Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On Exonerations And False Accusations Against Rape Survivors

I'm always amazed at how some men can read a story about a woman who is still convinced that she IDed the correct person as her rapist, despite DNA analysis which excludes the man convicted, and conclude that the rape victim is a liar.

Yet, this is exactly what another anonymous man has done as part of his rejected comment on a post about the harassment of teen rape victims.
DNA has disproved her and she think she can just lie, falsely accuse identify somebody and get away with it?
FYI for this anonymous and others like him, here is the definition of lie:
To make an untrue statement with intent to deceive (Webster's)

There is no evidence in this story which Anonymous linked to as his proof of this woman's alleged lies that this rape victim has ever had any intention to deceive anybody. The man trying to get a pardon from the governor of Virginia doesn't even make the allegation that the woman he was convicted of raping ever made an untrue statement with the intent to deceive.

Yet Anonymous makes this accusation despite a lack of supporting evidence. That fact provides evidence that this Anonymous has made an untrue statement about a rape survivor with the intent to deceive. He's angry about wrongful rape convictions, he arrived with a body full of resentment and he is determined that somebody must pay even if that person is innocent.

In short, he has proven himself to be the very thing he claims to hate. A false accuser who doesn't care about the person wrongfully accused.

This also describes those who harass teen rape survivors. They are false accusers who don't care about the person wrongfully accused. No wonder this Anonymous didn't direct any of his ire at them.

Here's the beginning of the linked story:

RICHMOND [VA] A DNA test has cleared a 56-year-old self-taught carpenter of a 1979 rape, even though the victim says she doesn't believe the results.

Victor "Bo" Burnette is the sixth person exonerated since 2001 based on saved swatches discovered in the stored case files of Mary Jane Burton, a former serologist for what is now the Virginia Department of Forensic Science. A pair of DFS reports, from March and June, 2006, both confirm Burnette is "eliminated as a contributor" of DNA gathered during a rape investigation on Monument Ave. in Aug., 1979.

"I've been carrying this load for now 30 years," said Burnette, who spent eight years in prison.But the woman who identified Burnette as the rapist says she has no faith in the tests.

"I know what I saw," said the woman, who is now 48. "And those tests can be wrong. I mean, lab tests fail every day. Who's to say their test is correct?"

Those who reject her suspicion about the accuracy of the tests must also reject the suspicion about the accuracy of these forensic tests if that suspicion comes from a defense attorney if these same test results end up matching that attorney's client.

If a review of the DNA tests and a review of the handling of this DNA evidence shows that the results are accurate then this man should be pardoned.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:54 AM   4 comments links to this post


At April 14, 2009 1:53 PM, Anonymous Holly said...

People (and in most cases I've seen, men) are very quick to cry out that a rape victim is a liar, whether DNA has proved the woman right or not. I personally believe it is because that society has deemed it acceptable to shame women and especially victims of abuse and trauma. It's the same in cases where a woman was drinking or out late at night that people think that it is perfectly acceptable to shame the victim of the abuse because "she was asking for it happen." Instead of being part of the solution to violence against women, they are part of the problem and that is a cycle that must be broken before we see violence stop. If people are saying that there is nothing wrong with abusing women then more and more people are going to feed into that and rape apologists are making it seem okay which is disgusting.

At March 29, 2010 2:42 AM, Anonymous TK said...

Actually part of the problem is people who generalizes (both men AND women). I am a victim of false accusation...before I used to think that girls were so honest (and yes I used to be a hopeless romantic). But after experiencing such a frustrating and depressing event (and reading about the topic) I see both points. I for one look at the evidence at hand/ facts then state an "educated" guess. It's not fair to say men OR women are the problem. There are many jerks as there are many crazy women out there. Please be open minded you're actually doing the same things as what you are complaining about.

In my case I had a stalker (stalking for 1 year (since i was 19)). At first I thought ignoring her would be the best choice (I didn't want any confrontation (she's little weird but now I know she's insane). After about a year of on and off calling, stalking I said enough when she started using her roommates phone to call me (she didn't even know) and told her to tell her enough, if she persists I'm going to get a restraining order... The moment her friend told her this, guess what? My stalker of 1 year decided to file a report for sexual assault/ rape.

I'm so mad at this fact that I'm beginning to develop a sense of misogyny...but then again its not fair to the nice girls out there...so I'm just going to move on with my life in a more realistic manner.

At March 29, 2010 8:48 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


I'm sorry you were falsely accused by a stalker. I hope that the police were competent in their investigation since a lack of competence hurts all who are innocent.

When people claim this woman is a liar they ARE making a false allegation based on the false assumption that all those who misidentify a defendant are liars.

Some people do this because they incorrectly believe that they could never misidentify someone and have that misidentification contribute to sending an innocent person to prison.

There is zero evidence in this case or in other exonerations of stranger attackers which indicates that any of the victims told a single lie. In fact there is extensive research on stranger identification which shows how people with the best intentions can become convinced when a process leads them to ID the wrong person. This research has thankfully led to reforms in how suspects are IDed.

This woman no more deserves to be a target for the anger of those who are mad about genuine false allegations and wrongful convictions than you deserve to be the target for the anger of those who are mad about actual rapes.

At March 29, 2010 12:10 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


In developing your sense of misogyny please remember that not all men who claim to be wrongfully accused are true victims.

While some men who claim innocence are proven to be telling the truth about the same percentage of those who claim innocence and manage to convince innocence advocates that they were wrongfully convicted are proven to have been rightfully convicted.

According the the Innocence Project 43% of inmates it tested were exonerated but 42% had their guilt confirmed.


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