exempt nobody from investigation, including the leaders, so that no sex offenders in your midst can be protected though denial and a subsequent refusal to investigate or a refusal to report allegations to the police.

I suspect most members of these so-called values groups would see me as anti-family or anti-Christian even though I am neither.

I am anti-rape which most people claim to be, but I am also against actions which contribute to the silencing of rape victims' voices. This CWA call to action unfortunately falls under the silencing category whether they intended it to or not.

Note: This Values Voter Summit where Ms. Miller of CWA went to spread the word about Hounddog is also where an Obama Waffle mix, packaged using multiple racist stereotypes and distortions, sold quite well from the Thursday of the summit until sometime Saturday when organizers who previously approved of this product changed their minds.

Back to the discussion of Hounddog, CWA wants people to contact:
Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey
U. S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
Office of the Attorney General: (202) 353-1555

If you disagree with the CWA call to action, please consider contacting the AG's office to voice your opposition to what CWA is trying to do. Besides voicing your opinion about CWA's silencing efforts, ask the AG's office to do more to fight real child rape, real child porn and real rape against older victims. Let them know that you are willing to have your taxes spent on real sex crime enforcement and real prevention.

Please call your local movie theater and respectfully ask them exactly why they are not showing Hounddog. It looks like the booking of Hounddog has been delayed, at least in Philadelphia.

If you or anyone else don't want to see this film, that's fine. Just make your choice based on the reality of Hounddog not the fear-mongering rumors being spread by people who admit that they are passing judgement on a movie based on hearsay from an unnamed "reliable source" who allegedly watched this movie.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:42 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sex Crimes An Issue In Illinois State Representative Race

From the Rockford Register Star:

ROCKFORD [Illinois] — State Rep. Ron Wait responded Tuesday to a Democratic campaign mailer accusing him of siding with sex offenders. Wait, R-Belvidere, called the mailer, which went to homes in the 69th district, a misleading, negative attack.

“They accuse me of not supporting legislation for victims of sex crimes, but the truth is I voted for the law that gave victims justice,” Wait said. “This is a deliberate attempt by (challenger Greg) Tuite and his Chicago bosses to deceive the voters.”

The mailer, paid for by the Democratic Party of Illinois, is printed on a yellow oversized postcard and features a Monopoly-like character in a prison jumpsuit. It reads “Ron Wait’s Get Out of Jail Free Card: This card may be kept by accused sex offenders until needed.”

There's a picture of the mailer next to the article and I find the headline, "Ron Wait Put An Accused Sex Offender Back On Our Streets" deceptive since it was actually the judge who set bail so it only cost Wait $500 to get that sex offender, the son of family friends, released. The description of Wait's actions aren't deceptive and pointing out how Wait voted in the past is a valid technique.

For me to view this ad as getting Wait's position wrong, I would need to know that he supports House Bill 5021 sponsored by Rep. Mike Boland and Robert F. Flider (both Democrats). Here's the summary:

Amends the Criminal Code of 1961. Provides that the prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or criminal sexual abuse when the victim of any of these offenses is under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, may be commenced at any time.

So Rep. Wait, are you doing everything you can to get this bill out of the rules committee and onto the floor so you can vote for it? Or are you trying to do even more by working to get a bill which goes even further than HB 5021 in extending the statute of limitations passed?

If you aren't trying to do one or the other, then the criticism over your position is valid even if the presentation and headline of that ad are overly sensational.

Those are valid questions for all Illinois state legislators running for re-election and for all their challengers including Greg Tuite who is trying to unseat Wait.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ignore The Victim When Determining Legal Consent

That Lawyer Dude has left a new comment on your post "Helen Mirren's Comments On Date Rape" (first section):

Let me begin by saying that I think you have written a thought provoking peice. [sic] Nevertheless I am concerned that you are confusing the reality of Date Rape with the ability to prove actual rape without undoing the very basis of our legal system, proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
I'm confusing nothing. Expecting the criminal justice system to treat all date rape victims like they are either liars, delusional or irrelevant is in no way reasonable.

From a trial lawyers point of view, how can one who is raped expect a jury to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged rapist forced sex on someone who already agreed to go to a bedroom, disrobe and engage in sexual play if not intercourse?
The key is reasonable doubt, emphasis on reasonable.

To make your blanket doubt of date rape victims reasonable, you need to assume that nobody is ever coerced or forced by someone they know into going into a bedroom, disrobing and engaging in so-called sexual play. Further, you need to assume that nobody who engages in sexual play ever chooses to stop at sexual play and that no man has ever agreed to engage in sexual play with no expectation for more.

"I only wanted to make out," must be considered to be unbelievable beyond a reasonable doubt.

Your question includes a faulty premise. Here's a more accurate version of your question as it applies to the prosecution of date rapists:

"How can one who is raped expect a jury to rule guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because of credible testimony that the alleged rapist forced sex on the alleged victim when the jury believes that going to a bedroom, disrobing and/or engaging in sexual play is a blank check?"

With this modified question you are right that victim testimony of being forcibly raped will be treated by a jury as irrelevant. What the rape victim consented to or didn't consent to after entering that bedroom becomes meaningless.

If the boyfriend of a woman who thought he was a caring person starts to block her airway the moment she gets naked so that she's afraid she'll will be suffocated if she doesn't break free, her testimony about her struggle, her fear and her rape is meaningless under your view of how criminal law should be applied in rape cases.

She agreed to get naked. End of criminal investigation. End of jury deliberation.

Blocking someone's mouth and nose leaves no bruises so there is no forensic evidence to prove this action. So this man should not be convicted until he kills a girlfriend under your model. If people learn he did this before, those prior girlfriends are likely to face scorn for not reporting him and therefore contributing to a murder.

Yet under your model, at best those victims would be viewed as possible rape victims if they reported. At worst they would be viewed as false accusers who could have faced ridicule or even criminal charges.

Under your model, the only way a jury can believe that a rapist is guilty of rape other than a confession is if the rapist immediately grabbed his victim -- who has never seen him before -- at gunpoint or knifepoint. And that victim of stranger rape had better hope that her rapist doesn't turn out to be an obsessed neighbor who makes up a story about a prior relationship which would make jurors question whether this is a case of date rape.

Remember, under your model, her testimony alone shouldn't result in a conviction if the rape can be described as date rape.
This does not change the fact that a rape may have occured. Nor does it change the fact that it may not have. However to teach women that they can engage in such behavior, and then expect a jury to convict a man on their say so is just not good policy.
What you are admitting is your methodology of choice is meaningless at determining guilt or innocence. Jurors who follow your model are disregarding victim testimony for no reason. That's incompetence not reasonable doubt.

You are advocating teaching women that they must assume that all men are rapists and that if they are ever alone with a man, that man can rape them without any fear of a rape conviction. Nice lesson.

You are advocating teaching men that they can engage in such behavior (rape of a woman they know), and then expect a jury to refuse to convict them because believing rape victims who know their rapists is bad policy.

If one type of crime victim's say so (testimony) should be disregarded then all crime victims' say so (testimony) must also be disregarded.

Also if the victim's say so (testimony) is worthless then so is any testimony from the alleged rapist. You cannot label the alleged rape victim as consenting or a liar on one person's say so.
Without his agreeing that he in fact forced himself on her, the alleged rapist is not, on the facts presented guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and should not be convicted.
Then the same must be true in all crimes where victim and/or witness testimony about what happened is used to prove guilt.

I think one would be hard pressed to even think that those circumstances would in and of themselves be sufficient proof in a purely civil trial.
Not when you are equating consent to anything with consent to everything and baselessly dismissing the testimony of the alleged victim.

I certainly hope you never allow someone who turns out to have criminal intent into your home if your approach to consent is used in non-sex crimes cases. By your own standards, you've provided that criminal with a blank check to do anything he wants inside your home and you've declared your testimony as meaningless.
I think Mirren is simply pointing out the obvious difficulty one would find themselves in if bringing a charge and making it stick.
Maybe, but most of that difficulty is manufactured to justify not prosecuting most rapes and to justify calling successful prosecutions of rapists who knew their victims proof of injustice.

She is not denying the rape, but she is saying that the situation leaves too much to speculation in the mind of a fact finder to haul a person into court on such a serious charge.
Mirren may believe that fact finders cannot tell the difference between consent to be alone with someone and consent to sex, but the cause of their difficulty isn't inherent in the legal standard of innocent until proven guilty and it isn't inherent in the concept of legal consent or reasonable doubt.

Anyone who cannot acknowledge the difference between consent to be alone with someone and consent for sex is a very dangerous person.

It isn't that jurors cannot tell the difference between legal consent and rape but that they refuse to see the difference or they see that difference and dismiss it as being unimportant under the circumstances.

Some people unfortunately seem to feel that the appropriate punishment for female nudity is rape. "He can't be convicted, she was nude."
Without blaming the victim, is it not a better idea to suggest to women that if they do not intend to have sex with their date, that they keep their clothes on, not because to do otherwise would mean they are asking to be raped, but because it would be far harder for signals to be mixed and easier for the non-rapist boyfriend to understand the parameters of the assignation?
Okay, let's test the validity of this suggestion.

Without blaming the rape suspects, is it not a better idea to suggest to men that if they do not intend to consent to everything the police want from them, that they refuse to open their door when the police knock, not because to do otherwise would mean they are asking to have the police trample their rights, but because it would be far harder for signals to be mixed and easier for the law-abiding cop to understand the parameters of the investigation?

If a boyfriend respects only generic signals and generic parameters, that boyfriend stops being a non-rapist once he uses those generic beliefs about when his girlfriend has consented instead of seeking and ensuring that he has legal consent directly from his girlfriend.

If a boy or man has to guess about consent or refer to what he's heard from his buddies about consent, he doesn't have legal consent. If he has to coerce or use substances or his body in any way to get agreement or cooperation, he doesn't have legal consent.

Here's my suggestion for That Lawyer Dude and those he is concerned about:

Without blaming men, is it not a better idea to suggest to men that if they do not intend to be rightfully charged with rape, that they don't rely on generic signals or popular beliefs to understand the parameters of the assignation, not because to do otherwise would mean that they will always be guilty of rape, but because it would be far harder for them to plead for the mercy of the court and easier to avoid becoming a rapist in the first place?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:38 AM   11 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hounddog Starring Dakota Fanning Set To Be Released Sept 19

The story NY Times: Like Its Heroine, a Movie Encounters Savage Treatment discusses some of the backlash against the movie Hounddog starring Dakota Fanning.

“I did not set out to make a controversial film or a social commentary,” Ms. Kampmeier said. “If Dakota Fanning is so shamed for telling that story, what message does that give victims? I did not set out to make a statement, but in the 12-year process of trying to get this film made I have been unable to avoid facing the politics of being a woman filmmaker and telling women stories” — a reference to the industry’s few female directors. [...]

“I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had people actually sabotaging theatrical bookings,” Mr. [Eric] Parkinson [chief executive of the distribution arm of Empire Film Group] said, adding that three theater chains have not booked the film, presumably, he said, because of interest-group pressure. Wanda Whitson, a spokeswoman for the exhibitor National Amusements, said in an e-mail message that her company had heard from Empire but that “we have not yet previewed the film.” AMC and Cinemark, two other exhibitors, did not respond to requests for comment.

I would like to know which interest groups are opposing this film so I could research their track record on the reality of sexual violence.

The only problem I have with the story is this description related to the character played by Dakota Fanning:

[...] a 12-year-old motherless girl obsessed with Elvis Presley who seductively sings [...]

Having watched a review copy of the movie, this segment only describes the pervasive judgments of observers or the wishful thinking of those desperate to justify their sexual violence against a child.

The character played by Dakota Fanning is a 12-year-old girl mimicking Elvis's singing and movements and she is not doing anything seductive. The sexualization of this behavior exists only in the minds of observers.

This truth gets overlooked in many real life rapes against pre-teen children.

In my post from last year, Acceptable and unacceptable voices of the raped, I responded to James Lilley's statements about the rough cut of the film shown at the Sundance Film Festival. He wrote in part:

Rape is a vile, savage act of brutality committed against a woman and its sole purpose is to control, dominate and demean her in every way possible. The voice representing the silenced women is the voice that screams for justice. The woman who reports her attack and demands some measure of justice for what's happened to her. This is also the woman who isn't fighting just for herself, but for each and every victim of rape and sexual assault, reported and unreported. [...] She stands up to the fierce cross-examination and stares down her assailant when he tries to seduce her with a smile as she testifies. She's the woman with the courage to stand up in front of others, tells them in blunt, no holds barred terms what happened to her and tries to convince them to do the same. That's the voice speaking for the silent women—not your 12-year-old on the screen. (emphasis added.)

After watching the completed movie. I stand by these words I wrote in response to the above quote:

In other words the only worthy voice for rape victims is one who speaks like Joan of Arc. The worthy voice isn't one which reflects a significant reality of rape -- silence because of the pervasiveness of abuse, victim blaming, victim bashing and victim denial. The worthy voice doesn't care if her name is cleared in her lifetime. The worthy voice is willing to sacrifice her very life.

Men like Mr. Lilley don't want to hear the unworthy voices of most rape victims and survivors. [...]

Most rapists understand clearly this division between worthy and unworthy rape victims and use it to their advantage. Sometimes they get so deluded by their "successes" that they think they can get away with any type of rape.

Don't get me wrong, I admire the women who report their rapes and who won't give up on seeing their rapist or rapists held legally accountable. But to imply that these women are the only rape victims worthy of having a voice is to attempt to heap extra shame onto rape victims like me. [...]

If I had seen a film back then, or even heard of one, with a rape scene like that included in Hounddog, I would have realized it wasn't just me who was betrayed by someone close to me. I would have realized I wasn't alone or crazy.

If Mr. Lilley had his way, there would be no such film. [...]

The voice that best represents the silent victims isn't one type of voice. The voice of the silent victims is a symphony of voices. [...]

It's now over a year since I responded to Mr. Lilley and I find his dismissal of this movie as appalling today as it was when I first read his opinion.

This film deserves to be in every theater in every town and not just in a limited number of cities.

That some people have an easier time accepting movies where a central character is a serial killer than they do accepting a movie where the central character experiences sexual violence without being the target of a serial killer is telling.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:37 PM   0 comments links to this post

Rape Laws An Issue In Oregon Senate Race

From WSJ blog:

Democrat Jeff Merkley, who is trying to snatch incumbent Oregon Republican Sen. Gordon Smith’s seat, released two response ads today, punching back at attack ads that a Merkley spokesman called “the Willie Horton ads of Oregon” and the “sleaziest, slimiest smears we’ve ever seen.”

Smith’s ads, which accused Merkley of being soft on crime, linked two of Merkley’s votes in 2005 and 1999 in the Oregon House to the release of serial rapist Richard Gillmore.

In one of Merkley’s response ads, a law enforcement officer tells Gordon Smith to “knock off the sleazy campaign.” The “Broken Smith” ad highlights Merkley’s support of life imprisonment and doubling the statute of limitations for sex crimes.

If these ads can raise important issues in the minds of the general population of Oregon, such as the real impact of statute of limitations for rape has on when dangerous offenders are released, these ads are good. These are valid issues which politicians should have to face on the merits of their positions.

From Oregon hb2663:

Provides that statute of limitations is extended from six years to 12 years after commission of crime if defendant is identified on basis of DNA evidence after statute of limitations has otherwise run out.

Frankly, the best I can say about this doubling of the statute of limitations is it's better than nothing.

One of the problems is that if the police are seeking a serial rapist who has a set pattern and a good enough description of the rapist to know that there are no copycat rapists, and the police only have a good DNA sample from one case this change could allow a rapist IDed by DNA to escape prosecution for multiple rapes because those rapes happened more than 6 years earlier.

This improvement could still result in a known serial rapist being sentenced as if he weren't a serial rapist despite overwhelming evidence of that rapist's guilt in all those other cases. And if that DNA match is made after 14 years, the public is just flat out of luck. Or they must hope that civil commitments can do what the criminal justice system should have done.

If this is the best state Rep. Merkely can do I understand why Tiffany Edens, the victim of serial rapist Richard Gillmore, who escaped prosecution for 8 other rapes due to the statute of limitations, was willing to speak out against Merkely's record. If those other 8 rapes had been prosecutable, she wouldn't have had to fight the Oregon parole board and she wouldn't have to continue to worry that Gillmore will be released.

The situation she and many other rape survivors face are preventable situations. Politicians need to be acountable for not doing that prevention.

From Oregonlive:

In 1999, Merkley voted against a bill establishing life sentences for repeat rapists. He did vote for another version of the measure that would have allowed rapists given life sentences to apply for parole after 30 years. Canter said Merkley thought it made sense to at least consider releasing frail, elderly convicts.

The problem with the logic behind this rationale is that frail, elderly rapists can continue to rape even after they are placed in nursing homes. Their most likely victims will be among the most vulnerable. Also depending on the age of the rapist at conviction, that rapist might be far from frail 30 years later.

If being frail and elderly makes some violent criminals non-violent then this measure should have included murderers. Without the inclusion of murderers this measure was based on stereotypes which say that rape is caused by youthful hormonal surges. That's a dangerous belief.

Sen. Smith is listed as a co-sponsor of I-VAWA and is urging full funding of VAWA for 2009 so his current position on sex crimes doesn't contradict the message his ads send.

Based on Merkely's votes and his position related to rape prosecutions and sentencing, his claim that this is a Willie Horton ad are false. He's being called out for his position not being blamed for the crimes of serial rapist Gillmore.

My opinion is that if the prosecutors can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt then those prosecutors should be allowed to do so to avoid the necessity for another legal fight with the parole board over their approval of the parole for a sex offender like Richard Gillmore. Politicians who prevent this from happening should expect to have their failure be the topic of political ads and voters decision-making processes.

Too often issues related to sexual violence are seen by politicians as a lower priority because their political success doesn't depend on them.

The statutes related to DNA evidence in rape cases varies by state. In some states DNA evidence changes the statute of limitations. Politicians in states with short statutes of limitations should start worrying if they don't try or succeed at lengthening or eliminating the statute of limitations.

Here's the ad featuring Tiffany Edens:

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:43 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 15, 2008

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 55

Welcome to the Sept. 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:

creative expression

In The Bush Myth, The Woman Who Bought It And The One Who Didn't posted at Beyond Feminism, we get a cartoon which clearly demonstrates the flaw in the belief that date rapists shouldn't be prosecuted.

In Poems & Politics: Rape - Adrienne Rich posted at Miserable Old Fart, we get a discussion about the blogger's realization that rape survivor poems are like war poems which provide a catharsis to those who survived and we get a poem entitled Rape.


In Sex assaults that leave victims pregnant can warrant tougher penalties, court rules posted at CrimProf Blog, we get a discussion of a California Supreme Court ruling which found that pregnancy from rape may be considered a great bodily injury.

In The Borderlands posted at Speaking Out., we get a discussion about the violence committed against Hispanics assumed to be in the US illegally either out of resentment or from the belief that these victims will be too afraid to report crimes committed against them.

In A Less Visible Cost Of Our Pedophilia Panic posted at The Faculty Lounge, we get a discussion about an unexpected barrier to having law students volunteer to help high school students prepare for a moot court competition.

In ND women gang raped/ignored posted at Hear me Roar, we get a discussion of a case where the victim's initial willingness to have consensual sex was viewed as an excuse to treat her as someone who couldn't have been a victim of a sex crime.

In Update on ND gang rape victim posted at Hear me Roar, we get a follow up discussion of a case including County Attorney Stuart Larson's comment: “You have four statements that contradict one statement,” which implies that all gang rapists need to do to escape justice is for them all agree that the victim consented.

In September 8, 1977: Community organizers lead effort to recall judge who blamed rape victim for being "sex object" posted at The Morrill Majority, we get a discussion of the efforts which led to the historic recall of Judge Archie Simonson.

In In Which I Incoherently Rant About Rape Apologist Judges Who Need to Be Removed From the Bench posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of comments made by Judge Wayne Chivell where he excuses a 24-year-old rapist because the rapist loved his 12-year-old victim.

media watch

In Buy Your Own Drinks: A Warning of the Mindset of Justification posted at The Unofficial Stanford Blog, we get a discussion of the date rape chapter of the book How Dangerous Men Think.

In Learning to feel safe posted at OMS Book Reviews, we get a review of the book Safe about a 13 year old girl relearning to be safe after her rape.

In Our Little Secret by Duncan Fairhurst posted at books, we get a discussion of a book which provides an autobiographical account of the sexual abuse suffered by the author at the hands of his father from age 4 to age 14 and how it affected his life.

In Oh, brother...Sex Drive, comedies, and sexist tripe. posted at Gender Goggles, we get a discussion about movies with the premise where a boy or young man sets out to have sex with a girl or woman who clearly doesn't want to have sex with him.

In De-humanizing immigrants harmful to all posted at Speaking Out., we get a discussion about the harm done when someone's immigration status is linked to that person's decision to rape.

In Yes Virginia, women really do act as apologists for the patriarchy posted at Bek's blog, we get a discussion of one woman's negative reaction to the idea of including the rapist in headlines about rape cases.

In Spot The Difference posted at The Frog Prince, we get a discussion of what details were deemed important or not worth mentioning in a story about a man sexually assaulted by a woman at a bachelor party.

In My Website Is In Development And Has A Name posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss my upcoming website daterapeisrealrape.com and seek suggestions for the content.


In I might not be canonized anytime soon, but I survived and I don't regret it! posted at Small-Town Elitist, we get a discussion of the canonization of Maria Goretti who killed herself rather than live through rape and the surrounding negative messages about women and girls who did live through rape.

personal stories

In I was raped. posted at 98¢ Green Beans, we get a discussion about making the declarative statement, "I was raped," and all the feelings that swirl around when thinking about that reality.

In Commenters posted at Mortality's Thoughts, we get a discussion of an unfortunately common response to online disclosures of rape where a stranger feels the right to pass judgment on the rape victim's actions while ignoring the actions of the rapist.

raising awareness

In When a Man is The Victim: A Study in Rape Apology posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of how people judge similar actions differently based on their biases using the example of a rape case in Australia where the best man at a bachelor party was assaulted by a stripper as his buddies cheered.

In So called "Lie Detector" tests posted at Ruminations - Lutte contre l’injustice, we get a discussion of the danger of using unreliable devices to monitor the behavior of sex offenders on parole or the use of a polygraph to declare that a case has been proven or disproven.

In Risk Avoidance: not the solution to rape posted at Ravings of a Rocky Mountain Feminist, we get a discussion of the faulty assumptions behind teaching women what to do to avoid being raped.

In Utah has high reported-rape rate, but most victims silent posted at CrimProf Blog, we get a discussion of the results of a 2007 phone survey of more than 1,800 women.

In On Rapists posted at My Perspective, we get a discussion of the flaw in the theory that you can discern a rapist from a non-rapist by whether that man passed up an opportunity to rape you.

In Pastor Takes Allegations Seriously But Calls Crime A Mistake posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss comments a pastor made after a youth leader in his church was charged with sex crimes against a student at an unaffiliated Christian school.


In Breakthrough or breakdown? part 2 posted at Ha'azina Tefilati, we get a discussion of what it takes in the recovery process to openly admit what has been kept locked up for many years.

In Do Sexual Abuse Survivors Need Therapy? posted at Gudrun Frerichs, PhD, we get a discussion of a variety of issues related to the choice of whether to see a therapist and the need for any therapist to respect the leap of faith a survivor has taken in seeking therapy.


In Student Success: St. Mary's College of Maryland posted at Change Happens: the SAFER blog, we get a discussion of how a student helped get her campus' policy regarding sexual violence updated and improved.

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 Sept. 28 at 11 pm and the next edition will be out on Oct. 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, http://carnivalagainstsexualviolence.blogspot.com/

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   6 comments links to this post