Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stolen Veterinary Drug Likely Used As Rape Drug

From KBMT:

A dangerous drug missing from the Beaumont Animal Control Center is the source of a criminal investigation.

The drug -- ketamine --has been used in date rape cases, and we've learned Beaumont Police detectives are exercising vigilance in watching for it's use in the investigation of "sexual assaults." The drug is supposed to be locked up and used only under a veterinarians supervision. Ketamine acts as a sedative prior to euthanasia.

So often when people talk about rape drugs they assume that the drugs have little harmful effect other than temporarily disabling the victim, but rape drugs can and have killed those who slipped these drugs.

People who learn about the theft of these drugs or the possession of these drugs and who don't report the possessor of date drugs are effectively aiding rapists.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:05 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Perception Of Male Powerlessness As Motive For Rape

Most of us who work to fight sexual violence have heard people claim that boys and men have no sexual power because boys and men want sex and girls and women are constantly denying these guys what they want and need.

For these people their perception of male powerlessness is ongoing which means that their need to do something to compensate for this perceived powerlessness is also ongoing. This can be rape or it can be rape denial because a girl or woman did something like flirt with her rapist prior to rape.

They talk about this male powerlessness without realizing that they are providing the motivation for most rapes between non-strangers. This motivation has nothing to do with horny men's loss of control or misunderstanding signals. They are also giving a motive for fraudulent criminal accusations against rape victims.

This idea that men have been robbed of their power explains why rapists deliberately wrestle power and control from all those girls and women they perceive as having too much power and too much control. That explains why some of these people see coercing girls and women into unwanted sex as not qualifying as rape.

Rape gets switched from an injustice against the rape victim to an act of righting the victim's injustice against the rapist.

Rape through coercion then becomes a way to level the perceived inequality. That explains why those who talk this way frame most rapes as reactive crimes and why they expect girls and women to be solely responsible for rape prevention. It also explains why so many people cling to anyone and anything that indicates to them that a large percentage of girls and women who report having been raped filed a fraudulent police report.

The problem with using rape (through physical force or coercion) to gain a balance of power is that it wasn't the girl or woman who robbed that boy or man of his power. And taking power from her won't give him any genuine power. He did it to himself by his thinking -- some of which came from what others told him -- and nothing he does to girls and women will fix that self-inflicted powerlessness.

The solution to the feeling of male powerlessness is to learn about mutuality and the difference between "hitting it" and a mutual sexual relationship with another human being.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:28 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, November 28, 2008

Research On Perception Of Rape

I'm spending time with friends on this long holiday weekend so here is information about a study that looked at how much force it took before study subjects viewed the forced sexual contact as rape.

Attributions About Rape: Effects of Rapist Force, Observer Sex and Sex Role Attitudes

Here's the abstract:

The present study investigated subjects' perceptions of a hypothetical rape situation as a function of the amount of force used in the rape, sex of subject, and subjects' attitudes toward feminism. Two hundred thirty-two subjects (118 females, 114 males) were randomly assigned by sex to one of three force conditions. Consistent with expectation, subjects expressed greater certainty that a rape had actually occurred with increased force on the part of the assailant (p <.001). A second hypothesis received partial support: Increasing force led to stronger attributions of rape on the part of traditional women, whereas liberal women tended to see the incident as rape at all force levels. A similar relationship did not emerge for men, however. As predicted, profeminist subjects implicated societal factors as causal in rape to a greater extent than did nonfeminists. Contrary to prediction, however, pro- and nonfeminists were not found to differ from each other in the degree of blame attributed to either the victim or the assailant. The findings support the general notion that one's gender and sex-role attitudes as well as the degree of force used by a rape assailant affect one's evaluation of this situation and the manner in which one attributes cause. Implications for rape prevention and victim reaction are discussed.



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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

On this US holiday, I am thankful for all my friends, for all those who are with me in this fight against violence and for the values my parents (pictured below on vacation when I was 19) instilled in me before I lost them.

May your blessings exceed your burdens.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:42 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Arrest Finally Made In Reno Abduction Murder

From ABC News:

Reno police say the man they arrested for allegedly raping and murdering a 19-year-old college student [Brianna Denison] may be responsible for other sexual assaults in the area and in Washington state.

Reno Police Lt. Robert McDonald told ABCNews.com that they were led to James Michael Biela, 27, after an anonymous tipster called earlier this month to report that Biela's girlfriend, the mother of his 4-year-old son, had found another woman's underwear in his truck's console.

While this arrest cannot undo the violence done, it can prevent further violence. The DNA match has been made, after Biela refused to voluntarily give a DNA sample, so I believe the police have arrested the right suspect.

He was also charged with a rape of another woman. The attempted kidnapping of yet another woman is also linked via DNA, but no charges have been made for that attack yet.

Since the underwear were found in a different vehicle (Biela sold the one which matched the police description) the police want to know who owns the underwear. Biela moved to Washington State shortly after Denison's body was found so the police are looking to see if there are more victims in Nevada and Washington.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:24 PM   0 comments links to this post

Example Of Selective Application Of Demand To View Alleged Rapists As Innocent Until Proven Innocent

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The MO Of Date Rapists Continues To Fool Juries":

Have you any comment on Michael Jermaine Burch?

In February of 2007 he was charged with raping a Duke coed in a bathroom at a Duke University Frat party. Burch is Black. His Victim was white. He was released after posting a $50,000 bond(the Lacrosse defendants each had tom post $400,000). While out on bond he has allegedly committed another Rape. According to Liestoppers, he is facing charges, again, of second degree rape and first degree felony assault.

You had much to say about Duke Lacrosse players accused of raping a black woman, an accusation which the evidence(you remember that word) did not support. So, let's hear from you about Michael Jermaine Burch, who is charged with raping a white woman and who now seems to be a serial rapist.

I had much to say about the Duke Lacrosse rape case because of the nonsense which was being put forth as meaningful evidence such as the alleged rape victim being a black woman and the suspects being white men.

While that case was open some nationally known people, such as Kathleen Parker, misused crime statistics to claim that white men so rarely rape black women that the Duke lacrosse rape case had to be a fraudulent conspiracy from day 1.

I answered this man's question last March in my post So much for innocent until proven guilty and I first wrote about that case in the same month it happened in my post Another Duke rape debacle? when those who immediately "knew" that the lacrosse case was a hoax waited until they heard the alleged rapist in the newer Duke case was black and his victim was white to "know" this was no false accusation and to "know" that this man was guilty as charged.

Here's what WRAL has to say:

After getting out of jail on a $50,000 bond, Burch was arrested again Nov. 14 on charges of second-degree rape, first-degree sex offense and felony aiding and abetting.

"I'm mad at the judge," the first victim's father said Monday. "I'm mad at the judge, because my daughter left Duke fearing this gentleman. And if an 18-year-old could sense that, why couldn't a grown-up?"

At the time, the judge's order was consistent with bond guidelines. They were revised in March after a series of cases in which suspects who had bonded out of jail were charged with committing new crimes.

Second-degree rape now carries a suggested bond of $500,000.

The difference in bond was caused by the difference in the charges, not by racism or reverse racism. The old bond guidelines reflected a dismissive attitude about the seriousness of the charge of second degree rape, bad assumptions about how non-dangerous those who commit second degree rape are, and unfounded assumptions about the rate of false accusations.

Now this Anonymous (a regular from South Carolina) who was among those who repeated variations of "innocent until proven guilty" and who regularly bemoaned declaring those charged with rape guilty before those men are convicted seems to be an ardant and immediate advocate for rape victims with no need to call them "alleged" rape victims.

Sorry, I don't believe you, Mr. South Carolina. You are the same Anonymous who dismissed the study that found a correlation between darker skin and forensic examiner's missing external injuries which could impact the outcome of some rape cases.

It's been over a year and a half since this report of rape and the only detail you provide to support your belief in Burch's guilt is his race and the race of his alleged victim. That's nothing more than a mirror image of your position on the Duke lacrosse rape case.

In other cases where there is a second accusation of rape that occurance gets dismissed by people such as Mr. South Carolina as a likely lie from an opportunistic man-hating woman. Serial rapists often get transformed by the anti-feminists into serial victims of fraudulent rape accusations -- unless they have a greater bigotry than the one they hold against women who report their rapes.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:26 PM   3 comments links to this post

Thanksgiving Deadline For Carnival Against Sexual Violence

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

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

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

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:17 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Booklet Engaging Bystanders In Sexual Violence Prevention

I found the booklet Engaging Bystanders (pdf) by Joan Tabachnick and it is a must read for those who want to enable people to act productively in rape prevention before sexual violence has been completed.

This engagement of bystanders is far more than changing actions in situations where violence is in progress. Although emergency intervention on the part of bystanders is important if that's all bystanders do to prevent rape they aren't doing enough to change the rate of violence since most sexual assaults are committed when no bystanders can see to intervene.

The larger goal is to engage all non-violent people on a society-wide scale. This is what is needed to create a safer environment where sexual violence is always actively deterred. At the foundation of this bystander effort needs to be the absolute rejection of viewing any victim as the root cause of that person's rape.

Right now the mixed messages from respectful people about when rape is acceptable or when rape isn't "real" rape or when rapists aren't responsible for their actions helps potential rapists to minimize the harm they are doing and helps them to put the all the responsibility for stopping them onto the other person.

Those who say that little girls in sexy clothes cause men to want to rape little girls give child rapists a scapegoat for their decision to commit child rape.

The truth is that it is the thinking of child rapists which causes those rapists to rape little girls in sexy clothes just as it is the thinking of child rapists which causes rapists to rape little boys. This is true for all demographics of rape victims. The cause of all those rapes is the thinking and decisions of the rapist.

The thinking of bystanders can echo sweetly in the minds of rapists or it can sour the thinking of rapists. Bystanders often hold a mix of attitudes so they support rapist's thinking only in certain scenarios. Changing our own thinking so we absolutely reject all rationalizations for rape is within our power even if it can be difficult because of how pervasive victim blaming is in our society.

If all bystanders sour the thinking of rapists there will be fewer rapists and those who remain will have a tougher time fooling juries that "it was consensual."

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:39 AM   1 comments links to this post

Monday, November 24, 2008

The MO Of Date Rapists Continues To Fool Juries

From MSNBC:

Until now, it’s been impossible to know exactly how many of these [date rape] cases collapse in court, because no prosecution data was being collected. But the research and training group End Violence Against Women International in Addy, Washington, just completed a four-year study across eight states and has allowed SELF an exclusive early look at its conclusions.

Of all the rape cases that come across prosecutors’ desks, stranger-rape cases have the best courtroom odds, with 68 percent ending with a conviction or guilty plea.

But when a woman knows her assailant briefly (less than 24 hours), a mere 43 percent of cases end in a conviction. When they know each other longer than 24 hours, the conviction rate falls to 35 percent.

Even fewer, 29 percent, of intimate partners and exes are punished. “And keep in mind, the cases that come through the prosecutor’s door are the strongest ones — strong enough for the police to have referred them along in the first place,” notes EVAW International research director Kimberly Lonsway, Ph.D.

This result isn't a surprise to me at all, but I'm glad it's been quantified so people know why so many date rapists believe they can and should be able to get away with rape. Or as they would put it, "rape" with scare quotes and the obligatory statement, "Women lie about rape."

Smart rapists with even the least bit of social skills will either choose to only rape non-strangers or they will rape strangers in a situation where they can lie about being a stranger such as outside a bar or at a party.

Jurors that incorrectly evaluate the evidence in rape cases are aided by systematic policies which lead juries to be more doubtful of rape victims than they are of other crime victims. Many of these systematic policies have been removed in the US, but others such as jury instructions related to a delay in reporting are still in place in too many jurisdictions.

Too many decent people continue to believe that date rape isn't real or they believe the lie that most reports of date rape are fraudulent. For some of them their denial is so deep that they will refuse to accept that this study result shows an injustice against crime victims when rape victims know their rapists. Those in denial will instead see this study result as a confirmation about the number of fraudulent reports of rape. The correlation between longer association and acquittal becomes incorrectly linked to an increased rate of fraudulent police reports.

That a bitter breakup can lead some men who haven't raped that partner before to rape their estranged wife or ex-girlfriend gets denied. For those who practice this denial the only viable cause of a report of rape during a breakup is that the report is fraudulent and motivated by revenge.

In most jurisdictions all it takes is one or two jurors who refuse to accept the evidence presented to them or who are thoroughly conned by the common defense of "it was consensual."

Unlike those who know the reality of date rape and deliberately side with the rapists while denying they are doing so, these people are suckered by the same assumptions that the rapist used to get his (or far less commonly, her) victim to trust him or the general situation.

That means these decent people who deny date rape not only buy a rapist's excuses at trial, because of their denial, they are vulnerable to the strategies of date rapists and only random chance protects them.

The strategies used by most date rapists can be used in a variety of non-sex crimes.

If 2 men are sparring in a boxing ring and one man uses temporary isolation to suddenly violate the rules of boxing and knock the other man off his feet with an illegal punch and then kicks him hard enough to knock the other man unconscious and cause internal bleeding the man assaulted may wake up uncertain about what happened. If the man who assaulted him claims ignorance about the kick and none of the other people at the gym saw the assault, the assaulted man isn't likely to immediately call the cops and report having been assaulted.

The man who has been assaulted is likely to agree to box again once he recovers (contact sports cause injuries so an injury isn't proof of an assault) if the assaulter is convincing in his denial. But like victims of date rape if the assault is repeated then the assaulter's excuse isn't going to be as believable the second time.

Being shocked over an assault and not naming it as a real assault doesn't magically undo the reality of the assault, but in date rape cases many people assume that shock and disbelief do magically undo a sexual assault.

The crime of rape then becomes defined not by the criminal actions and the violation of criminal statutes, but gets defined and judged by the alleged victim's reaction. This is exactly what rapists and their defense attorneys want.

Many people assume that date rapists are not criminally inclined and just misunderstand signals which makes them harmless to sensible people. This assumption is wrong because the crime of date rape is one of rationalizations and strategy.

A man who would spike his date's drink in order to rape her may not have any qualms about spiking a friend's drink so he can steal documents and other information needed so he can commit identity theft.

Someone like that would have no ethical qualms, if he felt it was necessary, about using that friend's identity when introducing himself to someone he wants to rape. If she rightfully reports him, she'll point the cops toward his friend. The DNA won't match his friend so that kind of rapist can rationalize that his friend will never be wrongfully convicted. Women who think like this who want to rape would have no problem threatening their victims with a false rape accusation.

For rapists like these the only deterrent is a high probability that they will face criminal sanctions.

Unlike "real" rapists, they would never use a weapon to kidnap someone out of a mall parking lot. When it comes to dating they're likely to tell themselves that everyone lies so they're no worse than the man who adds 3 inches to his height on his online dating profile.

When decent people don't genuinely understand that the MO of most date rapists differs from stranger rapists they are vulnerable to be suckered by the lies of those rapists and their defense attorneys and apologists.

The core of the defense’s theory was simple: All seven women were lying. Each had gotten drunk, had consensual sex with Marsalis and regretted it. Then, when authorities called them and revealed that Marsalis had lied about his profession, they felt betrayed and cried rape as revenge.

We see this ignorant assumption in common rape prevention advice directed at potential rape victims which focuses on telling women to take more personal reponsibility for their behavior. This bad advice often is called valid simply because it has been repeated over and over and over again.

If repetition were proof of validity then there would be no such thing as popular Internet hoaxes.

From earlier in the same story about a case which shows the discord between the evidence and the jury verdict:

As she would later testify, the next thing Leigh remembers she was in a dark room, facedown on a bed — and Marsalis was anally raping her. The pain felt as if he were ripping her in two. Her limbs were leaden, her mind sluggish.

“Stop, please stop,” Leigh mumbled. Marsalis simply chuckled. Leigh slid back into unconsciousness but kept resurfacing that endless night to discover Marsalis violating her limp body. Finally, she opened her eyes to an apartment filled with late-morning light.

“Good morning,” Marsalis said, smiling and leaning in for a kiss; Leigh, stunned, kissed him back. “I had a wonderful time last night. I hope you did, too,” she says he told her, staring into her eyes. Leigh felt groggy and confused as she pulled on her jeans.

So when Marsalis walked Leigh to her car and suggested they get together again, Leigh heard herself say, “Sure.” She was certain she hadn’t gone to bed with her date of her own volition — and that she couldn’t possibly have blacked out after barely three drinks — but her certainty was softening in the face of his chivalry. Am I reading the situation wrong? Leigh wondered as she drove herself home. Would a rapist act this nicely?

I don't believe that Jeffrey Marsalis -- accused of similar rapes by 21 women -- is a dense man. Because Marsalis undeniably lied about his profession so he seemed more trustworthy, he is a man who is firmly invested his lies and his strategy of looking like a gentleman when women are fully conscious or when their are witnesses so that his victims question their perceptions of what was done to them while they were incapacitated.

In this case the woman identified as Leigh met with Marsalis at a restaurant after the first rape hoping to clarify what happened but quickly went blank and woke up to find herself being raped again.

Any juror who heard that testimony and assumed that it disproved the claim of rape was dangerously wrong.

A court-appointed psychologist declared that Marsalis met the legal definition of a sexually violent predator yet Marsalis wasn't convicted of a single charge of rape despite a pattern of predatory behavior shown by the testimony of 10 women.

Those who are ignorant of date rapists MOs or who cling to date rape denial because reality seems too depressing to be real need to let go of their ignorance and denial if they want to deter rapists.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:47 AM   2 comments links to this post

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Washington Supreme Court Ruling Related To No Contact Order

From KOMO News:

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A convicted child molester can be permanently banned from contacting his wife, even though she was not a direct victim of his crimes, the state Supreme Court said Thursday.

The 8-1 ruling came in the case of Richard H. Warren, who was convicted of child molestation and child rape against two stepdaughters, in two separate King County Superior Court trials in 2003.

As part of Warren's sentence, he was ordered to have no contact with the girls' mother for life. Warren argued that the no-contact order was not reasonably related to his crime, and was an unconstitutional violation of his marriage rights.

I'm glad that this original no-contact order was upheld since the victims are linked so closely to this man's wife.

If this man were genuinely concerned with maintaining his marriage he wouldn't have molested his wife's daughters.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:38 AM   2 comments links to this post

Friday, November 21, 2008

Research On Legacy Of Legal Discrimination Against Rape Victims

I stumbled across an interesting academic paper that looks at the shaky historical foundation for the institutionalized assumptions that those who report rape are less trustworthy than any other type of alleged crime victim.

The Legacy of the Prompt Complaint Requirement, Corroboration Requirement, and Cautionary Instructions on Campus Sexual Assault by Michelle J. Anderson CUNY School of Law.

This Article begins with a discussion of the prompt complaint requirement, corroboration requirement, and cautionary instructions in the criminal law of rape. These doctrines have greatly weakened in the formal criminal law of the fifty states and the District of Columbia because studies reveal that most victims of rape do not promptly complain to the police or other authorities, most rapes do not produce corroborating evidence, and most jurors are already cautioned by an underlying societal bias against those who claim rape.

The Article then identifies the emergence of prompt complaint, corroboration, and caution in campus sexual assault policies and practices. It analyzes the current policy at Harvard College, surveys other colleges' and universities' formal policies and informal practices, and explains why campuses would adopt discredited rules from the criminal law in their own disciplinary procedures. The Article then proposes a method to free disciplinary proceedings from the legacy of the prompt complaint requirement, corroboration requirement, and cautionary instructions and proposes model campus sexual assault provisions to effectuate this goal.

This is a paper which is worth reading in its entirety.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:20 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ex-FBI Agents Join Call For Pardon Of 4 Sailors Who Confessed To Rape And Murder

Four sailors confessed and were convicted based on those confessions, but another man, whose DNA links him to the rape and murder, confessed to the crime without accomplices.

From NY Times:

[...] on Monday, 30 former agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation took up the cause of four sailors, known as the Norfolk Four, who were convicted in a 1997 rape and murder.

Arguing that DNA and forensic evidence points to a prison inmate who has confessed as the sole perpetrator of the crimes, they called on Gov. Tim Kaine to pardon the sailors.

“After careful review of the evidence we have arrived at one unequivocal conclusion: The Norfolk Four are innocent,” said Jay Cochran, a former assistant director of the F.B.I. and former special agent who served at the bureau for 27 years. “We believe a tragic mistake has occurred in the case of these four Navy men, and we are calling on Governor Kaine to grant them immediate pardons.”

This case is another reason why all investigators need to know that wrongful confessions can be coerced in situations where most people assume nobody could falsely confess.

This sort of injustice is what I kept thinking about as I was watching a TV show a few days ago on detecting lies through analyzing body language and vocal intonation. Lies were often tagged by body language or intonation that didn't fit the expert's expectations of what an honest person in that situation would look like or sound like.

This expectation mismatch can happen when someone is lying, but it can easily happen when someone is telling the truth in a situation that academic studies cannot ethically replicate.

One such situation where expectations can be potentionally out of sync with reality would be the recent interrogation of a 8-year-old boy after his father and a friend of his father were found shot to death. The county attorney's office has released 12 minutes of the boy's interrogation -- without an adult relative present -- prior to the boy's confession.

Investigators who think they can determine guilt by careful watching and listening or through tools such as polygraphs are likely to be quicker than other investigators to proceed with coercing a confession without doing the background work needed to find all available evidence. They are also likely to see the result of their coercive techniques as proof that their lie detection instincts are accurate. From there a thorough investigation which would be needed if there were no confession can seem like a waste of time.

In this article I noticed something which reminded me of what many "consent is consent" anti-feminists would call morning after regret.

The sailors initially confessed to the crime after being threatened with the death penalty if they did not cooperate. But they quickly recanted.

To be logically consistent, those who deny that rape victims can be coerced into complying when they are not giving genuine consent must deny that these men can be coerced into complying with the demand to confess when they are in fact innocent.

If investigators are expected to be ethical and only get non-coerced confessions then that standard must apply to everyone seeking to gain agreement. This standard isn't about coddling girls and women.

Coerced agreements are the reason for consumer protection laws which allows those who sign contracts to have time in which to nullify the contract.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:30 AM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ignorance No Longer A Defense When Someone Pays To Have Sex With Trafficking Victims

From the BBC:

Paying for sex with prostitutes who are controlled by pimps is set to become a criminal offence, [UK] Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is expected to announce. She will also say that people who knowingly pay illegally trafficked women for sex could face rape charges.

Ms Smith is to promise that more kerb-crawlers will be prosecuted and police will get powers to close brothels. Buying or selling sex is legal but many prostitution-related activities, such as soliciting and pimping, are not.

This change is needed since it requires those who pay for sex to be responsible for the harm their actions do to victims of sex traffickers if they contribute to the harm done to those victims. A fine and a conviction won't stop all those who currently fund and motivate sex traffickers criminal actions, but it will cause some people to stop hiding behind deliberate ignorance.

The current system seems to be don't ask, can't tell. And it's not working.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:25 PM   1 comments links to this post

Defense Attorney Implies That Intern Who Alleged Was Murdered For Resisting Rape No Innocent Victim

From Philly Inquirer:

A Delaware County man drugged a younger coworker, attempted to rape him, and killed him when he resisted, prosecutors told the jury in his murder trial yesterday.
William F. Smithson, 43, of Glen Mills, is charged with murder, aggravated assault, attempted rape, kidnapping, and drug and other charges. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. [...]

"There is no dispute Jason Shephard is dead," said G. Guy Smith, defense attorney. "There is a dispute over who killed him. Bill Smithson did not kill him."
Smith told jurors there was a third man in the home that night. [...]

Smith suggested to jurors that there was "another side to the story" that they would have to consider. Shephard, who was visiting town for the second time, called Smithson before he arrived, and the two made plans to do some sightseeing. Smith said records show that the intern watched "adult movies" at his hotel room.
"Was it more than a friendly relationship?" Smith said.

This means that this defense attorney is taking the "it was consensual" approach to the attempted rape and kidnapping charges and possibly to other charges as well.

The defense attorney will need to find a way to explain away Smithson's decision to report Shepard missing even though the younger man's body was found in his basement.

The witness who was reportedly called by Smithson shortly after Shepard's death and who reportedly was shown Shepard's body before it was moved, and who called police, will likely be attacked since that information is one man's word against another's.

As we've seen in rape cases, credible prosecution testimony that cannot be proven through supporting forensic evidence is often spun by defense attorneys as meaningless. From the defense attorney's statement I expect this trial to contain plenty of victim blaming.

Update (11/22): Smithson was found guilty of first-degree murder.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:12 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Research On Sexual Violence In Australia Is A Call For More Preventative Action

From a News.com AU story about the report: An Assault on Our Future: The impact of violence on young people and their relationships by Michael Flood and Lara Fergus for the White Ribbon Foundation:

The unprecedented survey of violence and attitudes shows one third of boys believe "it's not a big deal to hit a girl". One in seven thought "it's OK to make a girl have sex with you if she was flirting".

The survey also shows one in four teenagers lives with violence at home, prompting calls for domestic violence education programs in schools.

The study, which reviewed data from the past seven years, including a survey of 5000 12 to 20-year-olds, found up to 350,000 girls aged between 12 and 20 – one in seven – had experienced sexual assault or rape.

While these numbers may be staggering for some, I view this report as a positive move since it has enough contextual information to point to specific areas where prevention efforts can make a significant difference. Comparisons between this report and later replications of the same research can help show what new prevention efforts are and are not working.

Clearly rape prevention which depends on modifying the behavior of girls so they will not become rape victims is not working and this report shows why it can't be effective at reducing the rate of attempted sexual assaults.

The 1 in 7 survey statistic only includes boys who believe that forcible rape can be an acceptable action. The percentage of boys who believe coercion is acceptable may be far higher. It doesn't matter if none of those 1 in 7 boys explicitly calls forcing a girl to have sex "rape" that's what it is and that is what we must call it in order to make it clear that forcing someone to have sex is an unacceptable action no matter how much that other person flirted or how many times people describe that other person as "asking for it."

If those boys who believe it is acceptable to hit girls or rape them if the girls flirted live in homes where they are witnessing physical, emotional and sexual violence then any prevention strategy that depends on parents teaching their children appropriate boundaries will be largely ineffective at reducing the rate of violence.

Also if girls learned that the way to survive violence at home with minimum trauma was to passively endure the violence they couldn't escape then sex education about boundaries needs to teach children, teens and young adults that another person's passiveness can never be taken as communicating consent. They may not know which fourth of their classmates has lived through violence at home or how many of those children are experiencing PTSD.

Just because you can take what you want without facing a physical fight doesn't make that action right or legal. That's something everyone needs to understand, but many adults refuse to accept this truth when it comes to sex.

Adults who teach boys through word or example that it is okay to coerce girls and/or to force girls to have sex under certain conditions are setting boys up to be rapists and they are setting those boys up to be rightfully accused of rape.

This report also makes it clear why rape prevention through avoidance of potential rapists is impossible unless the person trying to avoid rape never socializes or interacts with anyone who might believe that forcing sex under certain conditions is okay. But even that isn't a guarantee of rape prevention since some rapists break into their intended victim's home.

Girls in most schools cannot possibly avoid all of the one in 7 boys who believe it is okay to rape a girl who flirted. While some boys may wear their dangerous beliefs on their sleeves other boys may never give a clue about their acceptance of rape until they attempt or succeed at rape. They may even talk in opposition to their inner acceptance of sexual violence.

Avoidance might give some would-be victims a lucky escape, but the rate of violence will only go down significantly when the cause of such widespread willingness to assault is significantly reduced.

From the report:

This report examines how violence against women specifically affects children and young people. It looks at the nature of violence they experience in their homes and their own relationships, its impacts, and the priorities for action if efforts to prevent violence among, and protect, young people are to be successful.

Under the heading of why to focus on young people:

Violence prevention among children and young people has been shown to work.

I believe real violence prevention can work but it requires that people stop confusing lecturing victims and potential victims with genuine prevention.

Here's the White Ribbon Campaign press release and complete report (pdf)

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:36 AM   2 comments links to this post

Monday, November 17, 2008

Colleges Can No Longer Impose Gag Orders On Rape Victims

From The Hook:

Four years after the college safety nonprofit Security on Campus filed a complaint against UVA [University of Virginia] for its mishandling of sexual assault cases, the Department of Education has ruled that the university has, in fact, violated federal law by threatening victims of sexual assault with punishment if they spoke about their cases.

The ruling has major implications for victims of sexual assault on college campuses across the country, according to the man who filed the complaint on behalf of then-UVA student Annie Hylton, now Annie Hylton McLaughlin.

“It means that victims can’t be silenced at UVA or anywhere else,” says Daniel Carter, vice president of Security on Campus.

This is an important ruling which should eliminate an unfair restriction on those students who report rape to their college.

I read the official reason given for UVA's policy, but I don't believe that reason. Colleges and universities know there is a difference between privacy rules restricting what college employees can say about disciplinary hearings and gag rules restricting what students can say.

The real goal of this gag rule seemed to be the protection of the college's reputation at the expense of all those who reported rape. If this protection of the college or university also effectively protected rapists then that seemed to be an acceptable trade-off.

If the official administrative response at these colleges was unfair or dangerous to the person who reported rape or to other unsuspecting students, the student who reported rape might have to choose between getting an education and speaking the truth about a current danger.

This gag rule could also force students who were raped to be powerless to defend themselves against lies spread by a student rapist or friends of that student rapist. A rapist who was found guilty in college hearings could be wrongly assumed to have been found not guilty because that student faced absolutely no undeniable sanctions.

Students who would never torment someone they knew to be a rape victim might have felt justified in tormenting a genuine rape victim whom they didn't believe because that rape victim was not allowed to speak the truth about the official investigation.

Colleges should never have the power to demand secrecy from rape victims as the price for those rape victims getting even a shot at an appropriate response by the college or university.

If college administrators know that students who report rape can talk freely about problems in the official investigation and the official rulings while they are still students, the official response will most likely be less focused on the protection of the college.

H/T: SAFER

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:26 AM   2 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Italian Rape Awareness Poster Opposed By Conservatives In Milan

In Milan, Italy there is an uproar among conservative leaders against an anti-rape poster.

Milan, November 14 - An anti-rape poster showing a naked woman in a Christ-like pose has raised a storm in Milan.

The poster, commissioned by Italy's rape crisis helpline Telefono Donna, has been slammed by conservative politicians who have vowed to stop it going up around the city later this month. ''I'll do everything in my power to stop this poster going up,'' said the city council's billboard pointman, Maurizio Cadeo.

After looking at the poster (shown here) I think that what some of these men see as most blasphemous is the text included on this poster which translates to: Who Pays For Man's Sins?

This is a deliberate and powerful slap in the face to the pervasive victim blaming message many people of all religious beliefs cling to. For too many people women cause most rapes committed against them by their sinful actions which lure innocent men into sin.

To position female rape victims -- even naked ones -- as being completely innocent and forced to pay for the sins of the men who raped them is for these people a hate filled concept.

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

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 59

Welcome to the Nov. 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:

legal


In Rape Is Never the Fault Of the Victim posted at Womanist Musings, we get a discussion of a gang rape case in the UK where a14 year old girl was assaulted by 9 boys.

In A question that needs to be asked.. posted at The Hand Mirror, we get a discussion of a previous trial against convicted rapist Liam Reed where he was acquitted of hanging a woman by a phone cord after claiming that the victim consented.

In Cert. Grant: Do Prisoners Have a Right to Use New Technology To Prove Their Innocence? posted at Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog, we get a discussion of District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne where the issue is whether a prisoner convicted of rape can sue a prosecutor’s office to obtain DNA evidence for more sophisticated testing than was available at the time of the prisoner’s trial

In Vindication posted at Crisis Worker Diary, we get a discussion of the outcome of a civil case in Florida.

In Prosecutorial Double Standards - He Gets Off, She Goes to Jail posted at Gender & Sexuality Law Blog, we get a discussion of the decision to not prosecute the former Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer for his illegal behavior.

In Defining Unfounded Cases And The Relationship To Fraudulent Rape Reports posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss why a higher rate of unfounded rape cases isn't proof that there is a higher rate of fraudulent rape cases.

In Constitutionality of Park Ban Upheld in Indiana posted at Sex Crimes, we get a discussion of a ruling by Superior Court Judge Vicki Carmichael which came in response to a lawsuit brought by Eric Dowdell because the law prevented him from attending his son’s baseball games.

In Postconviction DNA posted at Crime and Consequences, we get a discussion of a request by a man convicted in an error-free trial to independently test the DNA evidence which was used to convict him.

In Can't Stop The Music, Take 2: Supreme Court Denies Cert In Victim Impact Statement Cases posted at EvidenceProf Blog, we get a discussion about admissibility issues related to victim impact statements given as videos.

In A challenge to severe Oregon sex offense sentences worth watching posted at Sentencing Law and Policy, we get a discussion of an attorney's argument that six-plus years in prison for a woman convicted for touching her clothed breasts to the back of a 12-year-old boy's head amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

In ‘Visionary’ pathologist gets credit in cold cases posted at On the Record, we get a discussion how cold cases were able to be solved because pathologist Dr. Rudiger Breitenecker decided to save forensic evidence even though at the time there was no way to analyze that evidence.

media watch


In In Texas Hell House, Girl "Deserved" Rape posted at The Progressive Puppy, we get a discussion of 2 victim-blaming skits presented in Hell House - The Devil's Playground, a production of Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Texas which has drawn protests from members of another church.

In No Better Headline? posted at Change Happens: the SAFER blog, we get a discussion of a CNN headline which turns a girl who was gang raped and stoned to death after reporting into "rape girl".

In future ABC 20/20 episode on abusive ex husbands who sue their ex wives posted at New Jersey Anti-Stalking Legislation 2008, we get a discussion about a potential hour-long story on a mother who has suffered/is suffering from domestic violence and has had a negative experience within the family court system.

In One of these things is not like the other . . . posted at Incertus, we get a discussion of a story where women being raped is casually slid in between the reports of shooting and looting.

personal stories


In Pieces of Holes (trigger warning) posted at Taking Steps, we get a discussion of a rape that was compounded by transphobia.

raising awareness


In More victim blaming masquerading as "help" posted at Diary of a Nobody, we get a discussion of an article entitled "How to Avoid Rape".

In Recap: Our Love Should Not Hurt posted at James Landrith is...Taking The Gloves Off, we get a discussion about a panel discussion at Howard University in Washington, DC.

In Sexual assault as "rough and tumble?" posted at Equal Writes, we get a discussion of schools that frequently dismiss sexual assault between students as part of the 'rough and tumble' of high school life.

In Recent media reports of sexual abuse of women with disabilities posted at F.R.I.D.A., we get information on the news coverage of some recent cases.

In PTSD Is Not An Excuse posted at Active Duty Patriot, we get a discussion about how some soldiers who commit personal violence use their trauma as a reason to escape accountability.

In Friend of a Rapist. posted at Her name is Christephany., we get a discussion about how a rapist can manipulate his friends into believing his innocence so they will terrorize a real rape victim.

In Rape as punishment. posted at Fatmammycat.com, we get a discussion of how a girl's supposedly bitchy remark led nine boys to believe they needed to kidnap and rape her.

In Stephen Lewis on violence against women posted at Shakespeare's Sister, we get a discussion of a powerful keynote address given by the Canadian ambassador to the UN which highlighted how systematic violence against women can be used to disrupt or destroy an entire community.

In Online Sexual Predators Using Blackmail To Get Victims To Cooperate posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the way that many online predators are adapting to changes made by children who are taught to avoid online predators.

recovery


In “Sorry, but your brother is a rapist” posted at Mortality's Thoughts, we get a discussion about disclosing rape to the sister of a rapist and being believed.

In Coming Out posted at rmott62, we get a discussion of the varying ways that those who have survived violence come out and the varied reactions which follow.

research


In True and False Memories - a new paper posted at Deception Blog, we get information about a study that compared the emotionality of true memories and false memories implanted through suggestive manipulation.

solutions


In Child Abusers: Public Sympathy or State Penitentiary posted at So I've been thinking...., we get a discussion of the need to look back to the source of child abuse and to provide services which can help prevent the continuation of violence.

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 Nov. 27 at 11 pm and the next edition will be out on Dec. 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 @ 12:06 AM   4 comments links to this post

Friday, November 14, 2008

Indiana Working On Rape Prevention

From the Chicago Tribune:

For some women, and a few men, the pressure also raises the threat of rape and other sexual violence, experts said as the state prepared this week to hold 10 regional forums aimed at uncovering the social attitudes and other factors that contribute to sexual violence and finding ways to prevent it.

"In crisis and economic uncertainty, sexual violence tends to increase," said Abigail Kelly-Smith, director of the Rape Prevention and Education Program at the Indiana State Department of Health. People left desperate or feeling powerless from the loss of a job, a natural disaster or another situation beyond their control at times try to feel powerful in other ways, Kelly-Smith said Monday. [...]

Such crises contribute to nearly one in five Indiana women experiencing some type of sexual assault in her lifetime, and one in eight reporting having been raped, according to a survey last year for the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

These forums are important, but likely won't get the attendance that forums related to the release of registered sex offenders get. That's a shame since overall prevention is better than waiting until after a rape or series of rapes have been committed to try to prevent future rapes from being committed by only a limited number of individuals.

These forums bring many different groups together who otherwise might never meet to discuss sexual violence. That's both good and challenging.

The article mentions sexual violence as compensation for a feeling of powerlessness related to economic stress, but this feeling of powerlessness and compensating for that feeling through rape can come from other sources as well. Many of those who gripe about how most women rape victims play the victim talk about the powerlessness of men against cruel women who flirt and then say no.

No matter where the rapist's feeling of powerlessness came from that stressful situation will be the same after rape as it was before. Only now the rapist has to worry about being rightfully accused of rape in addition to all of the worries that existed before committing rape.

Changing attitudes toward sexual violence -- and placing the blame with perpetrators rather than victims -- takes years, if not generations, said Joan Knies, a community education specialist with Crisis Connection Inc., a program helping victims of sexual and domestic violence in five southern Indiana counties.

This view is so important. Many of those who rant about "rape victims" deny most rapes or talk about "deserved" rapes with no recognition that they are at best contributors to rape.

This includes those who defend coercing others into sexual contact since coercion is a way for a rapist to indulge in the delusional thinking that he (or she) is both innocent and all powerful.

When my boyfriend coerced me into being vulnerable enough for him to force himself on me and have me feel responsible for failing to stop him, he won in the short run, but in the long run he lost and could never regain what he wanted from me.

H/T: SAFER

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:48 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Designer Anand Jon Found Guilty Of 14 Felonies

The jury in the Los Angeles courtroom didn't buy the defense's claim that the victims in this case were liars, but for anyone who sees the 14 felony convictions as proof that the jury was suckered in any way by the prosecution, it is important to note that the jury found Anand Jon Alexander not guilty on 4 felony charges and they were deadlocked on the 3 remaining charges.

Alexander's attorneys maintained he was innocent, saying that there was a lack of physical evidence and that the women lied in court and sought revenge. Defense attorney Larry Levine said he would appeal.

"This case is not over by a long shot," Levine told reporters outside court. "For now, we are disappointed."

Levine said several victims were not credible because they remained in contact with Alexander after the alleged assaults, calling him on many occasions on his cell phone. Prosecutors said it was Alexander who kept in contact with the victims

This alleged proof that these victims were liars is no such thing. I was in contact many times with my rapist for a couple of years after my rape. I often went to his house with my brothers, but I didn't go to have fun I went because it gave me the opportunity to try to make him feel bad for what he did to me.

I did want revenge, but I wanted it because I'd been raped twice by someone who I loved and trusted and who used love to justify his sexual violence.

People who really believe this nonsense that the defense team is trying to sell are dangerous. They can be actively helping rapists while assuming they are helping someone wrongfully accused.

Defense attorney Anthony Brooklier said jurors were swayed by the sheer number of charges and didn't judge each allegation on its merits. "They were a bunch of weak cases. ... The cumulative effect was probably very prejudicial," Brooklier said.

Translation: If they had been able to keep multiple juries from knowing about other allegations this defense claim backed up only by innuendo and bigotry might have seemed more reasonable.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:39 PM   0 comments links to this post

Defense Atttorney For Alleged Stranger Rapist Claims Woman Is A Coldblooded Liar

From The Mercury: Pottstown, PA:

"He [Akil Isiah Headen] grabs her around the throat and throws her on the bed. That's when the nightmare begins. She's doing whatever he's telling her to do because she wants to live to see tomorrow," Cauffman told the jury.

But defense lawyer V. Erik Petersen implied the woman is lying.

"That's a horrible story. Not a word of it is true," Petersen said during his opening remarks to the jury. "It was consensual sex. It was not rape."

Petersen alleged the woman got angry at Headen when he called her by his girlfriend's name as they had consensual sex and that in revenge the woman claimed she was raped.

"This is the end result of that woman's rage. This is not rape. This is a girl who was mad," Petersen argued.

Notably, there is no indication that the defense attorney had a shred of credible evidence to back up the accusation that this woman is the only one guilty of committing a crime. This defense seems to be based on nothing more than the common bigotry against all women who report rape. That makes it credibly meaningless.

For all those who support personal attacks against the alleged rape victim in acquaintance rape cases this should send chills down your spine. Once an evidence-free strategy starts working in one type of case and is accepted as valid there, smart defense attorneys are going to start using that strategy in more and more types of cases. Here it is an alleged stranger rape.

If this strategy works at falsely injecting reasonable doubt in what are considered more clear cut rape cases, this strategy soon won't be limited to rape cases especially as forensic evidence use expands to property crimes because of an advance in detecting identifying DNA called touch DNA.

If the "who" cannot be disputed then the reality of the underlying crime will be the weakest point of the case because it depends on victim and witness testimony. Those who are robbed and file an insurance claim will be painted as guilty of insurance fraud.

For some jurors the fact that some women have lied about having been raped means that this case must be judged as if this woman lied -- even if there is no actual evidence that she lied. If this logic works then because some people commit insurance fraud any mention by the defense of an insurance claim should inject reasonable doubt.

As many men who defend this strategy in acquaintance rape cases keep saying when defending unsubstantiated and baseless personal attacks of this type against rape victims, defense attorneys don't have the burden of proof. Raising doubts is the defense attorney's job so there is nothing wrong with this strategy. I doubt they will feel so good about this strategy if it starts getting used against men whenever they are crime victims.

The woman in this case reported that Headen knew her first name so it's likely that she was carefully stalked. If the defendant chooses to testify he could know more about her than we assume a stranger would be able to learn after being arrested in order to concoct this type of defense.

The story about this case doesn't note whether there was any DNA evidence detectable after the defendant allegedly forced the woman to wash in order to remove the evidence. The defendant also allegedly took the woman's sheets with him for the same reason.

If no DNA evidence remained then the "it was consensual" defense seems to have been chosen because the defendant's distinctive tattoos were described correctly by the woman. Maybe the idea is to make the jury assume that the only way the woman could be sure of her ID is if she weren't IDing a stranger as she claimed.

What the jury likely doesn't know is that the defendant served time for a 2005 attack on an ex-girlfriend which included a sexual assault. Unfortunately, the sexual assault portion of the charges were dropped as part of a plea deal. With the details given in this story about that previous crime, the sentence was little more than a bad joke or Headen wouldn't have been released before the Oct. 2007 alleged rape. In both this current case and the previous one Headen allegedly threatened murder.

When the woman called the police they found the door to her apartment shattered. I imagine that the defense attorney will try to explain away that evidence.

I hope that the jury can see beyond the defense narrative in order to evaluate this case based on the actual evidence in this case.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:12 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Expanding Rape Prevention To Actively Involve Men

The opening of an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Pam Louwagie begins by getting to the heart of what men can do in situations where women are usually lectured about what they can do -- or could have done -- to prevent getting raped.

Tyler Jones [University of Minnesota Senior who had recently gone through sexual assault prevention training] was tipping back a couple of beers with friends at a Dinkytown bar when he suddenly had to take a stand.

"Hey, see that girl over there?" Jones recalled an acquaintance asking, nodding toward a woman he wanted to take home. "She's almost drunk. Not quite drunk enough. ... What shot should I buy her?"

There was a time, Jones says, when he might have laughed off the remark. Not anymore.

"You want to buy her something really strong to like, basically knock her out?" Jones, a University of Minnesota senior, recalled saying. "Man, that's not right. That's rape. That's sexual assault."

This message from Jones, which left the other man stunned, in the moment when someone is contemplating a sex crime is an example where peer pressure and informal peer education are positive forces. Laughing at this remark would have been taken as support that the planned action was okay or not so bad as to cause anyone to be sickened at the idea or to consider it a real crime.

That man who talked about trying to incapacitate a woman is better off being stunned at hearing his planned actions called rape before he goes through with his plan rather than being stunned afterwards if he were to face criminal charges and swearing to his defense attorney that, "It was consensual."

This situation also highlights another problem with rape prevention advice directed at girls and women since that advice usually assumes that drinking causes boys and men to be confused about the lack of consent. Hence Laura Sessions Stepp popularizing of the term gray rape.

Good education needs to be accurate information and the victim blaming rape prevention advice is based on inaccurate assessments of what causes rape.

This situation described in the article shows that there was nothing gray or foggy about what that man wanted to do. He had a clear goal related to someone he might not have even talked to previously and he had no confusion related to alcohol. His planned actions were clear and premeditated.

He had no interest in trying to gain genuine consent and wasn't even going to try to go after a mockery of consent until his target was sufficiently impaired. That is not a drinking man out of control, it is a man in complete control who wants to deceive and manipulate a woman into a trap.

More than one in five female students reported that they had experienced an actual or attempted sexual assault, according to a 2007 survey at 14 Minnesota colleges and universities.

This statistic indicates that there are a substantial number of men who refuse to respect legal and moral sexual boundaries.

Jill Lipski Cain leads that conversation about five times a month, sometimes in front of Jones' fraternity. The violence prevention education coordinator at the University of Minnesota's Aurora Center, which focuses on sexual assault, she opens the discussion with a slide show of jaw-dropping statistics, images and sounds.

One magazine advertisement features a gaunt teenage-looking girl in a bikini top, a tube of perfume placed in her cleavage. "Apply generously to your neck," the text reads, "so he can smell the scent while you shake your head 'no.'" [...]

Overhead, music thumped while the lyrics coached, "Pop a little champagne and a couple E's. Slip it in her bubbly."

Lipski Cain asked: "Is it really sex that is being sold or are there elements of rape in it that's presented to you as sex?"

This education about where some of these dangerous beliefs come from and how they are supported is important to seeing real change in attitudes and behaviors happen so that potential rapists become people who would never rape under any circumstance.

If the core problem of people wanting to take someone with no concern for legality and genuine mutuality isn't reduced then the frustrated rapists will just get creative if their current pool of intended targets follow so-called rape prevention advice which is aimed at potential victims.

Rape prevention aimed at those most likely to rape -- and their immediate peers -- is the only way to reduce the rate of attempted sexual assaults. This is better not only for women it is better for men who might otherwise rightfully face conviction and imprisonment and a lifelong spot on the sex offender registry.

In the comments someone made the excellent point that this type of rape prevention work needs to begin long before boys become men and go to college.

Not surprisingly several men used the comments to unintentionally demonstrate exactly why the rate of sexual assault on college campuses is so high.

beegeez1 wrote this comment:

The narrow focus of these campus awareness programs generally ignore the reality of these sexual interactions. While some incidents are truly sex crimes, the vast majority fall into the far more fluid "gray rape" category where unintended sexual intercourse by mutual agreement becomes a "crime" upon sober reflection. To categorize these types of unwanted incidents with actual crimes committed by vicious sexual predators is naive and ultimately minimizes the real victims of criminal sex assaults. All sexual assaults (rapes) are not equally egregious, and not should all sexual "offenders" be treated on an equal basis. Victims, indeed all people, must recognize that behavior has consequences.

The problem here for beegeez1 is not that these described programs ignore reality, but that they address reality in a way he rejects. His last sentence demands that most rape victims see rape as a consequence of their behavior which fits perfectly with his desire to see most rapists treated as if they have not committed a sex crime.

If you follow his warped logic then in those non-egregious rape cases which are reported it is the rape victim who is the perpetrator and the non-egregious rapist becomes the victim.

The reality is that sexual intercourse cannot be both unintended and by mutual agreement. If sex is unwanted then there was no genuine consent and at most coerced cooperation. Beegeez1's premise that all people must recognize that behavior has consequences is contradicted by his dismissal of non-egregious rapes.

Men who think and speak like Beegeez1 are providing informal peer education to other men right now on most if not all college campuses. That's why the rape prevention training described in this Star Tribune article is so urgently needed.

Rather than being honest and excusing most rapists for the benefit of those rapists, beegeez1 excuses most rapists from all legal accountability for the benefit of "real victims of criminal sex assaults." This is nonsense. His desired action benefits only those who ignore genuine mutuality and don't bother to get genuine legal consent.

Excusing non-egregious rapes provides moral support for all rapists, even the egregious ones.

Denying that there are, or should be, consequences for non-egregious rapists sets those rapists up to commit a serious crime. Rapists who were incorrectly led to believe that they were within the limits of the law have been set up for a rightful report of rape. That those who gave them this dangerous advice will likely champion them as wrongfully accused will be small compensation for the personal and legal consequences for having committed a non-egregious rape.

If beegeez1's logic is sound then it must be applied to all non-sex crimes.

Currently non-egregious bank robbers are still criminals. This is true even when the bank robbery is an inside job and classified as embezzlement where nobody ever feared for their safety.

The existence of bank robbers who murder bank employees in cold blood doesn't in any way excuse the crime of stealing from a bank when that crime is not accompanied by physical injury or murder or the fear of these. Yet that is exactly what many people want to see happen when rape isn't accompanied by other crimes like kidnapping, physical assault or attempted murder and doesn't cause the victim to fear for her life.

If property crimes aren't nullified when they aren't accompanied by other crimes then there is no valid excuse for wanting a personal crime like rape to be nullified for this same reason.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:11 AM   4 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Courthouse Shooter Brian Nichols Jury Didn't Believe Insanity Defense

From the Atlanta Constitution Journal story about the murder trial of Brian Nichols, who during his rape trial grabbed a guard's gun and then shot and killed the judge, court reporter and 2 others:

Lead defense lawyer Henderson Hill tells the jury that Nichols has confessed to the crimes in the 54-count indictment but is not guilty because he is insane, a man driven by a delusional compulsion that Nichols described as “a demon growing inside of him.” Hill (no relation to the prosecutor) tells jurors to analyze Nichols. “Part of your challenge will be to figure out what it was that caused a broken psyche to come completely unhinged,” the lawyer says. “Keep your minds open.”

Thankfully the jury didn't buy this defense and found Nichols guilty on all counts.

In some coverage of this case there have been accusations that Nichols was wrongfully accused of rape since Nichols himself made that claim before he murdered 4 people, but his defense attorney in the murder trial conceded that his client was guilty of the rape charges which led to his rape trial.

The defense attorney positioned the rape committed by Nichols after the end of a relationship as supporting evidence for the insanity defense. The problem with this premise is that rape in response to the end of a relationship happens far too regularly.

Nichols' rape victim didn't see him as even potentially dangerous until he ranted jealously against her date shortly before Nichols raped her. But again that lack of warning signs that someone is willing to commit rape under certain circumstances is common. That's a sign of control, rationalized anger and entitlement not insanity.

Unfortunately, most who rape under these circumstances get away with rape without being charged because of the "women lie about rape" mythology which baselessly dismisses the report of rape by an ex as nothing more than revenge for regretted consensual sex if there is DNA evidence and just a bold-faced lie if there is no physical evidence.

Nichols likely expected to face no legal consequences for his decision to commit rape and then felt persecuted when he was rightfully charged for the crime he committed. That's a rational feeling and is supported by the arguments of many rape denialists and rape apologists.

Murder in response to criminal allegations is also far too common and so too is the excuse that the alleged victim is the one responsible for making the murderer "snap." Anyone who sees murder under these circumstances as proof that the defendant has been wrongfully accused is a fool.

This idea that Nichols snapped was disproven by the prosecution showing letters from Nichols to a woman, written before the murders, where he discusses the possibility of escaping. In those letters he also wrote about gaining people's empathy in the hopes of getting the right people on his jury to meet his goal of being found not guilty.

That is rational thinking. What the defense tried to do was to position criminal choices as proof of insanity because of the severity of those actions. People who are rational and legally sane can delude themselves about what they can get away with. That is arrogance, not insanity.

In a phone call to his father, Nichols seems to agree and characterizes the murders he committed as a decision to "stand up for himself." Someone can be dangerously wrong and still be sane and legally responsible for his or her actions.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:13 AM   1 comments links to this post

Nominations Needed

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

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

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

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:17 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 10, 2008

Britain Closing Effective Human Trafficking Unit Due To Lack Of Funding

From the Guardian UK:

Britain's only specialist police human trafficking unit is to be shut down after two years because of a lack of funding, the government said today. [...]

Last week, the 11-strong human trafficking team secured the convictions of a gang of six traffickers, brothel keepers and pimps for their parts in the ordeal of a Slovakian teenager tricked into coming to the UK and forced to work as a prostitute.

The men were jailed for a total of almost 53 years, an outcome Scotland Yard hailed as a "really great result". The case was the unit's biggest success.

After sentencing, at Southwark crown court, the Home Office issued a statement saying combating human trafficking was a "key government priority". Some 4,000 women are estimated to have been trafficked into sexual exploitation in the UK.

Closing this specialized unit does not sound like this crime is a key government priority. If something is a priority then effective efforts will be funded.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:46 PM   1 comments links to this post

Online Sexual Predators Using Blackmail To Get Victims To Cooperate

From the Courier Mail AU:

Police believe direct campaigns in schools and the media had worked to educate children and youths on how to detect and report pedophiles and predators in chat rooms and other cyber sites.

But an internal police report said the success had been countered by child-sex offenders resorting to more aggressive and intimidating tactics.

A police source said Queensland teenagers had been tricked into giving out secrets or sending compromising pictures to a supposed online friend, who then blackmailed them for more revealing pictures.

"There has been an increase in online offenders using threats such as hacking online profiles and email accounts and using blackmail techniques as a response to an increasingly empowered internet generation who are recognising and reporting online grooming behaviour to police agencies," the report said. [...]

The predators then threatened to reveal some information unless the victim either sent them photos of themselves or agreed to meet them in person.

This report contradicts the belief that most of those looking for sexual contact with children are only looking for truly consensual interactions. Too often when people hear that someone has been charged with statutory rape or soliciting a child there is a baseless assumption that the contact was genuinely consensual and non-predatory when coercion is likely and force is possible.

This is another reminder that cooperation is not consent.

I believe this blackmailing online is a reflection of predatory behavior offline. The key difference online is that threats made through the Internet can usually be saved so there can be more than the victim's testimony available to investigators and prosecutors.

In some cases threats which begin offline can continue online. When this happens it is critical to save the online threats.

When parents are talking to their children about safety issues, it is important for the parents to know how to save online threats however they arrive so they can show their child how to do so. It is important for both children and parents to understand that online blackmail can be more than bullying, it can be a crime.

It is also important for parents to communicate that a child's actions which the parent doesn't approve of are less important than that child's safety. Sexual predators go after boys as well as girls so all children need to be part of this protection effort.

I disagree with those who recommend deleting online bullying since this is potential evidence. What I do agree with is the advice to not engage bullies. Don't have a dialogue with predators, report them.

If the criminal statutes in specific jurisdiction haven't kept up with technology then that is important information to have so that parents can know that they need to communicate with their legislators that updating the law must be a priority.

Predators depend upon our fear of talking about these issues with each other and children because that fear leaves many children ignorant about the reality they aren't powerless against threats.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:22 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 09, 2008

NZ Judge Disregards Evidence In Decrying Mandatory Sentencing

From Stuff New Zealand:

A visibly upset judge [Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish] today told a teenager convicted of sexual violation: "If I had my way I would release you today, but I can't." [...]

"Keeping a young man of 19 (in prison) for a lengthy period of time [4 years] is really only going to ruin him, particularly when he has such good family support."

Mrs Thomas said she believed Rongonui still did not fully accept what had happened, and the crown believed the attack had been premeditated.

Judge Farish did not accept that. She accepted the victim was vulnerable because she was a visitor to Christchurch, who had lost her way and become separated from her friends.

[Maia Crawford] Rongonui was friendly and offered to show her the way to her backpackers' hostel.

Instead, he led her down a dark inner city street, Aberdeen Street off Manchester Street.

Judge Farish said she believed Rongonui had been hopeful of a sexual encounter, and something snapped when the woman rebuffed him.

He punched her and kicked her as well as trying to remove her pants. The woman fought back and was able to escape, but semen from Rongonui was found on her clothing.

Here's a clue Judge Farish, if someone promises to show a lost tourist the way to a specific location but instead leads that person somewhere else, that is not the innocent action of someone hoping to have a consensual sexual encounter.

Your comments, Judge Farish provide no help to this young man since you are assisting him to maintain the dangerous rationalizations which caused him to commit this crime. If he follows through with those rationalizations -- which you support -- next time his intended rape victim might not escape before the rape is completed.

The legal responses to "no" do not include physically and sexually attacking the person who says no. I shouldn't have to remind you of this, but apparently I do.

Will you dismiss his accountability the next time he tries to rape someone -- or succeeds -- because his hopes for a sexual encounter were dashed? How about the time after that?

If this young man didn't want to face prison he should have resisted the urge to lie to that tourist about where he was leading her and then to attack that tourist. If he is ruined by prison he has nobody but himself to blame for that ruination.

If the reality in this teen is that "something snapped" then no family support will help him because his crime wasn't caused by decision making. Instead you are positioning him as a feral animal that can't help but attack. If he is someone who will snap every time someone rebuffs him, prison is an absolute necessity for public safety.

The reality, Judge Farish, is that if this teen was genuinely hopeful of a consensual sexual encounter, he could have asked her if she was interested as well. Then if she said no, he could have walked away.

Yet many people who make excuses for the sexually violent reject this idea as crude and unacceptable.

Judge Farish, your defense of this teen twists this situation so that the rape attempt was nothing more than a natural reaction. That would make the tourist who was attacked the only truly guilty party and her crime was believing that this teen's agreement to lead her to her hostel was as innocent as it seemed to be.

If this is the reality in New Zealand you should request that the tourist board add this to all their brochures. I suggest the following line: "In New Zealand if you are lost during your visit and you agree to follow a local to your destination, you are consenting to sex."

H/T: bloggert7165

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:21 AM   2 comments links to this post