I wish I were shocked at these baseless attacks directed at a woman who has gone out of her way to correct a wrong that wasn't hers and to help see an innocent man publicly exonerated. The faulty methodology of the rape investigation and the decision by investigators to cling to that faulty methodology at the expense of a thorough investigation are to blame for this wrongful ID and wrongful conviction.
It seems some people who chose to comment online about the sad case of Timothy Cole, reported in yesterday’s Statesman and online here, blame rape victim Michele Mallin for Cole’s conviction in the case, long prison term and death behind bars in 1999 at the age of 39.
Mallin, at the time a 20-year-old college student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, identified then fellow Tech student Cole (at right) as her attacker in 1985 in a photographic and live line-up. Lubbock police had no other evidence tying him to the crime and it turns out ignored evidence that another suspect, who years later confessed, could have done it.
Mallin, who is coming to Austin this week to help Cole’s family clear his name, has been reading the mean-spirited comments and defended herself in an e-mail:
“It just hurts that anyone would ever think that I did this maliciously. I mean I am a victim myself of a horrible rape which is how this whole entire NIGHTMARE began. If I had been made aware of the facts, such as the fact that there was another very valid suspect that I never even knew about or even that Tim Cole had asthma when I specifically told them the guy smoked, I would have been the FIRST one to want more of an investigation and to find the true culprit. Why on earth would I or anyone else want the wrong person to pay for any crime? That makes no sense and it just shows me how completely ignorant that people are to even think something like that.”
Attacks directed at this woman and the assumption that women who report rape are inherently unreliable witnesses miss the mark as to the cause of this injustice. Worse than not doing a thing to prevent a repeat of this type of injustice, their attacks inject additional injustices. These personal attackers become the very thing they hate: agents of injustice.
Different ID processes have been studied and some ID processes have been shown to lead victims and witnesses to ID a specific person who may not match the full description in obvious ways. Those who are traumatized by violent crime and those who were witnesses in a case when they were not traumatized can both have their doubts wrongfully shot down by investigators who see those doubts as wishwashiness rather than as potentially meaningful.
Too many jurisdictions don't have a standardized ID process or good training for all those who participate in the IDing process. This failure gets overlooked when people focus their attacks and criticisms on rape victims in cases where the wrong suspect was IDed and convicted.
This can result in the wrong person being convicted and it can also result in the right person being acquitted because the ID process which IDed the correct person is shown by the defense to be unreliable.
But for many people the first error is the only one that matters. If a bad process allows a rapist to rape again or if a bad process allows a stalker to murder the person stalked or allows a rapist to murder someone else that rape or death isn't viewed as a result of injustice by hose who are quick to make rape victims scapegoats because the person who was raped or murdered wasn't placed on death row or put into prison. Yet it is an injustice which is just as real as the death of someone wrongfully convicted.
For some of those who are quick to make rape victims scapegoats this second type of injustice doesn't seem to count because many of the victims of this type of injustice are women. Some of these people seem completely unaware that women are also falsely convicted of committing violent crimes. Victim of injustice for them equals male victim of injustice.
Because of this narrow awareness and narrow focus too many of those who claim to be against injustice turn around and support faulty methodologies and dangerous shortcuts when these lead real rape victims to be labeled as liars. This happens because those methodologies give these people results which supports their bigotry. That makes these people no better than investigators who use bad processes to strengthen the case against an innocent rape suspect they believe to be guilty because of their bigotry or their snap judgments.
The so-called second rape of those who report having been raped is too often defended as necessary to prevent injustice when it almost always creates an injustice. But rape victims being denied justice due to bad training or unethical practices is often seen as acceptable.
The faulty methodology of rape investigations is what gave us Eugene Kanin's study result which is used repeatedly to claim that about 40% of rape allegations are false. Yet many people who claim to be against faulty methodology and injustice quote Kanin's study as if it were gospel.
The replication of these study results do prove that the methodology of using tools such as the polygraph works quite well at getting confessions. But academic studies show that these leveraged confessions cannot be relied upon.
Further, DNA exonerations of those charged or convicted of violent crimes clearly shows that innocent people can be coerced into giving false confessions. Yet repeatedly those who acknowledge this fact will deny this same fact when the confession came from someone who reported having been raped. Or they simply fail to address the issue of false confessions when the person confessing rightfully reported being the victim of a crime.
This faulty methodology is what caused a victim of stranger rape in Madison, Wisconsin to be wrongfully charged with filing a police report. If this woman hadn't fought the system in her city the DNA in her case wouldn't have been processed and her rapist would have escaped justice. The city only compensated this woman for the injustice done to her shortly before the book Cry Rape was about to be released.
If this woman hadn't been able to prove that she was a victim of injustice, many of those who claim to be against injustice would have been willing to use her case as evidence to support the methodology which led to her false confession.
The attacks against Mallin are more than mean spirited, they reflect a dangerous attitude where injustice and false accusations are supported as long as the person being treated unjustly and being falsely accused was raped prior to that injustice.
Sloppy, unreliable and/or unethical investigation techniques are bad when they result in wrongful rape charges and they are just as bad when they result in wrongful accusations against real rape victims. If we are genuinely against injustice, we must be against all injustice.
Any one-sided solution will lead to injecting or supporting injustice. The approach to bad practices must be holistic for it to be effective.
And we must focus on the root cause which is the implementation of bad methodology whether practiced from ignorance or lack of ethics, and whether used against those who report a crime or those who are suspected of having committed a violent crime.
Here are a couple examples of approaches which miss the real cause of this injustice.
From The Black Man Next Door:
His family is extremely strong for not having ill feelings toward the rape victim for inaccurately singling him out in a lineup. I understand that she was traumatized -- but the right thing to do is simply be honest and say that you aren't sure.This focus on the rape victim is dangerous because she was not the root cause of this injustice. She wasn't the one who singled him out. The photos presented to her did that.
Those who focus on her in this way are ignoring the root cause of injustice which is the faulty ID process and the investigators decision to ignore another suspect. Part of the reason people focus on the individual is because they need to believe that if they were a victim of a violent crime their responses could never be used to wrongfully convict someone.
That's as dangerously naive as assuming they could never be coerced into giving a false confession.
From Politics Unanimocracy: The Timothy Cole case: arrest and incarcerate Michele Mallin for conspiracy to murder by A. B. Dada:
The correct ending of this last quoted sentence would correctly be "injustice." For that is what Dada is seeking, not justice.
Cole’s family worked to clear Cole’s name, with the lying Mallin attempting to help. Her weak excuse, as she states, was that she ”was very traumatized.” She says “I was scared for my life. I tried my hardest to remember what he looked like.” Her admission that she wasn’t sure, but tried, is proof that she is guilty of conspiracy to murder in the death of Timothy Cole.
This lying-under-oath “victim” says ”I’m trying to get his name cleared. It’s the right thing to do.” The right thing to do is to not lie under oath, or lie to the police, or put an innocence man in prison to watch him die a horrible and tragic death. The right thing to do is to turn yourself in, Michele, and go to jail for double the amount of time that innocent Timothy Cole did. You were a victim, but your crime against Cole is much, much worse.
I find sexual assault, or any property assault of an individual, disgusting and attrocious, but nothing is as evil as using the manipulative and powerful thuggery we call the State to do your bidding in revenge. Mallin’s desire for vengeance is as evil as Johnson’s act against her. Johnson assaulted women, Mallin’s words of hatred killed a man.
Let he who wields the sword be sliced by the sword. Let he who spits hate towards innocence have that hate returned to them in justice.
This woman didn't spit hate toward someone she knew to be innocent. There is zero evidence that she lied. Being mistaken in a system which funnels a victim toward a mistake is not the same as lying. She did what all crime victims are told to do. She reported and she cooperated to the best of your ability.
Yet Dada labels her evil and wants to throw her in prison for doing so.
If Dada had been violently assaulted by a stranger and the investigators used the same methodology when they suspected the wrong man he would have been led to make the same mistake. Yet he needs to deny this in order to attack an innocent rape victim. He needs to view this rape victim as evil.
This faulty ID process isn't limited to rape cases and men have been led to wrongfully ID an innocent man. But Dada likely doesn't know or care about them. His vengeful ire is tightly focused on a rape victim.
Dada has made a false allegation of murder. But that's okay with him, and is in no way evil, because he's doing it in the name of fighting injustice.
This attitude contributes to wrongful accusations against rape victims and, even worse, this attitude contributes physical violence against rape victims. If he believes his rhetoric then he is guilty every time his assumptions are used to justify an assault on a rape victim by someone who believes that rape victim to be a liar.
According to his own logic he should go to prison for all retaliatory crimes committed against real rape victims. But his logic isn't valid so he won't go to prison for any crimes he helps people rationalize.
However, if his logic is used to justify an assault or a murder the person targeted won't have the same luxury Dada enjoys. That innocent person will pay the price for Dada's hatred.