Wednesday, December 31, 2008

18% Of Rape Cases In India Study Declared False

My wording of this study results differs in a significant way than it will be quoted by those who view this study as confirming what they already knew.

From Times of India: 18% rape cases false: Study

In almost every fifth incident, or, in 18.3 % cases to be precise, rape is used as a weapon to malign and attempt revenge, found a group of psychologists who assist Delhi Police in investigating sexual assault allegations. [...]

In the face of such cases, the five-year study assumes significance. Sexual assault is tricky to investigate and wrong convictions can harm the falsely accused and discredit the ordeal of real rape victims. Zero tolerance to sexual crime has a flip side to it as a person’s testimony can be taken at face-value in the absence of evidence or corroboration.

Since this result came from psychologists, this result is not a measurement of the findings of proof or even supporting evidence. It is mostly a measurement of how reports matched the expectations of those psychologists.

It is an accurate measurement of perception about false rape reports which is not the same as being an accurate measurement of the reality of false rape reports.

The number I would want to see is what percentages of the studied rape reports were proven to be fraudulent through objective evidence. That data was conspicuously absent from this story.

When assumptions are made that a report of rape was false, when there was no evidence proving the report to be false, and that is followed by attempts to get the alleged rape victim to recant, that injects errors into the measurement because the innocent who are also rape victims can be coerced into false confessions.

Error-prone methodology can be enshrined in textbooks. Too often when people talk about errors in rape cases the only errors they count are errors that harm alleged rapists.

Many people acknowledge the existence of false confessions when the confession comes from an alleged rapist or an alleged rapist/murderer but deny this same fact when the confession comes from an alleged rape victim.

The examples given are used to make all of the 18.3% of rape cases studied to seem validly false, but that is no more valid than using a few horrific rape cases to prove that all rape reports are true.

One of the examples was of a girl who was gang raped but her rapists weren't strangers, but family members who threatened her if she identified them. The cause of the false details in this case came from the real rapists not the real rape victim.

What the second quoted paragraph overlooks is that wrongful accusations against real rape victims also discredits the ordeal of real rape victims. But that harm never gets mentioned since the study results are assumed to be 100% accurate even though the report acknowledges that rape cases are tricky to investigate.

In cases of false allegations, it’s the structure of the stories that most often give the game away. ‘‘The pre and post-sequence, the language used and the structure of events is obvious when it is coached,’’ says the clinical psychologist.

This methodology is dangerous since it is not based on evidence. Many real rape victims don't want to relive their rapes or may not be able to do so in a way that strikes a clinical psychologist as authentic. There was a long stretch of time where remembering my rapes was like watching a bad movie that happened to a stranger. If I'd tried to describe those memories they would have sounded artificial and completely lacking in emotion.

This mismatch between assumption and proof would become clear if the 81.7% of rape cases not listed as false were to result in convictions based on this assessment alone. This assessment cannot be both valid proof against alleged rape victims and be invalid as proof against alleged rapists.

This finding tells us more about those psychologists and the practices used when a case cannot be proven or disproven through evidence collected by the police than it does about the rape cases they evaluated.

An example of the mismatch between assumption and proof is contained in a recent India Supreme Court ruling which was highlighted in the post Absurd Reason for Rape Acquittal at Where the Orissa High Court judgment included: "Law is well settled that it is not possible for a single man to commit sexual intercourse with a healthy adult female in full possession of her senses against her will."

This ruling mirrors the Italian court ruling that women in jeans cannot be raped which took almost a decade before this defense strategy failed in Italian court. Both rulings are based on the fallacy that if someone or a group of people cannot understand how a particular rape could happen that this is proof that the rape did not in fact happen.

Any psychologist who agrees with this overturned Orissa High Court ruling will quickly classify many real rapes as false and once that faulty conclusion is made then that expert will have no trouble declaring that there is a vengeful motivation behind a genuine report of rape wrongly labeled as false.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:19 AM   2 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Republicans And Some Democrats Have A Problem

I stand by my position that Jon Favreau's photo with a lifesize cutout of Sen. Hillary Clinton which was posted on Facebook created a problem for President-elect Barack Obama.

Now the Republicans have a problem thanks to a song titled Barack the Magic Negro distributed by former Tennessee GOP leader Chip Saltsman, who ran Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. This song echoes many familiar racist themes. It has been defended by some people because it was done in "fun" and is a parody.

I reject that defense because what people do in fun reveals important aspects of what they believe for real.

This song also creates a problem for those Democrats who dismissed the backlash against Favreau because Favreau didn't grope a real woman and who described what Favreau and another Obama staff member were doing was just having "fun."

Fun is either a valid defense or it isn't. Those who try to have it both ways are communicating something important and real about themselves.

Same goes for the "no real person was harmed" because the offending actions involved music or a prop substitute of a real person.

As for the real problem echoed in Favreau's photo, after that photo was published the US National Crime Victimization Survey was released with an estimate that there were 248,300 rapes/sexual assaults in 2007 -- and this survey only counted crimes against those age 12 and above.

Violence against women and violence against people of color are rooted in the attitudes held by the violent and their peers. "Fun" is often where people reveal attitudes which contribute to violence and discrimination.

Many of these non-fun attitudes are rooted in long-standing beliefs that many people have never examined. Saltsman, Favreau and their defenders can choose to learn from the backlash from these types of "fun" or they can refuse to learn.

Those who refuse to learn will not get my respect or my trust even if I agree with them on other issues.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:23 AM   1 comments links to this post

Monday, December 29, 2008

What Happens To Men Who Think Like Date Rapists After They Marry?

They write columns with titles like: When a Woman Isn't in the Mood: Part 1. This particular column was written by Dennis Prager.

The subject is one of the most common problems that besets marriages: the wife who isn't "in the mood" and the consequently frustrated and hurt husband. [...]

Prager begins by making it clear that the problem is completely different if the genders are reversed and he won't be addressing that problem.

I believe the real reason for the bold double standard is that Prager's advice is so bad that the men who love Prager's advice -- when it is directed at women -- would rebel at being expected to follow Prager's advice whenever their wives ask them to perform something central to the marriage or the wife's need to feel loved whether it be sex or something else.

If Prager won't personally follow his own advice and won't demand that men follow it that tells me that his advice stinks. He tries to hide the stink by informing readers that men and women are fundamentally and biologically different so that obviously bad advice for men magically becomes good advice for women.

It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.

Translation: marital rape is now illegal and the "traditional" solution to a wife not consenting cannot be used without the husband fearing the rightful charge of rape.

Instead of teaching these men healthier ways to relate to their wives, Prager chooses to ignore the reason or reasons the wife isn't consenting and to tell her that she must consent.

First, women need to recognize how a man understands a wife's refusal to have sex with him: A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him. This is rarely the case for women. Few women know their husband loves them because he gives her his body (the idea sounds almost funny). This is, therefore, usually a revelation to a woman. Many women think men's natures are similar to theirs, and this is so different from a woman's nature, that few women know this about men unless told about it.

This line is familiar to those of us who had boyfriends tell us that if we loved them that we would let them do whatever they wanted. This isn't about love at all, but emotional blackmail which is mutually exclusive with genuine love.

It wasn't genuine love which motivated my boyfriend to rape me when I made it clear that I wasn't going to give him what he wanted. If he loved me, as he claimed right after he raped me, at all it was in the same way that he loved a good hamburger or the way he would have loved to own a Corvette.

Any boy or man who is so insecure with himself that he can only feel loved by having a girl or woman submit to all his sexual demands has serious internal problems that won't be fixed by having a wife or a girlfriend always saying, "yes."

Prager is addressing the surface problem those predatory boyfriends face after they marry. Boyfriends who don't know how to have mutual and respectful sexual relationships are the men who will turn out to be husbands who don't know how to have a mutual and respectful sexual relationship with their wives.

If a husband cannot tell that his wife loves him in any way other than her giving him sex whenever he wants it, he immediately needs to go into therapy. Not couple's therapy. Individual therapy.

He needs to understand that emotional blackmail is not an expression of love, it is an expression of careless entitlement, disregard for women and shortsightedness. That is directly contradictory of any profession of love on the man's part.

Prager is right that a man having sex isn't proof of love, but he is wrong with the implication that men's love isn't expressed or disproven through sex. A man who loves genuinely will seek sex from his partner and have sex only in ways that expresses genuine love. A man who loves genuinely will respond to sexual problems with his partner in a loving way.

This is a major reason many husbands clam up. A man whose wife frequently denies him sex will first be hurt, then sad, then angry, then quiet. And most men will never tell their wives why they have become quiet and distant. They are afraid to tell their wives. They are often made to feel ashamed of their male sexual nature, and they are humiliated (indeed emasculated) by feeling that they are reduced to having to beg for sex.

This is a socialized response not a biological one. Yet Prager uses biology to defend it and to help such men escape personal accountability.

This description is of men as perpetrators or victims depending on whether they simply take the sex they want with no care about the other person or beg for it with no care about themselves. In fact, this description dangerously links perpetrator mindset with a sense of victimhood.

Prager seems unaware of it, but these are not the only 2 options for men.

What I find particularly scary is that this mismatch between the inner man and the outer man, which Prager describes as normal, reminds me of details that are coming out about the man, Bruce Pardo, who premeditated a Christmas eve murderous rampage in Covina, California on his in-laws house. Some of the stories fall into the trap of making the divorce (and the woman's part in it) responsible for premeditated murder of 9 people by a man who was described by some as "nice."

This explanation is based on the flawed belief that the cause of this man's external change from nice man to monster has an external cause when the cause was internal.

Divorce didn't cause this man to murder anyone. One man decided that his revenge for divorce or the divorce settlement would be murder. He'd planned his escape to Canada, complete with $10,000 in cash which he had strapped to his leg, and only failed to anticipate that his rampage would leave him with burns.

With that man's underlying attitude the trigger could have been a workplace dispute and the location of the mass murder could have been a company Christmas party.

But fewer people make excuses for festering resentment directed at co-workers since that attitude in the workplace could put them in danger. Prager's model of marriage only puts wives and ex-wives and their families in danger.

Every man who is sexually faithful to his wife already engages in daily heroic self-control. He has married knowing he will have to deny his sexual nature's desire for variety for the rest of his life.

This is a load of BS which seeks to use biology to help men dodge personal accountability. Prager himself disproves this biology theory by talking about men's resentment. To Prager, men who marry are living martyrs.

The underlying belief is that sexual conquest proves masculinity so that faithfulness robs a man of his main validation. It is, "I boink, therefore I am MAN." If he doesn't boink, he fails to be a MAN.

According to Prager, husbands who are too moral to cheat will make their wives who don't submit sexually pay in other ways. This is pettiness not biology. Prager claims that the importance of mutual kindness is impossible to overstate, but the rest of his column contradicts the idea that husbands practice genuine mutual kindness or even should practice it.

Most women will readily acknowledge that it is certainly not enough for a man to be kind to her. If it were, women would rarely reject kind men as husband material. But as much as a woman wants a kind man, she wants more than that. If a man is, let us say, lacking in ambition or just doesn't want to work hard, few women will love him no matter how kind he is. In fact, most women would happily give up some kindness for hard work and ambition. A kind man with little ambition is not masculine, therefore not desirable to most women.

This description isn't about how women love. It simply puts forth the view that all women are basically gold diggers. This echoes the lament of the fabled Nice Guy TM who complains mightily that his niceness is not rewarded by having women fall at his feet.

The problem with the reference to "kind men" is that often this terminology is used when people mean passive, secretly resentful, self-sacrificing or deceptive. Nice guys TM don't have mutual relationships with women, sexual or not, any more than the ideal so-called masculine men do.

According to Prager, sexual problems in a marriage can only be solved by the wife submitting sexually to her husband. Prager fails utterly to address how husbands can consistently create a mood where their wives won't want sex. If Prager did address this issue he couldn't continue with his premise of husbands as living martyrs.

Prager's column continues, but after his description of angry, quiet husbands there is no need for my reading to continue except to see what kind of thinking can lead a "nice" man to dress up as Santa and shoot a 9-year-old girl in the face before continuing a rampage with guns and a flame throwing device.

This column can be useful since a man's opinion of it will tell women quite a lot about that man and whether he has been socialized to be resentful toward women.

Hat tip: Shakesville

Update (12/31): Part 2 of Dennis Prager's column is out and he digs himself a deeper hole and ends by declaring that any woman who gets a bad result after following his advice is married to a bad man. This is a familiar disclaimer which takes an intrinsically negative view of many men.

This sharp dividing line between good and bad men is needed by Prager in order to stick to the biology defense (men are animals who can't learn how to create an environment in their marriages where their wives will be in the mood for sex frequently) behind the advice.

If Prager acknowledged the inherent danger within his advice to create attitudes and behavior in men which would cause Prager to call them "bad men" then he would have to admit that the problem is with his advice itself.

Instead Prager used "bad men" as his fall guys.

This reminds me of what I learned about the debate over slavery in the US before it was abolished. The argument by slaveholders was that the horrific abuses highlighted by abolitionists was not caused by slavery but was caused by a few bad slaveholders. If slaves were owned by good slaveholders then all slaves would have a good outcome if they just submitted to whatever they were ordered to do. All bad outcomes for slaves were either caused by bad slaves or bad owners, not the structure and injustice of slavery itself.

Bad men don't just happen they are created by a mix of external and internal stimulus, resentments and rationalizations.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:17 AM   6 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Illinois Mental Hospital Rape Lawsuit Settled

From the Illinois Times:

On July 3, 1994, Lisa Weisser was raped by another patient at McFarland Mental Health Center in Springfield. That fact has never been in dispute: the rapist, Bryan K. Noel, pleaded guilty to sexual assault.

Weisser, however, believed the rape never would have happened if McFarland had handled Noel properly. She sued the hospital for negligence, alleging that staff at the state-operated hospital failed to exercise ordinary care to protect her from Noel. Earlier this year, in a unanimous opinion from the Illinois Court of Claims, Weisser won.

But the marathon legal battle left casualties — mainly Weisser, whose struggles with severe depression had led her to McFarland in the first place. She committed suicide in December 2005, about six months after testifying before the court of claims. Her husband, Mikel, received her monetary award just this month.

Weisser received half of the court’s $100,000 cap. After legal fees, his cut was $38,000. Some people may consider that sum paltry, after a 14-year fight, but Weisser says the lawsuit never was about money.

It was worth it to see the ruling that the state had been negligent,” he says.

Too often people who consider themselves decent human beings sneer when they hear that a civil suit was filed by a rape victim since the lawsuit fits neatly into their bigoted belief that many of those who report having been raped are gold diggers who were not harmed in any meaningful way.

This case shows just how wrong that bigotry is.

Too often the criminal justice system will not or cannot fix dangerous situations. Safeguards are often expensive and it is often only the fear of lawsuits which keeps those safeguards in place.

Those who try to block these types of civil suits often talk about frivolous lawsuits, but if they genuinely believe these lawsuits are frivolous, they are dangerous people who shouldn't be trusted with setting laws or policies.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:23 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why I Cannot Respect Anti-Gay Pastors Statements On Morality

From BeliefNet interview with pastor Rick Warren who is scheduled to give the invocation at Obama's inaguration:

BELIEFNET: So why do we hear so much more - especially from religious conservatives - about gay marriage than about divorce?

Oh we always love to talk about other sins more than ours. Why do we hear more about drug use than about being overweight? Why do we hear more about anything else than about wasting time or gossip? We want to point that my sins are perfectly acceptable. Your sins are hideous and evil.

[... from the clarification:]

Sex was God's idea, not ours. Like fire, and many other things God gave us, sex can be used for good, or abused in ways that harm. The Designer of sex has clearly and repeatedly said that he created sex exclusively for husbands and wives in marriage. Whenever God's parameters are violated, it causes broken hearts, broken families, emotional hurt and shame, painful memories, and many other destructive consequences. There would be so STDs in our world if we all played by the rules.

Since Rick Warren acknowledges that sex can be used for evil why isn't he more active in fighting rape and getting all rapists to repent (even those who rape their heterosexual spouses) than he is toward fighting gay marriage? If heterosexual marriage is supposed to be a blessing then why isn't Rick Warren doing more to fight domestic violence which turns what was supposed to be a blessing from God into a vehicle of harm?

The answers to my questions is contained in Rick Warren's previous comment. It's easier to condemn "their" sins (consensual homosexuality) than to look at the sin in a group's own midst (heterosexual rape and abuse).

If the Christians who oppose gay marriage showed the same amount of passion toward fighting rape and lived that opposition 24/7 -- meaning no more scolding rape victims for not preventing rape -- the number of rapes would plummet.

This is one of the reasons why as a Christian I am so uncomfortable in so many churches. Another reason is the study about the link between religious beliefs and severity of sex crimes comitted by convicted sex offenders. Too often a rapist's public persona trumps the evidence and real victims get villified.

When men who are church leaders get caught committing sex crimes against female parishers too often even the possibility that evil was done by the sex offender is denied. Meanwhile we get Christians calling sex crimes a mistake, lecturing girls and women against luring men into sinful behavior by the way they dress or the way they act.

For too many people a boy or man exhibiting sexual aggression against a girl or woman is dismissed as natural behavior which for those who believe in Rick Warren's interpretation of the Bible when it comes to sex would mean that this male predatory behavior was given to us from God.

Some pro-life Christians have gone so far as to declare that God has decided to bless some girls and women through rape by causing them to get pregnant. This declaration transforms God into the force behind rape. No wonder these people don't want rape victims to get emergency contraception in order to prevent pregnancy. No lesser being than God was responsible for that rape and no lesser being should interfere.

That is dangerous thinking which isn't undone by those people's stated willingness to see the rapist/father prosecuted.

If a woman having sex with another woman is unnatural and against God's wishes and sexual violence is not condemned with equal fervancy then it is no wonder that 4 men decided to gang rape a woman who had a rainbow symbol on her car. To those men her actions had to be worse than theirs and that rape-enabling belief doesn't pop up out of thin air. And it's no wonder this act of violence is not an isolated incident.

Until I see those who believe homosexual activity is a sin being as proactive in the fight against rape and abuse in heterosexual marriages, I cannot view their anti-gay position as having anything to do with sexual sin. Their selective opposition to sexual sin means that they are practicing general bigotry and their opposition to gay rights is in opposition to civil rights.

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

Friday, December 26, 2008

Another Case Which Contradicts Women Lie About Rape Bias

From This Is Gloucestershire UK:

TWO police officers were suspended after a troubled drunk accused them of raping him in the back of their vehicle.

But 20-year-old David Hayward of Lichfield Road, Barnwood, later confessed he had made the whole thing up and he was charged with wasting police time. Hayward pleaded guilty to the offence, when he appeared before city magistrates.

Prosecuting solicitor Louise Pinder said: "Police were called to the Gateway Centre where the defendant was in a drunken state outside. "He was passed the curfew time and was refused access by staff. "Police decided to give him a lift to his mother's house and he got into the back of the police vehicle.

"When he got home he became hysterical and started to bang his head against the wall. He told his mother he had been violated and that the police had raped him in the back of their vehicle. "The defendant confirmed the allegation when asked by police and the two officers were removed from duty, their uniforms were seized and they had to undergo medical examinations.

"The officers denied any wrong-doing and, after 93 hours of investigation time, the defendant was arrested."

This case is important because if you believe those who rant about false rape reports you would wrongly assume that only women lie about having been raped. They either claim that men don't lie about rape (ignoring all those male rapists who lie about rape) or they are completely silent about men who fraudulently report having been raped -- which effectively communicates the same claim.

Those who rant against women's dishonesty and false victimhood are unlikely to highlight this case as evidence that men who report rape should be treated in the same way as they want women who report having been raped to be treated.

To treat men alleged rape victims in the same way the "women lie about rape" crowd want female alleged rape victims treated would be, to them, a travesty.

The police were right to investigate this man's rape claim -- no matter what police assume about the man's character -- even though it turned out to be fraudulent. The police need to investigate all rape claims including those the anti-feminists immediately "know" are false.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:40 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas And Thanks

I want to send all my fellow rape survivors and our allies in the fight against sexual violence good thoughts this holiday season. I especially want to thank those who have donated to help me attend the Women, Action and the Media Conference this coming March. (I'm at 18% of my goal.) The gift of helping me share what I've learned about fighting sexual violence is one I will never forget.

For some survivors this is a rough time. I wish I could magically lighten your spirits or find the perfect words, but I can't. What I can do is to communicate that I care about you and carry some of your pain in my heart.

I hope I can also give other survivors tools they can use to help them recognize all the dangerous lies and myths repeated by people who claim to be logical and unbiased or who claim to love you and want only the best for you.

If those of us who are survivors can tap into our collective power which gets dimmed by our isolation, we can do more than we ever imagined possible.

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday and as I blew out the candle on my cake I wished to be able to do more to help significantly reduce the rate of sexual violence and to cause so-called non-violent rapists to lose their ability to rationalize away their culpability for the crimes they have committed.

I want there to be no more excuses for those exploit others sexually.

For those who make excuses for rapists or who try to deny the full reality of this violence, I wish you to see the truth even though you won't like it.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:35 AM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Actors Help Train Investigators To Interview Child Victims

Too often I blog about discouraging behavior, but on Christmas eve, I wanted to highlight good behavior which focuses on protecting children.

From the Rochester Post-Bulletin:

WINONA -- Brenton is 9 years old and scared. Brenton has been beaten and sexually abused by an older brother who just got out of juvenile detention, but he downplays the abuse to an investigator.

"It doesn't matter though," he keeps saying.

Brenton is an illusion, a character played by Dana Munson, a 35-year-old Twin Cities actor whose portrayal wiil help train investigators.

But he is real enough that Todd Mahaney, an investigator from Potosi, Mo., wants to console him when the child begins cry to after finally telling about the abuse.

Muson is one of a handful of actors who have been trained to act like children to train those who need to interview children.

This important and first week-long training event happened at the new National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University which I blogged about earlier this year.

There is also a related article published on the same day.

[Dana Munson and the other actors] are part of the process in equipping those trainees so they interview children so it does stand up in court," he said. If done improperly, interviews can be thrown out. [...]

Those doing interviews try to be one step ahead of the child to be ready for the next question, but it's also important to stay with what the child's saying, [instructor Mindy] Mitnick said. And don't say "I want to hear your story" because children interpret that to mean "your story is fantasy," she said.

I can't stress how important this type of training is for investigators and especially for victims.

With the number of people who claim that many children have been schooled to lie as a part of a nasty custody dispute, a botched interview where the interviewer didn't realize his or her errors might be used as so-called proof that the original allegation was fraudulent.

Whatever tax money is used in the project is money well spent.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:50 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Difference From Wrongfully Convicted And Proven Innocent

In this Newsday article critical information is only presented at the end of an article about a man who claims to have been the victim of a fraudulent rape report and who claims that a judge's ruling proved his claim.

The Second Department of the Appellate Division in Brooklyn threw out Bennett's conviction Dec. 9 because it said the girl could not recall specifically when she said she was attacked. Without a specific time period, the court ruled, "it is virtually impossible" for Bennett to mount a defense against the allegations.

This ruling in no way proves that Clay Bennett is innocent as he claims.

Yet I'm sure some people have already jumped to the conclusion that this is exactly what it does. They are likely to demand that the mother of the alleged rape victim should be charged with a crime and they are likely to talk as if that woman and her daughter have been proven guilty through this ruling, but their call to action would be based on a false premise.

The article begins by presenting Bennett's claim of being framed as if it were proven when it was not. By the article's title of Wrongful convict freed in rape case is 'bitter' and by leaving the details of the court ruling until last, readers are mislead about the actual meaning of wrongfully convicted.

A person can be both materially guilty and wrongfully convicted because the first has to do with what actually happened and the second has to do with the criminal justice process of providing evidence of guilt and innocence and proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt with the burden of proof on the prosecution.

An example of this difference is when incriminating DNA evidence in a murder case is obtained illegally and is admitted to trial in error. If the DNA evidence is thrown out in the case's appeal where there were no eye-witnesses the real murderer could be released because it is decided that there was a wrongful conviction.

People get this distinction much easier in murder cases because they understand that the appeals court ruling doesn't magically undo a murder. But because many of the same people are quick to believe that a rape report was fraudulent, their logical reasoning skills often vanish.

Bennett's defense attorney, John Ray, makes claims which he presents as proven facts when he knows there is a legal difference. Obviously, this conflating of an overturned conviction with proven innocence benefits his client so he has no motivation to be accurate about this appeals court ruling.

The alleged victim in this case maintains that the original allegations are true. It would be an injustice for the appeals court ruling to cause this girl (now a woman) to be wrongfully accused or wrongfully charged with a crime she didn't commit.

I'm always amazed when those who focus on fighting false accusations have no difficulty issuing their own false or unfounded accusations. What they claim is evil when done to alleged rapists becomes good when done to alleged rape victims.

It's fine for observers to believe that this man is innocent but it not fine for them to claim that their belief is based on proven fact.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:19 AM   1 comments links to this post

Monday, December 22, 2008

Can A Crime That Happens 248,300 Times A Year In The US Really Be Rare?

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) for 2007 reveals a number that highlights why those who claim that rape is rare are not trustworthy.

The number of sex crimes in this report only includes those committed against those 12 years old or older so 248,300 rapes/sexual assaults (with 11,300 of these being rapes/sexual assaults of boys/men) is lower than the full number of rapes/sexual assaults.

Almost a quarter of a million rapes/sexual assaults in one year in the US alone means that this crime is in no way rare.

The desire by some people to find excuses to dismiss the accuracy of these statistics is telling about why this crime is so common. These people either support certain rapes/sexual assaults by finding excuses to dismiss most of them (didn't say no stridently enough, wasn't injured badly enough, etc.) or they are in such deep denial that the only way they can cope with this harsh reality is to deny it.

While the rate of rape/sexual assault has declined marginally since 1998 the rate of overall violent crime rate in 2007 was 43% lower than it was in 1998. I suspect that those who advocate for the theory that most rapes are caused by hormones would view this as proof of their theory, but I believe it has to do more with our county's mixed attitudes about rapists.

We hate rapists, but our juries still buy the "it was consensual" claim from the defense attorneys representing stranger rapists who are IDed through DNA.

The hormone theory is also contradicted by the 25% increase from 2005 to 2007 of rapes/sexual assaults.

The rate of reporting for 2007 is listed at 42%. Too often the 58% of victims who didn't report are blamed, but the systemic problems which makes reporting seem so dangerous or so futile to crime victims are the primary causes of this low reporting rate.

Only 6% of rapes/sexual assaults were committed by someone using a weapon. Since some people's personal definition of rape/sexual assault requires a weapon that explains why the rape denialists reject 94% of rapes/sexual assaults as either consensual or a complete fabrication.

The rate of victimization for females per 1,000 population was 1.8 and the rate for males was 0.1. Women were victims of violent crimes committed by an intimate partner nearly 8 times more often than men. Many rape denialists claim that these gender difference are myths.

This prevention gap highlights why we as a country need to make effective rape prevention a priority.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:54 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Petition Opposing Parole Of Convicted Rapist Who Left One Victim For Dead

There is a petition drive open to US citizens related to the upcoming parole hearing for Munk Caselow Willis who was convicted after he and 2 other men kidnapped 2 women, raped them, beat them, shot one as the women ran for safety, and left the woman who'd been shot to die.

But Susan Waller didn't die because she pretended to be unconscious while trying to avoid drowning in an abandoned quarry. Now she has to go before the parole board in January to try to convince them that this man must not be released from prison.

Willis has been held in the Alabama State Prison for the last 22 years. His original sentence was 2 life sentences to be served concurrently. That original sentence should communicate how dangerous this man is. Unfortunately, too often people assume that those who rape will magically age out of being a danger to the public.

Go to Women In Crime Ink for more information on this case and the petition drive. The last day you can sign the petition is Dec. 26th.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:58 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Letter To Santa Leads To Sexual Molestation Charge

From the AP:

PHARR, Texas (AP) -- Police in south Texas say a 9-year-old girl's letter to Santa may have finally stopped a nightmare of sexual abuse for her and her 10-year-old sister.

Police allege that for as long as four years, Andres Enrique Cantu sexually abused the girls in their bedrooms while they slept or did their homework. Cantu is a computer lab aide at an alternative high school but has not been accused of crimes against students there.

The white-haired Cantu, 55, shuffled into court in leg irons and handcuffs for the second time in less than a week Tuesday to face a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a young child. He did not have an attorney present.

The 9-year-old's plea to Santa, written as a school assignment, launched the investigation and led to the first charge of continuous sexual abuse last week. On Tuesday, Cantu was accused of abusing the girl's older sister, who was also mentioned in the letter.

I want to thank the teacher who didn't dismiss this letter as the fantasy of a child. And I want to thank the school counselor who responded to learning about this letter by calling police.

I wish every time a child made a plea of any sort that tells or hints of abuse that those who become aware of that plea would contact the police, but the habit many people have of stereotyping sex offenders as complete monsters can cause them to dismiss certain allegations as impossible.

To ensure that children aren't led into false testimony these children should be interviewed by investigators who have been specially trained to do these types on interviewed. Unfortunately, in this bad economy training budgets may be the first thing to go.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

US Supreme Court will Reconsider Workplace Stalking Case

This hearing will happen in January which is National Stalking Awareness Month.

From the press release:

[...] on January 9, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a Petition for Rehearing, asking the Court to review a workplace stalking case, Martin v. Howard Univ. and Alice Gresham Bullock, U.S. Sup. Ct. No. 08-204. The lower courts held that a female law professor had no legal recourse against Howard University for refusing to renew her contract after she asked the Law School administration to use the University’s own Campus Security procedures to protect her and other women from a serial campus stalker.

As a law professor at Howard University, Dawn Martin was stalked by a delusional, homeless, serial stalker of African-American female professors. The stalker was searching for the physical embodiment of his "fantasy," or ideal "wife" --modeled after a fictional female character, Geneva Crenshaw, in a book, And We are not Saved, written by the renowned Professor Derrick Bell. Instead of following its own security procedures to ban the stalker from campus, Howard responded to Prof. Martin’s requests for protection by refusing to renew her teaching contract. Prof. Martin sued Howard for sexual harassment/hostile work environment and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex/gender, as well as race, color, ethnic origin and religion. Martin is the first to present the issue of "gender profiling" or "working while female" in the employment context.

Howard University had argued that stalking by this man was stalking not sexual harassment but stalking is defined as a pattern of harassment.

For more on this case, go to Ms. Martin's website on this case.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:24 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Insensitive Official Statements VS Telling Official Statements

From Courier Mail:

[Queensland Australia] PREMIER Anna Bligh has chastised Attorney-General Kerry Shine after he claimed some rapes only had a "minor effect" on women. Ms Bligh yesterday labelled the comments "insensitive" after Mr Shine apologised for the live radio interview about the number of convicted rapists in Queensland not being sent to jail. [...]

"You have to look at the various circumstance of each case," Mr Shine told ABC Radio.

"Some rapes can be of minor effect on the victim. Some circumstances can be of minor, some can be of major, damage to the victim. They do vary in intensity from time to time.

"For example, a digital rape is a technical rape but that is far less serious than an aggravated form of rape."

This man's statements were NOT insensitive, his words were truthful about why 23 out of 172 sentenced for rape or attempted rape in one year weren't given any prison time.

The only change that is needed to see the truth of this is in this modified statement with the ownership of views in italics:

"I look at the various circumstance of each case," Mr Shine told ABC Radio.

"To me some rapes can be dismissed as being of minor effect on the victim. Some circumstances can be dismissed as being of minor, some can be accepted as being of major, damage to the victim. They do vary in intensity for me from time to time.

"For example, for me a digital rape is a technical rape but I view that as far less serious than what I accept as an aggravated form of rape."

Shine's position is all about him. When he or someone else involved in sentencing doesn't get the severity of a particular rape then that rapist is likely to directly benefit from their lack of understanding.

Shine's explanation dovetails with what many people say when dismissing a huge percentage of reports of sexual assaults as false allegations where the "victim" has allegedly exaggerated what the alleged sex criminal did.

His explanation also dovetails with the thinking of most rapists who need to minimize the harm they do in order to justify their actions. Many a rapist has denied being such because, "there was no intercourse," or, "it was just my finger."

All sexual violence is serious and none of it should be dismissed through sentencing.

The only time a sentence with no prison or jail time might feel appropriate to me is when one of the conditions of a suspended sentence is no sexual or sexualized contact with anyone other than an identified partner -- and no sexual contact that the partner defines as coercive or by force -- during the duration of the maximum sentence so that any later allegations where the rapist would normally claim, "it was consensual," results in an immediate hearing and a quick transfer to prison.

If the defense is ignorance of the law or about a lack of consent then that person has one chance to learn about legal sexual boundaries.

Hat Tip: Blue Milk

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:09 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Officials To Finally Investigate Abuses At Florida State Reform School

From ABC News:

[Former inmate Richard] Colon says he does not know what happened to the boy's body or who forced him into the dryer. But he and a group of men who were students at the school during the 1950s and 1960s believe his remains may be buried among 32 unmarked graves recently discovered near the school, where they suspect boys who were killed at the school were dumped.

Their claims, kept hidden for more than 50 years, prompted Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday to order the state Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the four neat rows of white crosses in Marianna near the area where the once segregated school used to house black inmates.

The statement by a Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman that these historic abuses are just now being reported is clearly incorrect since the state of Florida settled a lawsuit in 1987 regarding abusive practices at this reform school and others that didn't admit wrongdoing but agreed that boys would no longer be shackled and hogtied.

Maybe back then state officials didn't look at the allegations in the civil suit as allegations of physical abuse and instead looked at the reported treatment as appropriate punishment for boys convicted of crimes in juvenile court.

When people talk about how incarceration hardens criminals it isn't incarceration alone which does the hardening. The how of that incarceration matters. An iron fist mentality might seem more effective because of the power of fear, but it teaches dangerous lessons to inmates.

When people reject treating prisoners (children or adults) with respect by labeling respectful treatment as coddling those people come across as dangerously naive. For some boys being treated respectfully while incarcerated might be the first time they see that behavior as a viable option to deal with conflict and those who do them wrong.

Respectful treatment of prisoners -- adult or juvenile -- is firm when needed and when done properly it is more effective than an iron fist can ever be.


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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Guest Post On Cuts To Victim Services Staffing Which Risks Ability To Utilize Volunteers

I want to highlight an important and critical issue which was brought to my attention by a man who went through the same victim advocate training I did and who continues to volunteer.

With his permission I am reprinting his words here.

An abbreviated version of this opinion piece was published in the Rochester, MN Post-Bulletin as a letter to the editor titled We Must Fund Victim Services. My statements about this issue are in the comments after this letter to the editor.

Does Anonymity Mean the End of the Nation’s Model for Victim Services?
By Jonathan Saphira
Rochester, MN

We live in a community at the apex of science in both medicine and computer technology, and have law enforcement personnel who are equally competent at protecting kings and presidents as they are at investigating local crimes. We are fortunate, but not by accident. There is a cooperative effort to bring forth the best from everyone here, to serve residents and visitors.

We rarely witness crimes occurring, but they are, nonetheless. Criminals do not want you to know, victims want to remain anonymous, physicians cannot tell you, and law enforcement would rather not show you. An agency providing essential services, often anonymously, has served as a model in the nation for interagency cooperation and dedication to serving the needs of victims of sexual assault, and is called simply “Victim Services.” One of its functions since 1976 has provided the 24-hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line, with trained advocates to respond to callers by phone, and in person to hospital and law enforcement when needed. You may not see staff touting its impact, and it is unlikely that victims of sexual assault will make proclamations about services received. This is simply a vital service; but unless someone you care about ever needed this, the government budget calls it “non-mandated, non-essential,” and subject to severe cutbacks. Do we need to end the anonymity of this program, and understand the extent to which it is used, in order to fund it? What number would be impressive (or frightening) enough? To the person you love, it only matters that the service exists.

In past budget crises, the number of staff advocates has been reduced several times, but something that was never cut was the 24-hour hotline, and immediate response to hospital or law enforcement center when requested. Fifty-three trained professionals from our community volunteer to help, and have been providing overnight and weekend assistance to this program. In anticipation of cutbacks, Olmsted County recently suspended another position in this department (and it is still vacant during state hiring freeze) until County Commissioners finalize the 2009 budget at 9 a.m. December 16. In practical terms, this meant ending the job of Volunteer Coordinator. Years ago, when there were several additional advocates, the job’s duties could be shared, but today there are no spare staff—in fact remaining staff are working overnight shifts covering hospital, law enforcement, and hotline, in addition to serving clients during daytime.

Will a different part of the outstanding team serving victims replace these advocates? That depends on availability of specially trained nurses to stay exclusively with one patient and attend to no other duties. Or a physician’s willingness to accompany a victim to the law enforcement center while an investigation continues. Or an officer’s ability to devote resources to patiently explain all options, and leave the decisions to the victim; and then attend all court hearings to follow up; and at the other end maintain communication with the sex offender probation unit. Then there’s the hotline to staff as well, to answer callers and coordinate between agencies, 24/7 including holidays.

The whole state is searching for ways to meet significant budget shortfalls, and needs painful sacrifices from all; so if we must, let us choose wisely. After all, we build and staff fire stations to defend fires and minimize damage whenever possible; but you pray you never need them and you hope they are nearby if someone causes a fire. We do not shut down the fire stations during recessions because we recognize the need is ever-present. You cannot put a price on how much it means for someone to receive the support of an advocate during a time of trauma; but you can calculate how efficiently money is used when it comes with 19,188 hours donated per year. What looks like savings from one job instead costs a donation of immense value—$397,156.27—calculated at the rate of Minnesota volunteer time—and rips deeply into the safety net of our community. Citizens are stepping forward to help victims of sexual assault in a way no one else is staffed to address. When you take away the Coordinator, you take away the contribution of many, because someone has to match dozens of independent work schedules each day with the needs of the hotline every single day; and coordinate volunteers to respond to hospital and law enforcement; and train new advocates; and that’s just a fraction of the job.

Whether it is for someone you care about, or to serve the whole community, we need to fund the job and carry on this service. Keep the fire stations open; volunteers are willing to serve.

The writer has been a volunteer with Victim Services of Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Counties since 1995, and is writing on his own behalf separate from the agency. The Sexual Assault Crisis Line is (507)289-0636.

Jonathan Saphira, a multilingual interpreter in Rochester, Minnesota, who also volunteers at Victim Services of DFO Counties, Saint Marys Hospital/Mayo Clinic, and Federal Medical Center.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 61

Welcome to the Dec. 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.

Before I begin the carnival, I want to highlight my fundraising effort for my travel expenses to the WAM! 2009 conference where I and my fellow panelists (Cara Kulwicki of The Curvature, Ashley Burczak of SAFER and Ashwini Hardikar of SAFER) will be presenting:

Pulling the Plug on Rape Culture One Word at a Time:
Using Accuracy to Undermine Dangerous Attitudes and Injustice.

I'm actually $20 over the amount listed above. Read my post on this conference for more information.

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


In LAPD Still Has a Long Way to Go posted at California NOW, we get a discussion of issues related to the treatment of women beyond the LA rape kit backlog including the sexual harassment settlement to LAPD canine bomb unit officer Patricia Fuller.

In Boys Will Be Boys: Obama Speechwriter Groping a Cut-out of Michelle (Photo) posted at Tennessee Guerilla Women, we get a discussion of the dismissive attitude regarding the photo of Jon Favreau groping a lifesize cut-out of Hillary Clinton and how the attitudes would change if they did the same with an image of Michelle Obama.

In Whose Human Rights posted at RMott62 we get a discussion of International Human Rights Day and how violence against women doesn't get the focus it deserves.

In NCAA President Seeks to Preempt Title IX Blame posted at Title IX Blog, we get a discussion about actions taken to prevent men from blaming women for cuts in men's sports programs which are anticipated because of the economy.


In Judge entitled to comment on rape complaint delay posted at West Law Report, we get a discussion of an appeals ruling about a judge's reminder to the jury to balance the biased view from a defense claim that the delay in reporting meant that the report was untrustworthy.

In what evidence? nothing to see here, not here in Harvey, no sir! posted at tales from the grey, we get a discussion of what the Cook County state's attorney's office found when they entered the police department of Harvey, Illinois which included rape kits which had been corrupted due to neglect.

In Passing Judgment: 10th Circuit Case Cites To 4th Circuit Case Allowing Immediate Appeal Of Rape Shield Ruling posted at EvidenceProf Blog, we get a discussion of the results of an appeal made by the rape victim where the issue related to whether the appeal should be heard only after the conclusion of the criminal trial when a wrongful acquittal due to inappropriate admission of the victim's sexual history could not be reversed.

In DOJ Announces Updated Sex Offender Website posted at Sex Crimes, we get a discussion about a US Dept. of Justice announcement.

In Politicizing Statutory Rape Reporting Requirements posted at Reproductive Rights Prof Blog, we get a discussion sparked by the sting against Planned Parenthood offices where college students pretended to be underage girls covered by mandated reporting rules and how this sting and the reaction ignores the intersection of statutory rape laws, child abuse reporting laws, and patient confidentiality requirements.

In Parental Alienation - Invented by a Pedophile posted at I Missed Being Me, we get a discussion of the foundation for the so-called PAS syndrome which often allowed in court to dismiss the testimony of children abused by their fathers or father figures.

In Case of School Teacher with Pop-up Porn Resolved posted at Sex Crimes, we get a discussion of a case where a teacher whose computer was infected with malware couldn't close the series of browser windows fast enough to prevent children from seeing some of those images.

In William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 Passes House and Senate, But Offers Less Protection To Victims Compared with the 2007 House Version. posted at Feminist Law Professors, we get a discussion of human trafficking legislation and the weaknesses in the final version of that act.

media watch

In The media and rape (by Suzie) and The media and rape, part 2 (by Suzie) posted at ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES, we get a discussion of how media coverage of rape is influenced by various issues including libel and the wording of a specific jurisdiction's criminal statutes.

In Student newspaper demands, and gets, more accurate crime stats posted at Change Happens: the SAFER blog, we get a discussion about the analysis of New York University’s crime statistics done which caused the university to provide more useful information.

In Circuit City As Pimp? posted at Feminist Law Professors, we get a discussion of a TV ad which turns a plasma TV into a seductive woman.

In Rape posted at We are the wave, we get a discussion about the ignorant attitudes many people hold about how rape impacts different people and how it can change their behavior.

In The Danger In Criminal Profiling Alleged Rape Victims posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss problematic advice included in the textbook Criminal Profiling written by Brent Turvey.

personal stories

In Further ramblings from the idiot pool posted at UneFemmePlusCourageuse, we get a discussion about the ignorance many men have over the definition of rape and how they use their ignorance as a reason to not take positive actions.

raising awareness

In My beautiful daughters and violence against women. posted at Interesting Times, we get a discussion about the many ways people find to deny sexual violence and we get information on a Women's Institute survey about people's perception and experiences of violence against women.

In Men can stop street harassment posted at Stop Street Harassment!, we get a list of actions that men can do to stop street harassment.

In Safety, racism and guilt posted at ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES, we get a discussion about the role sexual violence and sexual harassment plays into general distrust which gets labeled as racist.

In Girls Who Can't Trust their Friends posted at Tipsmore, we get a list of six things that every girl should know before she goes to college.

In Remedial Lessons in Consent posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion sparked by the reading of a '90s column by Katha Pollitt where violating a condition for sex was dismissed as being trivial and obviously not a real violation.

In Because She's "Up For It." posted at Yes Means Yes Blog, we get a discussion about how the stereotype of always being up for sex can cause people to not bother even trying to get consent and to commit sexual assault.

In Men Accused Of Rape And Other Crimes Regularly Position Themselves As A Victim Yet ... posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the sexist stereotypes which cause people to ignore common tactics used by men accused of a crime when discussing the comments made by a woman accused of a crime.


In Warrior Spirit posted at RMott62 we get a discussion of the process of bringing out the strength which helped someone survive long term 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 Dec. 28 at 11 pm and the next edition will be out on Jan. 1.

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

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

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Judge Orders State Government Agency To Bail Out Rape Suspect

From KOMO News:

OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) - A Clackamas County judge has ordered the state Department of Human Services to bail a rape suspect out of jail so he can help plan care for his junior-high age son.

Judge Deanne Darling's order, obtained by The Oregonian newspaper, directs "DHS to post bail or otherwise assist father in being freed from jail."

The order does not say why Darling believes Russell Hamblen must be let out of the county jail to participate in planning discussions. Clackamas County has a closed-circuit television system and the sheriff's office often takes inmates to court hearings without releasing them from custody. [...]

Hamblen, 50, and another son, Paul Hamblen, 19, were arrested in April on accusations they provided alcohol to teenage girls and forced them to have sex. The son pleaded guilty to multiple sex crimes and was sentenced to five years in prison. The father's trial is scheduled for January.

Hamblen's 13-year-old son is in foster care because his mother, Christine Hamblen, has issues with substance abuse, according to the court order. She pleaded guilty to drunken driving last week.

Family law attorneys said they have never heard of a judge ordering the state to bail out an inmate. But, they note, juvenile court records are confidential and the judge may have access to information that makes the decision an appropriate one.

This ruling is so contradictory that I don't know what to say about it, but, "Huh?"

The only explanation I can see is that this judge is basing this decision on the fact that only the brother and the mother of this boy pleaded guilty.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:51 AM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, December 12, 2008

Traffic Stop of Man Accused Of Being Wooded Rapist Challenged

From WSMV:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Evidence that is crucial in the "Wooded Rapist" case was challenged in court Tuesday morning. [...]

[officer Elliot Hamm] and five other Brentwood officers canvassed the Meadow Lake subdivision looking for a suspicious person after a 911 call came in that a man was seen looking through windows of cars at a Brentwood home.

Hamm spotted Burdick's empty Jeep Cherokee on the side of the road the same night. An hour later, police pulled the Jeep over. Burdick said he was at a party, which police found was not true.

The Brentwood officer testified Tuesday it was raining that night, and during roll call, they all were told to keep a look out for signs of the "Wooded Rapist," who often committed his crimes in inclement weather. [...]

Burdick is accused of raping more than a dozen women in Davidson, Williamson and Wilson counties for more than a decade.

Since the previous challenge of this search was rejected, this challenge likely will be rejected as well.

The defense strategy seems to demand that police not do full investigations. When there is a report of suspicious behavior by someone on foot, especially in circumstances that match the MO of a serial rapist, empty vehicles in that area need to be investigated and that includes investigating those vehicles and their drivers when they are leaving the area.

This is not the same as a random stop which might be argued to be done without sufficient cause.

The reported action is important because of details about these crimes described in a previous story about this case.

Authorities believe Burdick used an assortment of items to spy on his victims before he attacked. When police arrested him last week, they found five guns, ammo, scopes, a lock-pick set, flashlights and five different pairs of binoculars, including a pair of binoculars with night vision.

"It is shocking, but it's also very commonplace that you see rapists stalk their victims before they rape them," said rape and sexual abuse expert Kathy Walsh. [...]

According to court documents, the "Wooded Rapist," "made statements to the victims that indicated he had been watching the victims or their residences." When the "Wooded Rapist" got in the house, he wore gloves and would bind the victim with plastic ties and place duct tape over her eyes.

With what the police learned about this rapist prior to this arrest, the actions described in the 911 call fit with the behavior of the "wooded rapist" including that rapist's preference for stalking his victims.

Not surprisingly Burdick presented himself to acquaintances as a decent guy which too often in acquaintance rape cases is used by the defense attorneys as proof that the alleged rape victim is a vindictive liar.

Buford Tune said he remembers Burdick, who attended firearms training classes that Tune taught in 2005. Tune said that looking back now, Burdick played a good con game.

"The con that he was giving was this Mr. Nice Guy. The only thing that we can put together is when he was doing this Mr. Nice Guy act, that was just giving him more fuel to look for more victims," Tune said.

Burdick was a correctional officer at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville in 2000. It’s during his time as an officer that Burdick was accused of propositioning a female corrections officer.

In 2000 Burdick was disciplined for conduct unbecoming a state employee, but for too many people this behavior gets dismissed as having no relation to sexual ethics or ethics in general.

This dismissal of alleged rapists' past sexual behavior as irrelevant is in sharp contrast to assumptions many people make about those who report rape.

Update (4/30/09): Burdick has been convicted of the November 2007 rape of a 61-year-old woman.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:53 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Revealing Comment About The Meaning Of Jon Favreau's Photo

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Obama You've Got a Problem: Your Speechwriter's Sexism Reflects On You":

Sheesh, get a grip. What Jon did in no way reflects on Barack. Sure, it was stupid and who among us hasn't done something they regretted while drunk or otherwise impaired. And this happened during the heat of the primary I'm sure when tempers must have been running high and demonizing and otherwise trying your darndest to hate your opponent doesn't come with any difficulty at all. He has apologized, and HRC, your dear leader seems not to be in as vengeful a mood as you. If she can decide to live and let live, why can't you? Will his head on a silver platter like John the Baptist be the only thing that placates you?

Lloyd Webber
Do tell, Lloyd. Please give me a list of what you've done while drunk and later regretted so I can judge whether it was merely stupid if I am supposed to use your behavior while drunk as a metric in which to evaluate Jon Favreau's behavior.

What I find fascinating about this comment is that this man sees this pose as an act of hatred against Hillary Clinton while I gave Favreau the benefit of the doubt. That directly contradicts his claim that this was an act of stupidity and it reinforces why this photo is so disturbing to so many women. It also positions President-elect Obama's staff as irrational and emotionally out of control.

What a confidence builder.

This action was more than the result of feelings toward a political rival. I doubt that Favreau and his friend would have struck that same type of pose with a lifesize cardboard cutout of Sen. John McCain.

This man can't understand what I want from the president-elect (who I voted for) because he refuses to think about the drunken behavior of men from any perspective other than the man's. That is dangerous tunnel vision which he can afford to maintain because he isn't likely to be harmed by the attitude expressed in that photo.

For too many men they need to maintain the tunnel vision of looking at their behavior from their perspective alone because looking at their behavior from the perspective of a girl or woman would make them look carelessly cruel at best.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:40 PM   5 comments links to this post

Nomination Deadline Tomorrow

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.

Likely because of the holidays the number of nominations is lower than usual so please take a few minutes to nominate to this edition. If you have an older post on this topic which didn't get nominated to an earlier edition this is a great time to nominate it.

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 @ 8:39 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Obama You've Got a Problem: Your Speechwriter's Sexism Reflects On You

The photo of President-elect Barack Obama's director of speechwriting Jon Favreau and another man wearing a "Obama Staff" T-shirt, in a pose with a life-size cardboard cutout of Sen. Hillary Clinton, is more than an embarrassing candid moment of fun caught on camera.

It is in no way comparable to a picture of an official posing in a skimpy swimsuit or underwear yet it has been compared to that type of embarrassing picture.

Favreau is the one shown groping the image of the secretary of state nominee while his friend mimics pouring a beer down her throat. This "fun" image shows an attitude which for those of us who have had alcohol used against us in this way know is in no way fun or harmless.

You don't pose like this as a "joke" unless you hold dangerous attitudes.

If Barack Obama lets this slide with an apology which fails to communicate understanding of why this "joke" pose isn't harmless, that communicates something important and not just to people like me who find it troubling. It communicates something important to those who use alcohol to overcome lack of consent and who believe they are doing absolutely nothing wrong.

If the unnamed man is still on the Obama staff, he needs to be held to the same standard as Favreau.

Not surprisingly, some of those who will dismiss this picture as harmless fun will turn around and lecture girls and woman about their drinking. Some of these people will go so far as to harshly judge a missing and possibly murdered woman for her alleged drinking (she was in a nightclub so she must have been binge drinking) while saying nothing against men who go to nightclubs and who commit acts of violence against women.

With the current rate of sexual violence against women, most of which is committed by non-strangers, the decision by some people to dismiss men who "act" as predators communicates either disregard or incompetence. This dismissive attitude is reflected in how sex crime laws are enforced and how jurors judge rape victims who drank prior to their rape.

The Violence Against Women Act cannot by itself stop sexual violence at the source even with unlimited funding so supporting that legislation is important but it is not a sufficient solution to sexual violence. We as citizens act in ways that either support this legislation or we act in ways that undermine this expensive and needed legislation.

Favreau and his friend acted in a way that undermines VAWA. That is in no way progressive and it is not evidence of positive change. Their behavior was old long before the first time I had a drink pushed down my throat. It was old long before 2 men almost killed me by pushing hard liquor down my throat.

For anyone to view the picture as anything less than deeply troubling they need to see coercive tactics used by boys and men against girls and women as respectable and fun behavior.

I read the many comments in the WaPo opinion piece about this pictures and a large percentage of them remind me about why by the end of the primary I wasn't sure I could vote for Obama. My concern was and is how beholden Obama is to those men who didn't seem willing to view all women as full human beings or those (men and women) who are hopelessly resigned to systemic and dangerous sexism.

From GoldnI:

I find myself extremely torn over this. On the one hand, it certainly is sexist and disrespectful, but on the other hand, I can't get too worked up over it. Maybe I'm just desensitized now, but it's hard for me to see it as any different from all of the ridiculous things I've seen drunk frat boys do over the last four years. [...]

That's why I can't get worked up over one isolated, boneheaded incident. I wish Obama would fire him for his stupidity, but I have far greater concerns right now. Liberals can't get too bogged down in fights over symbolism when the threats to women's lives are very real and very UN-symbolic.

The reason she can't get worked up about this photo is the exact reason this photo is so troubling to me and to many others. This photo is not an isolated incident, it is an incident which reflects many other incidents where the target wasn't a cardboard cutout.

This photo and the lack of concern about the message it sends helps to further normalize dangerous, abusive -- and appallingly common -- behavior.

What too many frat boys (and others) see as acceptable behavior is no such thing and it is more than an issue of immaturity. To ignore attitudes which enable sexual violence because of Bush administration policies which will hurt those raped at frat parties or after frat parties or elsewhere is short sighted.

Like Obama said after John McCain suspended his campaign to focus on the economic bailout, we can focus on more than one task at a time. We don't have to choose between fighting dangerous Bush administration policies which undermine women's rights and fighting dangerous attitudes about the treatment of girls and women from those who call themselves progressive.

If general attitudes -- even in progressive circles -- contradict great laws and policies those great laws and policies will fail or they will forever fall short.

The audacity of hope means nothing without the audacity to call out dangerous old habits and beliefs and to declare that they have no place in this time of change.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:21 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Dismissing Garden Variety Sex Crimes

Last week I came across a post on an anti-feminist blog which dismissed "garden variety" aggressive sexual behavior by boys and men from the list of possible acts of sexual violence for no reason other than how common that behavior is.

That line of rape denial is so familiar and so blatant that I didn't bother highlighting it.

However, I was reminded of the twisted logic in that post by an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about protests from the parents of a boy who they acknowledge grabbed girls at his school.

In a case his parents consider prosecutorial overkill, a 14-year-old Mequon boy has been charged with five counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and faces the prospect of being tagged a sex offender for touching several girls in what his parents admit was an inappropriate manner.

So, last week in Ozaukee County Circuit Court, the boy's parents said no when Ozaukee County District Attorney Sandy Williams offered to reduce the charges to two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and, if he pleaded no contest, to expunge his conviction if he stayed out of trouble for a year.

The parents said their son was guilty of nothing more than disorderly conduct. [...]

Two girls at Steffen Middle School in Mequon told officials June 6, a Friday, that the boy, 13 years old at the time, during class had grabbed the buttocks of one girl, 14, and unhooked the bra of the other girl, 13.

Under questioning by police, officials learned of other unreported incidents going back to October 2007, when the boy was 12, when he grabbed other girls' buttocks or their breasts, licked a girl's neck and tickled another girl in the stomach, according to the petition.

This boy's parents sent their son to Utah for 2 months where he was enrolled in a wilderness camp for troubled teens, but if they continue to minimize his actions they will only help their son wrongly feel that he's the victim in this case.

The parents of this boy are choosing to ignore that those girls had the legal right not to be grabbed or groped irregardless of the motives of the boy who did so. The mother described her son's alleged crimes as "numskull friendliness" which utterly fails to acknowledge the impact of his method of "friendliness." That failure is dangerous to those around her son and it is dangerous to her son.

The story claims that the girls don't want this boy charged with a crime, they just want his behavior stopped by the school. The parents of the boy seem to take this stated position as proof that their son didn't commit the crime he's accused of, but that is wrong. It makes sense that the top priority for the girls who were grabbed is for the school to not tolerate students who grab and grope other students because that action protects those girls and other students from more than just an individual offender.

Twisting the girls desire to put stopping this illegal behavior above their desire for criminal punishment into support for the illegal behavior is nonsense.

These parents are attempting to use a so-called positive motivation to position their son as wrongly accused. By doing so they are teaching their son a dangerous way of thinking about the law and his behavior toward girls.

State law says fourth-degree sexual assault occurs when someone intentionally touches another person to gratify himself sexually, or sexually degrades or humiliates that person.

This boy's actions, which his parents don't deny, clearly fit this description. Their argument echoes the anti-feminist argument which seeks to dismiss all "garden variety" sexual aggression as normal.

The logic seemed to be that if sexual aggressiveness on the part of boys and men (refusing to stop at "no" or not bothering to get a genuine "yes") is common then it is normal behavior and therefore should be treated as if it were legal behavior even when it is not legal.

This twisted logic puts the target of that aggressiveness in danger, but it also sets up "normal" boys and men for rightful criminal convictions.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:57 AM   3 comments links to this post